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Basic rules of the road

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Knowledge level: Beginner

Commuting

Article posted: 30/08/2013

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Whenever you cycle on the road, it’s vital that you obey the Highway Code and ride in a safe, responsible and respectful manner. Follow these basic points every time you head out.

Positioning in the road – An effective rider always occupies the moving traffic lane, either in its left hand third, roughly in line with the near-side of a car in the same place-thus ensuring that she/he can be seen and that drivers have to manoeuvre to overtake-or, if need be, the middle of the lane-thus preventing being overtaken and leaving themselves free to turn, overtake, change lanes etc.

These riding positions are variously known as ‘normal’ and ‘taking the lane’ or, technically, ‘secondary’ and ‘primary’. Click here for our guide to effective traffic riding.

Like all areas of the Highway Code, cyclists are required by law to obey all traffic signals. Even if the way ahead, such as when turning left, appears to be clear, wait for the lights to turn to green before moving off.

Ride predictably - Hold your line and position in the road. Do not weave from side to side.

Changing road position - If you need to change direction or change your position in the road, always look first to check it’s safe to do so and then where applicable, make a clear signal to alert other road users and/or pedestrians of your intended action.

Obey road markings - Road markings apply equally to you as a cyclist as they would if you were in your car. Never cross solid white lines in the middle of the road and always obey stop lines at junctions.

Think ahead - Always try to look ahead down the road and anticipate any potential problems or dangers. If you know you need to change lanes or have a right turn approaching, look and move early.

Stay off the pavement - Unless clearly marked as a shared cycle/pedestrian lane, cycling on the pavement or any footpath is illegal and dangerous both for you and pedestrians. If you’re not confidant to ride on the road, consider attending a Bikeability course.

Two hands on the bars - Unless signaling, always keep two hands on your bars and maintain a relaxed but firm grip.

Cover your brakes - Keep your hands in a position where you can easily and quickly operate your brake levers in a safe manner. Especially if riding in a group, avoid sudden braking and try to avoid locking up your wheels.

Obey traffic lights - Like all areas of the Highway Code, cyclists are required by law to obey all traffic signals. Stop at all red lights and remain behind the solid white stop line. There are sometimes marked boxes for cyclist but, if not, do not be tempted to creep forwards. Even if the way ahead, such as when turning left, appears to be clear, wait for the lights to turn to green before moving off.

By always following these basic guidelines you’ll be safer on the roads and enhance the reputation of all cyclists with other road users.

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