Essential Highway Code Rules for Cyclists

The Highway Code contains a number of rules that specifically apply to cyclists. They are found in sections 59 to 82 and include general cycle safety provisions as well as specific rules relating to road junctions, roundabouts and crossings.

Any cyclist who wishes to ride safely and responsibly must ride in accordance with the rules. Failing to do so can amount to a criminal offence in some cases.

The following is a summary of the rules:

General cycle safety provisions

Rule 59: Clothing

Section 59 explains the type of clothing and helmets that cyclists should wear in order to make them visible to other road users. Specifically, you will need:

Rule 60: Visibility

Bicycles must be fitted with white front lights, red rear lights, amber pedal reflectors and a red rear reflector. After dark, cyclists must have their front and rear lights lit. Driving at night without lights is a criminal offence under the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989.

Rule 61: Cycle lanes and facilities

Use dedicated cycle lanes, toucan crossings and cycle boxes wherever possible since these facilities are designed to keep you safer.

Rule 62 - 65: Cycle tracks, cycle lanes, bus lanes and pavements

Rule 66 and 67: Handling the bicycle

These sections contain some common-sense rules for riding safely. For example, cyclists should keep both hands on the handlebars except when changing gear or signalling, and keep both feet on the pedals. The Code urges cyclists to take care when pulling away from the kerb, turning corners, passing parked cars, overtaking and navigating traffic calming measures.

Cyclists should not ride more than two abreast and ride only single file on narrow or busy roads.

Section 68: Illegal actions

Cyclists must not:

Section 69: Traffic signs

Cyclist must obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

Section 70: Parking

When parking, you should use cycle stands wherever possible and avoid leaving your bike where it would cause a hazard or obstruction to others.

Section 71: Red lights

You must not cross the stop line when traffic lights are red.

Other rules

In addition to the general cycling safety provisions, the Highway Code contains specific rules relevant to cyclists in certain road situations. These include:

Road junctions - Rules 72 to 65

Roundabouts - Rules 76 to 78

Crossing the road - Rules 79 to 82

Looking after your bicycle - Annex 1 of the Highway Code

Is the Highway Code law?

The Highway Code is not in itself law, although many of the provisions are based on a legal requirement. Where this is the case, the Highway Code will use the words "must" or "must not" and will also mention the original law that gave rise to the Highway Code rule.

For example, Rule 69 of the Highway Code states:- "You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals. Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD reg 10(1)."

A cyclist who disobeys these rules could be prosecuted for breaking the law which created the Highway Code rule. Even if the rule is not law, breaking the rule could be construed as riding carelessly or inconsiderately, and the cyclist may be prosecuted or receive an on-the-spot fine.

The Highway Code recognises that cyclists are at a higher risk than other road users. By following the rules, you can reduce the risk of accident to yourself and others and ensure that all road users are protected.


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