Contact us on

020 7611 4848

email us


Arrange a Callback

Ask a Question

Cycling and the Law

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

When it comes to cycling there seems to be much confusion about what is legal and what is illegal. Whether it relates to the use of helmets, pedalling back from the pub or ignoring traffic lights; different riders appear to behave in different ways.

Generally the rules of the road are aimed at creating an environment that is as safe as possible for different types of road users while enabling the easy and efficient passage of those users to their destination. While drivers of cars, motorcycles and HGVs are required to pass a test before venturing out onto Britain’s highways, there is no such test for cyclists.

This does not mean that cyclists are beyond the rules however; the law regulates many facets of cycling in relation to the bike itself, the cyclist and the cyclist’s behaviour while out riding.

The Highway Code

The Highway Code contains various requirements that may be found in different pieces of legislation governing road usage. Cyclists should follow the Highway Code particularly in respect of rules 59-82 dedicated to cyclists. They should also comply with the general rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders in rules 103-158 and other parts of the Code that are applicable.


Cyclists must have white front and red rear lights lit at night; flashing lights are permitted. Bikes must also be fitted with red rear reflectors and amber pedal reflectors if manufactured after 1 October 1985.


Helmets are not legally required to be worn by cyclists of any age.


Although technically defined as footways, the areas used for walking down the side of the road commonly known as footpaths or pavements should not be used by cyclists according to the Highways Act 1835. Similarly, pedestrianized zones should not be used by cyclists either if local by-laws prevent them from doing so.

Cycling on footways can result in fines of up to £500 but are more commonly dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice of £30 which can be issued to anyone over the age of 16.

Red Lights

Cyclist must obey all traffic signals and traffic light signals in accordance with the Road Traffic Act 1988. This means that cyclists must not cross the stop line when traffic lights are red.


According to the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offence for a person to ride a cycle on a road or other public place when unfit to ride through drink or drugs. Riding dangerously can entail fines of up to £2,500 but more commonly offenders will receive a £30 fixed penalty notice. The points system for drivers does not apply to cyclists.

If you would like further information or wish to discuss a potential or current claim following a cycling accident, we have experienced lawyers who can help you. Please contact Sarah Vincent by email or by telephone 020 7611 4848.