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Drivers and cyclists

Cars and bikes sharing the roads

How to stay safe, be seen and be aware

Cycling can be the most convenient (and cheapest) way to get around and more people are taking it up – especially in London where the cycle hire scheme and new cycle superhighways have encouraged lots more people onto two wheels.

There’s long been friction between drivers and cyclists but these tips should help things go a little more smoothly, and safely, for all. 

Sharing the roads cycling

Advice to drivers

Cyclists are clearly more vulnerable than car users – take particular care nearby and give them plenty of room at all times.

  • Expect cyclists in unexpected places – always check your mirrors before turning.
  • If you're not sure about the intention of another road user – including cyclists – hold back rather than risking a wrong assumption.
  • Watch out for cyclists coming up on your near side when turning left or moving over to the left –check your mirrors and blind spots carefully.
  • Give as much room as practically possible when overtaking a bike – Highway Code Rule 163 illustrates one car's width – they may have to move out to avoid hazards like drains, potholes or debris on the road.
  • When parking, check your door mirror and look behind you before opening the door to make sure you don't hit a cyclist.
  • When turning left, allow any cyclist ahead of you to pass the junction rather than overtake them and turn sharply across their front wheel.
  • Don't overtake a cyclist if you can see that the road ahead narrows – if they're travelling faster than you think, you could end up squeezing them off the road.
  • Cyclists may be travelling faster than you think (could be 20mph+) – judge their approaching speed with care before pulling out at a junction.
  • Take special care on roundabouts – you must give way to any vehicle, including cyclists approaching from the right.
  • Be prepared to wait behind a cyclist turning right in the same way you would for a car – rather than squeezing past or getting impatient.
  • Don't park in cycle lanes – you could be forcing a cyclist into a dangerous situation. And you’ll be committing a road traffic offence if you drive or park in a cycle lane marked with a solid white line.
  • Don't drive into the 'advanced stop area' for cyclists at lights.
  • Match your speed to the conditions and make sure you’ll be able to stop well within the distance that you can see to be clear – on country roads there could be a group of cyclists, a horse rider or pedestrians around the next bend.
  • At night, use dipped headlights when approaching cyclists as you would when approaching any other road user.
  • Allow cyclists extra room in wet weather as surfaces will be wet and slippery.
  • Consider riding a bike for some of your own journeys to get a better understanding of the risks cyclists face.
  • Keep up to date with your knowledge of the Highway Code and follow its advice.

TfL advice to cyclists

Transport for London (TfL) – responsible for all transport in the capital including cycle hire, offers the following advice for safer and confident cycling. Though aimed at London cyclists, this advice clearly applies to cyclists in towns and cities across the country.

  • Be aware of the driver's blind spot when passing lorries and buses. It's often safer to hang back.
  • Pay attention to what’s going on around you and be aware of what other road users might do.
  • Try to make eye contact with drivers so that you know they’ve seen you.
  • Ride assertively, away from the gutter. If the road’s too narrow for vehicles to pass you safely, it may be better to ride in the middle of the lane to prevent dangerous overtaking.
  • Ride in a straight line past parked cars, rather than dodge between them, and allow at least a full door's width in case the doors are suddenly opened.
  • Wait in front of other vehicles at traffic lights. Use the advanced stop line for cyclists if there is one.
  • Don't ride through red traffic lights. You may be fined.
  • Use appropriate hand signals when making a left or right turn.
  • Wear bright clothing in the day and reflective clothing or accessories at night.
  • Use lights after dark; white at the front and red at the rear. You can be fined £30 if you don't have them.
  • Consider wearing a helmet.
  • Don’t use a mobile phone or earphones.
  • Keep up to date with your knowledge of the Highway Code and follow its advice.

2 February 2017