Thursday, 6 October 2011

Cycling on UK roads

Bicycles are legitimate road vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as any motorised vehicles, including the need to obey traffic signs and traffic light signals. When cycling on the road it’s advisable for all cyclists to be familiar with the Highway Code and to adopt a position in the road that doesn’t put you in danger.The cycle lane is actually a lane marked out by painted lines within the carriageway, and therefore forms part of the road. There’s no legal requirement to use the cycle lane if you’re a cyclist. Guidance is provided to cyclists under rule 63 of the Highway Code which states that a cyclist should ‘keep within lane when practicable’. Use of a cycle lane is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills.Cyclists are allowed to use bus lanes only where a cycle symbol appears in the bus lane sign. If there’s no sign at the beginning of or, routinely, along the bus lane indicating that cyclists can share the lane, then it’s for buses only.Cyclists aren’t compelled to use a bus lane where signage indicates they can. If a bus lane is used, it must be remembered that unlike cycle lanes there will be large vehicles using it too, so pay particular attention when planning to leave the bus lane and emerge into the flow of traffic – a clear visual and, if appropriate, audible signal should be given.Lane splitting is where a cyclist undertakes or overtakes in a stream of traffic. Cyclists choosing to lane split must make informed decisions about their actions and their safety; it’s very much dependant upon the specific and prevailing circumstances at any given time.Despite what many believe, lane splitting is legal in the UK. Despite not being illegal, should an incident occur while passing a vehicle to the left or right, the probable outcome in a civil court is that liability would be found on a split basis.Advanced stop lines (ASLs) are the painted areas at the head of road junctions. They allow cyclists space at the head of the queue and let them move ahead before other vehicles, making it safer for them to turn left or right. ASLs comprise two parallel stop lines. At the first one, all traffic except a bicycle must stop. The second line is where bicycles must stop. Rule 178 of the Highway Code provides the legal basis for the use of ASLs, with confirmation that the rules are a legal requirement under the Road Traffic Act 1988. Legally, an ASL can only be entered via the leader lane, which, if one exists, is to the left of the carriageway. If there’s no leader lane, or the leader lane is so short that access to it isn’t safely available, then because the ASL is made up of solid white lines, technically it shouldn’t be entered at all if traffic lights are already on red.Be confident when using ASLs, because being at the front of a queue of traffic is usually a good place to be. As with all road cycling, it’s recommended that you’re familiar not only with the Highway Code, but also with the road sign picture list relevant to cyclists and all motorists to avoid any cycle accident claims that could occur as a result.The author of this article is a part of a digital blogging team who work with brands like Access Legal. The content contained in this article is for information purposes only and should not be used to make any financial decisions.

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