There are a lot of misconceptions around the rules of the road when it comes to cycling, and that can be both from cyclists and motorists alike!
One of the most common questions around this is A roads, and are cyclists allowed to ride on them?
A roads are freeways that are often a grade below an actual motorway for a number of reasons. The main differentiators are that A roads can take the form of a dual carriageway with a speed limit of 70mph, or even simply be a single carriageway with a 30mph limit. A motorway on the other is a multi-lane high speed carriageway with junctions, limitations on use and limited side roads.
For obvious reasons, cyclists are not allowed on motorways. But with some motorway-like characteristics appearing on A roads, is it safe and legal to cycle there too?
According to the Highway Code, yes it is! But only if there are no signs on the A road that depict cyclists not being allowed. Cyclists are also not allowed to join part of an A road if that part of it is designated as a motorway – for example, the A1(M).
Ultimately, a bicycle is a mode of transport just like a car, and is considered as being for the road. The Highway Code makes it crystal clear that cycling on a pavement is not allowed, it’s therefore frustrating for cyclists that they are often treated as though that same rule applies on the road.
What other things are legal for cyclists on the road?
Here are some other things that are perfectly legal for cyclists to do on the road, but are sometimes misinterpreted as illegal.
- Riding two or more abreast. This is clarified in Rule 66 of the Highway Code, confirming that riding two or more abreast is okay unless going round a bend, or riding on a narrow or busy road.
- Not wearing a helmet. Again, whilst it’s definitely strongly recommended to wear a helmet as it can help prevent very serious head injuries, it is not illegal for a cyclist to ride without a helmet.
- Riding outside of the cycle lane. Cycle lanes aren’t compulsory! The benefit of this for cyclists is that often cycle lanes can be largely blocked by parked cars, increasing the risk of dooring, or there can be dangerous rubble and water gathered that increases the chance of injury.
- Riding in the middle of the road lane. This one can unfortunately really frustrate some motorists, but it is perfectly legal and often the safest option for cyclists to take.
It’s important for cyclists and motorists to be aware of these things so that we fully understand the rights of vulnerable road users* on our roads, which ultimately protects everyone’s safety.
*A vulnerable road user is defined as a cyclist, a motorcyclist, a horse rider and a pedestrian.