Motorists unaware of the extent of cyclists’ rights on the road

Motorists unaware of the extent of cyclists’ rights on the road

Cycling is a great way to let off some steam, to enjoy the scenic countryside, or to commute to work. But for those of us who cycle regularly, it isn’t surprising to learn that there remains some ignorance over the rules and rights enjoyed by cyclists on the road. A recent survey held by ‘eBikes Direct’ of 1000 motorists, found that most drivers are unaware of the extent of cyclists’ rights on the road.

Another statistic recorded by the same survey is the percentage of road users that have experienced road rage over a cyclist. Nationally, 39% of road users admit to getting angry when they believe that a cyclist is breaking the law or cycling without due care and attention.[1] The angriest region according to the survey was the South East of England.  London has the highest number per capita of cyclists than any other UK city.

Considering the results of this survey, cyclists legal rights on the road is a topic over which many drivers are misinformed. One of the biggest areas of controversy surrounds a cyclist’s position on the road. An astonishing 81% believe that cyclists must stick to the left-hand side of the lane. Of the people surveyed, 73% believe that cyclists are not allowed to ride two abreast on the road and a further 65% believe that cyclists are legally bound to use a cycle lane if one is available. All of these beliefs are but mere conjecture, holding absolutely no legal merits. Cyclists are not obliged to cycle in any specific position on the road, as long as they are on the correct hand side of the road and are observing due care and diligence, then they are free to cycle wherever they judge to be the safest.

A far greater number of drivers are well informed about a cyclist’s right to ride on the pavement. Cyclists are not allowed to ride on the pavement, but 22.8% of drivers believe that they can.[2] Although cyclists are a vulnerable group, this does not permit them to endanger pedestrians by cycling on the pavement. Although a bicycle is a human-powered vehicle, it is a vehicle and as such should travel on the road.

Another worrying statistic is that over one third of drivers (35%) do not check behind them when opening their car door. This gives complete justification for cyclists to travel in the middle of their lane. Opening a door without checking behind them is a dangerous habit and can easily ruin a cyclist’s day, or even life.[3] We often act for cyclists who after suffering a collision, find it unnerving to get back on their bike, so crashes can result in cyclists losing a hobby, a mode of transport, and even more physical losses.

Matt Flanagan from eBikes Direct says that “A lack of knowledge about cyclists’ rights on our roads is leading to altercations and accidents. In order for us to all stay safe and happy on our roads, it’s vital that we equip ourselves with the right information.”[4]

Paul Darlington, Consultant Solicitor at Cycle SOS adds “So many injury collisions are caused by failure to look properly, failure to see and failure to anticipate.

 Inattention through unawareness, carelessness or haste may have devastating consequences for cyclists.

We have life changing injuries in our files which could have been avoided by extending a journey time by a handful of seconds. A few moments delay is better than a lifetimes remorse.”

If you have fallen victim to a cycling incident or collision, or if you want to know more about cyclists’ rights on the road, then please feel free to call our 24/7 cycle accident advice helpline on 0808 100 999 5 to speak to one of our experts.

[1] https://www.cycleassociation.uk/news/?page=1&news-searchterm=&news-type=CategoryCycles&news-searchtype=any&id=2110

[2] https://www.cycleassociation.uk/news/?page=1&news-searchterm=&news-type=CategoryCycles&news-searchtype=any&id=2110

[3] https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/motoring/cars/enjoying/the-rights-you-didnt-know-cyclists-have

[4] http://www.cytech.training/news/?id=2110&name=British+drivers+clueless+about+cyclists%27+rights+on+the+road

Infographic: https://www.e-bikesdirect.co.uk/learn-more/cycle-safety/