Home Somerset rules A cyclist tests the new rules of the road to find out if they work in practice

A cyclist tests the new rules of the road to find out if they work in practice


Since Saturday January 29, the Highway Code has been updated.

Rules have been added and modified to better protect vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists.

To test whether or not the rules were being followed, as well as whether or not they better protected these vulnerable road users, Joanna Taylor of Cambridgeshire Live decided to cycle around her town.

Here is his account:

One of the most notable new rules for cyclists is that we are now encouraged to ride in the middle of the lane on quiet roads and away from the curb on busy roads.

We also have priority over cars at roundabouts and crossing intersections, where we need to occupy a central position on the road.

To find out what these new changes look like in practice and whether my fellow road users are following them, I went for a bike ride around Cherry Hinton in Cambridge.

Starting off in the middle of the road seemed odd: whether driving or cycling, keeping to the left is instilled in us as one of the most fundamental facts of road use in the UK. But it does mean that cars can see you more easily and can usually maneuver around you quite easily, so it’s a new feeling that I’ll try to get used to in the future.

Getting to the busiest roads, following the new guidelines has become more complicated. First, he suggests standing at least 0.5 meters (just over 1.5 feet) from the curb and further away if possible.

I found it quite difficult to judge off the top of my head, so I got out and measured half a meter (50 centimeters) down a cul-de-sac where there were no cars around.

This is how far off the curb cyclists should aim to be on busy roads (Image: Joanna Taylor/Reach PLC)

As you can see it’s a good distance and definitely further from the pavement than I’ve been cycling before. I then cycled Fulbourn Road with that in mind.

This is when I felt the least safe because the majority of cars did not leave the 1.5 meter (5 foot) distance between us recommended by the highway code when passing, passing rather at full speed close enough.

When I came back down the road in the other direction, however, the traffic had calmed down, so there was more space and the majority of cars left a slightly larger gap.

Cambridge is full of narrow roads and the new guidelines are not always easy to follow exactly. Going forward, I can definitely see myself moving closer to the curb if the traffic is heavy to ensure a bigger gap between us.

I also circled a small roundabout at the top of the road in the middle of the lane, enjoying the clarity the new orientation gives cyclists.

Roundabouts can be confusing and knowing I had to go first and allow other vehicles to follow was comforting.

Joanna cycled Fulbourn Road in Cambridge
Joanna cycled Fulbourn Road in Cambridge

Before I even reached Fulbourn Road, I had to cross a crossroads. On my first approach, I was ready to roll along the line of cars at the red light and take my position front and center.

But, unfortunately, a bus filled the entire lane, so I couldn’t pass left or right (where there was oncoming traffic), which the new guidelines say cyclists are free to do.

So I went around and approached again and this time I was able to squeeze through the gap on the left between the cars and the curb and take my position at the front. The gap was so small it took real control of the bike to get through and to be honest if I faced the same situation again I would probably be waiting in the queue.

I also approached the same crossroads from the opposite side where there is a bike path approaching which made the whole procedure much, much easier as I was able to get to the front with plenty of room around me.

All in all, I have three main takeaways from my bike trip. The first is that cycle lanes and other features for cyclists – whether separate traffic lights or level crossings – make life easier for cyclists and drivers who don’t have to worry about bikes so much. on their way.

The second is that cyclists should obey these new rules as much as possible – don’t let a car behind you force you into a dangerous maneuver and take comfort in being allowed to ride in the middle of the lane on lightly traveled roads or cross first the intersections and the roundabouts.

Third is that drivers should read the advice for cyclists even if they don’t have a bike themselves, as it is just as important to bear in mind when sharing the road with bikes.

For me, the new hierarchy of road users is a welcome change because giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists ultimately makes life easier for everyone as it provides much-needed clarity on the rules.

But it is a contract that all road users must enter into, including cyclists. During my half hour ride, I saw a few instances of cyclists breaking the rules, such as crossing crosswalks to avoid crossing a junction along with traffic.

If everyone follows the advice it will make the roads safer and this is particularly important in a city like Cambridge where drivers and cyclists will frequently find themselves sharing the road.

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