“Wanton and furious cycling” – a guide to the road traffic laws that apply to cyclists.

It seems that our roads are fuller than ever before with cyclists  who are caught up in the wave of ‘cycling-mania’ that has gripped the country since the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire this July.

Much is written on the numerous laws affecting motorists, but what about the laws that govern cyclists? Some traffic offences apply only to motor vehicles and drivers, such as speeding and using a handheld mobile phone whist driving. However, there is a raft of road traffic laws that cyclists need to be aware of…such as the offence of ‘wanton and furious cycling’…yes, there really is such a thing!

This blog gives a quick guide to the different rules for cyclists under the Highway Code and the relevant legislation.

Cyclists must not…

Ride under the influence of drink, drugs, including medicine Road Traffic Act 1988
Ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner Road Traffic Act 1988
Carry a passenger unless the cycle has been built or adapted to carry one Road Traffic Act 1988
Hold on to a moving vehicle or trailer Road Traffic Act 1988
Cycle on a pavement Highways Act 1835 section 72 as amended by section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888
Cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red Road Traffic Act 1988 section 36 & Traffic Signs Regulations and Directions 2002
Ride across a cycle-only signal crossing until the green cycle symbol is showing Traffic Signs Regulations and Directions 2002


Cyclists must….

Keep to their side of the a segregated cycle track(the pedestrian side remains a pavement/footpath)


Highways Act 1835 section72 as amended by section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1988
Obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals Road Traffic Act 1988 section 36 & Traffic Signs Regulations and Directions 2002
Have white front and red rear lights lit at night (flashing lights are now permitted) Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 red 13,18 & 24 (amended 1994 and 2005)
Ensure their brakes are efficient Pedal Cycles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1983


Laws that apply to motorists but NOT cyclists…

Speeding offences Because bikes aren’t fitted with speedometers, cyclists can’t be charged with speeding offences. HOWEVER, if they are considered to be going too fast for the conditions, they could be charges with ‘wanton or furious cycling’ which is a criminal offence under section 35 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 (as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1948 s1(2))
Drink & drugs The drink drive limit only applies to motorists. For cyclists the test is whether or not they are ‘fit to drive’.
Mobile phones The legislation that prohibits talking on a hand-held mobile phone applies only to drivers, not cyclists. However, if use of a mobile phone causes the cyclists to ride dangerously, they could be charged under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

So if you are cyclist, and find yourself accused of ‘wanton and furious cycling’ get in touch for free and see how we can help.


t. 0800 9158930


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