Commuting to and from work by bike can save you money and time, as has many health benefits. However, it is vital to remember, and abide by, the rules of the road whether you are cycling for recreation or to commute to help protect you, and other road users from serious injury.

Read our road safety advice to make sure you know the rules of the road before you go out on your bike.

Cyclists' rights on the roads

In the eyes of the law, bikes are considered to be 'carriages' and their riders therefore have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.

Although cyclists are more vulnerable on the road, like any other driver, they must obey traffic signs, stop at red lights and give way when required.

The Highway Code that applies to 'all vehicles', applies to cyclists, and there are also additional sections which apply only to cyclists.

Cycling on the pavement

Cyclists have no right to cycle on the pavement, defined by the law as 'footways' (pavements by the side of a carriageway). Cycling on footways is prohibited by law and is punishable.

Cyclists in hi-vis jackets riding in a bus lane.

According to the Department for Transport, the maximum fine for cycling on a pavement from the courts is £500. However, it is usually enforced by way of the Fixed Penalty Notice which carries a £30 fine.

The law on pavement use applies to all cyclists, irrespective of age. However, if a child is under the age of criminal responsibility they cannot be prosecuted.

Two cyclists riding over a zebra crossing.

Cycling while using a mobile phone

Using a mobile phone while driving a motor vehicle is illegal. While this law does not apply to cyclists, it is dangerous to use a mobile phone while cycling as you may be putting yourself and others at risk by doing so.

Cycling two abreast

According to the Highway Code, cyclists should never ride more than two abreast, on narrow or busy roads. When travelling around bends, cyclists should be in a single file.

Cycling past stationary traffic

There are no legal binding rules on how cyclists should pass stationary traffic. All cyclists should comply with the general rules of the road and should take extra care when cycling in close proximity to larger vehicles.

cycling under the influence

It is an offence under the Licensing Act 1872 to be drunk in charge of a bicycle on a highway or in a public place. If you cycle while intoxicated, you are not only endangering yourself, but you may harm others as a result of your actions.

Although prohibited by law, cyclists are not subject to the same drink drive rules as motorists. The fines and penalties are different. The maximum penalty for dangerous or careless cycling is a £1,000 fine.

Contact us

If you or someone you know has suffered a cycling injury, call us for free initial compensation claim advice on 0800 0 224 224 or complete our online claim form.

Start a Claim