Cycling in a City: Your Guide to the Latest Highways Updates

At Insync HQ, we aim to make everyone feel confident, comfortable and safe on the roads. With the changes to the Highway Code earlier this year, we’ve put together an in-depth guide to help you out. Whether you are keen to start commuting by bike this spring, or you are simply interested in the updated rules - we’ve got you covered!

The changes came into force in January and the updates affect pedestrian and cyclist rights of way. We’ve delved into the new rules and regulations to bring you a summary of what these changes mean for us, and how this will affect cyclists that commute in and around the city.

Sharing spaces in the public

As cyclists we are asked:

  • Not to pass people walking, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle closely or at high speed, particularly from behind
  • Slow down when necessary and let people walking know you are approaching (for example, by ringing your bell)
  • Remember that people walking may be deaf, blind or partially sighted and to pass with care
  • Not pass a horse on the horse’s left
  • Not to cycle on the pavement

We always suggest cycling slower in recreational spaces and utilising signals such as ringing a bicycle bell or calling out politely to others. This way everyone can enjoy the outdoor public spaces!

To use or not to use cycling lanes?

As cyclists, we can feel pressured to utilise bicycle lanes but there’s actually no legal requirement to use them. The Highway Code advises people to use lanes when it is safer and easier but acknowledges that this might depend on the situation, skills and experience. The legislation relies on all road users making good judgement calls. Remember to be safe and stick to what is best suited for you.

Cycle tracks are a little different, these sometimes run alongside footpaths and pavements separate from traffic. They can be identified by features such as a change in the road surface (often a different colour), a kerb or a white line. You MUST keep to the side designated for cyclists as pedestrians have priority on the footpath. Some routes might not have a divide between cyclists and pedestrians and as a result, you should pass them slowly and allow them plenty of room.

Cycling in the centre of a quiet road is encouraged

Only do this on country roads and quiet roads.This doesn’t necessarily apply to most streets within the busy city, but if you are someone that finds themselves cycling from the city to the countryside often - then you’ll find this useful! If you find yourself with a fast car approaching from behind, we recommend tucking into the left when it is safe to let them pass.

Although there is a lot of talk about how cyclists ‘slow down the traffic’, this doesn’t apply to commuting around the city. We should make our own judgement and do what feels safe and comfortable! Learning the new rules should help you to feel more confident with your rights on the road so remember to do your research, trust your judgement, and take your time!

Cycling at Junctions

It can be difficult to judge when to turn into or off a road. So to avoid disruptions this is what we should be doing on the road.

Small cycle traffic lights at eye-level height are now in some areas, which allow cyclists to move separately from or before other traffic. People cycling are encouraged to use these facilities where they make their journey safer and easier.

If there isn’t a new junction, you should treat your bike as if you were driving a vehicle. This includes positioning yourself in the centre of your chosen lane, where you feel able to do this safely.”

This helps to:

  • Make you as visible as possible
  • Avoid being overtaken where this could be dangerous

Turning right on a junction:

At some signal-controlled junctions, there may be signs and markings informing cyclists to turn right in two stages.

These are as follows:

  • “Stage 1 - when the traffic lights turn green, go straight ahead to the location marked by a cycle symbol and arrow marking on the road, and then stop and wait.”
  • “Stage 2 - when the traffic lights on the far side of the junction (now facing the cyclist ) turn green, complete the manoeuvre.”

If these signs and markings aren’t present, we recommend that you treat the junction like you would in a car.

Cycling straight at a junction:

“Cyclists that are going straight ahead at a junction, have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of a side road unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise.”

With that being said, we should always watch out for drivers intending to turn across our cycle paths as people driving ahead may not see us.

The don’ts:

DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example

  • Approaching or at a road junction on either side of the road
  • Where the road narrows
  • When approaching a school crossing patrol
  • On the approach to crossing facilities

You can view the
full list here.

Cyclists at roundabouts

The new guidance states motorists and cyclists should:

  • “Not attempt to overtake people cycling within that person’s lane.”
  • “Allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout”

Where should you position yourself?

Turning right? You can cycle in the left or right-hand lanes and move left when approaching your exit. 

You should position yourself in the centre of your lane if it is safe to do so and signal right to indicate that you are not leaving the roundabout. Or, you may feel safer walking your cycle round on the pavement or verge.

If you decide to ride around and keep to the left-hand lane, you should:

  • Be aware that drivers may not easily see you
  • Take extra care when cycling across exits. You should signal right with your arm to show you are not leaving the roundabout
  • Watch out for vehicles crossing your path to leave or join the roundabout.

Where a roundabout has separate cycle lanes, we recommend making use of these to help improve your road safety. 

Giving way at a Zebra Crossing/ Parallel Crossings

Zebra Crossing

As you approach a Zebra crossing, if you see a pedestrian waiting to cross, you must give way and let them cross the road. 

Parallel Crossing

If you choose to cycle across a parallel cross, you have the right of way. 

Now that you’re aware of the Highway Code changes, you’ll be ready for your first cycling commute! If you are looking for more information, you can read more about the changes to the Highway Code here.

And if you’re looking for a new bike that’s up for the challenge, we have a selection of Insync Bikes that have just landed! Browse our collection.