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Cyclists and the Law

Cycle Insurance and the law

One of the questions, we are often asked is, "Do pedal cyclists need third party liability Insurance if they are going to use their cycle on a public highway". In short, the answer is no; however that said, just because a type of insurance isn’t compulsory, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. If you are using your cycle on a public highway, having public liability insurance can help you in the event of claims made by other road users or pedestrians for injury or damages to property.

If you are proved liable for either, you could face a large compensation award being made against you or at the very least a large bill for trying to defend the action. Liability insurance will provide an indemnity in the event an award is made against you and pay for any defence costs.

Rules & Laws for Cyclists

If you are intending to use your pedal cycle on the road, you have to observe certain rules and regulations, these are for your safety and the safety of other road users. These are dealt with by a number of pieces of legislation including;

  1. The Road Traffic Act 1988 and The Road Traffic Act 1995 (Northern Ireland) and updates 1991
  2. The Highway Code.
  3. Pedal Cycles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1983

The laws are fairly complex and subject to updates and revisions, there are whole sections relating to where you can legally ride your cycle and sections governing taking part in racing. In our opinion, the most important pieces of legislation for every day cyclists are as follows and we suggest before using your cycle on the road you ;

a- Obtain some insurance, either from a specialist bicycle insurance provider or under your home insurance, checking with the insurer that liability insurance whilst using a cycle is provided

b- Study the Highway Code and be aware of the Road Traffic Act stipulations and the minimum standards of safety in respect of your chosen cycle

1983 Pedal Cycles (Construction & Use) Regulations

You are required to ensure that your cycle is roadworthy and the above act stipulates an expected standard for your brakes. You can view the act here

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1983/1176/pdfs/uksi_19831176_en.pdf

The Highway Code.

This guide book is essential reading for anyone intending to use UK Roads. It’s still available in paper format for only a few pounds or the guide is published in it’s entirety online. The code is designed for all road users but currently sections 59-82 apply to Pedal Cyclists. Here is a link https://www.gov.uk/rules-for-c... The Highway code is backed by law and there may be fines for non-compliance

Parts 59 and 60 are the basics and relate to clothing and lighting

Section 59

This section relates to suitable clothing you should wear when using your pedal cycle, including the type of helmet.Section 59 states you should wear;

  • a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened
  • appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
  • light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
  • reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark.

Is it Illegal to use a Pedal Cycle without a helmet ?

Currently it is not illegal to use a pedal cycle on a public highway without a helmet but of course, it is highly recommended and any helmet your purchase must conform to certain safety standards.

Section 60

This section relates to the lights in use on your cycle and beware that if your lights are not adequate, you are likely to receive a fine.

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.

Flashing Cycle Lights

Following the 2005 amendment to The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations, it is now also legal to have a flashing light on a pedal bike as long as it flashes between 60 and 240 times per minute.

The Road Traffic Act.

Use of a pedal cycle on a public highway is governed by the Road Traffic Act and although you are not required to have insurance, there are still penalties for breaking laws pertaining to the use of cycles. These are dealt with in C52 of the act and a link to the government document can be found at the bottom of this article. Unlike motoring offences, if you are prosecuted, you will not have an “endorsements” but you could receive a fine. Some of the offence you can be prosecuted for include

Dangerous Cycling:

A person who rides a cycle on a road dangerously is guilty of an offence, dangerously is interpreted as, "if the way in which the cycle is ridden falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful cyclist, and it would be obvious to a competent and careful cyclist that riding in that way would be dangerous". This law is designed to protect both persons and property.

Careless, and inconsiderate, cycling.

If a person rides a cycle on a road without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road, he is guilty of an offence.

Cycling when under influence of drink or drugs.

It might seem like common sense, but your shouldn't ride your cycle whilst under the influence of drink or drugs

A person who, when riding a cycle on a road or other public place, is unfit to ride through drink or drugs (that is to say, is under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle) is guilty of an offence.

There is no specified amount for how much you can legally drink and they drive a cycle and you do not have to be breathalysed, however as the police may want to prosecute you, to aid a conviction, they may ask for a breathalyser sample to judge how intoxicated you are

Regulation of cycle racing on public ways.

A person who promotes or takes part in a race or trial of speed on a public way between cycles is guilty of an offence, unless the race or trial is

(a)is authorised, and

b)is conducted in accordance with any conditions imposed,

Penalties for non-compliance

You can be fined for breaking the Road Traffic Act, using an unsafe cycle ( Construction and use) or for non observing of the highway code. Enforcement of cycling offences is overseen by local police and attitudes do vary from force to force. Most minor offences are dealt with by the fixed penalty system (A fixed penalty notice) The fine is usually £30.00. However it should be noted that The Road Traffic Act 1991 makes the two most serious cycling offences parallel to those of dangerous and careless driving. The maximum fines are currently £2,500 for dangerous cycling and £1,000 for careless cycling.

For more information. Resources.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/52/part/I/crossheading/cycling-offences-and-cycle-racing

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