Bad Cycling Advice in the Highway Code

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
This was mentioned in https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/p...-should-have-known-better.262025/post-6018581 and it seems there isn't yet a thread about just this, so I thought I'd try to compile a list. Any other suggestions? I'll edit this post to add others generally agreed.

The current highway code is at www.gov.uk/highway-code - I've gone through the "for cyclists" rules and I think these are bad advice:

Rule 59: "a cycle helmet" and "light-coloured or fluorescent clothing" are controversial, blame-shifting and low evidence at best, see https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/the-cyclechat-helmet-debate-thread.187059/ about helmets and PLACEHOLDER for hi-vis.

Rule 59: "Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel" - that's pretty much any clothes, if you're running without any chainguard and coatguard. It would be better advice to fit guards or tie your clothes back.

Rule 60: fails to mention the limits on flashing (1-4 flashes per second, constant rate) or say anything about the legal requirements for light positions (no axle-mounted lights on Bromptons, please!).

Rule 61: "Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so" overstates the case and says nothing about not using ones that are merely impractical. Also, there should be no encouragement to use a cycle route when, for example, it makes a later right turn slower and more hazardous.

Rule 63: "Cycle Lanes [...] keep within the lane when practicable" is just bad advice when so many are substandardly narrow. "they can make your journey safer" is weaselling - they can, but more often they make it less safe and most have no significant effect on safety whatsoever.

Rule 64: "You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement" is only normally true for footways alongside other highways. It's a "should not" at best for other pavements, whereas some councils pretty much encourage it sometimes and there's the Boateng/Goodwill advice to fall back on (you should not be penalised for cycling cautiously on the footway giving way to walkers if you believe your life would be endangered by feral motorists on the carriageway).

Rule 66: "ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends" - no no no. Those are exactly the places where you don't want to be encouraging motorists to close-pass or to have longer lines of cyclists that take more time to overtake. Chris Boardman and Carlton Reid made a youtube video explaining that.

Rule 67: "be aware of traffic coming up behind you" - arguably true that you should, but what the fark do they expect you to do about it? There's no similar distracting instruction to motorists in the code.

Rule 68: "You MUST NOT [...] ride when under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicine" should say what "under the influence" means, to avoid people on irrelevant medicines being discouraged from cycling.

Rule 69: "You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals" is untrue, because you are only legally required to obey regulatory ones. Others are "should not" at best and we can't be expected to obey perverted information signs like the notorious "END OF CYCLE ROUTE" and "CYCLISTS DISMOUNT" that never have contradicting signs ("restart of route" or "cyclists remount"), and then there's even advisory light signals like the red man at a Toucan or Puffin crossing.

Rule 71: "You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line [...]". That MUST NOT is immediately contradicted by the rest of the rule! We know what it means but it needs rewording to make sense.

Rule 74: to turn right "It may be safer to wait on the left until there is a safe gap or to dismount and push your cycle across the road" is pretty much never true unless there's a safe refuge on the left and even then it's debatable because you'd be trying to cross at least one extra lane simultaneously. Pushing also makes you slower, further increasing your exposure time.

Rule 77: roundabouts, including the suggestions to walk round the edge or "ride round keeping to the left-hand lane". As I understand it, this is basically a hangover from the bad old 1970s Cycling Proficiency Test which should be deleted entirely now.

Rule 79: "Do not ride across a pelican, puffin or zebra crossing. Dismount and wheel your cycle across." This is out of date, as well as bad advice that would expose you to more risk than riding across. Most puffins (the pelican-like crossings with the red/green man above the button to hide it from approaching drivers) connecting cycleways have had cycle symbols on them for many years now, while zebras can have parallel cycle crossings since the 2016 Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions came into force. Even before that, it was legal to cycle across zebras (giving way to pedestrians) but motorists were not required to give way and the zebra needed to be connecting two cycleways, so they were pretty rare.

Rule 81: an accurate summary but I'm going to include it because it's a stupid underlying legal situation. We're not required to wait for the green cycle symbol at shared crossings - only cycle-only ones - so the red bike symbol light means both "stop" and "give way" in different contexts.

Rule 82: "You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘cyclist dismount’ sign is displayed" which is most of them now, isn't it? I strongly suspect the hazard from following motorists to a cyclist who obeys and walks a stable wide-tyred bike across a level crossing on a 60mph carriageway with no footway is probably greater than just riding across square. The rule should be rewritten to advise how to cross, not just "take extra care" and a pointer to look up a more general rule.
 
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Milkfloat

An Peanut
Location
Midlands
I cannot disagree with much of that, a small point is that you have two paragraphs for rule 63, the second should be 64. Regarding Rule 81, cycle only signalled crossings, I would love them to be treated as give ways, but then again I would also like left turns on red to be give way for regular traffic lights.
 
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MontyVeda

a short-tempered ill-controlled small-minded troll
Same here.

After being shown rule 77 in the other thread... i gave the highway code some feedback regarding the ambiguous wording of that rule. I wonder if they'll get back or do anything?
 
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mjr

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
I cannot disagree with much of that, a small point is that you have two paragraphs for rule 63, the second should be 64. Regarding Rule 81, cycle only signalled crossings, I would love them to be treated as give ways, but then again I would also like left turns on red to be give way for regular traffic lights.
64 so corrected. I'd love left-on-red, too. The French have managed to deploy it in lots of places very quickly (although their sign looks like someone drew it with crayons) so why can't the UK? Are we worse than France? ;)
120px-France_road_sign_M12c.jpg
 
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mjr

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
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mjr

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Cyclist Dismount is advisory only, not compulsory, and not legally enforceable anyway.

http://www.trafficsignsandmeanings.co.uk/cyclist-dismount-sign-compulsory-get-off.html
It's not even an advisory sign. It's an information sign (white text on blue rectangle) being misused. I agree with the article that it's an attempt at blame-shifting, though.

The list reads like some I've seen from drivers. "Allow me to do what I want, with anybody else made to get out of my way".

The laws require changing first, then work on the wording in the highway code.
I don't know what list you were reading because none of it is motivated by "get out of my way" and I think only Rule 81 of those mentioned above is broken because the underlying law is. There are other reasons to change the law (for example, left on red) which would change some rules, including some not mentioned above, but the bad advice should be removed anyway.
 

Solocle

Well-Known Member
Location
Dorset / Oxford
Regarding no "cyclists remount" - what's the score with "No Cycling" where there's an adjacent cycle path? A good example of this is the A282. But, under normal circumstances, it wouldn't be illegal to step off a cycleway into a road and remount. Even if it did involve hopping some armco...

Since there's no "end", but the restrictions clearly do end... is it not a point restriction?
 
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mjr

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Regarding no "cyclists remount" - what's the score with "No Cycling" where there's an adjacent cycle path? A good example of this is the A282. But, under normal circumstances, it wouldn't be illegal to step off a cycleway into a road and remount. Even if it did involve hopping some armco...

Since there's no "end", but the restrictions clearly do end... is it not a point restriction?
That's a law change needed rather than bad advice in a code rule, isn't it?

At the moment, the sign is just required notice of the start of a restriction by order, so only has to be placed at reasonable entry points to the restriction area. It's not a point restriction but some missing signs can make it so. There's no requirement to sign the end so the only way to tell (off the top of my head) is to see the back of a no-cycling sign or front of some other cycle lane or route sign. Not great, I agree.
 

Solocle

Well-Known Member
Location
Dorset / Oxford
That's a law change needed rather than bad advice in a code rule, isn't it?

At the moment, the sign is just required notice of the start of a restriction by order, so only has to be placed at reasonable entry points to the restriction area. It's not a point restriction but some missing signs can make it so. There's no requirement to sign the end so the only way to tell (off the top of my head) is to see the back of a no-cycling sign or front of some other cycle lane or route sign. Not great, I agree.
"reasonable entry points" is a bit of a kicker...

the A282 restriction isn't signed at the A2 junction when turning anticlockwise. But there is a no cycling sign once you reach the Dartford tunnel... :laugh:

How you'd turn around at that point is beyond me.

A2 junction
Tunnel entrance
 
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