A driver's guide to cyclists

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A driver's guide to cyclists

Did you know that 3.2 billion miles are cycled on our roads each and every year? With this statistic in mind, it’s important that drivers are doing everything they can to ensure cyclists stay safe. This guide will help…

Things cyclists would like drivers to know

British charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has published some helpful statements about the key things that cyclists would like drivers to know when they are using the road. Check them out and then bear them in mind the next time you’re sharing a road with someone who’s cycling:

  1. Cyclists feel threatened by instances of inconsiderate driving.
  2. Cyclists need to keep away from gutters on a road in order to avoid debris and potholes.
  3. Cyclists feel particularly exposed whenever they need to turn right on a road.
  4. Cyclists feel very threatened when a driver is closely overtaking them.
  5. Cyclists are not trying to get in the way of drivers deliberately or attempting to slow them down.
  6. Cyclists opt to drive in the middle of their lane so that they can see and also be seen better. It’s often used to signal that there isn’t enough room for drivers to overtake them safely too.
  7. Cyclists see large vehicles as being a very high risk to them, with this especially the case when turning left at a junction.

Aspects of The Highway Code concerning cyclists
Rules 211 to 213 of The Highway Code considers what drivers should be aware of so that cyclists (motorcyclists are also included here) feel safe when on the road. The rules are as follows:

Rule 211
Drivers should always look out for cyclists and motorcyclists before they emerge from a junction, as they could be approaching faster than first thought. Cyclists and motorcyclists should be looked for on the inside of the traffic when a driver is turning right across a line of slow-moving or stationary traffic, while care should also be taken when changing direction or moving across lanes. Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots for cyclists and motorcyclists too.

Additional tips with Rule 211 in mind

  • Cyclists will attempt to make eye contact with a driver to make sure that they have been seen.
  • Cyclists are not being aggressive, even if it looks like they are staring at you.
  • Do not pull out in front of a cyclist once you’ve spotted them, as they may be going faster than you are anticipating. Making a cyclist brake heavily is dangerous and can lead to a lot of problems.
  • Do not cross an advanced stop line and avoid waiting in a cyclist stopping area when at a junction. They are both there to create a safe and more visible location for the cyclist that is ahead of the rest of the traffic.
  • Drivers should pull up behind a cyclist who is waiting at a junction, not alongside them, and also give them time to clear the junction first.

Rule 212
Drivers should give cyclists and motorcyclists as much room as they would any other road user when passing them — one car’s width is generally recommended. Also, be aware that cyclists and motorcyclists who are looking over their shoulder could be doing so as they intend to either pull out, turn right or change direction. If this is the case, always give them time and plenty of space to complete the manoeuvre.

Additional tips with Rule 212 in mind

  • Never overtake a cyclist who is about to make a right turn, but instead give them enough time and space to complete the manoeuvre.
  • If there’s oncoming traffic, a point where the road narrows or instances where you cannot see far enough ahead on a road, choose to stay behind a cyclist as opposed to taking the risk to perform a potentially dangerous overtaking manoeuvre.
  • Make sure a cyclist has plenty of room before you pull back in to complete an overtaking manoeuvre.

Rule 213
There will be times when cyclists and motorcyclists must take sudden action to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles — drain covers and icy, oily or wet patches on the road, for example. Drivers should give cyclists and motorcyclists plenty of room and be constantly on alert to any sudden change of direction that they may have to make.

Additional tips with Rule 213 in mind

  • Never drive right up behind a cyclist.
  • Drivers should never park in cycle lanes, as this could be another instance of when cyclists are forced into a dangerous situation to avoid an obstacle.
  • Cyclists should be given extra room when using the road in wet weather, due to surfaces becoming slippery and more hazardous.


To stay updated with the latest motoring advice and rules of the road, keep an eye on our Motorparks Advice pages.