1) On the road.
2) On the pavement.
1: On the Road:
I only cycle on the road when travelling through a quiet residential street, some B-roads (if not busy) and country lanes.
When on the road we are subject to the same laws and rules in the Highway code that motorists are subject to.
- I always stop at a red traffic light.
- I always stop at any form of pedestrian crossing if people want to cross.
- I watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which I am turning. If they have started to cross I know they have priority, so I give way.
- I do not cycle tight to the gutter but make sure I am at least a metre away from it.
- I keep at least a metre away from the "Door Zone" when overtaking parked cars.
- I only use any cycling infrastructure if it doesn't negate the above two, and if it feels safe.
- I never make any manoeuvre before looking behind me and signalled my intention.
2: Pavement Cycling:
On all fast main roads, and if at any time I am feeling nervous riding on the road, I ride on the pavement, legally and illegally.
Rule 64 of the Highway Code states: You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement. Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129
Of course since then all councils, in order to save money, have turned a vast amount of our pavements into shared cycling/pedestrian paths making a mockery of Rule 64. Unfortunately instead of Rule 64 being either removed or changed the governments saw fit in 1999 to bring in fixed fines for illegal pavement cycling. At the time of writing this the fixed fine is £50 and if contested in court a maximum of £5000.
But it's not all bad. At at the same time as the fixed fine came into being the Home Office gave instructions to police - which you can read here Cycling on Pavements - to not stop and fine anyone that was cycling carefully and safely along a pavement. I personally carry a copy of the memo in case I am stopped by the police or their representatives.
- Pedestrians must come first at all times whether cycling legally on a shared path or illegally.
- I never startle a pedestrian by riding up too quickly or make them suddenly jump out of the way.
- I never cycle through a heavily pedestrianised area. I believe cycling on pavements where illegal should only be used on fast roads and where pedestrians are few and far between.
- I stick to my side of the cycle path if it is marked and if it isnt' marked then I tend to ride closest to the road so that pedestrians do not have to step close to the road in order for me to pass them.
- If a pedestrian happens to be on the cyclist's side I do not shout at them but slow down and either ring my bell or simply say excuse me with a smile.
- I am aware that being on a legal cycling/pedestrian path does not give me the right of way it simply says we are all sharing.
- I am very aware that if I cause an accident when pavement cycling illegally then I am 100% to blame.
- I am very careful by my actions to let the pedestrian know that I know they are giving me a concession by allowing me to cycle in their segregated area.
- When passing a pedestrian, although I'm on wheels, I act like a pedestrian by excusing myself and thanking them when they move out of the way.
- I always cycle passed them slowly.
- I never ring my bell when cycling on a pavement illegally. After all, I wouldn't ring a bell as a pedestrian.
- Just as a car is held up only for a few seconds by a bicyclist I will only be held up by a pedestrian for a few seconds.
- I do not feel that I have to wear any more than my ordinary clothes. I dress for the destination and not the journey.
- I do not wear a helmet as after research on the pros and cons I decided that I am safer not wearing one and I wont be pressured into wearing one simply because other people think I should.
Points of Law:
- It is not law that bicycles have to have a bell. It is law that all bikes must be sold with a bell, but it is up to the owner of the bike as to whether they wish to keep it attached to their bike.
- It is perfectly legal to ride two abreast. But it is polite to move over if we are holding up too much traffic.
- It is not law to have to ride to the left. It is perfectly legal to ride in the centre of the lane.
If I stick to the letter of the Highway Code, the only law I am breaking is illegally cycling on pavements. As I do this carefully I have never upset anyone and hopefully I will never be given a fine.
I have absolutely no quams about breaking that particular law as I do it simply because I owe it to myself, my Daughter and my Granddaughters to keep myself safe until we have real segregated cycling infrastructure.