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A cyclist can commit the offence of dangerous cycling as opposed to dangerous driving. The test to determine dangerous cycling is the same as to determine dangerous driving.

A person is to be regarded as cycling dangerously if the way he rides 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 cycling in that way would be dangerous. Dangerous refers to danger of injury to any person, or serious damage to property.

When determining what would be obvious to a competent and careful cyclist regard shall be given not only to the circumstances which he could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused.


No, you cannot carry a passenger on your pedal cycle unless it has been adapted to carry another person, such as a tandem or if your bike has had a special seat fitted.


The obligatory lighting for a pedal cycle is:

  • Front position lamp
  • Rear position lamp
  • Rear retro reflector
  • Pedal retro reflectors


Yes, it is an offence to ride a pedal cycle on a road or other public place whilst being unfit through drink or drugs, basically so as to be so under the influence of drink or drugs that the person does not have proper control of the pedal cycle.


It is an offence to ride a pedal cycle intentionally on a pavement i.e. a footpath set apart for use by pedestrians. A penalty ticket may be issued with a fine.


Using a hand held mobile phone whilst cycling is not illegal per se. However, you could commit an offence of careless cycling. It is also not advisable for the obvious safety reasons.

For those people using electrically assisted pedal cycles it depends on the cycle itself as to whether it is illegal or not. A lot of new vehicles are being marketed as electrically assisted pedal cycles but are, in fact, classed as motor vehicles so using a hand held mobile phone whilst riding one of these would be illegal.


An Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle (EAPC) must:

  • Have pedals that can be used to propel it.
  • Have two or more wheels – can be a tricycle or quadricycle.
  • Have an electric motor not exceeding 250 watts that can't propel the bike when it's travelling at more than 15.5mph.
  • Have plate showing the:

- Manufacturer's name
- Battery voltage and output of the motor

Or, be marked with the:

- Manufacturer's name
- Maximum speed in mph or kph
- Power of the motor in watts or kilowatts

  • Be fitted with a leak proof battery
  • Be fitted with a controller biased to the off position that allows power to come from the motor only when the drive is operated.
  • Be fitted with a braking system that complies with EU/UK legislation/standards.
  • Not be ridden by a person under 14.

An EAPC that complies with the above can be ridden on the road and won't need to be taxed, registered or insured and the rider won't need a driving licence or have to wear a helmet.

There are many electric bikes available on the internet that don't conform to the above requirements – such bikes must be taxed, registered and insured as a motor vehicle, the rider will require an appropriate driving licence and must wear a crash helmet. Additionally, the bike will have to be type or individually approved before it can be registered.

If you want to buy an EAPC , we would suggest you go to a reputable dealer to ensure the bike complies with the law.


It is not an offence in itself to listen to music on a mobile device whilst driving or cycling.

However, listening to music can be distracting, especially if it is not be possible for the individual to be fully aware of their surroundings. You need to be able to bring to bear all the senses you can whilst driving, and being able to hear is important in enabling you to be in proper control of your vehicle in traffic. Obviously, some people have the disadvantage that they cannot hear too well (or not at all), but the rest of us should not deliberately mask our senses and put ourselves at the same disadvantage.

A person using a device playing loud music, may, therefore, be deemed not to have proper control of their vehicle or to be driving without reasonable consideration for others, both of which are relatively serious offences.


Cyclists are required by law to act responsibly. It is a criminal offence to ride a cycle either dangerously or without due care and attention whilst on a road. It is also a criminal offence to ride a cycle in a public place or road whilst unfit through drink or drugs.

If you witness anyone you believe to be riding a cycle in contravention of these laws then you can report the matter to your local Police.

If you have been injured due to the misconduct of a cyclist then they may be guilty of a separate offence of causing injury by 'wanton or furious driving'.

Pedestrians should also be aware that riding a cycle on a footpath or pavement is, in itself, an offence and could be evidence that the cyclist was riding in a dangerous manner.

Advice on safe cycling and the relevant provisions of the Highway Code are available via the link in 'Related Information'.


Some traffic light controlled junctions have an advanced stop line (ASL) to allow cyclists to be positioned in front of other traffic - please see the diagram below:

Rule 178 - Advanced Stop Lines for Cycles

The Highway Code: using the road (159 to 203)

If the traffic lights are on red, drivers (including motorcyclists and scooter riders) must not cross the first stop line - if they do they could liable to a £100 fixed penalty and three penalty points on their driving license.

If the lights change from green to amber as a driver (including motorcyclists and scooter riders) approaches but they cannot safely stop before the first stop line, they can cross the first line but must stop before the second stop line. In these circumstances it is not an offence to stop in the marked area.

Drivers (including motorcyclists and scooter riders) should avoid blocking/encroaching onto the marked area at other times e.g. when the junction is blocked.

Note that just because there's a car in the ASL box does not mean to say the driver has committed an offence. The offence is only committed when the vehicle enters the ASL box when the light is red. If the vehicle enters the box and the light changes to red, no offence is committed.

Cyclists must not cross the second stop line while the traffic signal is red. Contravening a traffic signal is against the law, and could result in a £50 fine.

Some local authorities have run publicity campaigns with slogans such as: The bike box - get behind it.


If you are injured or you suspect that an offence has occurred, you should report the incident to the Police as soon as possible (call 101 or attend at your local station). In case of serious injury or obstruction to the road that cannot be easily cleared, call 999 requesting police/ambulance attendance.

The driver of a motor vehicle must stop and provide their name, address and the name and address of the vehicle owner, together with the vehicle registration number as required by Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, if they don't they must report the matter to the police. If a driver fails to stop/give details/report the accident, they commit offences. In the event that the driver doesn't stop, note the registration number of any vehicles involved and the details of any additional witnesses before contacting the police.

Additionally, as a cyclist, if it is alleged that you have been cycling without reasonable consideration for other road users, carelessly or dangerously, you must give your name or address to any person who has reasonable grounds for requiring them. If you don't do this or give a false name or address, you commit an offence.


There is a substantial body of research showing that using a mobile phone whilst driving, even legally via hands-free, is a considerable distraction and greatly increases the risk of a driver being involved in an accident. This is because of the mental distraction and the driver having to divide their attention between using their phone/device and driving. Therefore, we would suggest that you don't use a mobile phone/device, even hands-free, whilst driving.

Standard of driving
It's important to realise that even if you aren't contravening the mobile phone/other hand-held device legislation explained below, if operating any device whether it's hand-held or not, affects your driving, you can still commit offences such as not being in proper control of your vehicle, careless or even dangerous driving. This also applies to operating any device in your vehicle e.g. car radio, sat nav etc. Note that if you were involved in an accident and your telephone records showed that you were using your mobile at the time of the incident, even via voice activation, it could have serious legal implications.
Mobile phone/other hand-held devices – legal requirements
The law states that no person shall drive, or cause or permit to be driven, a motor vehicle on a road if the driver is using:
  • a hand-held mobile telephone, or
  • a hand-held device other than a two-way radio, which is capable of transmitting and receiving data, whether or not those capabilities are enabled.
Additionally, no person shall supervise a holder of a provisional licence if the person supervising is using a hand-held mobile telephone or a hand-held device as above at a time when the provisional licence holder is driving a motor vehicle on a road.
A mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point while being used.
Using includes the following –
  • Illuminating the screen
  • Checking the time
  • Checking notifications
  • Unlocking the device
  • Making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call
  • Sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
  • Sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
  • Utilising camera, video, or sound recording functionality
  • Drafting any text
  • Accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
  • Accessing an application
  • Accessing the internet.
What does this mean?
The offence of using a hand-held mobile phone or similar device is triggered when a driver holds a mobile phone or similar device and uses it, regardless of whether that use involves interactive communication. This covers any device which is capable of interactive communication even if that functionality is not enabled at the time, for example because mobile data is switched off, or the device is in flight mode.
Provided that a phone/device can be operated without holding it, then hands-free equipment is not prohibited by the above requirements.
Pushing buttons/touching a phone while it's in a cradle is not covered by the above offence, provided you don't hold the phone. Therefore, in our opinion, if the device can allow for hands-free calls, such as when using Apple's Siri voice command system or using a car's compatible systems, it would be legal but inadvisable to use whilst driving. However, we would emphasise that ultimately this would be a matter for a court to decide.
The use of a mobile phone or similar device for texting/internet access etc., while driving is also prohibited if the phone/device has to be held in order to operate it.
What is the penalty for using a mobile phone/device?
Using a mobile phone/device in breach of the above requirements carries 6 points and a £200 fine.
Can I use my phone as a sat nav?
The use of a phone as a sat nav is lawful providing you don't have to hold it at any time. Please see the section on 'Mobile phone/other hand-held devices – legal requirements' for information on touching the screen etc.
Mobile phone - use when parked
Whether someone is driving in terms of the law is a question of fact and degree and is ultimately a matter for a court to decide.
If you are sat in the driving seat of a vehicle on a road with the engine running you will usually be deemed to be driving for the purposes of this offence. There have even been cases where people have been found to be driving when they have let the vehicle roll forward without the engine running. In order to ensure you don't break the law in relation to using a phone/device when parked in a safe and lawful place, we would suggest the following:
  • Use a hands-free kit
  • Use the phone/device outside the vehicle
  • Ideally, don't use the phone/device at all
Mobile phone - positioning
The law does not state where your phone cradle must be positioned providing it doesn't obscure your view from the vehicle – if it does you could commit an offence.
Must my phone be in a cradle?
If at any point you have to hold your phone/device to use it whilst driving, you will commit an offence. Therefore, it is best to secure it in suitable cradle.
What about queuing in traffic?
It's illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device if you're stopped in queuing traffic e.g. at traffic lights, hold-ups etc. Whilst there may be situations when drivers are held for hours in a queue of traffic e.g. following a serious accident, the legislation doesn't specifically provide an exemption in such circumstances. Therefore, to ensure you don't commit an offence in relation to using a mobile phone in such a situation, we would suggest using a hands-free kit.
Are there any exemptions?
Yes, there are three exemptions to the above provisions if someone is using the mobile telephone or other device to:
1. Call the police, fire, ambulance or other emergency service on 112 or 999, in response to a genuine emergency, and it is unsafe or impracticable for them to cease driving in order to make the call (or if applicable for the provisional licence holder to cease driving while the call was being made).

2. Only perform a remote controlled parking function of the motor vehicle, and that mobile telephone or other device only enables the motor vehicle to move where:
  • there is continuous activation of the remote control application of the telephone or device by the driver,
  • the signal between the motor vehicle and the telephone or the motor vehicle and the device, as appropriate, is maintained, and
  • the distance between the motor vehicle and the telephone or the motor vehicle and the device, as appropriate, is not more than 6 metres.
3. Make a contactless payment for a goods/services which are received at the same time as, or after, the contactless payment is made and the motor vehicle is stationary.
Wearable technology
It is not yet clear whether using a smart watch strapped to your wrist would constitute a hand-held device for the purposes of the mobile phone legislation – this matter would have to be decided by the courts. However, if operating such a device affects your driving, you can still commit offences such as not being in proper control of your vehicle, careless or even dangerous driving – see the section on 'Standard of driving' for further information. Additionally, the legislation on viewing a screen may also apply – see the sections on 'Viewing a screen'. and 'Mobile phone/other hand-held devices – legal requirements' for information in relation to the use of voice command systems.

Viewing a screen
Legislation states that no person shall drive or cause or permit to be driven a motor vehicle on a road if the driver is in such a position as to be able to see, directly or by reflection, a television screen or similar apparatus except one showing information:
  • about the state of the vehicle or its equipment e.g. screen warning lights;
  • about the location of the vehicle and the road on which it is located e.g. some GPS tracking devices;
  • to assist the driver to see the road adjacent to the vehicle e.g. reversing cameras; or
  • to assist the driver to reach their destination e.g. sat navs.
In ear earphones
There is no specific legislation that applies to using head/earphones whilst riding/driving. However, when driving it is best not to do anything that restricts your senses or concentration, as this may impede your awareness of or reaction to a situation. If this occurred, depending on the circumstances, you could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention but this would ultimately be a matter for a court to decide.
The mobile phone legislation only applies to motor vehicles. However, if a cyclist was using a mobile phone, they could commit offences such as careless or dangerous cycling.
Two-way radios
The use of 2-way radio equipment (unless the device can also be used as a phone) when driving is not included in the mobile phone legislation but note that if a device is a dual or multi-purpose device that can be used both as a mobile phone and a 2-way radio, the use of the device while driving or supervising a provisional licence holder is prohibited. Use is prohibited whether the device is being used as a 2-way radio or as a mobile phone. However, whilst the law on mobile phones doesn't apply to a two-way radio, if operating such a radio affects your driving, you can still commit offences such as not being in proper control of your vehicle, careless or even dangerous driving – see the section on 'Standard of driving' for further information.
Using a mobile phone/smart watch to scan
Please see the ‘Are there any exemptions’ section above.


Rule 163 of the Highway Code states overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.
In an effort to highlight the issue of motorists leaving insufficient room when overtaking a cyclist, often referred to as a 'close pass' incident, a number of police forces have undertaken initiatives to educate drivers in relation this issue. In some cases posters/floor mats have been used showing a minimum clearance of 1.5 meters. However, it's important to realise that the law doesn't specify a particular distance.
Many of the rules in the Highway Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey them you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving and in the most serious cases, you may be sent to prison. Such rules are identified by the use of the words 'MUST/MUST NOT'. In addition, the rule includes an abbreviated reference to the legislation which creates the offence. However, failure to comply with the other rules of the Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted. Legally, the Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts to establish liability – this includes rules which use advisory wording such as 'should/should not' or 'do/do not', as is the case in rule 163.
Therefore, because there isn't a specific offence of failing to give sufficient room to a cyclist when overtaking them, if it was alleged that a driver had done this, consideration would have to be given to the offences of careless driving contrary to section 3 the Road Traffic Act 1988 or dangerous driving contrary to section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. However, each case would have to be judged on in the particular facts and in order to secure a prosecution, it would have to been shown that the driver was guilty of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. This would necessitate the prosecution having suitable evidence to show what occurred and to this end, cyclists often produce video coverage of an incident. From a police perspective, images from dashboard/helmet cameras can be used in legal proceedings but their evidential value all depends on the quality of the images and what they show. Just because a camera has captured an incident does not automatically mean that the police will be able to take action in every case or that the evidence will stand up to the scrutiny of a court – it will all depend on the circumstances.
If you are involved in a 'close pass' incident as a cyclist and you wish to report the matter to the police, we would suggest you contact your local force via the non-emergency 101 number or visit your local police station. Some police forces allow you to submit evidence captured by way of helmet camera via the internet, whilst others don't. It will all depend on your local police as to whether they provide this service. If they don't', you would need to contact them via the non-emergency 101 number for guidance on submitting such evidence.
Please also see the following links in 'Web Sites' for further information.

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