posted 2 years ago

Cyclists! Why do they ride in the middle of the road?

Why do cyclists ride in the middle of the road?

Why do cyclists ride in the middle of the road? Because they're allowed to: a poster from the Department for Transport advises "Cyclists. Ride central on narrow roads."

See those potholes? Not good for your suspension, are they? To cyclists, they're not just inconvenient; they're lethal. The cyclist up ahead might be in the middle of the road for a few seconds in order to avoid a big gash in the ground. Cyclists are expert pothole - spotters. Use this inside knowledge to prevent costly damage to your car's suspension.

But, I hear you cry, cyclists block me even when the tarmac is butter-smooth. Take a look ahead. See any "islands", those refuges placed smack bang in the middle of the road, and placed there to protect pedestrians? Every keen cyclist knows that these islands can be death traps. Some motorists get a spurt on to overtake cyclists before these refuges, cutting in at the last second. Some cyclists, therefore, take what's called the "primary position". (Yes, there's an official Stationery Office name for the middle of-the-road manoeuvre). This is cyclists' semaphore for "don't pass me just yet; there's an obstacle ahead." Watch what cyclists do when they've passed the island: ninety-nine times out of a hundred they tuck back into the side of the road, and the motorist can then safely overtake. When a cyclist takes the "primary position" before such an upcoming obstacle it's not a mark of arrogance, it's a (risky) tactic to keep everyone safe.

Cyclists will also assume the primary position to avoid "dooring" by motorists opening their car doors without looking, or when about to turn right. Again, once safe to do so, cyclists return to the side of the road.

Not that a cyclist has to be a "gutter bunny," hugging the kerb. Cyclists, in law, operate "carriages", and have done since a court case in 1879. And, as operators of vehicles they have as much right to the whole lane as a motorist. Most of the time cyclists, quite sensibly, allow motorists to pass because that's the safest and nicest thing to do. But it's not a legal requirement. There's no such thing on the road as a "car lane." The only roads that motorists can call their own are motorways - the clue is in the name.

OK, so how about those cyclists who block the road by "riding two abreast". That's also perfectly legal. It's in the Highway Code. Remember, motorists - unless their cars concertina like Autobots from the Transformers movie - ride two abreast all the time, even when driving solo.

The Highway Code states that cyclists should not ride more than two abreast and should ride in single file on "narrow or busy roads and riding round bends." However, the Highway Code doesn't define what it means by "narrow" or "busy" or quite how rounded the curve has to be before it's considered a "bend." Club cyclists, who often ride in packs, will ride two abreast to chat, and will thin out when necessary, but two riders will often "take primary position" before bends. It should be reasonably obvious why. Far too many motorists take bends, even blind ones, fast, and cyclists do not want to be squished when an overtaking driver realises they've overcooked the corner and has to dive back in to avoid a head-on smash.

Cyclists often "block the road" in order to save their lives, and possibly yours, too.

Carlton Reid is the executive editor of He drives a Nissan Note "but not very often." He's writing a history book on motoring's cycling beginnings, Roads Were Not Built For Cars.


Just using Julie Livingstone comment for this; Passing cyclists not wearing helmets - I pass many drivers not wearing seatbelts. Not wearing reflective clothing - I have seen many cars drive around with broken lights or simply no lights. Car users break the law in so many dangerous ways - Speeding and using phones to name a few. To honestly think that cyclists are the worse offenders or that they are anymore likely to be at fault in an accident is ignorance. As a road user, both cycling and driving I'm more worried riding my bike than my car, car users have the ability to get complacent due to the metal structure around them.

Dan Lord Commented: "if your going to give cyclists road rights like this, then they should be taxed like car drivers are, to help look after the roads." First of all: These rights already exist. Second: Road-Tax doesn't exist and has not done so since 1937 (that's before WW2, if you don't know what WW2 was, try a history lesson). Nobody pays road-tax! Google 'I pay road tax'. Third: Motor-vehicle taxes do not apply to Band-A vehicles - low-emission vehicles, electric cars etc. Yet you are proposing that cyclists pay a tax that is voluntary for motorists. Since road-surface damage is proportional to the fourth power of the axle load, bicycles cause a trifling amount of road damage relative to any motor-vehicle. Fourth: 80% of cyclists also drive. (DfT) Fifth: The space consumption of a cyclist was calculated to be only 8% of the space consumption of a car UPI report Heidelberg 1989. The average vehicle occupancy of cars and vans is 1.2 ppmv (commuting & business). Based upon the 8% figure, one car occupies the same space as 12.5 cyclists, therefore five cars (that carry on average a total of six people), but occupy the same space as 62.5 cyclists. It's perfectly obvious that private cars are the primary cause of congestion, and that cyclists are the solution. One has to wonder what your problem is with cyclists? Sixth: Drivers are not subsidising everyone else, it is drivers who themselves who are subsidised. Motoring taxes do not cover the full costs of motoring imposed upon society. Every car in the UK is subsidised by on average just over 2,000 Euros per vehicle per year.. Source: The True Costs of Automobility: External Costs of Cars Overview on existing estimates in EU-27 Final Report TU Dresden Chair of Transport Ecology Prof. Dr. Ing. Udo J. Becker Thilo Becker Julia Gerlach Dresden, October 12th, 2012 Note: does not include congestion costs. So, every part of your short comment was false, untrue or just plain wrong. You appear to have views about cycling that are based entirely upon The Daily Rant's Book of myths and falsehoods about cycling. May I suggest that you educate yourself and perhaps try cycling?

I am all for cyclist and motorists being respectful of them, but unfortunately many cyclist are not adhering to the law. Example 1: A crosswalk is a crosswalk for pedestrians and is not an extension of a bike lane or a make shift lane of traffic for cyclists when they want to use them. Example 2: Stop signs are made for stopping at whether there is multiple vehicles or not. If you want to have the respect of motorists then please abide by all laws not just when they are convenient or necessary to avoid injury.

cyclists are taxed the same as motorists. Most $ for roadway projects come from General state or federal budgets (I'm from the U.S.). This idea that cars pay some special road tax is false.

Motorists are the superior beings. They are the only people who have spouses and family. They are the only ones allowed to enjoy the open road. They are better than those who power their vehicles with their own legs

As far as I'm concerned this vermin is fair game. They don't pay any tax, those sponging dossers of society. They're simply squatters in the motorists territory. The maximum they deserve is 1" gap and that's at 70 mph! To teach those vile individuals a lesson they'll never forget in humility towards us superior beings in motor cars. Get in the gutter where you belong besides the needles and the McDonald's wrappers! Top tip: get your screen washers angled so the left hand one can be used to teach the greater unwashed of society that they aren't welcome on our roads! Then fill it with vinegar/urine or similar it'll keep your screen clear but shall also have the desired effect! Yours sincerely FORK HUGH!

if your going to give cyclists road rights like this, then they should be taxed like car drivers are, to help look after the roads.

Im not so sure if its going to be safe going on "primary position" at the last second is safe if im driving at 60mph it would still take me 3 to 4 seconds to stop. Some cyclist need to think first, i perfectly understand the dangers of being on the side.of the road because im driving a motorcycle, but its not safe to cut somebody, not safe for the cyclist at most. Btw if they have the same rights as motorized vehicles, its time that they issue tickets as well to be fair.

Well if all cyclists obey the rules of the road i'm very suprised. Every day I cyclists without helmets, mounting the pavement to avoid waiting at the lights. Cycling up the middle of two lanes or the inside of a waiting queue if traffic and not wearing reflective clothing in winter. I'm supposed to be aware of the cyclist but the cyclist is not being made to take better safety precautions.

These are great points, and for those drivers who are opposed to cyclists being in the middle, stop being selfish. If it wasnt for bikes, there wouldnt be paved roads(Look it up), which also means, cars might have not have been invented. I take the middle because its almost never safe being on the right side. We are subject to: -Dooring -Lethal potholes -Cars passing, most drivers have bad perception of how close they really are when passing a cyclist on the left side. In my state there is a 3 foot rule, cars cant pass bikes within 3 feet of them, but almost no drivers know that and would pass cyclists within a foot of they, which is extremely dangerous, even lethal. Such things as unexpected potholes and strong wind speeds can cause cyclists to quickly veer at least a foot to either way to avoid, which can be horrible if a car were to closely pass a cyclist. So remember, if cyclists can get fined as a driver, we deserve every equal right as a driver. And learn to share the road, if it wasnt for bikes, cars might not have ever existed, so either be patient and ride behind, safely pass them, or take another route.

Jete Baletto, first, put your 'lol' away, you used it wrong. Second, what makes your use of the road in a car more important than anyone else's use of the road in a car, on a bike, or on two feet? What makes your time more important than anyone else's time? Perform an experiment. Next time you are behind a cyclist, time how long it takes you to wait for a safe place to pass. I'm betting you will be surprised how short that time really is.

The article is a demonstration of ignorance personified, written from the narrow minded point of view of a cyclist that gives no consideration to the perspective of others. Gee I wonder if this will be 'moderated' out lol.

Just get a mtn bike

Dorian Douma _ NO-ONE has "right of way" (except peds on a crossing, trains on a crossing, and animals in National Parks). Other people, in other circumstances, may well have PRIORITY. But they must be prepared for priority not to be given to them. Remember - the cyclist may be aware of something thst you are not.

Great article, explains motives really well. Most cyclist wish to share the road, but are 'bullied' off be motorists who simply don't know better or worse, have an opposite opinion to this article. Safe cycling and driving all.

The majority of cyclists do have insurance, although they probably don't realise it. Aside from the ones with specific cover from the Cycle Touring Club or similar, most home insurance policies have 3rd party liability which, whilst excluding 3rd party liability whilst driving a motor vehicle, do include riding a bicycle. Having said that, it's another red-herring put about by selfish motorists - the number of incidents of cyclists causing any 3rd party damage is so vanishingly small as to be immaterial.

I consider myself a sensible and careful cyclist, and most motorists I encounter give me consideration and a safe distance, however I did have to stick my arm out last week to prevent a car overtaking me on a narrow road with a car already coming towards me, was I supposed to go into the bushes on my left? Also many thanks to the driver last night who deliberately lunged his car towards me whilst waiting to turn right, in front of me, he smirked when I shouted "what do you think you're doing?" such idiots are the exception though fortunately. Some motorists seem to think all cyclists behave like cycle messengers, when the fact is that all kinds of people cycle. All I want to do is get to and from work without being injured or killed thanks very much.

Richard Blevin, you seem to have misundersood that the article is referring to motorists parked on the left opening their right hand doors, OR motorists turning right!

As a driver and cyclist I can see the perspective of both kinds of road user. I would encourage all drivers who have not cycled on the road to try it for a few hours. Regarding insurance many cyclists do have it, for example any member of British Cycling has it included in their membership.

Instantly on the offensive. We are people talking about people, not 'I have more right to this than you'. GROW UP THE LOT OF YOU and STOP risking lives in order to get from A to B 15 seconds sooner!

I have insurance and mist club riders will have too as part of their membership.

"Cyclists will also assume the primary position to avoid "dooring" by motorists opening their car doors without looking, or when about to turn right." I'm sorry, do a lot of drivers open their doors whilst trying to turn right?

I have no objection to anyone using the roads if they are being sensible and safe. What I do object to is the cyclists lack of insurance. All road users should have to be insured - yes we will always have people who dodge it but I feel cyclists should be made to have insurance in the same way that I have to for my car and motorbike.

YouTube, 'Bad driving Leigh-On-Sea' up to 70 odd.

As much as some people hate cyclists (and visa-versa), people should ride and drive cooperatively, less gridlock will be the result. To me, a pedestrian is the vulnerable one to protect, so I slow down and keep a good distance. Thankfully most drivers see cyclists the same way. A big thumbs up to all the polite, cooperative drivers out there!

blah blah blah road tax, car tax cyclists bashing. My grandmother who neither drove or rode a bike paid income tax which paid for the upkeep of the roads. There is NO SUCH THING AS ROAD TAX, it's VED based on emissions and pollution. So all those car drivers and cyclists who ride or park on pavements such the *&*&(*& up as you have no more right to do that than a pedestrian has to scratch the hell out of your paintwork. Pavements / footpaths are for .....FEET not Wheels! The highway code gives cyclists the right to cycle in the primary position and for safety they can do so , so unless you are the most considerate safe driver in the world or that this planet has seen I suggest you keep quiet as most comments on here suggest not one driver is calm enough to drive or even possibly know the highway code in full anyway.

Cyclists, white van man, bmw sales rep, everyone is just in too much of a hurry! Chill out, respect other humans in what ever transport they choose. I ride a motorcycle to work, I also cycle and occasionally drive. There are poor cyclists, drivers and motorcycle riders on our roads, and always will be, just try not to let them upset you. No one is more important than the other, even if you do pay more tax.

I get tired of all the articles basically slamming car drivers and make cyclist seem innocent. I don't care about cyclists following these rules in the Peak District. What I really do care about is those cyclists who annoy me on my daily journey to work - cycling on the path when cars are waiting at lights or to pass single lane areas, then cycling straight back onto the road without signalling and WITHOUT LOOKING. They do not wear helmets yet they squeeze down the side of buses and lorries, knowing that they are invisible and knowing that the driver who has not seen them could end up in prison for years if they get knocked off their bikes with no helmets - because the cyclists cannot wait 30 seconds. Surely cyclists can see that they have a small amount of safety for themselves and do not need to keep blaming car drivers, when an awful lot of us are actually very careful.

I had one of the types do it this morning and to add insult to injure there was an off road cycle lane next to him... need less to say he got hooted before and when I did manage to pass

Its vehicle exise duty. As a cyclist I don't eat and ride, more sit at liggts playing with my phone more do I park illegally on red lines or double yellows while I "just nip in for a coffee" I don't damage the roads as a car would more do I cause pollution, I spot dangers in the roads and point them out to you moterists with my reactions to them. Further more I give you less congestion so you have more room to move (how many cars and vehicles do you see on the road which have one person in them, think of the emotions and the space that one person car takes up not to mention the damage to the road by so many one person vehicles cause. I'm a cycle courier I spend many many hours on the road on my bike, I can't begin to explain the I'll behaviour I experience towards me (well I could but shan't do so here) In being a cycle courier I take a white van off the road as I'm able to go down lanes that a van can't fit down and cycle tracks to get you your payment for a house, to get your jewelry valued at the assay office, transport many thousands if not thousands of pounds of documents to and from lawyers around my city, I keep businesses afloat too with the quick transport of documents.. Being a cyclist and working like I do has a lot of worth and benefit to society. All I ask is not to be abused and a little more understanding from motorists -no one wants to be abused especially at work.

Re Jack W comment that cyclists don't pay road tax: I pay road tax, I am a cyclist. Does that give me, the cyclist the same rights as me a driver? Should I display a tax disc on my back when my car is sitting on my drive? Hang on, that won't work. No tax discs now,and what about drivers approaching from the front?

Road TAX is for emitions

jack wiseman. Car owners don't pay road tax either. But they still use the roads. They pay a vehicle licence fee. It has nothing to do with road funding other than in the same way everyone's income tax is used for roads. In the UK I am unaware of any hypothecated taxes.

Cyclists pay no road tax therefore in my book, claiming that they have the same rights on the road as a car is absolute bull. Same goes for Horse riders.

@Geoff Payne, many cycle lanes are basically unfit for purpose, some of them are just bewildering. The one on my old commute was outright dangerous and merged back into a busy dual carriageway in a blind corner! We'd need a much better cycle lane network for it to be a good and safe option across most of the UK.

@Geoff Payne I've been riding in Manchester fro the past two years. Manchester has the LARGEST student population for any city in the EU (90,000 i believe). this is the main reason why i choose to use a road over a cycle lane 9/10. i know how cars and other road users should behave. i cant anticipate how people will walk. imagine if u shared the road with pedestrians.

Our local council spent a small fortune constructing a special cycle lane between our town centre and the station. Hardly see any cyclists using it. Don't come moaning to us drivers about the roads being unsafe! How would you like me to drive on your cycle lane? I bet you would be the first to complain!! Had a cyclist run into the back of my car whilst I was turning into a driveway whilst he was busy playing with his iPod, had a go at me for being stationary waiting for the oncoming traffic to clear! Err excuse me, I am following the rules of the road, pity he wasn't. Cyclists = Uninsured Menace End of story....

Im a motorist along with a keen cyclist. I agree some drivers should experience riding on the busy roads. I always give ample room for cyclists whilst driving and patience. All motorists should folow suit. SHAME SOME DON'T

I understand and respect the reasons that cyclists will not be using the gutters as a road. I even understand why cyclists would wish to travel two abreast. What I cannot understand is why cyclists do not use cycle paths especially during busy times for the roads. I feel that the use of cycle paths should be made compulsory but time limited to enable the road racers to practice during quieter times.

All drivers, as part of the driving test should have to ride a bike in traffic as well. This would give them an appreciation of both sides. Likewise, councillors, MP's and MEP's should only have a vote on transport issues if they have kept up an annual minimum amount of riding a bike in mixed conditions, used buses and trains and been a pedestrian. They would then be in a position where they could comment through knowledge not ignorance.

Hello, now I've read a good few comments an now putting my 2cents worth in, I cycle 2 miles each way to work and on my short journey I have to say the roads today are terrifying, I have dock roads an a town centre to deal with, on the dock roads I get loads of wagons, industrial equipment (loaders, shunters etc etc) all pulling out on me on an almost daily basis. I then pass into the town centre with traffic islands, lights an a rail crossing to face, I ride as safely as possible but still I get abusive behaviour (countless verbal and 5 times physical) all because on the main road (note there is no cycle path an road is the only option short of walking) its got only one side with palking bays an just enough room for cars to pass going both ways, so when I try to stay in the middle an not so close to the parked (so not to damage them or have them slice me in half when they just swing open their doors without looking (this is the reason for 2 of the physical confrontations- me getting doors opened on me an them not liking me calling them careless jerks)) as you might guess from my nickname on here I'm a HGV driver so have fit into all 4 of the main headings of types of road users (pedestrian, cyclist, car driver an large vehicle driver) an honestly this artical is both great an rubbish, its great because it points out a reason for why cyclists may do something a non cyclist might not realise but is also rubbish because its causing people to go nuts based on some of the comments I've read, as I've said I have been at some point in most situations one might normally be in an seen both great an shocking actions from all the headings of road users. We are all seeing things from our own perspective an so can not or should not judge others an should just chill hell we might be dead tomorrow

Sorry I wrote that our laws need to be fixed, when I meant to write that they need to be enforced.

As a cyclist, I have to yield to other traffic all the time, for my own safety and theirs. And sometimes, I force other traffic to yield to me. As a driver, I had to do the exact same thing, except I was in the way of more people, which is why I switched to cycling when I'm trying to move within the city. When the roads were redesigned for cars, they became tools in an effort to pit drivers against everyone else trying to use the roads. That has to be undone, and our laws need to be fixed. When a lane becomes a battle ground between cyclists and drivers, it usually turns into a bike lane, and the sidewalk next to it gets widened. So just keep in mind, every space that drivers disrespect by breaking or bending the right of way laws will get taken away from them.

1.most club-type cyclists are not a problem. 2.urban hero cyclists with dark clothes, no lights and little respect for anything (even if it can hurt them) are a real problem. One such local rides with a phone in one hand. 3.there is no such thing as road tax, it's just tax. 4.everyone should have to ride a bike for cycling awareness for some number of hours every few years 5.cyclists should have to pass a proficiency test including car awareness 6.everyone should be a bit less impatient with everyone else

no such thing as road tax, it is called vehicle excise tax, and some cars are rated zero tax for the same reasons as bicycles.

Every evening when driving home from Bristol I encounter cyclists on the road at least half a meter from the kerb, when there is a cycle path beside the road. Drivers then need to wait to overtake, then when the traffic stops in large lines with a 200mm gap on the inside, the cyclists by an unknown miracle manage to still cycle in this small gap, what the F**K!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am a car and motorcycle driver and cycle to work and back 14 miles each way at least twice a week. Very frustrated with cyclists who think that they rule the road !

I am both cyclist and motorist .. so when I am out on my bike .. I have still patois my Road tax!!

As a car driver, motorcyclist and cyclist I appreciate the arguments from all the sides. I think one of the main bug bears non-cyclists have is when cyclists get high and mighty and claim equality with non-cyclists. What road tax do cyclists pay? What compulsory insurance do we have and what highly taxed fuel do we use. Let's be honest if everyone was a cyclist there would be no roads to cycle on because the gov't wouldn't have any money for roads. Oh and Steven Clarke have you ever tried spotting a mobile user while travelling in a highly visible patrol car, it's nigh on impossible.

Cyclists are road users. Please treat them the same as any other road user. I.e. give them space. I. e. treat them as cars. Even if u have to drive a but slower. So what!! They are people on a more fragile form of transport. Respect!!

I could lose most if my evening countering the ill-informed drivel that some people have posted on here but let's just look at insurance (yes, Tim Smith, I mean you). You can get 3rd party Cyclist insurance for as little as £20 per year. Why so cheap? Because, in the main, that is a reflection of the level of risk a cyclist represents to other road users; i.e. almost nil. So why the cries for compulsory insurance? What would it solve and would it apply to a 12 yr old cycling to school? Research shows that as many as 4 out of 5 accidents between motorists and cyclists are the motorist's fault and I think you'll find it hard to claim for damage to your paintwork when you've just consigned me to a wheelchair. One more thing. Can we please stop obsessing about Lycra? I know I don't look great in it but it's practical. You don't do your evening run wearing brogues or play tennis in a duffel coat so stop staring at my peachy bottom and concentrate on driving.