Cycling Law - Update and Practice Points

APIL Transport Special Interest Group, 6 March 2012

1. Rules of the Road

Definition of “Pedal cycle”:

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

A vehicle which is not constructed or adapted to be propelled by mechanical power and which is equipped with pedals, including an electrically-assisted pedal cycle.


Section 30 Road Traffic Act 1988

·         Subjective test

·         It is an offence for a person to ride a cycle on a road or other public place when unfit to ride through drink or drugs – that is to say – is under the influence of a drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle.


Section 89 Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

"A person who drives a motor vehicle on a road at a speed exceeding a limit imposed by or under any enactment to which this section applies shall be guilty of an offence."

Bicycle lights

Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989

·         Lights required from sunset to sunrise.

·         Front light - BS6102/3 , or an equivalent EC standard

·         Rear light - BS3648, or BS6102/3, or an equivalent EC standard

·         Rear reflector

·         Pedal reflector (unless manufactured before 1st October 1985).

·         Legal to have a flashing light on a pedal cycle, provided it flashes between 60 and 240 times per minute (1 – 4Hz) and the brightness is 4 candelas or higher.

Section 7 Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983

An independent braking mechanism for front and rear wheels required.

Dangerous cycling

Section 28 Road Traffic Act 1988

1.      A person who rides a cycle on a road dangerously is guilty of an offence.
2.      For the purposes of subsection (1) above a person is to be regarded as riding dangerously if (and only if)—
i)        the way he rides falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful cyclist, and
ii)       it would be obvious to a competent and careful cyclist that riding in that way would be dangerous.

2. Case Update

Malasi –v- Attmed (2011)

Case heard by Judge Seymour in the High Court

·         Mr Malasi was cycling with his head down and passed through a traffic light whilst it was red.

·         Taxi coming from the left-hand entrance to the junction was driven by Mr Attmed. He was driving at 41-50 mph where there had been a speed limit of 30 mph.

·         Court heard that there would have been no accident if the cyclist had:

(i)      complied with the traffic signal
(ii)    reduced his speed by 0.3 to 0.4 seconds
(iii)   looked out for the driver

·         However, if the taxi had not been “Gloriously in excess of the speed limit” there would have been no accident.

·         Defendant tried to rely on Quinn v Scott [1965] 1 W.L.R. 1004, to show that travelling at a high speed was not negligent unless particular conditions precluded it from being technically correct.  However, this case had been decided when there was no maximum speed limit, and Judge Seymour did not agree that it followed.

·         Driver found to be 20% liable for accident.

·         “In circumstances where [the driver] had had a good perception-response time, the fact that [the cyclist] had not been wearing a hi-visibility vest, and had been wearing dark clothing, was immaterial.”

3. Financial losses

Extra travel time

·         Collett –v- Bean (1999)

·         Motorcyclist – 1.5 hours of extra travel time as unable to ride to work

·         £50 per week loss.

Carbon Fibre bicycles

·         Carbon fibre framed bicycles are prone to cracks following an accident.

·         Need an x-ray or ultrasound to assess the damage which may be very expensive.

·         Cracks may not be visible even with x-ray or ultrasound assessment, so a latent danger of failure may still exist.

Cycle Helmets

·         Any impact involving a helmet may render it redundant.

·         May not show a cosmetic defect.

·         Helmet’s ability to slow the deceleration of head will be compromised.