Cycling Myths Busted

“Myth Busters” are reproduced by kind permission from

Frances Chaloner  [ Cycling UK’s former Cycling Development Officer ]

Cycling on Pavements


Cycle Lighting

Cycling and Alcohol

Advanced Stop Lines

More Details at Bike hub

Cycling & the Law from ETA

Cycle Law

Cycling on Pavements


Is cycling on the pavement against the law?


Yes. Cycling on the footway (pavement) is an offence under Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 as amended by Section 85 (1) of the Local Government Act 1888.


Footways are not footpaths! ‘Footways’ (pavements) are not the same as ‘footpaths’ and their legal status differs.  A footway runs alongside the carriageway, whereas a footpath is located away from it. 

For more, see CTC’s briefing on Public Footpaths


Who is responsible for enforcing the laws and what are the penalties for breaking the laws?


The enforcement of cycling offences is an operational matter for local police forces.The police use the Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £30, which provides them with a direct means of dealing with most minor offences.The Road Traffic Act 1991 makes the two most serious cycling offences parallel to those of dangerous and careless driving. The maximum fines are currently £2,500 for dangerous cycling and £1,000 for careless cycling.


I would like to report a cycling on the pavement incident, what should I do?


As with other offending the Government encourages members of the public to give evidence of specific problems and of particularly dangerous behaviour to the police, which will help ensure that the police target their resources effectively.

The Government fully realises that illegal cycling on footways causes much concern particularly to our most vulnerable road users, such as elderly, disabled and visually impaired people. There is no excuse for cyclists who break this or other road traffic laws such as going through red lights.


Are children allowed to cycle on pavements?


Whilst there is no exemption to this law for children, the police have always used common sense and discretion in exercising their powers over children cycling on the pavement. Very young children should not be expected to cycle on the road and we would not recommend any child does so until they have received cycle training.  Children under the age of 10 are below the age of criminal responsibility, hence they cannot be prosecuted for criminal offences. Enforcement of cycling on pavements is usually dealt with by a fixed penalty notice, which cannot be issued to anyone under the age of 16. 

If you are anxious about cycling in traffic on the road. 

Then maybe you would benefit from a Bikeability training course.  Sessions are suitable cyclists of all ages and not just for youngsters. 

Course Details


To be legal at night your bike should have a rear reflector and pedal reflectors

Clipless pedallers be warned!

Reflector sets are available for some clipless pedals:

eg Shimano spd MTB pedals

Reflective shoes are a good idea but are not a legal substitute for pedal reflectors).

However, if your bike was made before October 1985 pedal reflectors are not required by law.

Rear Reflector

One is required, coloured red, marked BS6102/2 (or equivalent), positioned centrally or offside, between 350mm and 900mm from the ground, at or near the rear, aligned towards and visible from behind.

Pedal Reflectors

Four are required, coloured amber and marked BS6102/2 (or equivalent), positioned so that one is plainly visible to the front and another to the rear of each pedal.

Other Reflectors

The Pedal Cycles (Safety) Regulations (PCSR) ensure that every new bicycle is sold with extra reflectors, these are not required by law. The additional reflectors are found on the sides of the wheels (clear white or coloured yellow), and on the front of the bike (white). You are at liberty to remove the side and front reflectors.

Cycle Lighting

The need to have a good set of bike lamps for night riding is of paramount importance. The rules and regulations concerning bike lights are not well understood and today we are looking at flashing LED lights to help clarify this area of bike lighting:

Flashing lights became legal in 2005 and can be approve , meaning no other light is needed

For LED flashing lights to be both legal and approved, the following provisos apply:

Parking on Cycle Lanes

There are two types of cycle lanes:

Mandatory Lanes

The Highway Code advises that drivers of vehicles:

Cycling and Alcohol

The Highway Code is quite clear in advising that cyclists should not:


ride when under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicine (so that includes the hot toddy drinkers!)

ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner

If caught in the act you can be charged with the following offences:

“cycling on a road or public place whilst under the influence of drink or drugs”

Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991, provides the offence of cycling on a road or public place whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. It states:
30(1) A person who, when riding a cycle on a road or other public place, is unfit to ride through drink or drugs (that is to say, is under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle) is guilty of an offence

“being drunk in charge of a carriage”

There is no offence of 'being in charge' of a cycle under the Road Traffic Acts, but such conduct may well be an offence of drunk in charge of a carriage under section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872. A bicycle or tricycle is a carriage for the purpose of that section.

you cannot be breathalysed for it

If the evidence of the extent to which a person is affected must be measured by means other than the provision of a specimen of breath, blood or urine, as there is no power to require such a specimen in these circumstances. However, if such a specimen was offered, it is probable that the evidence obtained by analysis of the specimen would be admissible.

you cannot get any points put on your driving licence.

Even the Police like to discuss the finer points of the law on this topic! PC’s Forum

Alcohol decreases co-ordination but heightens confidence, an unfortunate combination if you are on 2 wheels.  The dehydrating effects cause the brain to shrink, and leads to hangovers.  Really, we should avoid it as it is a poison, but it is so much part of our culture that abstention is just not going to happen for most of us!

You could walk pushing your bike, but CTC’s legal department caution that you might risk being charged with “drunken and disorderly behaviour”!  So do the sensible thing, if you intend to go out and have more than a couple of drinks, leave the bike and take a licensed taxi.


Advanced Stop Lines (ASL)

These allow cyclists to wait ahead of the other traffic at some junctions controlled by traffic signals, and are normally approached by a cycle lane so that the stationary traffic can be passed to get in the ASL box, I would not recommend riding as close to kerb as the cyclist shown here!

As far as other traffic is concerned:

Transport for London have done counts on levels of ASL infringement and are looking at bringing in camera enforcement (similar to camera enforcement of bus lanes and junctions). This would mean a fixed penalty notice would be issued to drivers willfully entering the ASL


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