Before you set off

Riding a cycle that is too big or too small for you can affect your balance.

Make sure your cycle is safe to ride. The brakes must work properly and tyres should be in good condition and pumped up. The chain should be correctly adjusted and oiled and it is a good idea to fit a bell. Wear a cycle helmet - it will help to protect you if you are unlucky enough to bang your head.

When you have to carry anything on your cycle, use a bike bag or panniers. Carrying things on your handlebars makes steering difficult - they could also catch in the front wheel. Make sure that your clothing is not caught in the chain or wheels.

Make sure that other road users can see you. Wear fluorescent materials in daylight and at dusk, and something reflective at night. A cycle spacer may be helpful as a warning to other drivers. At night you must have front and back lights which work well, and a clean back reflector. Spoke and pedal reflectors are also useful.

On all routes

Please be courteous! Always cycle with respect for others, whether other cyclists, pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, horse riders or drivers, and acknowledge those who give way to you.

On shared use paths

  • give way to pedestrians, leaving them plenty of room
  • keep to your side of any dividing line
  • be prepared to slow down or stop if necessary
  • do not expect to cycle at high speeds
  • be careful at junctions, bends and entrances
  • many people are hard of hearing or visually impaired - do not assume that people can see or hear you
  • carry a bell and use it - do not surprise people
  • give way where there are wheelchair users and horse riders

On roads

  • always follow the Highway Code
  • be seen - most accidents to cyclists happen at junctions
  • fit lights and use them in poor visibility
  • consider wearing a helmet and conspicuous clothing
  • keep your bike roadworthy - visit the cycling experts website for maintenance information
  • do not cycle on pavements except where designated - pavements are for pedestrians
  • use your bell - not all pedestrians can see you

In the countryside

  • follow the Countryside Code, which you can download below 
  • respect other land management activities such as farming or forestry and take litter home
  • keep erosion to a minimum if offroad
  • be self-sufficient - in remote areas carry food, repair kit, map and waterproofs
  • try to cycle or use public transport to travel to and from the start and finish of your ride
  • cycle within your capabilities
  • match your speed to the surface and your skills

Downloadable documents

If you are unable to view documents of these types, our downloads page provides links to viewing software.

This page was last updated on 24 November 2016

Information for road users

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