Category Archives: Cyclist Law

Boris wants to treble cycling.. even though the Law is a Mess

Despite the English Legal System being heavily against the cyclist when injured or killed and  the CTC saying not enough is being paid towards safer cycle paths and the lack of compulsory wide blind spot mirrors for lorry drivers, Boris seems to want to treble cycling in London.

According to the London Cycling Campaign’s website, they “welcome London Mayor Boris Johnson’s formal declaration of his determination to boost cycling in London more than threefold, giving it a share of all journeys that is above 5% – more than 1.7 million journeys per day. 

Responding to LCC members’ magazine London Cyclist and BikeRadar, Johnson said:

“I fully intend to ensure that the cycling share of London journeys is massively increased in the coming years. TfL is working towards a target of 5% by 2025, but I will be working with TfL and the boroughs on new ideas that might enable us to be more ambitious. I’ve already asked TfL to develop plans for a bicycle hire scheme for London, along the lines of the hugely popular Velib scheme in Paris, to make cycling accessible to everyone.  We’ll work to make cycling safer and more convenient, and we’ll work with the boroughs to make cycling a priority. £2 million will also be made available for more secure parking facilities such as the Finsbury Park cycle park.”


Perhaps they can change a few laws that will actually benefit cyclists  like some other countrie Safety has to be backed up with better and supporting laws.


Downsizing Motorist Punishments in the Legal System – car centric juries

I had a chat this evening with J, who trained as a lawyer as Oxford (in criminal law) a few years back (though he does something else now) and he said that some motoring laws have been changed as ‘juries, often motorists’ failed to convict so, this, he says, things were made more lenient as ‘it was pointless’ as a tougher sentence ie manslaughter would stop them from convicting because ‘juries think, well, I am a motorist, and that could happen to me’. So, sometimes, it’s the car-centric juries, not helping matters much.

However, why other countries tougher? J said it was because ‘motorists hate cyclists’!

Good Ideas from USA: Bicycle Commuter Benefts Act

Thanks to Cyclelicious for this:

“President Bush signed the Bicycle Commuter Benefits Act into law.

Congressman Blumenauer of Oregon included a bike commuter benefit provision in HR1424, the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package that passed the house today and was signed by President Bush shortly afterward.

“We are delighted that the bicycle commuter benefits act has passed after a lengthy and persistent campaign spearheaded by Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR),” said League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke. “Bicycle commuters will now be extended similar benefits to people who take transit and drive to work – it’s an equitable and sensible incentive to encourage greater energy independence, improve air quality and health, and even help tackle climate change. Thanks to everyone who has helped reach this milestone, especially Walter Finch and Mele Williams, our government relations staff over the years who have worked tirelessly with Congressman Blumenauer, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and many others in Congress.”

The benefit — up to $20 per month — begins with the new year in 2009. Employers may reimburse employees, tax free, for “reasonable” expenses related to their bike commute, including equipment purchases, bike purchases, repairs, and storage if the bicycle is used as a “substantial part” of the commuter’s trip to work for the month.”


Just one good thing he has done!

Now it just needs to reach across the Pond to ‘Backward Britain’. Wonder what Gordon Brown is going to do? Nothing!

Watch this space though it is like watching paint to dry. We will probably get this when I am dead and pushing daisies. That’s how confident I am in Gordon Brown Country. I don’t even have bicycle racks at my place of work even though it is in the leisure industry and you would expect bicycles racks there! We have pressed, but it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference.

Cycle Lighting.. according to English Law

According to the Regulations:

  • You need a front lamp. It should be on the centre-line or off side of the vehicle and aligned to and visible from the front. It should be not more than 1500 mm above the ground. It should be white (or yellow if it is incorporated in a headlamp which is capable of emitting only a yellow light). It should be marked with a British Standard Mark namely “BS 6102/3” (or its equivalent).
  • You need a rear lamp which should also be on the centre-line or off side of the vehicle aligned to and visible from the rear. It should also be not more than 1500 mm and not less than 350mm above the ground. It should have an angle of visibility 80O to the left and to the right and it should be red. It should be marked either with the British Standards Institution 3648:1963 or “BS 6102/3”.
  • You also need a rear reflector complying with the appropriate British Standard Mark between 350mm and 900 mm from the ground. New bikes will invariably be fitted with one: you wouldn’t take it off but it is unlikely to be your main line of defence.
  • Finally, you need two amber reflectors on each pedal complying with BS6102/2. Once again, you would not necessarily remove these from your pedal. They appear to be the least visible or useful of all lighting devices but if one breaks, as they invariably do, given their position, you should replace it in order to remain within the law.In addition to the illegality of flashing lights, there are a number of other relevant restrictions:
    • There is a prohibition on lights which move. So you cannot attach a light (other than a reflector) to pedals or wheels.
    • No lamp should be used so as to cause undue dazzle or discomfort to any persons using the road. Views will of course differ but the attentions of an enthusiastic policeman may be avoided if the angle of an intense front light is dipped slightly.
    • The other surprising technicality is that modern LED lights arguably do not comply with the relevant British Standard. The standard has been amended to cover LED lights but because of the way the standard is referred to in the Regulations, they arguably remain illegal. To comply strictly with the law, you must use an old fashioned, less efficient filament bulb as your main light and the powerful, highly visible LED light as a somewhat artificial “back-up”.


The above comes from the Cyclist Defence Fund….


Reading the small print, it means I must have a BS standard front light .. because that complies with the law, not strictly the LED ones. Great I have a LED one..  I ought to check my bicycle for pedal reflectors too… I don’t really pay attention to those. The thing is, what is the point having piddly pedal reflectors when you have a proper Hi Viz vest.. what is better???!

Today’s Cycling News

I’ve just read on a council website that Finsbury Council, in London, pressurised by European Health & Safety Regulations, will spend up to £1.5 million on extra staff and brooms to sweep up the city’s cycle paths off ‘dangerous rubbish’ that could cause punctures and accidents to London’s cyclists and those who take part in London’s charity rides or large  rides such in Critical Mass.

 One of the cyclists from The Finsbury Wheelers, thought the council ‘was barking’ but ‘at least they’re doing something for us cyclists at long last’.  Sam M, a bike messenger, said ‘they should sort them flamin’  potholes out first’.

A Finsbury Council spokewoman, Brenda Ling, said ‘we take our responsibility to cyclists very seriously and no doubt other London Councils will follow. If anyone wants to report any potholes, we should be happy to look into this.’

 More on this article on

Cyclist’s Defence Fund.. Legal assistance for British Cyclists

The following links may be of assistance:

  • The Highway Code can be found here.
  • An apparent change in the approach to policing the Critical Mass event in London has produced some interesting debate on the legal status of the event. Samples of that debate are here, with acknowedgement where possible. The Fund is investigating the nature of the steps taken by groups, including Friends of the Earth, to clarify the legal position.
  • We have produced a brief summary of the options to consider for funding a legal case or claim.
  • There is also a guide to liability in cases involving cyclists available.
  • What if you’re case involves an issue of contributory negligence? Perhaps because of the non-use of a cycle helmet?
  • The CTC’s Technical Officer, Chris Juden, has produced a summary of the regulations and standards that affect the equipment used by cyclists. In short: whether your bike is legal to ride on the road and whether it was legal for the shop to sell it like that. You can find it here.
  • And if you’re case involves cycle lights then this article may be of use.
  • The Public Law Project has published – Third party interventions in judicial review (2001)
  • The Centre for Corporate Accountability has some interesting research publications.
  • Liberty has a wide range of briefing papers on all aspects of law.
  • The Law Centres Federation is the place to go when you need to find someone who provide free legal advice.
  • Justice has a useful set of publications.
  • Here’s a link to a different Cyclists’ Defense Fund, not to be confused with us. This link has a critical mass connection!
  • There’s a forum that explores cycling and the law.