New powers have been granted to local councils to enforce cycle lanes – but do you know your road markings?
Ignorance of the law is no defence, so with new bicycle facilities popping up all over our towns and cities at the moment, as cycling is encouraged to ease pressure on public transport during the Coronavirus pandemic, it is now more important than ever to know where and when you can park.
Cars or motorcycles illegally parked on mandatory cycle lanes can force cyclists to deviate from their path and put them at risk of conflict with passing vehicles. From today (22 June 2020) councils can use CCTV vans to record offences. There will always be a right of appeal if signage is unclear or mistakes have been made, but that can be a time-consuming hassle with no guarantee of success.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s Director of Policy and Research, therefore has these top tips to help ensure you know the rules of the road around cycle lanes and where you are allowed to park:
- Dust off your Highway Code and Know Your Traffic Signs knowledge. You can view both online to make sure you’re familiar with road signs and markings and what they mean.
- Rule 140 of the Highway Code is the main one for cycle lane advice. It states: “You must not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable. You must not park in any cycle lane whilst waiting restrictions apply.”
- When it comes to a cycle lane marked with broken white lines, use common sense in relation to the term ‘unavoidable’. While you should not normally cross them, there may be occasions when the confines of space or the nature of traffic dictate that it is unavoidable.
- It is your responsibility as a driver to check signage on street lights or poles to find out exactly what the parking restrictions are and the hours of operation of the cycle lane. These may have changed since you last visited your town centre. Even if a cycle lane looks temporary, if it has a solid white line it will be mandatory and the parking and stopping advice will apply.
- You can ‘pick up and set down passengers’ but that means you must never leave your vehicle unattended or stay too long. Loading information will be on plates or on kerb markings. If in doubt park or load somewhere else.
- With the introduction of pop-up cycle lanes and other initiatives to promote walking and cycling and keep public transport use to a minimum, check before you head out on the roads. Your local roads may be familiar to you, but they may have changed since you last ventured out on them.
Neil added, “Watch out for more cyclists than before on our roads. They have no airbags, crumple zones or seatbelts to protect them. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. It is important to give people the space – at least 1.5m – they need to use the road. At this time you should also expect a wider range of ages and abilities as more people try it out for the first time to avoid public transport.”