Rules for cyclists (59 to 82)

Part of: The Highway Code

The Highway Code for Northern Ireland's rules for cyclists.

59 (clothing)

You should wear in the correct size and securely fastened:

  • a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations
  • appropriate clothes for cycling - avoid clothes that may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
  • light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users see you in daylight and poor light
  • reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark

Highway Code for Northern Ireland rule 59 - help yourself be seen


Between sunset and sunrise your cycle must have white front and red rear lights lit. It must also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 24 January 1996). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.

Law RVLR regs 13, 15, 21 & 27 (as amended by RVL(A)R)

When cycling

61 (cycle routes and other facilities)

Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

62 (cycle tracks)

These are normally located away from the road but may also be found alongside footways or footpaths. Cyclists or pedestrians may be segregated or they may share the same space (unsegregated). When using segregated tracks you must keep to the side intended for cyclists as the pedestrian side remains a footway or footpath. Take care when passing pedestrians, especially children, older or disabled people, and allow them plenty of room. Always be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary. Take care near road junctions as you may have difficulty seeing other road users, who might not notice you.

Law RTRO Arts 3 & 4(5)

63 (cycle lanes)

These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see rule 140). When using a cycle lane, keep within the lane when practicable. Before leaving a cycle lane check that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users. Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.


You must not cycle on a footway or footpath unless on a cycle track where one has been provided.

Law RTRO Art 3

65 (bus lanes)

Most bus lanes, excluding motorway bus lanes, may be used by motorcyclists and cyclists as indicated on signs. Watch out for people getting on or off a bus. Be very careful when overtaking a bus or leaving a bus lane as you will be entering a busier traffic flow.


You should:

  • keep both hands on the handlebars except when signalling or changing gear
  • keep both feet on the pedals
  • never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads or when riding round bends
  • not ride close behind another vehicle
  • not carry anything that will affect your balance or may get caught up with your wheels or chain
  • be considerate of other road users, particularly blind and partially sighted pedestrians, let them know you are there when necessary, for example by sounding your bell or horn


You should:

  • look all around before moving away from the kerb, turning or manoeuvring, to make sure it is safe to do so - give a clear signal to show other road users what you intend to do
  • look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, pot-holes and parked vehicles so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them - leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened or pedestrians stepping into your path
  • be aware of traffic coming up behind you
  • take extra care near road humps, narrowings and other traffic calming features
  • take care when overtaking (see rules 162–169)


You must not:

  • carry a passenger unless your cycle has been built or adapted to carry one
  • hold on to a moving vehicle or trailer
  • ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner
  • ride when under the influence of drink or drugs including medicine

Law RTO 1995 Arts 35, 37, 42, 43 & 44


You must obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

Laws RTO 1995 Art 50 & TSR reg 8


When parking your cycle:

  • find a conspicuous location where it can be seen by passers-by
  • use cycle stands or other cycle parking facilities wherever possible
  • do not leave it where it would cause an obstruction or hazard to other road users
  • secure it well so that it will not fall over and become an obstruction or hazard


You must not cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic (see rule 178).

Laws RTO 1995 Art 50 & TSR reg 33(1)

Road junctions

72 (on the left)

When approaching a junction on the left, watch out for vehicles turning in front of you, out of or into the side road. Just before you turn, check for undertaking cyclists or motorcyclists. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left.


Pay particular attention to long vehicles, which need a lot of room to manoeuvre at corners. Be aware that drivers may not see you. They may have to move over to the right before turning left. Wait until they have completed the manoeuvre because the rear wheels come very close to the kerb while turning. Do not be tempted to ride in the space between them and the kerb.

74 (on the right)

If you are turning right, check the traffic to ensure it is safe, then signal and move to the centre of the road. Wait until there is a safe gap in the oncoming traffic before completing the turn. It may be safer to wait on the left until there is a safe gap or to dismount and push your cycle across the road.

75 (dual carriageways)

Remember that traffic on most dual carriageways moves quickly. When crossing, wait for a safe gap and cross each carriageway in turn. Take extra care when crossing slip roads.



Full details about the correct procedure at roundabouts are contained in rules 184 to 190 and in the Appendix. Roundabouts can be hazardous and should be approached with care.


You may feel safer walking your cycle round on the footway, footpath or verge. If you decide to keep to the left you should:

be aware that drivers may not easily see you
take extra care when cycling across exits. You may need to signal right to show you are not leaving the roundabout
watch out for vehicles crossing your path to leave or join the roundabout


Give plenty of room to long vehicles on the roundabout as they need more room to manoeuvre. Do not ride in the space they need to get round the roundabout. It may be safer to wait until they have cleared the roundabout.

Crossing the road


Do not ride across equestrian crossings, as they are for horse riders only.  Do not ride across a pelican, puffin or zebra crossing. Dismount and wheel your cycle across.

80 (toucan crossings)

These are light-controlled crossings, which allow cyclists and pedestrians to share crossing space and cross at the same time. They are push-button operated. Pedestrians and cyclists will see the green signal together. Cyclists are permitted to ride across.

81 (cycle-only crossings)

Cycle tracks on opposite sides of the road may be linked by signalled crossings. You may ride across but you must not cross until the green cycle symbol is showing.

Law TSR reg 33(1)

82 (level crossings/tramways)

Take extra care when crossing the tracks (see rule 306). You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘Cyclist Dismount’ sign is displayed.

Additional rules

These rules are in addition to those in the following sections, which apply to all vehicles.

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