The topic of sharing space on our roads raises many questions for both cyclists and other road users. We have put together some FAQs based around water cooler gossip, emails and tweets we regularly receive!
Should cyclists cycle on the road if they are next to a cycle path or shared path?
Cyclists can cycle on either the road or a shared path. Some may choose the road if they wish to make quicker progress or the path is busy. Alternatively, even very experienced and confident cyclists often cycle on shared paths if they wish for a more leisurely ride. Many cycle journeys would involve using both the road and cycle or shared paths
Why don’t cyclists pay road tax if they use the road?
“Road tax” does not exist, and has not existed since the 1930s. What drivers do pay, however, is Vehicle Excise Duty, which is often known as road tax but is not strictly the same thing. Vehicle Excise Duty – what you pay for your car’s tax disc – is based on your vehicle’s emissions. Since a bike creates no emissions, it is not liable for Vehicle Excise Duty. However, road maintenance is funded out of general taxation so cyclists and pedestrians have the same right as motorists to use the roads. Also many cyclists are car drivers too.
Should cyclists follow the Highway Code?
Yes! All highway users need to follow the Highway Code. For example, cyclists and other highway users must stop at red lights. Also, Highway Code Rule 64 states ‘You must not cycle on a pavement’. Some pavements and paths are shared with other users and there will be signs or markings denoting this. It is the discretion of the police how to deal with cycling on the pavement as there is a difference with a very young child cycling slowly to an adult cycling, especially at speed.
Why don’t they bring the cycle proficiency test back?
It is back and hugely improved! Bikeability is ‘cycling proficiency’ for the 21st century and Bikeability was developed by more than 20 professional organisations. Over a million children in England have received on-road Bikeability training, which includes 20,000+ children in Devon. Training is available for adults too. Go to our cycle training pages for more information on free training.
What are shared paths?
Many local authorities are creating shared paths for everyone to use now as opposed to dedicated cycle or pedestrian paths. There may be people walking, running, cycling, scootering, walking dogs, in mobility scooters and wheelchairs. There may even be horses on some paths too! Based on police statistics there are very few collisions in relation to the amount of people that use them. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their actions and be polite and considerate. Our advice includes the following:
- Cycling at a speed that is appropriate to the conditions e.g. when the path is busy. Let people know you are coming – ring your bell or a friendly ‘Hello’ often works wonders. Be a cycling ambassador!
- Be aware of other people on the path and try and let them pass if they are progressing quicker than you.
- Always clear up after your dog which should be kept under control on a short lead (Highway Code rule 56). Some people are very wary of dogs.