Right of way on lanes

Right of way on lanes

I do most of my cycling on narrow country lanes, where I am occasionally confronted by an oncoming, aggressively-driven vehicle taking up almost the whole width of the road. Would I be correct, legally, in maintaining that I do have the right of way in this situation?

I am riding well over to my side of the road, whilst the other vehicle is well over the imaginary centre line onto my side.

Peter A Moir

In the UK, vulnerable road users, e.g. cyclists and pedestrians, are not afforded as much protection in comparison with several other EU countries such as France or the Netherlands, where there is strict liability. This means that if a motorist collides with a cyclist or pedestrian, they are obliged to compensate them for their injuries or loss. In the UK, any person who pursues a claim has the burden of proving both liability (i.e. blame) and also the extent of their loss. Cycling UK has campaigned for the UK to be brought into line with EU countries and for tougher sentences for bad drivers.

The Highway Code, which was updated on 22 October 2012, provides advice to motorists in relation to driving on country roads:

154: Take extra care on country roads and reduce your speed at approaches to bends, which can be sharper than they appear, and at junctions and turnings, which may be partially hidden. Be prepared for pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists, slow-moving farm vehicles or mud on the road surface. Make sure you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear...

This does not mean that motorists are obliged to stop for oncoming cyclists.

If it is safe to do so, it is sensible to take a primary riding position on the road. Always be cautious when approaching a tight bend. A motorist travelling in the opposite direction ought to either stop or slow their vehicle. If there space, you can then pass the oncoming vehicle. If there is no space to pass, then either the vehicle will have to reverse to a passing point or, if easier, you may need to retrace your path. There is no need to take refuge in the nearest hedgerow. Cyclists have as much right to the road as motorists.

Paul Kitson

 

This was first published in the December 2012 / January 2013 edition of Cycle magazine.

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