Last chance to give views on riding side by side say Cycling UK

Four cyclists riding in two pairs up a hill with a stone wall to their left
With just a day left for people to respond to Government proposals for a major overall of the Highway Code, Cycling UK says time is running out to help protect the principle of riding two abreast for millions of riders on UK roads.

The current wording of Rule 66 of the Code which covers guidance on how to cycle safely, says that while cycling, “You should … never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.”

The new proposed wording for Rule 66 in the Highway Code consultation states: “Cyclists’ should ride in single file when drivers wish to overtake and it is safe to let them do so. When riding in larger groups on narrow lanes, it is sometimes safer to ride two abreast.”

The national cycling charity is concerned that the wording could be interpreted by drivers to believe cyclists should move into single file whenever a driver wants to overtake, rather than when the cyclists thinks it is safe to do so.

Cycling UK points out that riding two abreast may not just be safer, it has also been an intrinsic part of the social side of cycling for generations.

Over the summer, the charity spoke to clubs and consulted with other bodies like British Cycling to develop a new wording which removes some of the ambiguity around when and where cyclists should be able to ride two abreast.

The result is a proposed new wording for Rule 66 as follows:

“Be considerate of the needs of other road users when riding in small or large groups. You can ride two abreast and it is often safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders. Switch to single file if you consider it safer to allow drivers to overtake.”

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said: “Riding two abreast is often safer for cyclists, and it’s also easier for drivers to safely overtake a group of cyclists riding two abreast than a longer line of cyclists in single file -  but this has never really been communicated in the Highway Code. The current Rule 66 causes confusion and conflict on the road, making our roads more dangerous: it leads some people to think it’s fine to overtake cyclists on a bend, and others that that cyclists shouldn’t ride two abreast.

“Cycling UK’s proposals for the revised wording clears this up, clarifying that it’s for the cyclist to decide when it’s safe to ride in single file and allow someone to overtake.

“As a society we need to make the roads safer for those most at risk, and if the proposed revisions to the Highway Code are implemented, we’ll be a step closer to achieving that.”

Riding two abreast is often safer for cyclists, and it’s also easier for drivers to safely overtake...but this has never really been communicated in the Highway Code

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK's head of campaigns

With the consultation on the proposed update to the Highway Code due to close at midnight tomorrow (Tuesday, 27 October), the charity has warned cyclists not to lose their chance to have their say.

In addition to rewording rule 66, Cycling UK is also calling for the new Highway Code to:

  • Introduce a 'hierarchy of responsibility', recognising that road users posing the greater risks to others should have a higher level of responsibility.
  • Address dangerous overtaking and ‘close passes’, by introducing a guideline minimum safe passing distance of 1.5m at 30mph, 2m at speeds above 30mph.
  • Endorse teaching of the ‘Dutch Reach’ a method to reduce the number of ‘car dooring’ incidents. The technique involves people becoming accustomed to opening car doors using the hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening, requiring you turn your head to look over your shoulder before opening the door, and increase the chance of spotting oncoming cyclists.
  • Introduce a universal priority rule, similar to most European countries, where whoever is turning into a junction has to give priority to anyone going straight ahead and has produced a short video explaining this.

So far just under 13,000 people have supported Cycling UK’s proposals. You can support Cycling UK’s proposals for Rule 66 and other changes to the Highway Code here


Notes to editors

Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone.  

For further reading about the proposed new wording of rule 66 of the Highway Code, read our blog.

This short video outlines the charity’s proposals for making road junction safer for those on two wheels, two feet or behind the wheel of a car

Press contact information

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call Richard Wevill on 07785 381648 or email