Cycle safety has yet again been called into question by the death of Dan Harris, 28, who was killed by a bus carrying media representatives to the Olympic Park on 12 August this year.
The tragic accident sparked calls for cycle helmets to be a mandatory addition to the kit required by law for all cyclists on the road.
However, although Olympic gold medal winner Bradley Wiggins supports cycle safety, he stopped short of calling for a change in the law.
The argument over mandatory cycle helmets rages on. Those who support the idea point to evidence from the Department of Transport which shows that wearing a helmet prevented 10-16% of deaths in one survey. Further, the law was introduced in Australia in 1990 and the number of cycling-related deaths has fallen ever since.
However, the arguments against are numerous. Cycling deaths did fall in Australia, but only because the number of cyclists fell dramatically. Imposing a law which implies that an activity is not safe simply acts as a deterrent to the activity. Similarly, in many fatal cases, there is no strong evidence to suggest whether wearing a helmet would have helped.
Although cycle helmets are not yet mandatory, there are plenty of laws which do affect UK cyclists and which all cyclists should be aware of.
Clothing and equipment
Cyclists are strongly encouraged to wear a helmet, fluorescent clothing and reflective clothing in the dark but this is a recommendation not a law. The law contained in the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 does state that bikes must be fitted with a white front and red rear lights and reflectors if cycling in the dark.
That law also states that bikes manufactured after 1 October 1985 must be fitted with amber pedal reflectors although this aspect is rarely enforced.
Failing to comply with these regulations could land you with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) and a £30 fine.
Where you can ride your bike
Cycles are defined as 'carriages' after the leading case of Taylor v Goodwin (1879) and as a result are not allowed on pavements. Cyclists are therefore prohibited from riding on pavements and under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 can be fined £30 using a FPN.
Cyclists who partially dismount on pavements and use their bike as a scooter should also be warned, after the judgement of Lord Justice Waller in Crank v Brooks 1980 walking along a pavement with a bike in hand is permitted, but using a bike as a scooter with one foot on the pedal is not.
Cycling and alcohol
Contrary to the popular myth you cannot receive endorsements on your driver's licence for riding your bicycle whilst drunk. However, rejoice not, as it is still an offence to ride your bike whilst unfit through drink or drugs according to the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 30.
The law is different from that for motorists and a cyclist is not obliged to submit a blood or urine sample. However, they can be charged with this offence which carries with it a maximum fine of up to £2,500.
Cyclists need to obey the rules of the road as applies to all road users. As a result it is an offence for a cyclist to run a red light, punishable if caught with a FPN £30 fine. Again, cyclists cannot receive endorsements on their driver's licence for running a red light whilst cycling.
Whilst drivers are banned from using mobile phones whilst driving, the same law, found in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (amended 2003) exempts cyclists by excluding bikes in the definition. Cyclists cannot therefore be legally stopped for using a mobile phone whilst cycling, although note that cycling dangerously is a serious offence and you may not be fully in control of your bike whilst chatting to your friends.
The Highway Code Rules for cyclists (Directgov)
Cycling and the Law (Bike Hub)