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Cycling myths debunked

Cycling myths debunked

Misinformation and myths can shape how some people view and treat vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. The following cycling myths will hopefully explain some commonly held theories!

Myth 1: Cyclists don’t pay road tax

Fact: Well, that’s true, but then no one does either, because it doesn’t exist.  Road tax was abolished in 1937

Motorists pay vehicle tax based on emissions. Everybody pays for roads through other forms of taxation. Therefore, all road users such as people walking, cycling and horse riders have as much right to use the road as motorists.

Many motorists believe that ‘cyclists don’t pay road tax’ and therefore have no right to use the road.

Drivers and cyclists have more in common than is often realised. With 80% of cyclists holding a driving licence, and 1 in 5 drivers cycling at least once a month, they are often the same people.


Myth 2: Cyclists shouldn’t be in the middle of the road

Fact: They are often safer there and the Highway Code recommends this Primary position in certain situations

 There is updated guidance in The Highway Code for people cycling about positioning themselves which includes riding in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings. Secondary position is a third of the way into the lane or about an arm’s length away from the kerb.

The Highway Code: 8 changes you need to know from 29 January 2022 – GOV.UK (


Myth 3: Cyclists always go through red lights

Fact. Some may and that it isn’t right. And drivers do it too.

No one should go through red lights.

The new rule H1 in the Highway Code states “those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others. This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles.”

The consequence of a driver of a car, weighing approx 1.5 tonnes travelling at 30mph, being involved in a collision, is obviously much worse than a person cycling.

Again, no one should go through red lights.


Myth 4: If there is a bike lane, people on bikes should get off the road.

Fact: People cycling can chose to ride on the road or a cycle or shared path (and often chose to do a bit of both)

 Some cycle trips are quicker, easier and more direct on the road. Drivers must expect to see people in or near the flow of traffic and definitely not in the gutter. They are traffic; the same as people driving.  People may prefer to cycle on the road as some off-road paths cross other junction which could increase the chances of a collision or conflict.

Drivers need to give people cycling (and those walking or horse riders) space – only overtake if they can do safely and try give 2 metres of space as they pass slowly.

Some cycle trips, especially leisure trips or when there is no hurry, are often better on a cycle path or shared path. Cyclists can choose, in the same way as drivers can often chose which type of roads to make their journeys on.


Myth 5. There isn’t the Cycle Proficiency test anymore.

Fact: Bikeability started in 2007 and it’s like cycling proficiency, but better!

From basic skills to advanced journeys Bikeability has it covered. Nearly 4 million children have been trained in England and in Devon the ‘100,000th child trained’ landmark is approaching.

Bikeability training is free for children and adults in Devon.


Myth 6. Cyclists don’t ring their bells.

Fact. Many do! However, it is not black and white.

Highway Code Rule 63 says people cycling should let others know of their presence, and slow down where necessary on shared paths by ringing their bell or calling out politely.

Some people feel it is a command to move- it isn’t. Others say that the sound of a bell ringing makes them “jump out of their skin”. Often a combination of both is needed as is a good degree of common sense and looking out for each other. Read more about the Council’s Share this Space project


Myth 7. It is ok for dogs to be off their leads on shared paths.

Fact: Not really!

Highway Code Rule 56 says Do not let a dog out on the road on its own. Keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders

Some people are very wary and nervous of dogs too.

Devon County Council encourages all road users to Be alert, be patient and be nice! This will help create a pleasant environment for everyone and hopefully reduce potential conflict or collisions.