By: Simon B
Share This Post
Driving on two wheels
If you prefer the two wheels rather than the usual four wheels, the same rules apply to you as other cars, van or lorry drivers, and you can be guilty of the same offences and face the same fines, penalties or even prison.
The rules for motorcyclists are more or less the same as for drivers. At 17, you can get a provisional driving licence and ride a motorbike or moped up to 125 cc on the road without a full licence, but you must have done compulsory basic training (CBT) in England, Scotland, and Wales.
When you’ve completed your CBT, you’re given a DL196, which you need to be able to take the practical motorcycle test. If you don’t pass both your theory and practical tests within two years, you have to retake the CBT course. Once you pass your motorcycle test, you get a full licence, but most riders have to wait two years before they can ride a bike over 33 bhp. Now motorcyclists can also do a DAS (Direct Access Scheme) to ride a full bike licence in less than a week, but that all depends on your experience on the larger cc bikes and you also need to complete your CBT first.
As a cyclist, you’re a road user, and the rules of the road apply to you in the same way they apply to motorists and motorcyclists. You can’t be disqualified from riding a bicycle or sent to prison for breaking the rules of the road, but you can be fined.
You’re breaking the law if you ride your bike through a red traffic light or even if you dismount and push your bike past a red light. You can push your bike across a pedestrian crossing because, for that purpose, you’re a pedestrian, not a rider.
One of the main advantages of a cyclist is that you can park more easily than a motorist. You can park on painted yellow lines, but you can be fined if you leave your bike in a dangerous position – on a footpath or clearway, for example. And you can be charged with being drunk in charge of a bike. The normal breathalyser rules don’t apply – there’s no scientific test for being over the limit in the case of a cyclist. It’s down to the opinion of the police officer, but you can be fined up to £1,000.
The rules most often broken by cyclists – to the annoyance of pedestrian and motorists – are ignoring red traffic lights, riding on pavements, and not having proper lights and reflectors. You can be fined for these misdemeanours – if the police can catch you. But just because the police aren’t usually quick enough off the mark or usually ignore you because they have better things to do, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a duty to be considerate to your fellow road users.