Can You Cycle On a Dual Carriageway?

Apart from motorways, cycling is normally permitted on all roads. Primary roads are perfect for biking on their own. They are straightforward. They are more managed, with potholes repaired quicker and icy roads cleaned first. The problem is traffic. The fumes and noise are irritating, and the close-passing cars are alarming. Even if it takes longer, taking a quieter path is normally preferable. However, this isn’t necessarily realistic or, whether you’re short on time, feasible. Where they are influences how they behave on larger highways.

Extra lanes, whether at intersections, on crowded city highways, or on dual carriageways, can be intimidating to cyclists. Here’s how to reclaim power.

Road location and communication are critical because roads are large enough to separate two or more traffic streams. There is some jostling for a place among other road users, especially those who are unfamiliar with the road. You can encounter traffic on the inside, which may be going faster than you. You will have to swap lanes on occasion. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by multi-lane routes, but once you know what you’re doing, you can cycle effortlessly and comfortably through the apparent confusion.


Are cyclists allowed on dual carriageways?

If there are signs indicating otherwise, the answer is yes. However, this does not make it a particularly good idea. According to one social media comment, “being allowed and doing it safely are two entirely different things.” Motorists will discuss near-misses, and cyclists will discuss their rights to use dual carriageways. “I had to swerve out so I didn’t reach her,” one driver said, recalling a bad experience. Fortunately, there were no cars in the outside lane, otherwise, I would have collided. Looking back in my rear-view mirror, I noticed that other cars were having to swerve as well. How to Care about Them


Which Lane to Cycle In?

You almost always want to be in the left-most lane that travels in the desired direction. So, if you’re driving straight and come to a junction with a left-turn-only left lane and a straight-on-or-right right lane, you want to be in the right lane. If both the left and right lanes have straight-on arrows, you want to be in the left lane.

‘In the street’ usually means ‘in the middle of that lane.’ You choose the road. This way, you won’t be caught between two streams of traffic. You’ll be able to monitor your path through the intersection and be clearer to drivers. You’ll discourage them from overtaking if there isn’t enough room for them to do so safely. On a multi-lane route, drivers can switch into another lane to pass you, so you won’t be holding them up.

On busy roads with much faster traffic, a place further to the left – maybe a metre from the left-hand edge – is usually better for cyclists than taking the centre of the lane. This is particularly true when the lane is wide enough to allow you to be safely overtaken within it, or when the road as a whole is wide enough for two traffic streams to pass you – such as a traditional dual carriageway.


What Should Cyclists Do When There Are No Lane Markings?

Some roads are wide enough for side-by-side traffic but lack white lines. This is very common at T-junctions, where a single lane widens enough to allow traffic to turn left and right. If the de facto lanes are obvious, treat them like numbered lanes: get into the leftmost lane that leads to your destination and, unless there are compelling reasons not to, take that lane.

It’s not always clear. You get a one-way street wide enough for two waves of traffic, but the traffic overlaps, merges, and diverges as drivers determine where they want to go. In this situation, the centre of the road is the most perplexing and dangerous for cyclists. Avoid it!

Instead, ride a decent distance – a metre or more – away from the road’s edge. You won’t be hemmed in, but traffic will be able to comfortably pass you. Normally, you’ll be on the left side, but you might need to cross to the right side to get where you need to go. Traffic would then pass on your inside, which is preferable to traffic passing on both sides or getting stuck on the wrong side of the lane.


What about motorways?

That’s actually been banned. Neither can they cycle on pavements as that is also quite illegal. Some cyclists, however, are envious of the hard shoulder, claiming it could be used as a protected bike path. It is not always clear where a bike can go, with certain roads having parts where they can and others where they cannot. In most cases, cyclists can use dual carriageways, but anything with an M after the number, such as the A1(M), should be avoided. Some routes, such as the A1, have parts that are accessible to cyclists and others that are not.


Contrary to popular belief, cyclists are permitted to travel on dual carriageways. Dual carriageways aren’t the most fun places to ride a bike, but they can’t always be avoided. Normally, you’ll be in the second spot, around a metre out from the left-hand lane’s edge. The biggest danger is where the slip roads meet the dual carriageway. When you see an entry slip lane, do not proceed along the dual carriageway. Instead, cross directly onto the slip road as soon as possible, pausing within the relative protection of the ’spearpoint’ if a gap in slip road traffic is required. Then continue along the slip road until it joins the carriageway.

Exit slip roads aren’t as risky but can be negotiated in a similar way. Instead of continuing along the main carriageway, follow the slip road, then cross directly over it where the roads finally diverge to re-join the main carriageway.

That said, if there’s a way for you to avoid cycling on a dual carriageway altogether, take it.

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