Skip to main content

Take care of cyclists on the roads

A government study suggests that 5% of fatalities and 13% of serious injuries to pedal cyclists occur at or on a roundabout. However, with more than 25,000 roundabouts in the UK they are an unavoidable part of most road users’ journeys.

TV personality Dan Walker was recently injured as a result of a collision at a busy roundabout in Sheffield. This prompted many social media onlookers to ask why he didn’t use the cycle lane in the subway under the roundabout, potentially reducing his risk of being injured. 

In his article for The Times, Walker was clear that he had chosen not to because the last two times he did, "it was covered in shattered glass from the night before and, when you try and use it at that time of the morning, you will often find the cycle lane packed with pedestrians on their way to work.”

Highway Code rules for cyclists at roundabouts 

The Highway Code’s rules for cyclists are clear.  If a roundabout has separate cycle facilities, these should be used where they make the cyclists’ journey safer and easier but there is no obligation to use them. The judgement made as to whether or not to utilise cycle lanes, underpasses etc is dependent upon the individual cyclist’s experience, skills and the prevailing situation at the time. So, while an individual cyclist may choose to use a dedicated cycle lane, the rules are clear that this is not a legal requirement or obligation.

There are other rules to consider which are relevant to cyclists and which may be unknown to the majority of road users.  For example, unlike the rules for cars, the Highway Code states that cyclists intending to turn right on a roundabout can ride in either the left or right-hand lanes. This means, as is illustrated by the helpful diagram found in the Highway Code below, a cyclist could follow the path of the blue car and then turn right along with the green car. A right-turning cyclist in the left-hand lane is likely to catch other road users off guard if they do not know the rules.  It is therefore extremely important to ensure that appropriate care and precautions are taken by all road users when a cyclist is approaching and navigating a roundabout.

The Highway Code is clear that cyclists are more likely to be travelling at a slower speed than other road users and so cyclists should be given the priority when the cyclist is already on the roundabout.  Drivers should give them plenty of room and not overtake them within their lane. A cyclist should be allowed to move across a vehicle’s path as it travels round the roundabout.

Consequences of not taking care

As a result of cyclists being largely unprotected in comparison to those driving motorised vehicles such as cars, the incidence of serious injury in cyclists is high when pedal cycles come into contact with other vehicles. 

As a serious injury practitioner at Irwin Mitchell, I've represented cyclists who have suffered severe injuries as a result of being involved in collisions on the roads, often leading to long term and, in some cases, catastrophic consequences.

The nature of these injuries mean that, when we are approached to act, our clients are in difficult situations and are unsure what they can do to get help with treatment, rehabilitation and to deal with the financial consequences of such serious injuries. My colleagues and I are passionate about ensuring our cyclist clients are able to access specialist support and rehabilitation to help them get back to their lives before their injuries insofar as is possible.

Sometimes, our clients are unable to return to cycling because of the severity of their injuries.  However, wherever possible, part of the work I do is to look at how they can be supported to return to an activity they previously enjoyed. This might include, for example, investigating and trialling specialist equipment such as adult tricycles, or considering whether they can return to cycling with support from a specialist rehabilitation assistant or personal trainer.


It's apparent that there is still a huge gap in knowledge and understanding of the rules of the road such as they apply to cyclists, which undoubtedly contributes to many of these collisions.

As is recognised by the Highway Code, cyclists are vulnerable road-users. While the provision of dedicated cycle lanes and underpasses is a good way to provide potential additional precautions, unfortunately there are simply not enough available, and provision of safe routes is very hit and miss.  Even when such lanes are available, they can be in such a state of disrepair that their use is not a feasible or safe choice for cyclists.  This often leaves cyclists with little option but to attempt to negotiate main carriageways and busy roundabouts, and the consequences of collisions which occur can be catastrophic and life-changing.  

It's therefore vital that all road users both understand the rules and ensure extra care is taken when driving in the vicinity of cyclists, particularly when on roundabouts.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in helping people and families following road accidents at our road traffic accident claims section.