In the second in a series of cycling safety videos, Chris Boardman describes how riding side-by-side can be safer for both rider and motorist

Earlier this week Chris Boardman advised motorists how to safely overtake cyclists and now he’s back with driving instructor Blaine Walsh to explain why cyclists are allowed to ride side-by-side.

In the video by Carlton Kirby, Boardman informs viewers that according to the Highway Code, cyclists are encouraged to cycle no more than two abreast, meaning that side-by-side riding is perfectly legal and often safer for all involved.

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While it is a common gripe of motorists when they come across a bunch of cyclists taking up the road, but as Boardman explains in the video it’s quicker and safer to overtake a group riding two abreast than it is to pass a long line of single file riders.

“Think of it like this,” he says. “In your car you have the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, that makes a car suitable for two people to travel next to each other. Cyclists riding next to each other are doing the same thing, maybe chatting just like you would do in a car.”

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He added: “Cyclists will thin out into single file when it’s safe for cars to pass if it is the most appropriate action.”

While eight riders riding side-by-side may take up 10 metres of road space, the same eight riders in single file will take up 20m, meaning it is more difficult and less safe for a driver to overtake.

If a driver is to give a cyclist the space recommended in Boardman’s previous video – i.e. passing onto the other side of the road when passing – then it’s quicker and safer to pass.

  • Louis Clegg

    Why don’t you elaborate on that, Dean?

  • ahandleduh

    Single file

  • Dean Keith

    if you don’t know the answer to that you shouldn’t be out of the house never mind on the road !

  • Gus Lock

    Mistake in the text above, 2nd para:

    “In the video by Carlton Kirby” should read “In the video by Carlton Reid”

    I’m sure Carlton won’t be too fussed, as he’s more about getting the message out than personal kudos.

  • Gus Lock

    The highway code states which laws are relevant for each section.

  • grizzman

    If there’s space to ‘split lanes’ then there’s space to use the whole lane, you wouldn’t split lanes if there was oncoming traffic!… You should overtake anything as if it were as wide as a car… Why do people slow down to 2 mph and wait 10 mins to overtake a horse with as wide a berth as possible but do not allow a cyclist the same courtesy?

  • J1

    Close to the side of the road makes you less visible than being in the proper position. It’s like the idiots that stick to the left to go right at a roundabout, that’s how you get hit.

  • Nic Lowe

    The bit I find most difficult is trying to pass cyclists when they are spread out on a road in 1s, 2s, 3s etcIt’s impossible to do safely, can cause all sorts of arguing.

  • J1

    You didn’t understand why I said someone like Hammond would be better. Read it again.

  • Isabel

    Does Boardman not drive?

  • Isabel

    Except they shouldn’t be close to the side. Every piece of safety advise for cyclists on road positioning will tell them to stay away from the edge to avoid drains, parked cars, the worst pot holes etc. Making it easier for cars to overtake is not a good enough reason for cyclists to increase their risk of injury or death. Your convenience will never be worth more than another person’s life and this is the main battle ground between motorists who don’t cycle and cyclists. It’s also a point that shouldn’t need to be made. It should be obvious.

  • estebanrey

    His logic make sense when you have a group of 8 Lycra-clad Tour-De-France wannabes but what the more common scenario when there are only two cyclists?

    Giving a cyclist ample space doesn’t have to mean completely riding in the other lane. A single cyclist riding close to the side of the road (where they should be) only requires a drive to split lanes in half and you’re still giving the cyclist amply space to make an unexpected maneuver. Two abreast requires the driver to completely move into the other lane

  • Judacin

    Rule 169 is advisory as is Rule 66. However, Rule 68 is backed by RTA 1988: 24,26,28-30, as amended by RTA 1991 and states cyclists must not “ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner”. Similarly, Rule 144 is backed by RTA 1988: 2 & 3 as amended by RTA 1991 and states a driver must not “drive without reasonable consideration for other road users”. As you can see from these alone, dependent on your point of view, you can easily cherry pick highway code laws to damn anyone. Naturally, what happens in court will depend on the relevant case law and the judge.

  • Judacin

    Depends on the Rule. For many a long time. Rules using the wording “must” or “must not” are legal requirements in isolation under various acts. However, a person failing to observe any provision of the Highway Code could be charged with careless or dangerous driving (or several other things) and have the breaches of the highway code used as evidence.

  • Coogs

    The video shows a car passing the peloton close to a junction on the right. Not safe

  • GarryP

    Don’t want to sound awkward but since when has the Highway Code been a law?

  • Roger

    He’s surely reinterpreting the law only if you assume cyclists are going to go out of their way to be bloody-minded.

  • Ronin

    Near as I can tell, Boardman is saying that cyclists can ride two abreast whenever they damn well please, since “narrow” and “busy” and “bend” aren’t defined. And, Rule 169’s imperative, “Do not hold up a long queue” is really a conditional imperative. If it’s not the most appropriate action to thin out into single file or just get off the road all together, then you don’t have to concern yourself about the long queue.

    I had no idea that an MBE allowed a member to so substantially reinterpret the law! It’s good to have him on our side!

  • J1

    Where are they promoting these videos though? So far I’ve only seen them on cycling websites, we’re not the ones that need them, we already have a superior knowledge of the highway code compared to your average car driver.

    I think they should’ve got someone different to do them as well, someone like Richard Hammond, he has a good status in the car world and he’s also a cyclist. Boardman is a cyclist telling motorists how to follow the rules.