Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

"Check the Highway Code": Police officer claims cyclist shouldn't ride "in the middle of the road"

City of London Police officer told the cyclist "you shouldn't be cycling along in the middle of the road [...] there's a cycle lane [...] I know the Highway Code"...

Over the weekend we reported how Greater Manchester Police apologised and promised all officers would be made aware of Highway Code rules after a video surfaced showing a "shocking level of ignorance" from one officer who told a cyclist he had to ride single file next to the kerb.

Well, the video prompted another reader to send us their recent frustrating police encounter, this time with an officer from the City of London force who told him he should not be riding in the "middle of the road".

"When you get back, check the Highway Code," the road.cc reader told the officer, who responded... "I know the Highway Code"...

The reader said it was a "disappointing interaction", but stressed the only aim of sharing the footage is to highlight the "scale of the challenge that cyclists face in public understanding of what is not only perfectly normal and legal cycling, but what is in fact recommended in the Highway Code as good practice and to be safe on the roads."

"I'm not in any kind of righteous steaming fury here — this is just someone who thinks they know the Highway Code but doesn't, it isn't the end of times," he said.

"I've blurred their face because it's not really important who the individual is, and because we all make errors in our jobs that we wouldn't necessarily want to define us."

In response to questions about if he had reported the incident to City of London Police, the reader told us: "I'm really not interested in doing that, or singling out an individual here for what I would perceive to be an institutional gap.

"I'm far more interested in knowing what, if any, systems the police force has in place for ensuring officers who go out on the road are aware of and promote public understanding of the very valuable guidance in the recently clarified Highway Code.

"If anything is going to change in public attitudes on the road, the police forces really have to lead the way and be positive champions for the hierarchy of road users."

What does the Highway Code say?

Rule 61 of the Highway Code:

Use facilities such as cycle lanes and tracks, advanced stop lines and toucan crossings where they make your journey safer and easier. This will depend on your experience and skills and the situation at the time. While such facilities are provided for reasons of safety, cyclists may exercise their judgement and are not obliged to use them.

Pointing out the danger of crossing the junction by bike, the road.cc reader explained there was "almost no motor traffic on the road, and certainly none preventing me from reaching the advance stop box — so using it would not make my journey any easier or safer."  

City of London police officer tells cyclist he shouldn't ride in the "middle of the road" (credit: Velodrone/YouTube)
City of London police officer tells cyclist he shouldn't ride in the "middle of the road" (credit: Velodrone/YouTube)

He continued: "On the contrary, with pavements busy with pedestrians who may step out at any point, several traffic islands on the approach to the junction — and at one point a pedestrian walking down the middle of the road towards me — the safest position is absolutely to be centre of the lane."

"You shouldn't be cycling in the middle of the road"

Contrary to what the officer said, Rule 213 of the Highway Code is as follows:

On narrow sections of road, on quiet roads or streets, at road junctions and in slower-moving traffic, cyclists may sometimes ride in the centre of the lane, rather than towards the side of the road. It can be safer for groups of cyclists to ride two abreast in these situations. Allow them to do so for their own safety, to ensure they can see and be seen.

Rule 72 adds:

 Ride in the centre of your lane, to make yourself as clearly visible as possible [...] at the approach to junctions or road narrowings where it would be unsafe for drivers to overtake you.

"I was on the approach to a large and complex junction with a dual set of traffic lights on the approach," the cyclist explained. "There is considerable risk to cyclists from motor vehicles wanting to turn off to one of the side roads while they go straight ahead or to an opposing turn off.

"There is almost no conceivable situation in which it would be more appropriate to be in the centre of the lane on the approach and in the advance stop box for when the light goes green. 

"Unfortunately this officer, rather than knowing or recognising any of this, is determined that he 'knows' that the Highway Code says 'I should be in the bike lane'.

> Why don't cyclists stick to the left of the lane?

"This is a common misconception by the general public, and one which contributes often to cyclists receiving verbal abuse and even 'punishment passes' or other deliberately dangerous road behaviour when they are in fact acting entirely in keeping with Highway Code recommendations for their own safety.

"I'll be the first to admit that some of the recommendations are counter-intuitive. Believe me, they are counter-intuitive to many cyclists too — but they are thoroughly researched and proven to be the best way to stay safe, especially at and on the approach to large and complex junctions with a history of cyclist fatalities.  

"The police should absolutely be at the forefront of communicating and demonstrating to the public that they understand this — and, dare I say, not confusing lines from tabloid agitators with what the Highway Code actually says."

road.cc contacted City of London Police for comment and to raise the cyclist's wish for wider education on the Highway Code within the police force, but did not get a response at the time of publishing this story.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

Add new comment

83 comments

Avatar
Velo-drone replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
4 likes

I find the thunder of motor traffic all around me quite antisocial, but there we go.

If I'm stopped at lights and in close vicinity to others, I'll generally turn it down until I'm off again.  But most of the time I'm not near anyone for long enough for it to be more than a momentary irritation for them - and in general it's been a positive conversation starter.

In central London it is also an extremely useful way to reduce the number of pedestrians that step off the pavement into your path without looking.

 

 

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
8 likes
Velo-drone wrote:

I find the thunder of motor traffic all around me quite antisocia

I couldn't agree more and long for the day it's removed from our streets; when it is, I wouldn't want it replaced with cyclists blasting Wagner. Sorry, you seem a sound chap but imposing your music on others like that is antisocial, if you must have music as you ride why not get some bone-conducting headphones and enjoy it that way, you'd hear the music much better and nobody else would have to.

Avatar
Sriracha replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
6 likes

Yes, not a fan of noise pollution, whatever its source.

I think you were right to blur the face - clearly this is not about an individual "rogue" copper, but the system behind him. It could have been another copper.

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
4 likes

"But most of the time I'm not near anyone for long enough for it to be more than a momentary irritation for them"

That might be what you think, but the pricks who ride round my way with music blaring can be heard from a long way off. 

It's the height of entitled selfishness: regardless of the quality of your musical selection, imposing it on others in the vicinity is fucking rude. Get some headphones, or go about your day without a fucking soundtrack like most grown-ups do. You are not brightening our square boring lives with your carefully-curated tunes, you're every bit as bad as the kids on the bus or the bellend whose car is shaking. 

Avatar
Velo-drone replied to Brauchsel | 1 year ago
3 likes
Brauchsel wrote:

You are not brightening our square boring lives with your carefully-curated tunes, you're every bit as bad as the kids on the bus or the bellend whose car is shaking. 

Charming.  At least I'm not flinging playground insults at strangers on the internet.

Clearly we're going to have a difference of opinion on this, and I doubt either of us are going to persuade the other.

As I've said, I'll happily turn it down if I'm in the vicinity of others at some lights - but I don't particularly have a problem with people driving with their radio audible, as long as it's not night-time in a residential area. 

Why shouldn't anyone make their road journey more enjoyable if they wish?  I've had way, way more positive interactions with people on my journey than negative ones in relation to the music - some lovely conversations and on the whole it's been a very pleasant way to bring a bit of social interaction into an otherwise very impersonal city commute.   

And, particularly in the very centre of London it definitely massively reduces the number of people wandering off pavements into my path.

Anyway - if you meet me at a set of lights and ask me to turn it down, I will.  Unless you call me a prick and fling a load of abuse at me, in which case I'll probably ignore you.

 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
1 like

I'm on the fence about this (as long as it's not someone following me around the countryside with their choice in tunes).  However to help sharpen the analogy (why some people get irritated) consider having to travel the same route with someone who really likes the smell of their own farts...

Avatar
ktache replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
1 like

I wouldn't say like, find fascinating though...

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
3 likes

I still feel you're wrong on this one, you're selfishly imposing your music on other people who don't necessarily want to hear it when there are perfectly good ways of just keeping it to yourself. Substantial numbers of people are doing this in London now. When you say:

Quote:

But most of the time I'm not near anyone for long enough for it to be more than a momentary irritation for them

If lots of people are doing it that's lots and lots of momentary irritations which mounts up to quite a large irritation. Is there any good reason you can't just enjoy your music privately without inflicting it on others? I'm afraid "people hear me coming" isn't really sufficient justification, I could ride around with an airhorn blaring at all times and achieve the same effect, and that would be pretty antisocial too.

 

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

I still feel you're wrong on this one, you're selfishly imposing your music on other people who don't necessarily want to hear it when there are perfectly good ways of just keeping it to yourself. Substantial numbers of people are doing this in London now. When you say:

Quote:

But most of the time I'm not near anyone for long enough for it to be more than a momentary irritation for them

If lots of people are doing it that's lots and lots of momentary irritations which mounts up to quite a large irritation. Is there any good reason you can't just enjoy your music privately without inflicting it on others? I'm afraid "people hear me coming" isn't really sufficient justification, I could ride around with an airhorn blaring at all times and achieve the same effect, and that would be pretty antisocial too.

 

because of the backlash against any cyclist who dares to use earphones?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
1 like
wycombewheeler wrote:

because of the backlash against any cyclist who dares to use earphones?

I know earphones get a bit of comment online but I've never actually seen anyone having a go at a cyclist in the flesh for wearing earphones, have you? I think a lot more people would be aggravated by a cyclist booming out their music from loudspeakers than they would be by one riding past wearing headphones.

Avatar
Velo-drone replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
2 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

I could ride around with an airhorn blaring at all times and achieve the same effect, and that would be pretty antisocial too.

I have found that the general reaction to ringing a bell as a warning is more negative than positive, and the general reaction to hearing some approaching music is to take a look before stepping off the pavement.  It seems to strike a reasonable balance to me.

I'm pretty sure a constantly blaring airhorn would go down less well than either ... but if you decide to try it sometime, let me know how it goes!

Avatar
JustTryingToGet... replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
1 like
Velo-drone wrote:
Rendel Harris wrote:

I could ride around with an airhorn blaring at all times and achieve the same effect, and that would be pretty antisocial too.

I have found that the general reaction to ringing a bell as a warning is more negative than positive, and the general reaction to hearing some approaching music is to take a look before stepping off the pavement.  It seems to strike a reasonable balance to me.

I'm pretty sure a constantly blaring airhorn would go down less well than either ... but if you decide to try it sometime, let me know how it goes!

Not a huge fan of the on-board sound system, but equally wouldn't let it rile me.

Have to say that I agree that reactions to my bell are majority negative.

Avatar
quiff replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
2 likes

From the route and the operatic accompaniment, I realise I have shared the road with Velo-drone. Personally I wouldn't play my music like that, but I can't say I found it particularly offensive to be around. I can certainly attest that anything that grabs pedestrian attention on that route is a help.    

Avatar
mpdouglas replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
3 likes

But Brauschel is 100% correct. Your  unilateral decision to subject others to your musical taste is selfish, objectionable and (ironically for someone challenging the police on their knowledge of the law), illegal! That's right, not only is your behaviour anti-social, by law you require a music licence from both PPL and PRS to be able to communicate music to the public. I don't know when Britain became so full of selfish people, but your insistence that you should be free to continue playing music loudly from your bike is yet another example of selfish Britain in action. Why should you be the only one doing this (or do you think it's OK for all cyclists to do this and for our streets to become a cacophony of noise?). As someone who has invested in some bone conducting headphones so that I can both enjoy my own music whilst still hearing the noises of cars, buses etc around me, the likes of you with your wirless speakers mean I cannot hear my own music/podcast when anywhere in your vicinity. Your insistence that you are bringing joy to more people than you are inconveniencing is beyond pompous. When I first saw the video I thought you were going to be a positive role model of handling a tricky situation with the police, but as I got into your comments, it became clear that you are just another self-entitled chump.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to mpdouglas | 1 year ago
3 likes

That seems a bit harsh to me.

Personally, I don't mind the occasional cyclist or even driver playing some tunes, but what really snaps my cranks is the perennial xmas music coming out of shops in the months leading up to it.

Avatar
Flintshire Boy replied to mpdouglas | 1 year ago
0 likes

.

Tick, tick, tick. Spot on, Bud.

.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to mpdouglas | 1 year ago
2 likes
mpdouglas wrote:

... That's right, not only is your behaviour anti-social, by law you require a music licence from both PPL and PRS to be able to communicate music to the public...

What I want to know is when they're coming down on all these free-loading birds, singing all day and without a licence between them.  I've heard several brazenly ripping off ringtones - Samsung, Nokia et al. put good money into composing those!

The local postman was lucky to get away with being taken in by the law - the citizenry would have hung him for his whistling before the PRS lawyers would have had a chance to get him to court.

This all sounds a bit of a Discworld parody to me...  I know the late great Ivor Cutler was against the proliferation of muzak (and noise in general) though so that's a point in favour.

Avatar
Velo-drone replied to mpdouglas | 1 year ago
4 likes
mpdouglas wrote:

by law you require a music licence from both PPL and PRS to be able to communicate music to the public. 

Looking forward to the mass arrests of anyone and everyone playing music at their public picnic / BBQ / on a hike / on the beach / in the car with the window down etc

I mean, by all means disagree on the principle, but don't lower yourself to this level of nonsense, please.

Do please ask me to turn it down if you can't hear your own podcast - and I will do so - but in general I've already turned it down if I'm that close to anyone for more than a couple of seconds.

Your apparent inability to conceive that I might just be speaking from my own truthful experience when I state the general responses I've had in the several years of cycling this commute is telling - as is your desire to manipulate my words into a claim that I'm "bringing joy" to people.  For the most part I've had no real response - but all I am noting is that where I have, the vast majority have been positive.  

 

Avatar
Bungle_52 replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
1 like
Velo-drone wrote:

Looking forward to the mass arrests of anyone and everyone playing music at their public picnic / BBQ / on a hike / on the beach / in the car with the window down etc

So am I but I'm afraid it's not going to happen in the same way that arresting inconsiderate drivers putting cyclists at risk is never going to happen. The police are apparently too busy to tackle either of these these minor annoyances. Doesn't make it right though.

Avatar
Velo-drone replied to Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
3 likes
Bungle_52 wrote:

So am I but I'm afraid it's not going to happen in the same way that arresting inconsiderate drivers putting cyclists at risk is never going to happen. The police are apparently too busy to tackle either of these these minor annoyances. Doesn't make it right though.

Not the same at all. Playing music in a public place for your personal enjoyment is not the same as 'broadcasting to the general public'

Licensing of "public peformance" of music is applied solely to businesses and organisations, not to individuals.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
0 likes
Velo-drone wrote:

Playing music in a public place for your personal enjoyment is not the same as 'broadcasting to the general public'

Leaving aside the PRS issues, which I don't think will fly anyway, you are in fact broadcasting to the general public because they can't help hearing it, so you may be doing something for your personal enjoyment but you are inflicting it on other people unnecessarily. Can't quite believe you think this is defensible, just because you're on a bike blasting Wagner doesn't make you any different to the kid on the back of the bus annoying everyone with beats on their phone; both are noise pollution, irritating, antisocial and selfish, compounded by the fact that a perfectly good alternative in the shape of headphones exists - but that wouldn't let you or the kid on the back of the bus show off just how "individual" you are, would it?

 

Avatar
Bungle_52 replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
3 likes

I suspect you are correct. I found this on a government website so I hope you are not cycling before 8am or after 9pm.

"Loudspeakers in the street
It’s an offence to use loudspeakers at any time to advertise:
    entertainment
    trade
    business
It’s an offence to use loudspeakers for any purpose in the street at night between 9pm and 8am."

I still find having to listen to other peoples' noise of any type infuriating but I accept that's my problem. I suspect I'm not alone and I still think that playing music out loud is inconsiderate. I hope we can agree to disagree.

On other matters I wholly approve of the way in which you rode that stretch and the way you handled the interaction with the police.

Avatar
wtjs replied to Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
2 likes

On other matters I wholly approve of the way in which you rode that stretch and the way you handled the interaction with the police

Agreed. I think Velo-drone did a good job dealing with the ignorance of the completely lacking-in-insight police

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to mpdouglas | 1 year ago
2 likes
mpdouglas wrote:

But Brauschel is 100% correct. Your  unilateral decision to subject others to your musical taste is selfish, objectionable and (ironically for someone challenging the police on their knowledge of the law), illegal! That's right, not only is your behaviour anti-social, by law you require a music licence from both PPL and PRS to be able to communicate music to the public. 

Nope. Copyright doesn't last forever (apart from Peter Pan apparently, you learn something new everyday!).

No licence required to play classical music in public, as the copyright has expired. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/copyright-notice-duration-of-...

Avatar
mark1a replied to HoarseMann | 1 year ago
0 likes
HoarseMann wrote:

Nope. Copyright doesn't last forever (apart from Peter Pan apparently, you learn something new everyday!).

No licence required to play classical music in public, as the copyright has expired. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/copyright-notice-duration-of-...

The music is in the public domain, but the recording may not be, unless it was recorded more than 70 years ago. My previous dealings with PRS over music on hold, they're just a legalised protection racket. 

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to mark1a | 1 year ago
2 likes
mark1a wrote:

The music is in the public domain, but the recording may not be, unless it was recorded more than 70 years ago. 

True. But even if it is not a royalty-free recording, you only need a licence to play music in public if you are doing so in a venue, as part of an event, or for a business.

Avatar
mark1a replied to HoarseMann | 1 year ago
0 likes

Don't get me wrong, I think PRS are a bunch of c**ts who in my opinion appear to care more about making money for the legal team than they do about musicians.

https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/pplprs.co.uk

Avatar
mpdouglas replied to HoarseMann | 1 year ago
0 likes

Nope. Copyright in a recording lasts for 70 years. Copyright in the underlying composition lasts until 70 years after the death of the creator/composer. So you are free to make a live performance of a classical work if the composer of the piece has been dead for more than 70 years. Or you can play a recorded song if it was recorded before 1963 (the period of copyright changed in 2013 from 50 yrs to 70 yrs). Otherwise you need a licence from both the recording owner and the author/publisher.

Avatar
Awavey replied to Velo-drone | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'd bet without the music playing, that interaction doesnt happen though.

Avatar
wtjs | 1 year ago
8 likes

"Unfortunately this officer, rather than knowing or recognising any of this, is determined that he 'knows' that the Highway Code says 'I should be in the bike lane'

There is no possibility that an officer this dim will change his ways except by the exertion of force. Forget this blurring the face and not making a complaint nonsense!

 

 

Pages

Latest Comments