Am I legally allowed to cycle on an ‘A-road’ in the UK?

Cyclist on A-road

Cyclists are not allowed to cycle on motorways in the UK. Motorways are high-speed, high capacity roads, designed for long-distance travel, and cycling is prohibited as cycling on them would be extremely dangerous.

The Highway Code, which is a set of guidelines and rules for road users in the UK, specifically prohibits cyclists from cycling on motorways. The Code states that cyclists must not ride on motorways, and they should instead use alternative routes, such as A-roads or designated cycle paths.

So I can cycle on an A-road?

In most cases, yes. According to the Highway Code you can cycle on 'A-roads' as they are part of the public highway.

Exceptionally, however, you cannot cycle on an A-road if:

  • there are specific signs prohibiting cycles to use part of an A-road
  • The A-road is also designated as a motorway

When is an A-road not an A-road?

Some A-roads have sections where they turn into motorways. If the A-road has turned into a motorway section, it will have an ‘(M)’ suffix, e.g. the A1(M), the A66(M) and the A194(M)

Cycling on motorway sections of A-roads is not allowed.

Is it a good idea to cycle in A-roads?

It may be legal to cycle on an A-road, but is it a good idea?

A-roads can have a range of different characteristics, but they are generally important routes that connect towns and cities and provide access to major transport hubs such as airports and ports.

Some A-roads are dual-carriageway or even triple-carriageway roads, with a 70mph speed limit. Others are winding single-carriageway roads with lower (where specified) speed limits.

However, even lower volume single-carriageway A-roads can still be very busy with high-speed traffic, which can make them more dangerous for cyclists.

Cyclists are advised to take extra care when cycling on A-roads. You should be able to assess your level of competence and how safe you feel on specific types of A-roads.

The following is the recommended safety advice for anyone planning to cycle on an A-road:

  • Consider alternative routes, such as quieter roads or designated cycle paths, where available.
  • Wear high-visibility clothing and use lights and reflectors to maximise your visibility to other road users, particularly in low-light conditions.
  • Assume that other road users have not seen you and ride defensively
  • Use appropriate road positioning, by taking a primary position in the road when approaching junctions, roundabouts, or when turning right, for example. Otherwise, stay as close to the left-hand side of the road as practicable, but not so close that you put yourself at risk from hazards such as drain covers or potholes.

See also:

Cycling injury claims

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Chris Salmon, Director

Chris Salmon, Director