Are cyclists allowed to ride against traffic?

| 12/07/2019
Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

In travelling to work each morning, I am increasingly concerned about the amount of bicycles riding on the wrong side of the road. I especially notice a high volume of offenders on Walkers Road.

What worries me as a motorist is when I see a cyclist riding ‘against’ the traffic passing a cyclist who is riding correctly ‘with’ the traffic. Invariably, one cyclist or the other has to ride parallel, pull off the road or pull out further into the road, causing a potential danger to himself and any oncoming traffic. How is the motorist supposed to gauge which way the incorrect cyclist is going to go?

Yes, I appreciate that the motorist has to be tremendously vigilant in these and any circumstances for that matter, but there is no guarantee that the offending cyclist will do the same and avoid pulling out in front of the oncoming vehicle.

Even more scary, the other day (again down Walkers Road) there was a man on an ‘adult’ three-wheeled bicycle riding on the wrong side of the road, whilst on the other side of the road a police patrol drove past without stopping. You can imagine the width of the three-wheeled bicycle and how dangerous this is to the rider as well as any oncoming traffic.

I can honestly say I have never in my life seen a police officer stopping a cyclist on the wrong side of the road, and as I said, what really concerns me is the volume of bicycles riding any which way they feel like.

In these days when accidents with bicycles continue to increase, I think more attention should be given to cyclists riding incorrectly. I just wonder why, if the police are lately becoming more vigilant at curtailing traffic offences for cars and other motorised vehicles, do they pay absolutely no attention to traffic offences by cyclists? After all, they too are vehicles covered by the Road Code.

Auntie’s answer: Yes, you are right that cyclists are included in the Road Code of the Cayman Islands, but not as comprehensively as you might be thinking. Part 12 of the code, which covers cyclists, starts out by saying that “as a cyclist you MUST obey all traffic signs, road markings and traffic light signals, as well as this code”. It then lists a bunch of safety recommendations which, along with wearing a helmet, keeping the bicycle in good working condition and not riding in a careless or dangerous way, includes riding “in single file on narrow or busy streets or roundabouts”.

So far, so good. However, there is nothing in the code specifically about riding with or against traffic. In addition, an RCIPS spokesperson explained that there also is nothing in the Traffic Law with respect to bicyclists heading the same direction as cars.

Previously under the law, bicycles were required to be registered but that is no longer the case. And there are only two legal stipulations for cyclists listed in the Traffic Regulations (2017 Revision). Section 13(6) sets out the minimal lighting requirements for bicycles, and Section 19 mandates the fitting of a speedometer if a vehicle or “pedal cycle” is capable of exceeding 15mph.

As far as the three-wheeled cycle you encountered, I was told pedal cycles can have any number of wheels as long as the way they are propelled does not change and so these are allowed on the road.

You also wondered why the police are not going after cyclists committing traffic offences. Well, while all road users have to obey the Traffic Law, as I mentioned there are only two specific regulations on the books concerning bicycles and there is nothing regulating which direction cyclists have to ride in.

What that means, the RCIPS explained, is that going against traffic on a bicycle is not a ticketable offence. “However, as a general principle, bicyclists should, as a moving vehicle, move in the same direction as the flow of traffic. Officers can advise them of this when they see bicyclists heading in the wrong direction, but they cannot be cited.”

I am sure this is not the answer you were looking for – and I am not happy about it either – but it seems the solution lies not with the police but with the legislation, meaning you might want to have a conversation with your MLA. Change has to start somewhere.

The laws mentioned above can be found on the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie, Traffic Questions

Comments (12)

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  1. PC says:

    I suggest Auntie seeks comment from someone further up the police chain of command. The Commissioner certainly believes that cyclists should ride on the left and display lights.

    • Anonymous says:

      So let him come out and say so, and do something about his officers who do not! They are farce!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I put the argument that riding on the wrong side of the road could be ‘riding in a careless or dangerous way’ as you mention is in the Road Code. Take for example an accident which I saw on West Bay Road. A car, exiting from a Parking lot was turning left. Her first reaction was to look to her right for oncoming traffic… The LAST thing she would have expected was a guy flying along the pavement or road on the wrong side of the road. Now I grant you, she the onus was on her to look both ways in case of pedestrians but I saw she did look briefly left, saw nobody and then looking right saw no traffic so started to move. Within the few seconds since she had last looked left, the Cyclist had come ‘flying’ (and I mean ‘flying’) seemingly from nowehere and toppled clear over her Hood.
    I stopped to check everyone was alright and thank God they were and the motorist was too embarrassed to want to take the matter further but still…goes to show that riding on the wrong side of the Road certainly can be ‘careless or dangerous’ as cited in the Road Code.
    I put it that the woman would have had a good case, if she had wanted to pursue the issue.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Most bicycles are capable of exceeding 15mph. How many have a speedometer?

  4. Anonymous says:

    How can a cyclist obey all traffic signs, road markings and traffic light signals when they can’t see them because they are riding on the wrong side of the road?

  5. Anonymous says:

    So is driving a car on the wrong side of the road not a ticket able offense? What exactly are the police claiming? Can we drive or ride a motor cycle on the right and not get pulled over?

    • Anonymous says:

      This guidance from the police is dangerous and irresponsible and could get someone killed. They should correct it immediately. The cycle lanes on the newer and high speed roads cannot possibly cater to cyclists riding in opposite directions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why not – seems logical to me ! and similarly, the same way some cyclists hop off their bicycles at a traffic light and push the bicycle through a red light (some even just carry on riding through … ) maybe it’s Ok for me to hop out of my car at a red light, put it in neutral and push my car through – Hell, if anyone’s watched Mr. Bean – If he can do it ….then why not ?? 🙂 Please note, in case you didn’t get it – I am seriously just joking here !!
      And not to even mention the cyclists riding through a roundabout on the wrong side of the road….there was even one in clear view on a Police Safety Infomercial on TV here a few years ago. Talking of Roundabouts – Is that one coming toward town from Hospital Road not a 3 way stop ? – It seems that the traffic coming from the direction of Huldah Ave toward the Police Station (or the reverse way) always has the Right of way because they very rarely stop for traffic which has already reached the end of Hospital Road…Just curious – maybe I have it wrong, but I see the 3 way sign post on all sides – I thought that meant first to reach has right of way ??

  6. Anonymous says:

    Depends on what country you are from and how much you care about road rules for SAFETY. You see where this is going…

  7. Anonymous says:

    If there are no rules they I guess I don’t have to stop for them

  8. Anonymous says:

    cyclists at night with no lights is the big issue.

    • Anonymous says:

      Might the police not understanding the law or lobbying for needed changes not be a bigger issue? Kind of explains the lack of enforcement of basic offenses in Cayman.