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Cycling in the UK (for Americans)

How can an American prepare for adjusting to cycling on the opposite side of the road when in the UK?

Posted by
2793 posts

Don't know, but I do know that what would really worry me is that when stopping in traffic and putting my right foot down, I would be putting that foot into traffic. And right foot down when I stop is well beyond automatic for me! I have not seen any cycles available there with the drive train on the left side. Also, looking over my right shoulder rather than the left would also take a lot of getting used to. I would not recommend practicing for this by riding left of traffic here, but you can at least do some biking and pretend to be taking body motions that woulds apply in the UK.

Posted by
4159 posts

Before you attempt this , bear in mind that the roads in England and Scotland are quite narrow , hilly , and winding with numerous blind curves that will come upon you when you least expect it , I would give this a second thought . By the way , if your user name bespeaks your location in the states , the rural English roads make rt. 133 in Cape Ann look like interstates .

Posted by
8889 posts

It doesn't take that much to adjust. I grew up (and cycled to school) in the UK. When I stop I always put my left foot down, and my right foot goes on the right pedal ready to push off. I still do it the same way round in Switzerland, I never thought about it being a "drive on the left/right" thing.
Looking over the left or right shoulder comes automatically.

Why would you want the chain on the opposite side? I always mount and dismount on the left (swing right leg over bike), that is opposite side to the chain.

BTW, learn the road signs, especially the cycle lane ones. Stand by your rights to occupy a lane, and not get pushed into the kerb.

An advantage of cycling is you cannot get breathalysed on the way back from the pub (mis-spent youth). The alcohol in blood limit only applies to driving a motor vehicle. The previous law of being "under the influence of alcohol or drugs" is still valid and does apply to all road vehicles, it is mainly used against drivers who are under the influence of drugs, but under that law they have to prove your are actually "under the influence", and they can't take your licence away if you are riding a bike!

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks, Larry, Steven, and Chris. Six of us are hiring a narrowboat to cruise along the Llangollen and Shropshire Canals, so as three remain on the boat, the others will cycle -- on towpaths and/or along local lanes adjacent to the canals. We'll probably rent folding bikes from Brompton. Most of the cycling will be on backroads, although we will spend two days in Chester. You all have given me much to consider!
Jennifer

Posted by
4159 posts

Not meaning to be a pain in the A-- , but it's the " backroads " I was referring to . A dual carriageway " A " road isn't the issue generally speaking . I'm not trying to put you off , but you need to be aware of the potential dangers . Rural lanes and backroads in the UK are charmingly bucolic , but deceptive . Also , not intending to offend Chris , as he posts a lot of great responses ( which I always look forward to ) , while there may be no legal issue surrounding a pint or two and operating a bike , doing so is unwise from a safety perspective . Chris' comment about a misspent youth would indicate to me that he is aware of this . No offense , Chris .

Posted by
3821 posts

If you venture out from your boat for a pub meal in the evening, I would walk there and back, using the towpath and a path across the fields (there's always a path to a pub). Take a flashlight with you in case the walk back is after dark.

Posted by
8889 posts

Steven, None taken. Though returning from a pub visit along a bumpy canal towpath, the biggest danger is ending up in the canal in the dark :-)

Posted by
2483 posts

I don't remember it being a problem cycling or driving.

Posted by
5837 posts

RE: "You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement. Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129"

Is " a pavement" what Americans call sidewalks where pedestrians walk?

Posted by
8889 posts

Yes, a pavement is the paved area at the side of a road designated for pedestrians. You are not allowed to cycle here, you must keep to the road. Sometimes there is a cycle path beside the pedestrian footpath, separated only by a white line. In that case you are obviously allowed on the cycle path.