Whenever I'm exploring a new bike route or climbing a steep hill, I often need to get of the road and onto the pavement to avoid motorists, pushing my bike on the pavement until I feel it is appropriate to join the road again. I look left and right for passing cars, but I feel that I might be doing something wrong.

Is there a signal I should use when I wish to join the road and is there anything else I must take into consideration regarding how and where I alight?

  • 2
    pavement == sidewalk ??
    – dotjoe
    Commented May 31, 2012 at 18:15
  • Yes, pavement is the British English word for sidewalk. Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 13:45

4 Answers 4


Depending on what you mean by "should", you possibly "shouldn't" be riding on the pavement.

After parking or walking on the pavement, I move back onto the road in a way that's similar to setting off from/in a parked car.

  1. Stand on the pavement/side-walk, side by side to my bike.
  2. Lift the bike down onto the road, close to the curb, facing in the correct direction (i.e. with the traffic)
  3. Look to make sure there's still nothing coming.
  4. Mount the bike (standing on the side-walk, holding the brakes, swing one leg over and sit on the saddle, with the other leg still on the side-walk)
  5. Now I'm on the bike, and the bike is on the road: stationary, and at the curb, and now ready to move off when traffic permits.
  • I don't cycle on the pavement. This works fine in most cases unless you're joining a busy/steep road.
    – Ambo100
    Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 19:51
  • 1
    @Ambo100 - The other thing I do is rejoin the road at the nearest intersection. Remount the bike (i.e. become a vehicle again) on a side road, before rejoining the main road. The intersections have aids for merging traffic e.g. traffic lights or stop signs.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 20:02

The UK Highway Code say's:

Look all around before moving away from the kerb, turning or manoeuvring, to make sure it is safe to do so. Give a clear signal to show other road users what you intend to do.



I'm not aware of any procedure other than exercising extra caution. Use the same turn signals you'd use when changing lanes in the road, and be extra careful that there are no cars nearby. They'll usually expect you to stay on the sidewalk.

  • 1
    Exactly. Only answer that says anything different than "don't". IMO laws are not worth dying for.
    – Vorac
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 16:18

I generally avoid going onto the shoulder, unless it's reasonably well paved, sufficiently wide, and otherwise suitable for riding, in which case I'll try to stay on it. I don't get off the roadway just because cars are coming, or because I'm necessarily moving slowly. A bicycle is a "vehicle" in most of the US, and entitled to use the roadway as any other vehicle.

In those situations where I may need to move from shoulder to roadway (as in when the shoulder is coming to an end) I generally try to plan it well in advance, look for a break in traffic, signal as for any lane change, and then move over when it's safe to do so.

(Of course, one must always be wary of the junction between roadway and shoulder, as there is frequently an uneven joint there, so it may need to be "attacked" at a relatively large angle, making choosing your time to move into traffic that much more difficult.)

  • I should mention when I get of the road onto the pavement I stop riding and push the bike. It's illegal to ride on the pavement (sidewalk). This is also a question quite specific to the UK
    – Ambo100
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 10:01
  • It's illegal to ride on sidewalks in the "downtown" areas of most US cities, too. Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 11:20

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