This question is NOT about "Who is on the wrong side of the road" but rather about who possesses right of way where a cyclist temporarily uses the opposing lane to pass an obstruction- parked cars- in their own lane due to lack of space. It's a question really about yielding right-of-way.
I wrote this answer as I saw incorrect information in an earlier one which lead me to further research the law. Indeed, the thrust of this post was to address information I saw stating as FACT that motorists were compelled by law to yield to a cyclist who was "committed" to passing parked vehicles in their lane.
It IS incorrect to say the cyclist- me in this case- has "no rights at all" being in the right lane in respect to motorists who appear suddenly from the mini-roundabout at the bottom of this steep hill. The Highway Code is clear an absolute, unqualified duty of care manifests to all motorists in respect to vulnerable road users.
It's further incorrect to say that double yellow lines mean "no stopping". How many times has one stopped at a red traffic signal and seen double yellows out of their vehicle window? Nearly every road in the UK is so marked and would place drivers in violation of the Highway Code were this true. Even were it true, in the case of a pedestrian stepping in front of your vehicle you wouldn't stop because of the presence of double yellows? Of course not. Therefore this logic- and the law- do not allow for or demand that a motorist proceed to strike a pedestrian or vulnerable road user because there's a double yellow line present.
Finally speaking to the question itself about motorists being required by law to yield to a cyclist travelling in the opposite lane to pass an obstruction in their own lane is absolutely false; no such DIRECT support exists in the Highway Code and it is an urban legend now frequently repeated and amplified on driving instruction websites and now amplified by at least one newspaper. However, there is INDIRECT support.
I'm not a solicitor, but I AM a UK cyclist and former Transit Police Officer (NYPD, not the UK Police) and here is my interpretation of the UK traffic law's protections for cyclists in such an encounter with a road user:
Although there is no DIRECT support in the Highway Code requiring a motorist to yield to a cyclist "committed" to passing parked cars in their own lane while travelling in the opposite lane, there IS actually INDIRECT support for it by virtue of rules which imposes a duty of car on motorists in respect to vulnerable road users. That's to say if they continued to proceed and to do so would endanger the cyclist, they'd be wrong. A motorist is never within their legal rights to drive into a cyclist or otherwise jeopardise their safety under any circumstances; the Highway Code is clear on this point; Rule 204 imposes an absolute duty without qualification on motorists to reduce the danger or threat they pose to vulnerable road users.
So a motorist ramming through despite seeing me thus forcing me near the parked cars- any one of which could pull away from the curb or fling a door open has INCREASED the danger to me in contravention of Rule 204- and that is not the only Rule which protects me as a cyclist. For granular detail, please read the "Longer Answer". Not to say I shouldn't rejoin my lane if space permits, but if it doesn't, the motorist can't just charge forward at me if to do so would jeopardise my safety or otherwise increase danger to me as a vulnerable road user.
And this is not a theoretical argument: a driver can be in their own lane and nonetheless be charged with "undue care and attention" for endangering the life of a cyclist.
The Highway Code guides/directs the following:
Driving in built-up areas
Residential streets. You should drive slowly and carefully on streets
where there are likely to be pedestrians, cyclists and parked cars. In
some areas a 20 mph (32 km/h) maximum speed limit may be in force.
Look out for
- cyclists and motorcyclists
The picture clearly shows this is a built up residential area with both cars and cyclists, so Rule 152 is operative and the motorist is obliged to drive carefully where there are parked cars and cyclists. Ramming their car through forcing the cyclist into obstacles is clearly in defiance of this General rule.
Be considerate. Be careful of and considerate towards all types of
road users, especially those requiring extra care
- slow down and hold back if a road user pulls out into your path at a junction. Allow them to get clear. Do not over-react by driving too
close behind to intimidate them.
This is another non-cyclist specific General rule. It's true that I'm approaching a mini roundabout in the middle of a T-junction. I have indeed pulled out in the opposite lane, although the next sentence gives an example where this happens if the vehicle is in the SAME lane trailing the road user who's pulled out into their path. But the rule does not expressly qualify the road user pulling out into the path of another road user must be travelling in the same direction.
Rule 147 makes express reference to "road users, especially those requiring extra care" which are covered by Rules 204-225. Let's next look at what those Rules say about determining the rights- and responsibilities- of the cyclist in such a situation as this:
Road users requiring extra care (204 to 225)
Rules for road users requiring extra care, including pedestrians,
motorcyclists and cyclists, other road users and other vehicles.
The road users most at risk from road traffic are pedestrians, in
particular children, older adults and disabled people, cyclists, horse
riders and motorcyclists. It is particularly important to be aware of
children, older adults and disabled people, and learner and
inexperienced drivers and riders. In any interaction between road
users, those who can cause the greatest harm have the greatest
responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they pose to others.
Here is a cyclist-specific rule that imposes an absolute, unqualified duty of care on the motorist in respect to reducing the danger they pose to vulnerable road users by the use of the words "In any interaction".
Thus, a motorist ramming their car through, forcing me into parked cars- again, any one of which could pull away from the curb or fling a door open- while honking their horn expressing their annoyance at me is in clear violation of Rule 204. This is clearly NOT reducing danger to me, it's INCREASING it.
But that is not the only evidence that protects cyclists in an encounter such as this:
Motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles may
suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as
drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty
of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction
they may have to make.
Indeed, I am avoiding an "obstacle" in my own lane, albeit they're parked cars. Were the car a big icy patch, I'd be forced to divert around it placing me in the same situation.
The rule directs the non-vulnerable road user to "Give them [the cyclist in this case] plenty of room". So again, the motorist is NOT within their "rights" to just ram-through forcing me into the parked cars: ramming through is not giving me the cyclist "plenty of room" and the motorist could never believe their actions doing so were in compliance with Rule 213.
Although many will immediately think: the Highway Code specifies 1.5 meters clearance between the motorist and the cyclist! This is Rule 163 and since I am NOT "overtaking", but rather avoiding obstacles in my own lane, this rule related to overtaking would not appear relevant to the facts and circumstances of this particular situation.
It would appear from the the reading- both collectively and individually- the foregoing cited Highway Code rules that although there is no express DIRECT legal compulsion for motorists to yield to a cyclist who has begun to pass obstacles in a clear right lane who then appears in the lane, if they would increase the danger to the cyclist by proceeding they would be required to stop or otherwise make active efforts to avoid the cyclist.
I'm trying as closely as possible to apply the law to the specifics of this common, but very grey and disputed area between motorists & cyclists. I'm NOT attempting to twist the laws to make myself "right", but merely attempting to clarify the responsibilities of the road users in what is probably a very common situation here in the UK. As you can see, cyclists DO have protections, but these are not express but implied by a collection of Highway Code Rules.