In contrast to the rest of Europe, the UK has a drive on the left policy. It is not easy to follow the rules, coming from Europe. Is there a written or in person training for this?

I have found this:


but this does not seem to address my problem.

  • When in the UK, will you have access to a local/native to ride with?
    – Criggie
    Mar 14, 2023 at 10:50
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    @Criggie I ride alone to my job here.
    – Gergely
    Mar 14, 2023 at 11:38
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    Going the other way, I have to say that I found it really easy to adapt to driving and cycling on the other side. But it is worth familiarising yourself with the local differences in road markings, signs, etc. Mar 14, 2023 at 21:51

5 Answers 5


It's worth reading the whole Highway Code (the rules of the road for the UK), including the bits that only apply to those you'll be sharing the road with. That's not to say people follow it, of course.

I've done the opposite, and switching from riding in the UK to France or Spain wasn't too hard. As a general rule signalling your intentions early and moving into the centre of the lane buys you time. Note that in the UK there is no rule saying bikes have to stay close to the kerb; taking the lane is officially advised in many circumstances though drivers aren't always aware.

One thing to watch out for is local variations in driving/riding culture within the UK. The rules don't change, but the behaviour does.

As an extreme example: in central Cardiff it's very dangerous to stop on an amber light, and often safer to go through a light that's just turned red than to stop sharply - because the bus behind probably isn't stopping. This is illegal, but stopping at lights without a shoulder check is suicidal. In most other UK cities I ride in, it's safe to actually follow the rules.

Even more locally: In a small area in Bristol that I ride daily, drivers seem particularly bad for not indicating their turns on roundabouts, or when turning left crossing a bike lane - meaning if you want to use the bike lane as designed, you have to be very careful that you can get to a safe spot when the lights change (generally a good idea).

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    not indicating their turns on roundabouts, or when turning left crossing a bike lane These should be a universal consideration for all cyclists everywhere, its nothing to do with being in the UK. A core part of defensive cycling it to expect the unexpected.
    – Qwerky
    Mar 15, 2023 at 10:32
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    @Qwerky yes, all I'm doing is noting that this bad behaviour can be locally much more common than in nearby areas, so hazards vary within a country or even a city
    – Chris H
    Mar 15, 2023 at 15:57

I haven't heard of any bike-specific training or anything like that for transitioning from riding on the right to riding on the left. I have lived on both sides of the channel and it does take some getting used to. But in my experience, I have only really had a hard time adjusting when there's no other traffic around. I've accidentally ridden on the wrong side of an empty road, but as long as there are cars around it's easy enough to adjust.

Read up on the rules that differ from your own country, and practice on quiet roads. Keep in mind that the UK's rules for priority at intersections are different from, say, Sweden and Germany (where you yield to traffic from the right, unless otherwise indicated). In the UK, most intersections have road markings or signs indicating who has priority and who should yield. When no such markings exist, the rule is that whoever gets to the intersection first that has priority unless you're turning right in which case you need to yield. You'll mostly find unmarked intersections on small country roads and such. Obviously if you're on a bike you should cross unmarked intersections with great care. I would not expect a car to yield to a bike just because the bike got there first.

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    I had a problem today ending up in a multiple-lane road that led to a roundabout. I was glad coming out at the right exit safe and sound.
    – Gergely
    Mar 14, 2023 at 11:40
  • In the UK, it's whoever gets to the intersection first that has priority, unless you're turning right or otherwise indicated. This is misleading as the vast majority of junctions are signed, either with a "give way" or "stop" sign, or a double dashed (give way) or solid (stop) line. Traffic on a roundabout has priority over traffic entering; the traffic entering crosses a single dashed line.
    – Chris H
    Mar 14, 2023 at 12:40
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    @Gergely multi-lane roundabouts are problematic even if you ride perfectly. Plenty of drivers have poor lane discipline and don't signal, and some roundabouts have incorrect and/or inconsistent lame markings confusing everyone.
    – Chris H
    Mar 14, 2023 at 12:42
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    @SimonLundberg Some old roundabouts in France still follow priorité à droite. Most have been re-signed.
    – Chris H
    Mar 14, 2023 at 12:57
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    @ChrisH around here (Oxford) roundabouts with a lane passing through are called hamburger roundabouts - not sure if that terminology is used elsewhere
    – stuart10
    Mar 15, 2023 at 9:27

The biggest problem is not normal riding, it is what happens when something goes wrong. If someone spends their formative years in a country where people drive on their left, they form a habit of heading further left when in danger of a collision (including pedestrian to pedestrian collisions). Naturally right-handed driving countries do the reverse. Now if you are driving or riding in the UK, and encounter an oncoming vehicle, the instinctive thing is for you to go to the right, and the other person to the left.

  • This was exactly my experience driving in the UK. It was easy... until I unexpectedly met an oncoming car at the crest of a hill on a very narrow rural road. My instinct said pull right. Collision narrowly avoided. One Englishman very irate and probably rants about it to this day. Mar 15, 2023 at 15:20
  • Yes, it’s the startle effect. Inappropriate responses to unexpected events. Automatic and virtually instantaneous.
    – Michael
    Mar 16, 2023 at 10:02

I am not sure where you are based, but my local council offers "Refresher cycling training" courses every so often, for adults to gain confidence cycling on the road/local cycling infrastructure. I believe the training is done through British Cycling. It may be worth checking your local council website and/or British Cycling. Cycling UK may also have something.

Whilst it does not specifically address your concerns of switching side of the road, it would help with general "cycling in the UK".

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    There are also local groups offering various casual rides and even accompanied commutes in some places (In know it happens in Bristol, with council support but all volunteers)
    – Chris H
    Mar 16, 2023 at 13:58
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    I have found one, thanks indeed, @LC1983
    – Gergely
    Mar 16, 2023 at 16:44

Be advised that in the UK there are customs too not captured in the highway code, like flashing someone when you yield in situations where taking right-of-way would inconvenience either or both parties. And to also thank someone with a short flash of the lights/hazards or a hand gesture when someone permits you to proceed in such scenarios. Think: allowing someone to merge into your lane at your (slight) inconvenience.

As a native driver in the UK who drives abroad semi-frequently, I learned quickly that other nations just get confused when I flash them to proceed, so I think it appears to be mainly a British custom.

TBH, these are things that are quickly learned and I don't think you have anything to worry about. But these may confuse you to begin with as a non-native person.

  • I see a flash to proceed and the hand movements for thanks starting to be used in the Netherlands. So those might be spreading or may have been around longer and me not being aware (as a non driver.)
    – Willeke
    Mar 19, 2023 at 13:30

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