RULES OF THE ROAD: WHO’S IN THE RIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO TRACTORS, CYCLISTS, AND HORSES?

As the summer season approaches and both residents and tourists alike head out onto the roads, it can be a moment of panic – or indeed despair – for motorists who find themselves in a queue of traffic on their way to their fun day out.

However, whilst it may seem to be the world’s biggest inconvenience to find yourself stuck behind a tractor, a cyclist, or indeed a horse and its rider, there are some important things to be considered before making a hasty overtake around them.

If you’ve got your booking made at your favourite country pub and the time is ticking, it can be tempting to push the limits when you encounter an obstacle on the roads. Despite this, it is imperative that you make sure your actions are safe for everyone.

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What do I do if I’m stuck behind a tractor?

Getting caught behind a tractor – which often has machinery or a trailer attached to it – isn’t just as simple as overtaking. Especially on the Island, roads are often too narrow to overtake a car, let alone agricultural vehicles.

It’s important to wait until the road widens and a good view of the road ahead is established, making sure to take note of any blind bends and hills that could obscure vision.

Rule 169 of the Highway Code says that tractors should not hold up a long queue of traffic, and that farmers should frequently check their mirrors and if necessary pull into a passing point to allow other vehicles to pass.

On a moral level, it’s important to remember that farmers and tractor drivers are just doing their jobs – and they are important jobs too. Farmers in the UK grow a staggering 61% of the food that the nation eats, according to Countryfile.

So that’s tractors, what about cyclists?

On the Island, we’re lucky enough to have several designated cycle tracks weaving through the countryside and connecting main towns, including Newport, Sandown, Cowes, and other areas. For the commuting cyclist though, these tracks may not be as useful as they seem due to their limited entry and exit points.

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If you’re on your way to work, or trying to drop the kids to school on time, seeing a cyclist (or several cyclists) in the distance can be disheartening. However, what seems to be a long delay usually isn’t, and cyclists have just as much right to be on the roads as cars and other vehicles.

Contrary to popular belief, cyclists are also legally permitted to ride 2 abreast. Despite this, Rule 66 of the Highway Code states cyclists should never ride more than 2 abreast – although this is set to be reviewed. Rule 66 also says that cyclists should go into single file on narrow or busy roads and should factor in road conditions when cycling around bends.

Drivers must leave 1.5 metres distance when overtaking cyclists to ensure a safe pass.

Now, how about horses?

One of the most daunting road users to try and overtake can be horses. The animals whilst usually friendly and well trained, can – like any animal – be unpredictable. Rule 215 of the Highway Code states that cars should overtake horses ‘wide and slow’.

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This can help prevent horses from spooking and causing injury to themselves, their rider, or you. Drivers should also bear in mind that horses riding 2 abreast often consists of an experienced rider accompanying a less experienced or novice rider.

Motorists are warned to treat horses as potential hazards and pay attention to hand signals made by riders. It may seem inconvenient, but most riders are happy to move over to allow you to pass if it’s safe to do so.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
27 Comments
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Magnifico
Magnifico
1 month ago

What about e-scooters?

plato
plato
Reply to  Magnifico
1 month ago

What about them?

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

This is hardly news, and all of this should have been covered during driving lessons and theory tests. If there was more enforcement on the roads the standard of driving would change (for the better), not that enforcement will ever happen over here. That would require a police force that actually does what it is supposed to.

ron
ron
Reply to  Paul
1 month ago

p.s i should have put a y not an i in Hypocrite

Mark
Mark
Reply to  Paul
1 month ago

True, but theory tests for cyclists don’t exist and even lessons are optional.

Safety requires on all road users to consider the needs of all other users no matter how many wheels, hooves or feet they have.

James
James
Reply to  Mark
1 month ago

Mark, I would hazard a guess that 90% of cyclists also drive a car, and therefore have done a test. Cyclists will have a far better understanding of road craft ànd be better, safer drivers.

Tiberius
Tiberius
Reply to  Paul
1 month ago

Well said Paul, i wholeheartedly agree!

Michelle
Michelle
Reply to  Paul
1 month ago

Ride a bike on the road for a few hours and you will soon see these reminders are badly needed.

Alan Stay
Alan Stay
1 month ago

How come cyclists are alowed to ride along the actual racecourse road holding everyone up when a track has been provided just for them ?

James
James
Reply to  Alan Stay
1 month ago

Hi Alan, the road is a cycle ‘track’. All roads(motorways etc obviously not) are available to cyclists. The asphalt you mention is not fit for purpose.

roe sprack
roe sprack
1 month ago

what about cyclists that undertake
whilst sat at a set of traffic lights driving a H.G.V
I was undertaken by a cyclist and didn,t see him do it
I then whilst indicating carried out a left turn and knocked him of his bike
it was only the motorist by blowing his horn I stopped to find out what problem was
and said cyclist was in the road with luckily only minor injuries
had that motorist not blown his horn I dread to think how it may have had a different outcome
if I had put a heavy rear axle over him

WHOOSE FAULT WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN

What would the police made of that one

Rob
Rob
Reply to  roe sprack
1 month ago

Assuming you were stationary at the lights and then moved off to commence a left turn without checking your mirrors properly I’m afraid it would have been yours (HC Rule 211). What the cyclist was doing isn’t undertaking, it is filtering, which is legal. May not be wise to filter on the inside of an HGV in case the driver isn’t paying attention, but it is legal and incumbent on you to check all of your mirrors before commencing a maneuver.

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Rob
1 month ago

Rob, you are wrong. You only filter on the outside of traffic. Going up the inside is undertaking and is illegal except where you are on a carriageway with multiple lanes and the outside lane is moving at a slower speed when traffic is jammed up, as often happens on motorways and dual carriageways.

Dennis
Dennis
Reply to  roe sprack
1 month ago

And what about those who overtake a line of stationary vehicles, we are expected to give them room but at Fairlee they barrel past within millimetres of my vehicle, one passed and his handlebar was under my mirror, just another example of their arrogant and inconsiderate behaviour.

Terry
Terry
1 month ago

Common sense and patience, is what’s needed, but sadly seem to be diminishing qualities.

Catherine Johnson
Catherine Johnson
1 month ago

In my experience tractor drivers usually pull over and let other vehicles pass – yes, I know they’re just following the Highway Code, but not everyone does, do they? Cyclists rarely, if ever, pull over even when there’s a long queue behind them. No, they don’t have to but it’s just common courtesy if you’re travelling slowly and holding people up. I do sometimes get the feeling that cyclists actually enjoy holding everyone up behind them. Horses, fine, but I wish the owners would clean up after them!

ian johnson
ian johnson
Reply to  Catherine Johnson
1 month ago

It is the total arrogance of the lycra clad clowns that causes problems; I was a cyclist for many, many years before arthritis prevented it; but, I would never dare ride as badly and arrogantly as they do over here. I am just surprised that many more aren’t seriously injured , or worse.

Bird table
Bird table
1 month ago

Going around a bend just off the ferry (RF) the other evening, near the top of the hill, i sounded my horn to two lycra clad cyclists slowly proceeding two abreast and having a fine old chat. Ferry queue behind. Just to let them know i was there. To be fair they pulled over 🙂

ian johnson
ian johnson
Reply to  Bird table
1 month ago

You were lucky; a two fingered salute or a volley of filth is the usual reply.

Michelle
Michelle
Reply to  Bird table
1 month ago

Please don’t do this. Horns are very loud and it’s extremely unpleasant. Cyclists can hear your car and know you are there.

Sharon Kerrison
Sharon Kerrison
1 month ago

I’ve never known a tractor to pull in on the island when he has a tail back behind him. We all know they’re doing they’re job but surely it’s common curtesy

Letting you know
Letting you know
1 month ago

Packs of cyclists NEVER ride two abreast, it’s often more and comes with no regards to road safety or rules.

One of the worst behaviour patterns are undertaking, and that’s very dangerous behaviour, along with no insurance or road tax, they should at least pay insurance…

Walter Sobchak
Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Letting you know
1 month ago

@ Letting you know. Just letting you know Road Tax in the UK does not exist, so in reality you don’t actually know. Your other points are also spurious.

Old Mike
Old Mike
1 month ago

I once pulled out to pass two cyclists, quite slowly, and was astonished to be overtaken by a third one at high speed as I came level with them. I wonder if he is still with us?

M Emma
M Emma
1 month ago

Coming towards Shalfleet traffic lights last week, I stopped as the light was red. A bike then overtook me and stopped as near to the white line as possible. Then proceeded to remove his helmet and faf around whilst the light went green. I then had to reverse and drive round him because he had stopped by my bumper. He was still faffing with his helmet off as other cars overtook.

truthouts
truthouts
1 month ago

Last week while driving into Yarmouth I came across a very old, smelly diesel van driving slowly with its hazard lights on. Had it broken down or experiencing engine troubles? No, it was “protecting” the group of lycra clad cyclists in front (at a guess more than a dozen of them) while they were 3 or more abreast and obviously racing against each other.

This carried on through Yarmouth until I baled out at Bouldnor before I did something stupid in trying to get past them.

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