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Sharing The Road In Winter

Wind, rain, fog and ice all play their part in winter and, combined with shorter days, morning and evening dazzle, this means that more factors are at play on our roads. The RAC and Cycling UK have joined forces to create this helpful weather-related advice piece for drivers and cyclists to consider when sharing the road.

Preparing for icy conditions

Cyclists and motorists

Ice can be a recipe for disaster when ridden or driven on at speed – or even slowly. All road users should consider giving more time to their journeys, if in doubt about the conditions, and should take the journey more slowly.

If you know your journey is going to be icy, do consider whether you need to make the journey at all, or if there’s an alternative route where there’s less of a risk of ice, particularly if you’re planning on making this journey by bike. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so do consider other means of transport if you’re not sure.


Drivers should consider leaving the house ten minutes earlier when frost is forecast. Time is needed to prepare the car as de-icing and demisting windows and mirrors to ensure good all-round vision is a legal requirement.

On the road in icy conditions

Cyclists and motorists

All road users should take care when descending hills. Whilst the summit might be free from ice, the lower slopes could be totally different. It’s worth bearing in mind that ice will melt at different times depending on where it is, especially if it is in the shade.

The same can be said when moving from a main road to minor roads and country lanes. Main roads are more likely to be gritted, so don’t assume that because some roads are free from ice that conditions elsewhere will be the same.


Should a cyclist hit ice it’s important for them to relax and ride it out and not tense up.  Advice includes: consider walking over longer icy patches, although these might not always be obvious, and to avoid sudden steering movements and sharp braking.


Motorists need to be aware of the heightened danger to cyclists in icy conditions and not only give cyclists a wide berth but keep further behind, particularly around junctions and when the cyclist is turning, as that’s when a chance of falling is greatest

Icy puddles


Icy puddles and patches are most likely to form at the side of the road, while ice is a menace to all road users, it’s especially dangerous to cyclists and motorcyclists who drive nearer the edge of the road.

Cyclists would benefit from being in a more central road position whilst drivers need to give cyclists even more space when overtaking because of the increased risk of sudden skids by riders and drivers alike.


Motorists should leave at least a car’s width when overtaking at lower speeds (20-30 mph), and allow even more space when travelling in bad weather, especially icy, weather.

On the road in wet weather

Cyclists and motorists

All road users should pay more attention and slow down when the road is wet, particularly after a heavy downpour.

Whilst cyclists need to try to avoid puddles that could be hiding potholes, drivers need to be more aware of cyclists who might pull out to avoid obstacles, they should also be aware of cyclists and pedestrians who could get soaked by their spray.


The numbers of breakdowns increase during periods of wet weather, because the damp causes issues with engines and electrical systems. Read the RAC’s advice for driving in wet weather for some simple checks to carry out to help against wet-weather breakdowns.

On the road in foggy weather

Cyclists and motorists

Winter fog presents a problem for all road users. Be extra cautious, use your lights and remember that you may not be as visible as you think. It might be advisable to put off travelling until the fog clears.


To combat fog motorists need to rely on the correct use of their fog lights, read the RAC’s advice for driving in fog for information on how and when to use your fog lights, complete with a short video on how to check your bulbs.

On the road in stormy weather

Cyclists and motorists

Winter storms and high winds can result in fallen branches. Cyclists may need to hold a more central road position and be prepared to avoid debris, whilst drivers need to proceed with caution giving good clearance to cyclists and be prepared for cyclists to move further out into the road, as strong gusts of wind can cause cyclists suddenly to move position.

Low winter sun

Cyclists and motorists

If you’re cycling or driving in the earliest part of the day, or in the late afternoon and evening, think about the impact of the low winter sun.

Its effects can be dazzling for both driver and cyclist and can lead to tragic consequences if people are not careful.

Our advice for all road users is that if you cannot see the road ahead clearly, then please slow down and pull into a safe location and wait for the visibility to improve – a life is worth more than saving few minutes of time.

Shorter days


With shorter winter days, cyclists should not be caught unawares in the failing daylight and have a white front and red rear light.

As well as making sure cyclists can see and be seen by drivers, it’s also a legal requirement for cycling in the dark.

Cyclists should also try to ride away from the kerb or gutter. Not only will this help in the avoidance of debris, which can cause punctures, but also drains, manhole covers, leaves and road markings which can be more slippery, especially when manoeuvring.


Drivers should remember to regularly check their bulbs and headlight brightness throughout the winter.


Cyclists and motorists

For all road users, it’s worth considering changing your tyres for winter specific versions, particularly if snow and ice will be common features of your journey over the long months ahead.

Punctures are more common in winter due to detritus on the roads, and they’re a lot less pleasant to sort out in winter for both drivers and cyclists.


For cyclists, letting out some air from tyres can prove worthwhile, as grip is improved by increasing contact with the road.


Motorists are advised to check the conditions of their tyres regularly, especially during the colder months. For a short informative video on how to quickly check your tyres read the RAC’s checking legal tyre limit page.

For more advice on sharing the road go to:

For more information on the Highway Code go to,

You can find more advice from the RAC by visiting their driving advice section.

For more advice from Cycling UK go to cycling in traffic, and a guide on cycle lighting regulations and a review of winter tyres.

Our best advice for winter weather is for all road users to be prepared and keep an eye on our accurate forecasts.

For accurate advice on weather conditions, keep up-to-date with hourly forecasts for the next two days and with three-hourly forecasts for up to seven days, by downloading theMet Office weather app.

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Written by Gather

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