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cyclist passing a parked car on the road

Passing A Parked Car


The best way to cycle safely on the road is to use a systematic routine. When passing a parked car, you use many of the skills that are helpful at road junctions, so it is a great way to start learning how to be a smart cyclist.

To help you develop a safe cycling routine, we’ve broken down this manoeuvre into clear steps, to enable you to ride safely and more responsibly.

Look ahead and behind to check it's safe before moving position

Look over your right shoulder to see what’s behind you as you approach the parked car. As well as seeing what’s behind you, looking over your shoulder is a signal that tells other road users that you are about to do something.

Look ahead too, so you can anticipate oncoming traffic. This is because you will need to change your position on the road as you pass. If the road is narrow or there are parked cars on the other side of the road you may need to move into the lane of traffic coming from the other direction.

Move into the primary position as you approach the parked car

When passing a parked car, riding in the primary cycling position will make sure that you are visible to other road users. This will also mean that you are far enough away from the parked car to avoid a car door if it opens unexpectedly.

If there are no vehicles behind, or there is a suitable space between the vehicles moving in the traffic lane, then you can move into the primary position. Adjust your speed as necessary, so that you can move safely into position.

Caution The primary riding position is in the centre of the traffic lane.

Adopting the primary cycling position will show your presence to traffic ahead and prevent following drivers from overtaking when it's not safe.

Prepare to stop if there is not enough room to pass safely

If there is a vehicle approaching and there is not enough room to pass safely then stop and wait for it to come through. Don’t try and squeeze through a small gap as this leaves you no room for manoeuvre.

Make sure there is enough room for the car door to open as you pass

When passing the parked car be sure to leave enough room for you to pass safely if the car door opens unexpectedly. Cycling in the primary position will mean that there is enough room for you to pass safely even if a car door is opened.

CautionIt is hard to tell if someone is sitting in a car when you pass and sometimes people will open the door without looking.

Look before moving back into the secondary position

Once you have passed the parked car you can move back into the secondary position. Before you do that have a quick check over your left shoulder to ensure that there isn’t another cyclist moving up inside you. This is especially important when there are lots of other cyclists around but doing it every time will help to build good habits.

The Manouevre

The Manouevre - Cyclist passing a parked car

Be Smart Cyclist – View the other manoeuvres in our series