Bike Boxes – what are the rules?

Andrew Middlehurst

Table of Contents

Cycle boxes at traffic lights

I read a post recently on a London cycling forum in relation to some confusion surrounding the rules relating to advanced stop lines, or bike boxes, at traffic light controlled junctions. The cyclist who posted had asked whether buses and taxis were allowed to use them as they had seen so many being used.

After speaking with the other cyclists here at the office about their commutes, people feel like they are seeing every bike box they arrive at with a vehicle stopped in it. They are also seeing mopeds and motorbikes stopping in the bike box after filtering down the side of traffic.

Find out how to make a cycling accident claim

So can cars, buses, vans, motorbikes and mopeds use the boxes? The answer is no but also yes in certain circumstances, so I thought I would put together a short blog post to provide an explainer and hopefully clear things up for fellow cyclists.

The official name for bike boxes is Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs). They are essentially two stop lines. The first stop line applies to all motorised traffic but not cyclists, and the second stop line applies to both cyclists and motorised traffic.

The ‘bike box’ is created by the space in between the stop lines and is often painted.

What are the rules for Advanced Stop Lines?

The Highway Code states that the boxes are there to allow bikes to be ‘positioned ahead of other traffic’. This makes sense, as we are vulnerable road users we should be afforded more time to be able to move off ahead of motorised traffic.

The Highway Code also mentions that both motorists and motorcyclists must stop at the first white line ahead of the box if the lights are Red or Amber. They are also required to leave the box free at other times, such as if they are in traffic and the junction is blocked.

Are there times when motorists are allowed to stop in the cycle box?

There are two specific occasions when a motorist is allowed to stop in the box, however they are intended to be exceptions as opposed to the norm.

  1. If a motorised vehicle has crossed the first white line on a green light, i.e. entered the box, and the traffic lights then turn red, they must stop before they cross the second white line i.e. before they leave the box.
  2. If the vehicle is so close to the first stop line when the lights turn amber or red that it would be unsafe for the motorist to stop ahead of the line then they are permitted to cross the line and stop before the second line.

Even with these exceptions, the motorist is still required to give a cyclist extra time and space to be able to move off ahead of them.

Motoring Offence

A motoring offence is only committed where the traffic lights are clearly on red and a motorist then crosses the first stop line and enters the box. The motorist can be given a fixed penalty fine and points on their licence.

Although there is a potential motoring offence here I can see that in practice the Police are likely to find it difficult to enforce the rule. An officer would need to see a motorist clearly drive into a bike box while a traffic light was on red and unless they are there on the spot it seems unlikely that they would be able to gather sufficient evidence for them to pull a driver over.

Read about other rules and regulations related to cycling.

If you have suffered an injury due to a bike accident, you may be able to claim compensation. Call our specialist cycle accident solicitors for a free consultation on 020 7485 8811 or fill in the enquiry form below.

Share this article


Contact us today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you

    Related InsightsVIEW ALL

    1. man cycling past London underground station

      London Cycling Injury Case Studies

      Successful claim by cyclist injured after a hit-and-run Our client had been playing volleyball in the New Cross area of...

      Read more
    2. cyclist in camden, london

      Cycling Accident Claims: Client Stories

      GP Awarded £1m Settlement Kate Milton, a Senior Associate at Osbornes Law settled a cycling accident claim for a 52-year-old...

      Read more
    3. road cyclists

      Do you have to wear a bike helmet?

      Should bike helmets be mandatory in the UK? Recently, Dan Walker was involved in a nasty collision with a motorist...

      Read more
    4. Cyclist on a street in London

      Cyclist Receives £50,000 After Hit by Sports Car

      Andrew Middlehurst, a lawyer in the specialist cycling injuries team at Osbornes Law, recently settled a claim for a cyclist...

      Read more
    5. accidente de bicicleta

      London cyclist struck by 4×4 receives settlement

      Andrew Middlehurst, a lawyer in the specialist cycling injuries team at Osbornes Law, recently settled a claim for a cyclist...

      Read more
    6. bicycle wheel

      Injured London Cyclist Receives £70,000 Settlement

      Cycling accident lawyer, Laura Swaine, recently settled a claim for an injured cyclist who sustained serious injuries to her wrist...

      Read more
    7. highway code bike lights

      Top 10 Major Highway Code Changes for Cyclists

      New Highway Code rules for cyclists At the end of January 2022, the Highway Code was updated to make British roads...

      Read more
    8. E Bicycle

      Settlement reached for cyclist after insurers deny liability

      Personal Injury specialist, Laura Swaine, recently settled a cycling injury claim following the driver fleeing the accident site and refusing...

      Read more
    9. accidente de bicicleta

      £130,000 Settlement for Cyclist Struck by London Taxi

      Andrew Middlehurst, a specialist cycling injury lawyer, has settled a claim for a cyclist who was struck by a black...

      Read more
    10. 20.1.2022

      Cycling accident advice

      Now more than ever before, people are embracing the pleasures and benefits of cycling in and around London. Unsurprisingly, the...

      Read more
    11. e-scooter

      The law around E-bikes and E-scooters explained

      Why are electric bikes legal but not scooters? E-bikes and e-scooters are the new rides on the block. To many,...

      Read more
    12. cycling in london

      Claim Settled for £70,000

      Andrew Middlehurst, specialist bicycle accident lawyer at Osbornes Law, has settled a claim for an injured cyclist in the region...

      Read more
    13. 17.5.2021

      Cyclist receives compensation after taxi driver causes accident

      Blanca Diego, a bike accident solicitor in the Osbornes Personal Injury Department, settled a claim for a 30-year-old Spanish cyclist...

      Read more
    14. 17.5.2021

      Spanish cylist receives compensation for South London bike...

      Blanca Diego, a bicycle accident solicitor in the Osbornes Personal Injury Team, settled a claim for a 25 year old Spanish...

      Read more
    15. London Cyclist wins £100,000 compensation following crash

      Andrew Middlehurst recently settled a case for a cyclist who injured his shoulder and wrist whilst cycling along a London...

      Read more
    16. highway code road signs

      Highway Code changes just the start in protecting...

      The 2020 changes to the Highway Code do not go far enough to change driver behaviour and protect cyclists and pedestrians,...

      Read more
    17. 27.8.2020

      Cyclist receives compensation for broken back & pelvis

      An avid cyclist had his ‘body broken’ and was left unable to walk unaided for almost a year after a...

      Read more
    18. 27.7.2020

      Cyclist whose career nearly ended following collision

      As reported in the evening standard, a jewellery designer and maker to the stars had his career almost ended when...

      Read more
    19. 9.6.2020

      The importance of parks for cycling

      I ventured outside the comfort of my home this past weekend for the first time in 11 weeks. As I walked...

      Read more
    20. bike rider at night

      Bike Cam Prosecutions

      Have you ever been cut up by a van turning left? Or been riding along only to find the tarmac...

      Read more
    21. 11.5.2020

      Helmet Cameras: Personal Safety and the Law

      Helmet cameras have become one of the must-have items for cyclists, especially those commuting to and from work.  They offer...

      Read more
    22. cycling across a bridge in London

      Boom time for bikes – London Mayor’s new...

      Yesterday Sadiq Khan unveiled his ‘London Streetspace’ programme designed to transform London’s streets to accommodate a possible ten-fold increase...

      Read more
    23. Laura swaine indoor cycling

      Around the World In One Day for NHS...

      On Thursday 30th April 2020 I took part in a 240 mile cycle, raising money for the NHS.  This ride was to...

      Read more
    24. 5.5.2020

      Highway code refresher for cyclists

      As we start week 7 of lockdown, there is one thing that is more noticeable on the roads…cyclists. Whether you...

      Read more