Cycling on the highway

Operation Close Pass

Dorset Police has adopted Operation Close Pass as a tool for educating drivers on how to behave on the road. 

Please see the below resources

Read more about the launch of Operation Close Pass here.

Close Pass Campaign
Operation Close Pass Campaign

Cycling Code of Conduct

Dorset Police, working with partners across Dorset has launched a code of conduct for those planning cycling events in the county. These documents can be found on the right of the page.

Cycling Events on the Highway

If the event is an official race then the organiser requires the authority of the Police to hold such an event - Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations 1960.

There are restrictions imposed by these regulations that necessitate promoters of the race/time trial to give notice of their intention (not less than 28 days) and most time trials are overseen by British Cycling and Cycling Time Trials and have to be registered with them.

The proposed race must meet certain criteria outlined in the regulations e.g. number of competitors and in authorizing the event the Police can “impose such conditions as they may think fit on the holding or conduct of the race so far as it takes place on a public highway"

Many cycling events are not races but "sportives". These do not require authorisation from the Police or Local Highways Authority. Participants should follow the Highway Code and can be prosecuted for any relevant highway offences that may be committed by any cyclist e.g. If a cyclist is on a road (that includes a pavement on a public highway) and is riding dangerously or carelessly, they are committing an offence under sections 28 and 29 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, as amended.

Speed limits only apply to mechanically propelled vehicles, so they do not apply to cyclists. However, a cyclist travelling at excessive speed could commit other road traffic act offences such as outlined above.

Any well run event should have a Traffic Management Plan (TMP) that involves consultation with the Local Highways Authority and will include how the event will be managed e.g. using marshals or stewards. However, the Local Highways Authority cannot prohibit an event taking place.

Police could attend such events for core policing duties but event traffic management is the responsibility of the event organiser who may use marshals or stewards or pay for Special Police Services. Only marshals with suitable accreditation under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme have powers to direct traffic (e.g. temporarily stopping it at a junction).

Actual road closures can only be achieved through a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) issued by the Local Highways Authority and must be suitably managed (i.e. road closure barriers and any marshals operating from behind them).

In relation to events organized specifically by British Cycling, they may use authorised trained marshals with authorised signage who are empowered to direct traffic.

Neither the police, nor the Local Highways Authority have the power to authorise or prohibit a cycling event on the highway (unless an official race as outlined above). However, an event organiser has a duty to ensure the safety of participants and should have public liability insurance.

In the event of a participant or member of the public suffering injury as a result of their event, they leave themselves at risk of prosecution or civil action if they have not liaised or taken heed of advice offered by the Police or Local Highways Authority. E.g. we strongly advise time trials against using major roads and if necessary advise that they are run in the early daylight hours of Sunday morning.

No one involved in a cycling event, either as a participant or in its organisation is exempt from any relevant road traffic or other legislation to which any other member of the public is subject. Should the Police or Local Highways Authority have concerns about a particular event, they may attend and if necessary engage in or commence enforcement activity (commence legal proceedings, issue fixed penalty tickets etc) against the event organiser or participants who contravene any relevant legislation.

Further information regarding events on roads can be obtained from Dorset County Council using the following email address roadspacemanagement@dorsetcc.gov.uk or visiting their website

Advice from British Cycling can be obtained from visiting their website

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