Who has priority?

  • Safety and trafic rules

The rules for who has priority are unknown by many. What to do when confronted by an advisory cycle lane, for example?

Of the 30,000 Belgians surveyed by VAB-assistance (automobile association), in collaboration with the Institut Belge pour la Sécurité Routière (IBSR), one out of two people did not pass their test! Numerous errors of judgement have been made in situations involving cyclists.

Cyclists do not know when they must give way to motorists and vice versa. The difference between a cycle path and an advisory cycle lane is not sufficiently understood. Yet the distinction is very important. And the confusion surrounding this can lead to hazardous situations.

Mandatory and advisory cycle lanes?

A cyclist always has priority when they use a cycle path, except when a marking on the ground or traffic lights indicate otherwise. Contrary to this, they do not have priority when on an advisory cycle lane. This same rule applies for soft surface lanes set into cobbled streets to make the ride more comfortable for cyclists.

You should also know that when a cycle path exits onto the roadway, you have priority over the vehicles arriving from behind you. As a matter of fact, the use of the path indicated by panels D7 or D9 or 2 broken white lines (cycle track marked on the ground) is obligatory for the cyclist but is not part of the roadway and vehicles can neither drive nor park there. This therefore follows the general priority-to-the-right rule (see art. 12.4, pp. 23–24, of the highway code).

This confusion about the use of the advisory cycle lane has led VAB-assistance and the Fietsersbond (Cyclists’ Union) in Flanders to ask that advisory cycle lanes be withdrawn and replaced by symbols. Indeed it is important to retain a visual suggestion of cyclists, because that increases motorists’ attention and visually reduces the width of the traffic lane, which encourages drivers to slow down.

Road positioning for cyclists