Police in Devon stop cyclist riding the wrong way... along the M5 Motorway

Rider heading against the flow of traffic on the hard shoulder... and he isn't the first

by Simon_MacMichael   March 4, 2013  

Motorway Sign.jpg


Police in Devon this morning stopped a cyclist who was riding along the hard shoulder of the M5 – and heading in the opposite direction to traffic, reports the BBC.

They were responding to reports of the rider travelling on the northbound lane of the motorway at around 7am this morning close to Junction 28 at Cullompton.

Cycling on motorways is banned under section 253 of the Highway Code. There was no news on what action, if any, Devon & Cornwall Police took against the rider.

However, that doesn’t stop some cyclists from taking to them, whether deliberately in violation of the law or due to an honest mistake.

Two years ago, we reported on a rider in Yorkshire who was spotted riding along the hard shoulder of the M62 in the wrong direction in evening rush hour, who turned off at a junction before police were able to find him.

In 2002, two members of the Kenya cycling team took the M61 on a training ride ahead of that year’s Commonwealth Games in Manchester, fortunately without incident.

After spending 45 minutes riding up the hard shoulder in national kit, they were stopped by police who said afterwards, “We understand that this was a genuine mistake."

19 user comments

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happens to the best of us. Spent the scariest 10 cycling minutes of my life on Autobahn 14 near Magdeburg after a wrong turn...

posted by andyp [1365 posts]
4th March 2013 - 14:40


I've done this in Portugal. By mistake. I was travelling in the direction of the traffic though and took the first available exit. Wink

posted by Tom Amos [246 posts]
4th March 2013 - 14:54


I got on an unrestricted section of the North Circular last year - never again - it was the most scary 30 minutes of cycling I've ever done.

RhysW's picture

posted by RhysW [82 posts]
4th March 2013 - 15:37


Often "cyclists" are mistaken for people on bicycles there is a BIG difference.

IMHO being a cyclist is largely an attitude.


posted by Rupert49 [39 posts]
4th March 2013 - 16:49


Cleary a demand for a motorway parallel cycle route...

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
4th March 2013 - 18:23


Damn brits..they come to our country, they take the wrong turn on the roads... Devil

posted by lfgaspar [6 posts]
4th March 2013 - 19:22

1 Like

We ended up an a French motorway once just outside Grenoble. Scary. Fortunately, there was another junction very soon after and we made a safe exit.

Over here, I called the police once when I saw a cyclist* riding down the hard shoulder of the M60.

*I say "cyclist", it was some bloke on a supermarket special with a carrier bag of shopping on the handlebars.

posted by crazy-legs [631 posts]
4th March 2013 - 19:57


Wasn't there a thing a couple of years ago in CW about a sportive being mistakenly directed down a motorway?

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
4th March 2013 - 23:53


Even a busy dual carriageway can feel like a terrifying mistake if you accidentally get onto one due to an error in navigation while touring. I hope I never go one better and end up on a motorway. I presume your best option is to hop over the barrier and carry your bike back to civilisation over fields and bushes, if it's even possible.

posted by chokofingrz [385 posts]
5th March 2013 - 0:43


Ironically the best cure for being on a motorway by mistake is probably to turn around straight away and ride off it - in the wrong direction Confused

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [388 posts]
5th March 2013 - 9:54


If there's a decent hard shoulder it's not so bad.

I ride almost every day on sections of road that are major urban arteries or the equivalent of motorways, and UAE drivers are much faster and scarier than anything in Europe.

Not that I'm advocating them allowing bicycles on motorways but I feel safer there than I do going out in the lanes of Surrey.

On a motorway you largely have no interaction with the cars - you aren't coming into their lanes to get around parked cars, buses etc, you aren't expecting them to slow down or let you in, and there is no white van hidden by a hedgerow about to come around the corner.

There's very little conflict, which I think is the cause of many problems and much of the anger motorists seem to have at cyclists in the UK.

Of course if someone does get me it will be a bus or 4WD falling asleep at 120km/h and that will be the end. Wave

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [648 posts]
5th March 2013 - 10:00


It's always been an ambition of mine to actually ride down the M1 as fast as I could between 2 junctions just to say I'd done it. Christmas Day afternoon would be the best bet I reckon. I'm not thinking of a mid week jaunt. I'm not totally mental!!

monkeytrousers's picture

posted by monkeytrousers [67 posts]
5th March 2013 - 17:57


Once did a group ride on the M40 between Warwick and Banbury - it was a lovely clear, run too, early on a Sunday (the week before it was opened to traffic)

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [415 posts]
5th March 2013 - 18:32


Stumbled onto the busiest stretch of dual carriageway ever; it lead directly off a motorway with cars doing about 90mph in two narrow lanes.

oh wait - no - it was a time trial and i was racing at the time. my mistake.

posted by pj [148 posts]
5th March 2013 - 21:28


hey maybe sky ride could get hold of a section of motorway and we could all forfill that dream, why should motorists have all the fun

Zero emissions so Zero tax

posted by petethegreek [23 posts]
5th March 2013 - 21:46


Long sections of boring straight road...not my idea of a nice ride!

posted by batch [60 posts]
5th March 2013 - 21:52


When I did my LeJog, my GPS insisted that I had to take a motorway turnoff, despite being set to 'cycling' mode, and I having deselected motorways and major A roads as options. So I guess it would be possible. In this case I navigated round it manually.

posted by RuthF28 [96 posts]
7th March 2013 - 12:45


petethegreek wrote:
hey maybe sky ride could get hold of a section of motorway and we could all forfill that dream, why should motorists have all the fun

Great Manchester Cycle ride uses the Mancunian Way, Petethegreek. And has us cycling in the opposite direction.


Or if you don't want to pay, look out for occasional manintenance days when it's closed to traffic and you can sneak on.

Joselito's picture

posted by Joselito [167 posts]
7th March 2013 - 14:02


Many moons ago when I was an inexperienced-at-riding-on roads-20-year-old on holiday in France with my then-boyfriend, we were riding along a road which we stayed on as it branched to the right and went uphill. Fortunately it didn't take us long to realise that it was a slip-road onto a motorway. Cue quick dismount, turn around and walk back to somewhere a bit more sensible. Panic over! :\

posted by purplemadwoman [30 posts]
12th March 2013 - 14:26