The gold standard for cyclists - an introduction to bike laws
Posted: 17 August 2012
Thanks to the exploits of Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, and various members of the all-conquering Great Britain track cycling team, cycling has hit the headlines in recent weeks. The sideburn-sporting cyclist may have inspired you to get on your bike, but he has also taken his time in the spotlight to point out what were deficiencies in the law, in his eyes anyway.
So we thought now we be a good time to highlight which law cyclists are bound by. Pay particular attention if Bradley’s victories have inspired you to get your wheels out of the garage.
Perhaps the most pertinent point on which to start would be that unfortunately, however much you would like to emulate your heroes, racing on the roads is not allowed unless authorised. Sorry to disappoint you, but there is always the velodrome (if you live somewhere that is lucky enough to have one).
Cyclists must stop at a red light just as motorists do. If you have seen a cyclist assume the lights only apply to cars and impudently ride straight through them, do not follow this example, as it is actually illegal.
Dangerous and careless cycling and the use of drink and drugs
Whilst cycling in a manner which is considered dangerous or careless might not pose as much of a threat to others as a motorist acting in such a way, it is equally illegal. Dangerous cycling carries a fine of £2500 and careless cycling one of £1000. Cycling under the influence of drink or drugs is an offence which usually falls under dangerous cycling and therefore could land you the former fine.
Riding on the pavements
This is perhaps the thorniest issue, one on which pedestrians and cyclists often clash (both literally and metaphorically). The reality often is that neither is aware of what the law actually says about this interaction. Well, in technical terms it is an offence for a cyclist to cycle on a pavement that gives right of way to pedestrians, and police officers as well as Community Support Officers can issue Fixed Penalty Notices, with fine ranging from £30 to £500. However, many cyclists will get away with it thanks to the rather lenient approach taken by the authorities.
It may make our hearts melt to see the romantic scene of a man carrying his beloved on the back of his bicycle, but for those who like to see the law enforced, it should make us seethe with rage. That’s because it’s actually an offence to carry passengers unless your bike is adapted to do so, like a tandem.
Those are the main rules that should be aware of when cycling. Ride safely!