On balance, in the broad spectrum of bike riding countries, the UK isn’t so bad. Sure, it’s a long way off the cycling heaven of Holland or Denmark, but it could be worse…
Recently, in the state of Montana USA, a political bill banning cyclists from all two lane roads outside of towns and cities, was being re-drafted, after strong reaction from local cycling groups. So at least our politicians aren’t trying to ban cyclists from UK roads.
Here in the UK, cyclists are relatively free to get on with riding bikes. In the main we just have pot holes, other road users and cyclist-hating Daily Mail columnists to contend with. We don’t even have to wear a helmet should we not feel the need to. However, back in 1888 it was a different story: It was a legal requirement to ring your bell constantly whilst your bike was moving. However, that was a long time ago and the UK has thankfully moved on.
While the most advanced cycling countries such as Denmark and Holland show what possibilities there are with decent cycling infrastructure, when governments understand the benefits and want it to happen. Around the world there are many places which have surprising, pointless or just plain crazy rules with regards to cycling.
Bike riding can be beautiful in Australia, particularly outside the state capital cities. The Victorian Alps, for example, are amazing and blessed with stunning scenery and lots of long mountain climbs. Cycling in and around Australian state capital cities, however, tends to be seen as a problem rather than something to be encouraged. Bike riders in Sydney, Australia have had their previously tough laws made even harsher this year with increased fines across the board;
Riding without Photo ID $106 (£62)
Not wearing a helmet $319 (£186)
Riding dangerously (for example doing a track-stand) $425 (£250)
Riding a bike with no Bell attached $106 (£62)
The heavily enforced cycling laws do little to help cycling participation rates, which are far less than similar countries without such stringent cycling laws.
Photo credit: John Grainger
So while Australia continues to clamp down on the ‘two wheeled menace’, there are plenty of places around the world with unusual cycling laws;
- Cycling at a speed of 65 Mph, or more is illegal in the state of Connecticut, USA.
- It is Illegal to ride a bicycle into a swimming pool in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park.
- Cyclists in France must wear a hi-visibility vest if riding at night.
- In Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, USA, it is illegal to ride with both arms off the handlebars or practice any trick, acrobatic or ‘fancy riding’ in the street.
- Even in 2017 it is Illegal for women to ride a bike in Saudi Arabia, unless they are in a park and accompanied by a male family member and covered by traditional dress.
- In Hungary, the maximum speed allowed on a bicycle is 40 Kph without a helmet or 50 Kph with a helmet.
- In Spain helmet laws state that cyclists should wear a helmet on interurban roads, but can remove them if going uphill or if it gets too hot.
- Proposed law in Missouri USA – Cyclists must carry a 15 foot high fluorescent orange flag whilst riding.
- Proposed law in South Dakota – Cyclist must pull over off the road to let faster traffic get past.
So if you are reading this in a country with ‘challenging’ cycling laws, you have our deepest sympathy.
Maybe we should all just move to Holland…