The law and cycling have always had a tough relationship. On one hand cyclists are road users and therefore should follow the rules of the road like everyone else. On the other if a cyclist doesn’t follow the rules the consequences are likely to be less severe simply considering the size of a bike versus that of a car. The rules are there to make using the UK’s roads a more safe and enjoyable experience yet in recent times a lack of clear definitions and revisions to provide for the increase in cycling have left people frustrated.
Just look at the difficulty James Randerson from the Guardian recently had in discovering whether cars in advanced stop boxes were breaking the law. He had to go through 3 different government departments before getting the answer. In the end he discovered it is illegal and carries 3 points on your licence and a £60 fine.
Let’s take a look at the things a cyclist can and cannot be fined for..
£30 fine for jumping a red light
As a cyclist the most likely thing you’ll be fined for is jumping a red light. In London the police occasionally crack down on this behaviour due to the sheer pressure from the public. Been caught for this offence carries a £30 fine. Depending on the council area you are caught in you may be invited to take part in a safety course instead of receiving a fine.
£1000 fine for being drunk or high
Whilst police are not allowed to demand a breathalyser test they can ask you to walk in a straight line. If you really manage to annoy them they may actually fine you. However, in 99% of cases they’ll probably ask you to get off your bike and walk it home.
£30 fine for riding on the pavement
Again when caught riding on the pavement the chances are you’ll just be told to get off your bike. However, repeat offenders or seriously bad behaviour can result in a staggering £500 fine.
£30 fine for doing a bike salmon
Going down a one way street in the wrong direction can carry a fixed penalty notice. Though there has been talk of this changing with a couple of trials to see if it works.
Going over the speed limit?
This generally is not something you’ll be fined for. Unless it was deemed to be “Dangerous cycling” in which case a fine can be issued.
Listening to your iPod or answering a phone call
Again this is not strictly illegal although there is the argument that you were cycling in a dangerous way.
Taking part in an unauthorised race and carrying passengers
Both of these are traffic offenses. Though the likelihood of been caught and then prosecuted are fairly slim.
So if I can break most the rules with relative impunity why not do it all the time?
Whilst cyclists do tend to receive a slightly more relaxed treatment from the police it doesn’t mean you should go around breaking the rules all the time. For one if you were in an accident you would have little defence if you were cycling dangerously. Another reason to avoid bad behaviour is of course safety. The final is that the more people that go around breaking the rules all the time the less support cyclists have from motorists and pedestrians.
Have you ever been fined for breaking one of these rules?
- Guns, burglary and cycling on the pavement
- Should cyclists receive harsher fines?
- Bike vs London Underground
- What is your traffic light strategy?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.