Top 5 Cycling Laws around the World You Have to Know
Bicycles are growing more and more popular every year. With the continuous increase in petroleum products, people are switching to alternative modes of transportation such as biking.
However, whether you're riding around your neighborhood or in a new city, you must know various places' cycling laws and regulations before hitting the road. This way, you can ensure a safe and hassle-free cycling adventure.
1. United Kingdom: Bike light combination.
Almost all countries require visibility equipment on all vehicles–including bicycles. Most cities require a cyclist to use at least a reflector sticker for road visibility.
However, the United Kingdom has already made it illegal to cycle on public roads at night without a pair of bike lights.
The 2017 amendment of the UK's Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR) requires bikers to have a white front light and red rear light. This combination aims to ensure that bikers can see and can be seen on the road.
2. Germany: StVZO cut-off line.
Ultra-bright lights of vehicles have caused many road accidents. This includes bike lights.
Contrary to popular belief, bike lights that are too bright can cause more harm than good. It can cause momentary brightness, confusion, and even dizziness to other road users, resulting in a road collision. The same goes for various lighting patterns of bike lights.
The StVZO (Straßenverkehrs-Zulassungs-Ordnung) is a body of laws covering everything to do with traffic in Germany, including what kind of lights are necessary on bicycles.
In the StVZO guidelines, bike lights must have a cut-off line. The optics of the bike lights should direct the light below the virtual horizontal line (a.k.a. cut-off line), illuminating the road ahead without blinding oncoming drivers, even at maximum brightness.
If you're thinking of riding around European roads, getting a front light that adheres to the StVZO cut-off line would be best.
3. Thailand: No shirt, no ride.
As a tropical country, biking shirtless is a common thing in Thailand. This is why they have a specific law that requires all road users, including cyclists, to wear a shirt when using the road.
Cycling without a shirt is illegal in Thailand, and the fine is around $5. So if you're planning a summer trip to Thailand, you might as well pack a good cycling shirt to avoid being penalized.
4. South Dakota: Getting off your bike.
This is by far the most tricky cycling law in the world. According to South Dakota House Bill 1073, if a car approaches a cyclist in a no-passing zone without a three-foot-wide road shoulder, "the [cyclist] shall stop the bicycle, move the bicycle off the roadway, and allow a quicker vehicle to pass."
In short, you must dismount from your bike when a larger vehicle is beside you.
It has caused an uproar in South Dakota and pretty much from the cycling community across the globe. This law defeats the usual "right of way" that motorists follow. In this road etiquette, you have to prioritize the road user who is the more vulnerable, in this case, the cyclist. However, this house bill prioritizes faster and larger vehicles.
5. New South Wales: For whom the bell tolls.
Bells function as horns for bicycles. They are an effective way to notify other road users about your presence or movement. In New South Wales, Australia, you can be penalized for cycling on public roads without a bell.
If you're caught riding bell-less, your fine will be around $80–which is pretty expensive for a minor offense. So, to spare you the trouble, you might as well buy a bell which might only cost around $5.
You might find some of these cycling laws around the world odd–we do, too. While we're not sure how they were conceptualized, what we are sure of is that all countries around the world–in their way– are trying their best to keep cyclists safe on the road.