Fines after wine! – Cycling Laws in France
Cycling Laws in France
Many people choose cycling holidays in France because France has a deserved reputation for welcoming cyclists both on and off the road. The cycling laws in France help which are full of common sense.
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The basics for Cycling in France
Ride a bike that is roadworthy, has a bell, reflectors and at night has working lights. In bad visibility wear a high visibility jacket and after dark don’t cycle two abreast.
If there is a cycle path then use it and the rest is just following the Highway Code in France just as motorists do.
Drinking and Cycling in France
We’re often asked by our cycling holiday guests about drinking laws and bikes. Well, cyclists are governed by the same limits as motorists with similar penalties – so you’ll be paying a fine and getting your bike out of the motor pound if you’ve over done your wine-tasting!
Helmets when Cycling
Wearing helmets is not compulsory for adults when cycling in France, but from March 22 2017, children under 12 years of age must wear a cycle helmet when cycling or being carried as a passenger. There is a fine of €90, payable by the responsible adult, but to be honest, most children and regular cyclists wear them as a matter of routine these days.
The big difference when cycling in France is where the blame lies in the event of an accident involving a cyclist. In all instances, the fault will automatically rest with the the driver of the larger vehicle (be it a car, bus or whatever) and the driver will have to prove that the cyclist was doing something really stupid that resulted in the accident. The result is that 90% of cars that pass you give you a wide berth and don’t push the limits – knowing the law is on the cyclist’s side.
There are some unusual road signs in France and knowing what they mean could save your life – see here for our article on french road signs.
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Cycling Laws in France – More fines may be needed
However, with more people cycling in France and especially in Paris, accidents involving cyclists are going up (6% last year). In response to this, France’s Road Safety Council is proposing fines for cyclists that don’t obey the French Highway Code. This isn’t even in a draft bill yet but the discussions are beginning. Fines mentioned so far include:
- €11 for no lights (assume this would be only when they are required, rather than having to have them always fitted)
- €11 for defective brakes (does this include squeaky ones too?!)
- €22 – €35 for obstructive parking, excessive speed (I’d be lucky), carrying a passenger (proper baby seats excluded), no hand signals, not using a cycle path (when one is available) & riding side by side in a group of two or more. I would imagine this would be the most controversial as how can you chat when out with the cycling club – which of course is huge here in France.
- Higher fines of €57 for cycling on the pavement, ignoring one way, stop signs and pedestrian crossings, passing traffic on the right and running a red light.
The fines would be set at about half the level that motorists receive for the same infringement. The proposals are designed to make us cyclists realise that we are subject to the same laws as motorists, which to be honest most sensible cyclists already realise.
So France may be deservedly known for treating cyclists with respect, but it’s good to know that the authorities are keen on always enhancing the cycling laws in France but keeping a good balance between cyclists and motorists.
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