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I’ve just been updating the CYCLING AND THE LAW section of Bikeforall.net.
Check out the definitions of footway, footpath and cycle track. Confused? You will be. And how about the legislation covering the crime of “riding furiously”? You can’t be nicked for speeding, but smash into somebody when doing so and you’re in trouble.
Bikeforall.net readers also wanted clarification on the laws of whether you can get drunk and ride a bike. You sort of can, but it’s not to be recommended. Beer-goggles and bicycles do not mix. However, the clarity of the following might be improved after a swift half:
“In the UK, you can be fined for riding a bicycle whilst drunk (Road Traffic Act), but if you are found to be drunk whist pushing a bicycle you can be sent to prison for one month (Licencing & Planning Act).”
The last bit is true but as that arcane law also forbids public intoxication of any sort and says being drunk in charge of a horse, cow or steam engine incurs a £200 fine and possibly jail for up to 51 weeks, it’s clearly never enforced today. So, it can go in the long list of bicycle- and car-related dumb laws across the world. Such as?
NO DIVE-BOMBING…NO BICYCLING
It is illegal to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool in California.
In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle.
In California, no vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour.
In Cathedral City, Ca., persons may not ride their bicycles through the ‘Fountain of Life’.
It is illegal to flag down a taxi in London if you have the plague. If you haven’t got the plague, and you flag down a taxi, make sure it has a bale of hay in it. And a sack of oats. Hackney carriages - once pulled by horses, not driven by bicycle-hating buffoons - are also supposed to be tethered when at taxi ranks, and councils have to provide water troughs at taxi stands.
Want to relieve yourself in public and not be touched by the long arm of the law? Wee up against the wheel of a Hackney carriage. But, by gads, make sure it’s the back wheel closest to the pavement!
In Wisconsin, don’t do any look-no-hands stuff. Or any sort of “fancy riding”: “Persons may not ride a bicycle with their hands off the handlebars. No bicycle shall be allowed to proceed in any street in the city by inertia or momentum with the feet of the rider removed from the bicycle pedals. No rider of a bicycle shall remove both hands from the handlebars or practice any trick or fancy riding in any street in the city…”
But it’s OK to ride with at least one hand in New Orleans. “Sec. 154-1414. One-handed steering. Every rider of a bicycle, tricycle or other vehicle propelled by hand or foot must keep at least one hand on the handlebars of his machine when riding it.”
When in the dead centre of town, don’t leave your bike leaning against a tree in Destin, Florida. “No person shall ride a bicycle on the grounds or property of any city cemetery. A bicyclist shall be permitted to park a bicycle outside the fenced area of any city cemetery in order for the bicyclist to attend a funeral service, visit a grave site, or attend any other ceremony or service. However, no bicyclist shall leave a bicycle lying on the ground or paving, or set against trees, or in any place or position where other persons may trip over or be injured by it.”
According to this report, there are more than 4,000 Public and General Acts, 11,000 Local Acts and 13,000 Private Acts dated before 1801 which are still on the British statute books.