A surprising number of cyclists don’t know the rules of the road, and traffic laws apply to them. Finding out on the side of the road as an officer hands you a ticket is a terrible way to learn that you are required to know the law.
Ignorance is not an excuse, and it’s not a valid defense in traffic court either. Can you get a speeding ticket on a bicycle?
Bicyclists can be issued a speeding ticket in the US because they are considered a vehicle and riders are treated as drivers. Whenever a cyclist is on public roadways, they have to adhere to all the same traffic laws as motor vehicles including posted speed limits, traffic lights and yielding in order to stay safe on the road.
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Bicycle Speed Limit
Bicycles do not have separate speed limits. Whenever a bike is on public roadways, it is subject to the same rules and laws as any other moving vehicle.
The fine for breaking the law depends on where you live. In some states, a speeding ticket is minimal, costing as little as $10 for a minor infraction, but the penalty is hundreds of dollars in other states.
Since this varies, you should always be aware of crossing state borders.
Auto Evolution shared some of the ticket amounts. “Montana has the fewest speed traps per mile in the USA, and fines range from $20 to a maximum of $100. In North Dakota, the police fines drivers $10 for going ten mph over the limit… There is a $600 penalty for speeding in New York… Speeding in a tunnel in Massachusetts gets one a $500 fine, and each mph over the limit costs $10 on top of the minimum $100 fine for the rest of the roads.”
Can A Cyclist Get A Speeding Ticket
A cyclist can get a speeding ticket if they exceed the posted speed limit on their bike.
Speed limit signs are set up along the sides of US roadways where anyone driving, or cycling can see them easily. The speed limit applies equally to cars and bicycles.
If bicyclists getting pulled over by the police sounds unrealistic, check out this video of cyclist Tim Waterhouse in Seattle.
The famously hilly city has many areas where a bike can pick up speed down a steep hill, but that doesn’t mean the laws stop applying.
Tim comments that he doesn’t believe a bicycle can go faster than thirty miles per hour but has to admit he was wrong when his GPS shows he was going 30.2. Fortunately, he wasn’t ticketed on this occasion.
Can You Get A Speeding Ticket On A Bicycle US
You can get a speeding ticket on a bicycle in the US. In the United States, bicycles are generally considered vehicles, and their riders are treated as drivers.
That means they can get in trouble for breaking traffic laws. Whether running a red light or speeding in a construction zone, a US cyclist can get a ticket for anything a motorist could be stopped and cited for.
Fortunately for bikes, they usually aren’t exceeding any posted limits because they’re designed for automotive traffic.
However, a pro cyclist can go over 45 miles per hour, and anyone can get going pretty fast downhill.
School zones, the areas around schools where children cross, small side streets, and construction zones all have lower speed limits, making it easier to exceed those limits.
For a speed limit to be enforceable in court, it generally has to be posted clearly.
That means a sign that is covered by an overgrown tree or one that has fallen down could give a cyclist or motorist a reasonable explanation for not slowing down if they could prove the lower speed limit wasn’t clearly marked.
That said, it would still need to be a sensible argument because, sign or not, doing thirty through an area where construction is happening probably won’t fly with the judge.
Notably, cyclists have the advantage of slightly different rules despite being a vehicle. For example, a car can be ticketed for going too slow, but a cyclist generally cannot.
Moreover, most places only allow bike riders to use the same lanes as traffic if the posted speed limit is fifty miles per hour or less.
It is rare for a cyclist to get a traffic ticket, but it can certainly happen if you break the law.
Can You Get A Speeding Ticket On A Bicycle UK
You cannot get a speeding ticket on a bicycle in the UK. Cycling laws in the United Kingdom are different from the US.
For example, local bylaws can impose unique fines, limits, and penalties just as a US city or state can (within reason) write its own laws.
Instead of a speeding ticket, bicyclists get a bike-specific citation. Careless Cycling or Dangerous Cycling are separate tickets.
A Careless Cycling ticket can cost you up to a thousand pounds, and Dangerous Cycling could set you back £2,500.
Can You Get A Speeding Ticket On A Bicycle In Canada
You can get a speeding ticket on a bicycle in Canada. Although the practice is uncommon, it is sometimes used, especially when cyclists in an area behave dangerously and are careless.
Like US policy, this practice is more common in school zones and other high-risk, low-speed areas.
The law explicitly requires cyclists and other low-speed vehicles to ‘move at a safe and reasonable speed.’ Most traffic tickets are eighty to a hundred dollars.
However, you can pick up a $125 fine in Toronto if you go over the speed limit. In addition to the fine, you can also get demerit points, which stay on your file for 2 years.
If you collect too many demerits, you can lose your driver’s license.
Helpful Tips To Know If You Can Get A Speeding Ticket On A Bicycle
In most of North America, you can get a speeding ticket on a bicycle. Though some countries don’t have a system for ticketing cyclists who speed, the US and Canada have fines and other penalties for careless riders.
Here are more helpful tips to know if you can get a speeding ticket on a bicycle.
- Speeding isn’t the only thing you should avoid doing on your bike. Cyclists in the US can be ticketed for reckless driving, reckless endangerment, and street racing, among other traffic crimes.
- Most cyclists only pedal around twelve to fifteen miles per hour, making getting a ticket on US streets difficult. As the US Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration points out, “Examples of statutory speed limits include: 25 mph in residential or school districts, 55 mph on rural highways, and 70 mph on rural Interstate highways. Posted speed limits (sometimes called regulatory speed limits) are those that are sign-posted along the road and are enforceable by law.”
- Some countries, like Haiti, don’t enforce traffic laws. Meanwhile, others, such as Norway, have stringent traffic laws. Depending on where in the world you ride, it can mean complete freedom to speed or hefty penalties for going too fast.
It’s not uncommon to get a speeding ticket on a bicycle. If you live in the United States or Canada, your bike is generally held to the same standards as motorized traffic, with a few minor variations.
In other places, like England and the UK, bikes get their own unique rules and separate fines and infractions.
Regardless of the specific laws where you ride, I strongly recommend being careful on your bike. Watch out for hills, and don’t be afraid to hit the brakes.