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On yer bike! – What is the speed limit for a bicycle?
2:06am Sunday 13th January 2013 in Blogs By ivor
Buy this photo »A familiar sign on the roads of Wycombe.
The terrain of Wycombe is not really suited to cycling.
Numerous hills mean half the time is spent walking up a hill pushing your bike rather than cycling along.
Of course the other half of the time is powered by gravity as the slope of a hill propels the rider towards the bottom of a valley with no effort required.
To cope with the downhill speeds a bicycle on the roads of Wycombe must have good brakes.
Sadly there is no requirement for a MOT test for bicycles neither is there a requirement for cyclists to have insurance which to me is worrying.
Going downhill it's very tempting to leave off the brakes and let the speed build up thus adding a little extra spice to the journey.
The youngsters of today spend their time indoors playing computer games but there was a time when young daredevils would ride the hills of Wycombe notching up some terrifying downhill speeds.
It was part of growing up and almost a right of passage for a real Wycombe man, not to mention a way of impressing the ladies, which happens to be my forte.
A few weeks ago yours truly wrote a blog entitled 'Is it too dangerous cycling in Wycombe?' in which one nonchalantly mentioned my own downhill exploits.
Of all the blogs I have written, and there are many, it seems that cycling blog has generated the greatest interest.
Readers are constantly leaving comments asking about my feat and my good self is even being stopped in the street and contacted on Facebook asking for details.
If things carry on much longer I wouldn't be surprised to start receiving telephone calls at home on the matter!
On this blog I would like to take things further and investigate the question 'how fast can you legally go on a bicycle on the public highway'.
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The Highway Code is quite clear on the speed limits for vehicles on the road indeed the table on Highway Code rule 124 lists each type of vehicle and the speed limits for each type of road.
However in the table on rule 124 there is no row covering push bikes but the footnote to the table does indeed state that 'The 30 mph limit usually applies to all traffic on all roads with street lighting unless signs show otherwise'.
So what about roads where there is no street lighting? They do not appear to be covered for bicycles!
Highway Code rule 124 also refers to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, sections 81, 86, 89 & schedule 6. In fact, these sections all fall within Part VI of the act, which is entirely about speed limits.
Section 81 is quite explicit that 'It shall not be lawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle on a restricted road at a speed exceeding 30 miles per hour'. Of course a push bike is NOT a motor vehicle so are bicycles not covered?
Further reading of the act reveals the speed limits discussed apply to motor vehicles and their drivers, not to cyclists. For example section 89 says: 'A person who drives a motor vehicle on a road at a speed exceeding a limit imposed by or under any enactment to which this section applies shall be guilty of an offence.'.
Again the law appears to be for motor vehicles and not human powered push bikes.
To my amazement Highway Codes rules 59 to 82, aimed at cyclists, make no mention of speed limits.
Despite the fact that speed limits apparently do not mention bicycles, cyclists can be prosecuted simply for travelling too fast under the charge of 'cycling furiously' as well as 'riding dangerously or carelessly'.
Now yours truly is rather confused. Am I to believe that speed limits do not apply to cyclists providing a cyclist does not 'cycle furiously', 'dangerously' or 'carelessly'?
Yours truly is not a lawyer or policeman so it would be interesting to hear from any readers who can advise as this seems rather a large omission in the laws of the land.
What about horses? Do they fall through the speed limit laws too?
I would never advise or encourage any cyclist to go too fast for the conditions or exceed the speed limit. If in doubt get off and walk.
Perhaps the Highway Code needs revising to clarify the position and clearly include bicycles in the speed limit tables?
For safety reasons I would like to see much lower speed limits brought in for bikes than for other vehicles. Say 15mph in built up areas and 25mph elsewhere.
Maybe it's time that compulsory insurance and MOT tests were brought in for bicycles?
Anyway, that's enough for this week.
Next week yours truly will do a follow-up blog where the question of what hill it was I cycled down will be answered....
What do you think?
*Don't forget to look out for my blog next Saturday entitled 'On yer bike! - Doing a ton just for fun!'.
Time for the UK to grow up and recognise that poor driving skills are a much bigger issue than poor cycling skills...
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