7 Strange Cycling Laws From Around the World

By Martin Atanasov

Cycling is the embodiment of freedom. Is there a better feeling than getting on your trusted two-wheeled steed to roam the streets and country roads? I can’t think of any. While you do have some privileges behind the handlebar, you most certainly are not above the law, and each country has some regulations when it comes to bicycles. Most often, they are related to safety and are pretty reasonable to follow even if they weren’t made into laws. However, occasionally some quite startling rules occur. Let’s discuss them.

Missouri: A 4.5-metre high fluorescent flag on your bike

I’m not sure if this was an April Fool’s joke that went a bit too far, but in the American state of Missouri, there was a proposed law that was going to make all cyclists install a 15-foot tall pole on their bikes and plant a fluorescent flag on top. That’s a 4.5-metre pole. Can you imagine dragging this thing around? And where are you supposed to keep your bike if a 4.5-metre bar is sticking out of it? Obviously, according to the legislator, that was a way to make the cyclist more visible to trucks and lorries. Thankfully this proposition didn’t make it, and Missouri cyclists were not forced to raise a flag.

United Kingdom: Cycling fast in London

Why do you prefer cycling to work? For many people, it’s just a training session before work or a way to include their hobby into their daily routine. I love it because it’s faster than any alternative. First, you can go through parks. There are no traffic jams, no people to squish against in the underground. Only me, my bike, and the 16.7 kilometers I need to conquer. For London cyclists, however, speed is definitely not among the perks, as there is a strict law against riding fast in the UK capital. In some parts of the city, the regulation states that you should cycle at less than 8 mph (13 kph). I guess running is also disallowed there, since I can definitely run faster. Otherwise, in most other places, the speed limit is a respectable 20mph (33 kph) which, although still not perfect, at least gives you some speed to work with.

Connecticut: Cyclists ride no more than 65 mph

On the other side of the spectrum is Connecticut, where cyclists are forbidden from riding at more than 65mph, nearly 105kph. Who do they think rides at such speeds? Moreover, there are not a lot of hills and mountains in Connecticut, so if you can ride at 105 kph, even for 20-30 seconds, you should definitely try to compete for the Škoda green jersey at Tour de France. Just as a comparison, the fastest speed ever recorded on Tour de France is 101.5 kph (63.1 mph) at a descent from Col de Vars in 2019. As I mentioned, there are no such descents in Connecticut.

Los Angeles: No riding bikes in swimming pools

Don’t you love it when a sunny Sunday happens, and you can go out for a quick ride in the pool? Yeah, me neither, since no one in their right mind does that. Still, they deemed it necessary to make a law forbidding such behaviour in Los Angeles. I can only guess the pesky teen who went to a public pool with his bike only so he could repeat loudly, “It’s not against the law.” That’s definitely not a cry for parental supervision. How is it even possible? Do you go inside with a scuba-diving suit, or are you just cruising in the shallows? The mechanics of this elaborate prank are a bit confusing. Nonetheless, if you are anywhere else in the world, feel free to try it out and let me know how it was.

South Dakota: Getting off your bike to let the traffic pass

I guess the legislative body of South Dakota thought that Missouri was on to something with the 4.5-metre pole, so they decided to try and make the cyclists’ lives miserable with an even more absurd demand. Every rider should dismount their bike completely if another vehicle is approaching them. This proposal, as you might have guessed, was not very gladly met by the cycling community in South Dakota, and ultimately this bill was dropped.

Australia: You must have one hand on the handlebar at all times

Well, that sounds reasonable at first glance. After all, when riding, you need to be able to stop at a moment’s notice. However, if you have ever ridden in a group at a long distance, you know that you need both your hands from time to time. Whether it would be to zip up your jacket, open a bar, or just allow your hands rest for a while, you occasionally let go of the handlebar for a few seconds or minutes. You can get a hefty fine if a cop sees you riding with no hands. Bad news for all Aussies, who were just about to show their moms they could ride without hands. Not sure if a six-year-old would be fined, though, but better not risk it.

Arizona: Gargling is an offense while cycling

Dentists will be really angered by this one. If you decide to wash your mouth while riding, better avoid Arizona. I can’t think of a better way to take care of your teeth and gum than to do it while riding a bike. What’s next? Are they going to stop us from flossing as well?

In all seriousness, why are there so many weird laws in the US? There certainly is a better way to deal with a guy gargling while riding a bike than to forbid it with a law.

Anyway, let’s not get into this more than we already have. The weather is fine, and since I’m not in L.A., it’s time to go for a ride in the pool.