You may be handwringing on a daily basis about overbearing bicycle helmet laws. You might be waking up first thing in the morning complaining about being forced to sport a helmet as you cycle in the midst of concrete and compete against 5,000-ton vehicles. You could be thinking about starting a petition.
In many jurisdictions, it is mandated to wear a bicycle helmet, whether you are a child or an adult. In others, it is optional. Whatever the case might be, if you think bicycle helmet laws are too much, then you should take a gander at some of these traffic laws from all over the world that you might be regularly violating.
Here are nine bicycle laws that you’re possibly violating as a cyclist:
1. Bicycle Law in Thailand: No Shirt, No Cycling
Heading to Thailand anytime soon? Well, be sure that you put a shirt on as you ride your bicycle. One of the weirdest bicycle laws specifically is the ban on being shirtless while occupying a bicycle.
Don’t worry, though. If the air is too humid and your comfort matters more, then you can sacrifice a few bucks. That is the fine if the local authorities catch you: $5.
2. Bicycle Law in California: No Riding Bikes in Swimming Pools
If you have ever tried riding a bicycle in a swimming pool, then you know how much of a daunting task it would be. It requires a lot of effort to pop a wheelie in a swimming pool – backyard or Olympic!
But should you happen to visit Baldwin Park, California sometime, be sure not to ride your bicycle in any swimming pool in the jurisdiction. It is against the law to ride a bicycle in a pool. The reason for this law is still unknown, but it is still odd in any regard.
3. Bicycle Law in Sudbury: No Bicycle Bells
You have a bell and that is all you want on your bicycle. Well, what’s good for you may not be good for others. Some want to play Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries as they bike through city streets and trails. Some want nothing at all. And some want to pull a prank on others by putting on a siren.
Wait one moment, though. In Sudbury, Ontario, it is illegal to attach a siren to your bicycle. It is a small town that is quiet and keeps to itself, so these bicycle laws do make sense. Nobody wants rowdy teenagers waking up the entire city in the middle of the night with their ridiculous sirens.
4. Bicycle Law in London: No Fast Cycling
Do you feel the need for speed when you’re cycling in Great Britain? Well, suppress these feelings, young chap. The UK, except Ireland, prohibits “wanton or furious” cycling on British streets. So, don’t go Steve McQueen or Vin Diesel when riding your bike on the streets of London.
But these bicycle laws, while they do seem ridiculous, will have its supporters. Why? Well, these days, a lot of cyclists ride as if they are participating in the Tour de France, riding 100 km/h on sidewalks and roads in their tight shorts.
5. Bicycle Law in Washington: No Slingshots While Cycling
Over in Bellingham, Washington, there were way too many Dennis the Menaces or, if you will, Bart Simpsons. Or, if you want to go back in even further, there were way too many battles between David and Goliath. So, what did local lawmakers do? They passed the bicycle laws that made it illegal to carry a slingshot as you ride your bike.
6. Bicycle Law in Arizona: No Gargling While Cycling
Let’s be honest: We are busy for the simplest of things. We wake up in a frantic state, trying to get ready for work, clean our teeth, have breakfast, and catch on the MLB pennant race. Sometimes, er, oftentimes, we take these tasks with us on the road, which, admittedly is not quite safe.
With distracted driving and riding ubiquitous around the world, legislators in Peridot, Arizona took matters into their own hands by banning gargling while cycling. What was the reason? Were lawmakers tired of the constant spit? Were they really concerned about distracted cycling? Whatever the case, don’t gargle and pedal or else you’re violating these bicycle laws.
7. Bicycle Law in Colorado: No Cycling Without Hands
Not everyone can ride their bicycles without their hands. It takes years of practice and acclimatization to be able to pedal with hands to do whatever it is you need to do. But perhaps this led to far too many accidents that prompted the state of Colorado to ban the practice of no-handed riding.
What kind of country is it when a man or a woman is not allowed to ride a bike without hands?!
8. Bicycle Law in Ontario: No Cycling on Sidewalks
Ah, the age-old question: Can cyclists ride on the sidewalk? Well, the bicycle laws do vary from province to province or state to state. The consensus is if the road is too dangerous, then you should detach and walk with your bicycle on the sidewalk. Anything other than that, no matter if you are riding a standard bike or an electric bike, then you should be on the road.
City bylaws dictate that no one over the age of 14 is permitted to ride on the sidewalk, otherwise, you will face a $60 fine. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act lists bicycles as vehicles, so a cyclist could be slapped with a maximum fine of $2,000 if he or she is charged with “careless driving.”
9. Bicycle Law in UK: No Cycling at Night without Lights
Can’t sleep? Want to go for a bike ride in the middle of the night in the United Kingdom? OK, go for it. You just need to remember that your bicycle needs pedal reflectors that must be amber and plainly visible. If you get struck by a motorist, then he or she could make the case that you are not visible, and, for the most part, the law would be on that person’s side. So, for your own safety and security, fit your pedals with these reflectors.
A lot of cyclists may complain about bicycle helmet laws, but when you consider some of these wacky or overbearing laws, it is nothing. Besides, it is you versus 5,000-ton vehicles and concrete. Why wouldn’t you want to wear a bicycle helmet anyway? Oh, well. It is your life.