10 crazy traffic laws you didn't know you were breaking as a cyclist

Keep your shirt on, no fancy riding, and leave those deer alone

As we've observed more than once, regional differences provide plenty of amusement for us here on BikeRadar. So we began looking into some of the frankly ludicrous laws for cyclists around the world. Take a look at which ones you may have already broken.

1. It is illegal to shoot any game — other than whales — from a moving vehicle in Tennessee, USA

Whales: not many around in Tennessee, but if you spot one and you're on a bike, it's fair game
Whales: not many around in Tennessee, but if you spot one and you're on a bike, it's fair game

We don't know why aquatic mammals get singled out, though it may be because you don't find too many whales in this large, landlocked state of southeastern USA. Either way, consider yourself warned.

2. No "wanton or furious" cycling in the UK

It's a funny turn of phrase, but seriously though: no wanton or furious cycling in the UK
It's a funny turn of phrase, but seriously though: no wanton or furious cycling in the UK

A statutory offence that's curiously worded to modern ears, this law dates back to 1861 and is the cycling equivalent of dangerous driving. It makes it a criminal offence to cycle in a way that — through misconduct or neglect — causes bodily harm to a bystander, and is punishable by up to two years in jail. The Republic of Ireland repealed this law back in 2010.

3. No cycling without a shirt in Thailand

The Thais have had enough of this sort of thing
The Thais have had enough of this sort of thing

Presumably fed up of tourists — sorry, travellers — taking their country's delightful (if rather humid) climate as an invite to disrobe in public, the Thai authorities have taken action. It is now an offence to cycle or drive anywhere in the country without your upper body fully clothed and is punishable by a fine of around 200 baht (about £4 / $5 / AU$ 8).

4. No cycling with a slingshot in your pocket in Bellingham, Washington, USA

Ay Caramba! No cycling with a slingshot in your pocket in Bellingham, Washington, USA
Ay Caramba! No cycling with a slingshot in your pocket in Bellingham, Washington, USA

Whether you're Bart Simpson, Dennis the Menace or David facing Goliath, the local authorities in Bellingham, WA don't care; you must not cycle with a slingshot in your pocket in their fair city. Ay caramba!

5. No fancy riding in Galesburg, Illinois, USA

This definitely counts as fancy riding, and is most definitely not welcome in Galesburg, Illinois
This definitely counts as fancy riding, and is most definitely not welcome in Galesburg, Illinois

It’s true, we’ve looked it up in the Galesburg Code of Ordinances: “No rider of a bicycle shall remove both hands from the handlebars, or feet from the pedals, or practice any acrobatic or fancy riding on any street.”

6. No riding a bike over 65mph in Connecticut, USA

We wish we had the descending skills and bottle to incur a fine for cycling over 65mph in Connecticut, USA
We wish we had the descending skills and bottle to incur a fine for cycling over 65mph in Connecticut, USA

You’d need to be blessed with Fabian Cancellara’s descending skills and the bottle of Sean Kelly to get close to these speeds, but the law is nonetheless clear: in Connecticut, you may not exceed 65mph (104kph) on a push bike. Um, okay.

7. No gargling while cycling in Peridot, Arizona

We don't know why it's enshrined in law, but no gargling while cycling in Peridot, Arizona
We don't know why it's enshrined in law, but no gargling while cycling in Peridot, Arizona

Possibly the most 'out there' on our list: no gargling while cycling in Peridot, Arizona. We can only speculate on why that is: the local authorities are tired of people spitting it out afterwards? It’s a distraction? The dentists of Peridot want you to use their approved mouthwash only? We don’t know.

8. No riding a bike without a bell in New South Wales, Australia

Audible warning devices are mandatory for cyclists in New South Wales, Australia
Audible warning devices are mandatory for cyclists in New South Wales, Australia

Another case of NSW taking a rigid, enforcement approach to cycling safety. In this corner of Australia your bicycle must be equipped with an audible warning device. No exceptions, no excuses, or suffer a hefty AU$106 fine (£64 / $78). Not as bad as the penalty for being caught riding without a helmet, but steep nonetheless.

9. No riding a bike no-handed in Colorado, USA

Learn to cycle no-handed

Being able to take your hands off the handlebars is a handy skill to learn for those times when you need to take off (or put on) a jacket, unwrap a sandwich or show off your dance moves. But beware, good bike riders of Colorado, USA, you may not. According to the Colorado Statutes: “A person operating a bicycle shall keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.”

10. No riding a bike at night without pedal reflectors fitted in the United Kingdom

Attention UK cyclists: to comply with the law, you'll need pedal reflectors fitted if you're riding at night
Attention UK cyclists: to comply with the law, you'll need pedal reflectors fitted if you're riding at night

Yup, this one is a cast-iron fact. So your fancy road bike needs pedal reflectors fitted if you’re going to be riding it at night in the UK. These must be coloured amber and positioned so that one reflector is plainly visible to the front and another to the rear of each pedal. Fail to do so and if you’re involved in a collision then the other party might successfully argue that it was your fault for failing to have them fitted.

If your pedals don't have the required reflectors fitted then don't despair, you can always buy some to add on.

Jamie Beach

Deputy Editor, UK
Jamie's been addicted to bikes from the moment his stabilisers came off. Earliest cycling memory is the chipboard-ramp-on-bricks, but happiest one is bombing down a Mallorcan mountain pass that seemed it might never end. Always on the hunt for the perfect rain jacket, a keen collector of hats.
  • Discipline: Road, gravel
  • Preferred Terrain: Big mountains with long climbs, equally long and fast descents, the chance to get above the treeline.
  • Current Bikes: Genesis Croix de Fer, Brompton M3L
  • Dream Bike: BMC TeamMachine SLR01, Moots Routt
  • Beer of Choice: Augustiner
  • Location: Bath, Somerset, UK

Related Articles

Back to top