Speed limits for bikes?

by thebungle   April 4, 2013  

With a lot of talk at the moment of lowering both the NSL for cars and 'in town' down to 20 mph is it appropriate to discuss the possibilty having an enforced speed limit for bikes?

What would those limits be?

How regulated should we as cyclists be on the roads?

13 user comments

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Since you're not legally required to have a speed-measuring device on your bike, it would be impossible to enforce without also legislating for that

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7391 posts]
4th April 2013 - 11:02

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Seems like a bit of a null question with regards to speed. On the daily commute through town, probably the area that would need regulated, i'd be hard pushed to sustain 20mph with courier bag and shonky bike.

We are regulated already through the highway code to a certain extent. For what it's worth i hate cyclists in winter without lights. Just an accident and bad press waiting to happen.

Not going near the helmet debate as it's old and stale.

Weasel is as weasel does

posted by axisofweasel [23 posts]
4th April 2013 - 11:08

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There is in Richmond Park, its one of the only places where the Traffic Order specifically specifies bikes are subject to the 20mph speed limit.

And of course nobody sticks to it, even though its quite heavily enforced.

posted by andycoventry [120 posts]
4th April 2013 - 11:17

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Cycle route goes through Hazelbank park North of Belfast. A sign went up recently with a 5 mile/hour speed limit for bicycles. Sometimes that is all that is possible with the many people that use it. However, other times it is empty. I've seen joggers go faster.

Still smiling politely at a persistently flat chain.

velophilia's picture

posted by velophilia [38 posts]
4th April 2013 - 11:45

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It's a good question, but the problem is that bikes are so accessible - for example, would children need to have computers fitted to their bikes, and be taught about speed limits?

What about cheapo utility bikes, or post office bikes?

What is an acceptable level of calibration or margin for error?

What if I fit a computer to my bike, attach the wheel sensor, but calibrate for the wrong wheel size, thus understating my speed? Am I liable for prosecution?

Would this lead to a mandatory requirement for only bike shops to fit computers?

The law could be something like "no overtaking of cars", but where's the distinction between overtaking a car at 25mph in a 20 zone, and passing a car that is slowing to turn etc? This not only wouldn't work, but the grief you'd get for passing a car legitimately would go through the roof.

The idea that all vehicles should limited to x mph in zone y is fine, but the implementation would be a mess.

Ultimately, the government are simply relying on the limits of a rider's fitness. Some people (drivers, mainly) might say that the dreaded 'lycra warriors' ride too quickly and should observe speed limits, use computers to monitor speed etc, but trying to categorise cyclists into different groups would never work.

Besides, those of us with the fitness to go faster usually know how painful it will be to get it wrong.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3208 posts]
4th April 2013 - 12:11

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Never going to happen as it is regulated by the fact a bicycle doesn't have a Speedo as std , as such a cyclist can't have a speed limit .....however you can still be charged for drunk in charge of a vehicle just as horse riders can Confused

posted by chiv30 [873 posts]
4th April 2013 - 12:34

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I think it makes sense for cycles to abide by the existing speed limit for the road (rather than the nebulous 'cycling furiously' rule), but there shouldn't be a different limit for a bike. If a road is 30mph it won't affect a minority, if it is 20mph it will restrict more, and if it is 10mph it will affect nearly everybody, but if all the other users (cars, buses etc) are at 20 (as if!) it makes no sense to allow bikes to go faster. At the end of the day most cycle journeys are at much less than 20mph (kids, grannies, commuters on shonky bikes) and most riding at those speeds would be happier not to have SUVs pelting round at 30+.

I'm assuming here that 20 limits will mostly be backstreets or round schools etc, so if anyone wants to cane it, there will be plenty of scope to still do so.

That would mean keeping to 30 on good downhill run through a urban area Sad
I can see some TT courses getting killed if it became the rule Sad

posted by 3cylinder [62 posts]
4th April 2013 - 12:53

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chiv30 wrote:
Never going to happen as it is regulated by the fact a bicycle doesn't have a Speedo as std , as such a cyclist can't have a speed limit .....however you can still be charged for drunk in charge of a vehicle just as horse riders can Confused

As all law students know; good old Corkery v Carpenter and the mischief rule. Shane Corkery was sentenced to one month's imprisonment for being drunk in charge of a bicycle in public. He was drunk and was pushing his pedal bicycle along Broad Street in Ilfracombe (just down the road from me). He was charged under the Licensing Act 1872 s.12 with being drunk in charge of a carriage. The Act made no reference to bicycles. The purpose of the Act was to prevent people from using any form of transport on a public highway whilst in a state of intoxication. The bicycle was clearly a form of transport and therefore the user was considered correctly charged. Sorry about prattling on; I could not resist it!

posted by SideBurn [808 posts]
4th April 2013 - 13:38

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thats fine it just reinforces the point i made and is quite interesting for those who werent aware Big Grin

posted by chiv30 [873 posts]
4th April 2013 - 13:47

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Sorry but you're all missing the point. It is not possible to break the speed limit in/on a vehicle that does not have a motor. ONLY motorised vehicles are required to stick to the speed limit.

Let's face it. Most of us are rarely going to be able to break the speed limit. The Pro peloton usually cruises at around 40kph. That's 25mph. And they're Pro's.

posted by Tom Amos [244 posts]
4th April 2013 - 18:11

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I often wonder on my commute if there was a 'no undertaking' rule and it was somehow enforceable it would basically make cycling illegal. There are so many junctions that I approach on red and have to squeeze past some cars to get to a tiny green box that might have been over run by a car anyway.
If I had to wait at the back it often would take two or three cycles of the lights to get though the lights. 5 minutes to move 200 yards. Cars would just speed up and overtake you then block you off again. The idea of going at the speed of the slowest, hindmost car would make getting to work impossible, especially when there are penalties for being late. So I am forced to constantly squeeze past cars that often offset themselves trying to squeeze past another car that they can't possibly fit past until it moves, but they still try.

The road is a shared space indeed but we need more cycle routes which are actually properly paved to encourage more cycling, simple.



Suffering from Low Cadence.

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posted by bikeboy76 [1303 posts]
4th April 2013 - 23:43

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Hmm, I always thought that the road speed limit was the road speed limit, and applied to everyone using the road. I don't see why you should need a speedometer to have a speed limit applied to you. The law says the limit is X, and you have to stay under X. If you go above X, you cop the penalty. It is up to the individual to figure out if they are over X or not, and if they get it wrong, they pay the penalty. If I snap the needle off the speedo in my car I am not going to try and get off the 60mph in a 20mph zone charges because I didn't know how fast I was going...
Useful to know it doesn't apply to bikes, but I will still follow it unless the circumstances are exceptional.

I'm riding the 2013 Giro d'Italia for charity! Check it out and follow my progress live at www.tourletour.com

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posted by Tour Le Tour [91 posts]
6th April 2013 - 16:19

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Tour Le Tour wrote:
If I snap the needle off the speedo in my car I am not going to try and get off the 60mph in a 20mph zone charges because I didn't know how fast I was going...
Useful to know it doesn't apply to bikes, but I will still follow it unless the circumstances are exceptional.

Unless you drive a vehicle registered before 01/10/73 then a broken Speedo would just get you a bigger fine , as if a Speedo is fitted to a motor vehicle it must work correctly which would show as part of an mot test (brake check) hence if it wasn't working then your insurance would be invalid as would the mot

Plus if you snap the needle off its an automatic mot failure as its visibly broken =fail

Nerd

posted by chiv30 [873 posts]
9th April 2013 - 22:00

1 Like