Home
Bicycle advocacy group ConBici slams measures including cyclists having to ride on right and children banned from riding on road

Spain’s national traffic authority is planning to make cycle helmets compulsory according to the bicycle advocacy group ConBici, which says that the proposal is one of a range of measures “that seem designed to push cyclists off the streets.”

Other proposals highlighted by ConBici include cyclists having to stay on the right-hand side of the carriageway, banning children from riding on the road unless accompanied by an adult, and the introduction of a system of fines that it says presupposes that “cyclists represent the same danger as motor vehicles.”

The cycling campaign group says that it received confirmation of the intention to make helmets mandatory from Francisco de las Alas-Pumariño, chief of statutory regulations at the Dirección General de Tráfico, Spain’s national traffic authority, who was one of the people responsible for drafting the proposals.

ConBici representatives were informed of the proposed measures while attending a road safety conference in Salamanca, and were told that they will be officially announced later this month once scrutinised by Spain’s ministry of the interior.

It adds that other than a few pages, cycling groups have not had an opportunity to look at the proposed text of the changes to the regulations.

In common with its counterparts in other countries, the campaign group is opposed to compulsory helmets for a number of reasons, which it says “is a deterrent to cycling, and gives the false message that cycling is a dangerous activity.

“The national traffic authority has not presented any arguments or studies demonstrating the need for compulsory helmets – unlike ConBici which has presented convincing arguments against compulsory helmets.”

Currently, under a law implemented in 2004 but reportedly seldom enforced, cyclists in Spain have to wear helmets while riding in non-urban areas unless the weather is too hot or they are going uphill. A law that required all cyclists to wear a helmet at all times would presumably be more strictly enforced.

It points out that making helmets obligatory for all cyclists will reinforce the mistaken perception that cycling is more dangerous than it actually is, as well as damaging municipal bike rental schemes found in cities such as Barcelona.

While it is the issue of compulsory helmets that is most likely to grab the headlines, other proposed measures are likely to set alarm bells ringing not just in Spain, but elsewhere.

One of those is the requirement for cyclists to “preferably” stay to the right of the carriageway, which ConBici believes would mean “that in the event of an accident and a subsequent court case, the cyclist must demonstrate his or her reasons for not being on the right of the lane – even if the motorist is at fault.”

It adds: “The bicycle will once again be considered a road obstacle, and the law will limit the amount of space that a bicycle can occupy on the road. Our proposed amendment to the law is the opposite: ‘Cyclists will preferably occupy the centre of the lane and when a motor vehicle approaches from behind the cyclist will, if safe for the cyclist, facilitate an overtaking manoeuvre by moving to the right of the lane. Drivers of vehicles must not intimidate a cyclist into moving to the right.’”

Other planned changes include that ban on children riding alone on the road, which ConBici warns will “mean cancelling projects encouraging children to travel by bike to school – some of which are supported by the national traffic authority,” and a reclassification of cycling offences as “serious” instead of “minor,” which it describes as “Yet another hammer blow for cyclists.”

ConBici acknowledges that some measures are to be welcomed, including that local authorities will have the power to allow cycling on the pavement, albeit with the stipulation that “the pavement is at least three meters wide, uncrowded, and cyclists remain at least one metre away from doorways.”

However, its conclusion of the reforms when taken as a whole is a damning one.

“These measures will push Spain further backwards, prevent the growth of sustainable transport, and only favour those multinationals that have dominated the vehicle and oil industries for decades,” it says.

ConBici adds: “In short, while there are a couple of positive points that reflect years of campaigning, these points are over-shadowed by several extremely negative proposals that will seriously damage cycling in Spain. Urgent reconsideration is needed.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

36 comments

Avatar
nuclear coffee [209 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Anyone else making a list of places where they no longer want to go on holiday?

Avatar
jimc101 [69 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Easy fix if it's implemented, is for someone to take a case to ECHR, and have it overturned as a violation of their human rights.

Avatar
davebinks [149 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

A helmet has been compulsory in Spain for many years, with many stories from Majorca of cyclists there being stopped and fined for not wearing them.

Perhaps there should be a designated day when all the cyclists DON'T ride their bike, going instead by car or public transport.
The resultant chaos on the roads etc would show how good the bike is for easing the crush.

Just a question. If little 8yrs old Pedro does ride on the road, with or without helmet, will he be arrested and fined or imprisoned?

Avatar
spen [127 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

"One of those is the requirement for cyclists to “preferably” stay to the right of the carriageway, which ConBici believes would mean “that in the event of an accident and a subsequent court case, the cyclist must demonstrate his or her reasons for not being on the right of the lane – even if the motorist is at fault.”"

Well on a 3.5 m lane, primary (about 1m from the kerb) would be well inside what could be described as the right side of the carriageway, wouldn't it?

Avatar
jimmyd [108 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Seems to me Spain actually has got this right. There are some cyclists that are just dangerous and these rules will help control them. As for helmets it's no different than a motorist wearing a seat belt or a motorcyclist having to wear a helmet.

Avatar
paulfg42 [387 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
jimmyd wrote:

Seems to me Spain actually has got this right. There are some cyclists that are just dangerous and these rules will help control them.

How?

Avatar
mike_ibcyclist [64 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

You'd think they have better things to do what with their 20% unemployment etc.

Avatar
bendertherobot [1070 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
paulfg42 wrote:
jimmyd wrote:

Seems to me Spain actually has got this right. There are some cyclists that are just dangerous and these rules will help control them.

How?

Mind control helmet implants  19

Avatar
Tour Le Tour [87 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I rode around Spain last year following the Vuelta. I have never before encountered such good, polite and respectful driving. I was almost always on the right, but the cars and trucks still moved over to overtake. It was great. I would hate to see that change.

Avatar
matthewn5 [776 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Depressing to see all the same old tropes about road danger rehashed in Spain.

Its the MOTOR VEHICLES that are dangerous! NOT the bicycles.

Avatar
nuclear coffee [209 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
jimmyd wrote:

Seems to me Spain actually has got this right. There are some cyclists that are just dangerous and these rules will help control them. As for helmets it's no different than a motorist wearing a seat belt or a motorcyclist having to wear a helmet.

Or a motorist having to wear a helmet?

Avatar
Phytoramediant [23 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

... Because banning offroad vehicles or bull-bars just would be interfering in Individual Choice and would save absolutely NO lives whatsoever.
Memo: Avoid Spain. It's anti-cyclist.

Avatar
notfastenough [3679 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

So basically they're talking, amongst other things, about presumed liability for cyclists, unless they deemed to be sufficiently far to the right, and even then, you might be accused otherwise in the event of an incident...

Avatar
velophilia [39 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Should professional cyclists boycott the Vuelta? Would that influence decision making? Would that be over the top?

Avatar
Argos74 [392 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
jimmyd wrote:

Seems to me Spain actually has got this right.

Wearing a helmet will also prevent prevent injury in the event of repeatedly and savagely beating one's head against the desk. Just saying.

Avatar
paulfrank [94 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Calm down guys, I believe jimmyd might just be a troll ,ignore it.

Avatar
Dramatic Hammer [9 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
spen wrote:

Well on a 3.5 m lane, primary (about 1m from the kerb) would be well inside what could be described as the right side of the carriageway, wouldn't it?

1m from the curb isn't primary...

Avatar
ubercurmudgeon [169 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I would have thought Spain would have had had enough of fascism, after four decades under Franco. How quickly people forget, and how easily it creep back in under the guise of protecting people, especially during times of economic hardship when people's instinct is to push anyone out of the way who isn't contributing to their own survival.

Avatar
Municipal Waste [239 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
drmatthewhardy wrote:

Depressing to see all the same old tropes about road danger rehashed in Spain.

Its the MOTOR VEHICLES that are dangerous! NOT the bicycles.

It's the human being that's dangerous.

Avatar
fatbeggaronabike [813 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

This is very scary, if Spain does this how long before other countries follow?

Avatar
graham_f [186 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
jimmyd wrote:

As for helmets it's no different than a motorist wearing a seat belt or a motorcyclist having to wear a helmet.

Yes it is - it's very different. Cars and motorbikes have none of the associated health benefits of cycling. If having to wear seatbelts put people off driving their cars that would be a good thing. Having to wear a helmet puts people off cycling, as does creating the impression that cycling is more dangerous than it really is, and the resultant drop in physical activity is a bad thing for overall health levels, and would probably outweigh any lives saved by helmet wearing.

Also, I don't think the case for the benefits of cycle-helmet wearing is anything like as clear-cut as the case for seatbelts.

Avatar
CJK [5 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Riding in Spain is actually a great pleasure - today. Drivers give you plenty of room, and are respectful of cyclists. If a car driver is too close to a cyclist, other drivers give him abuse.
Will this attitude change if these new laws are implemented?
Also, Simon, do you have a link for EU citizens to write their thoughts on this matter to the relevant officials in Spain's traffic authority? Or even in Brussels?
If enacted, these news proposals would be a serious impediment to my son and his friends meeting up when we go over.
I also have to say that, locally to us in Spain (rural area) non-helmet wearers are currently never stopped by either the Guardia Civil or the police. I imagine that this would change...

Avatar
AWPeleton [3310 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Some people seem to have missed the following;

"It adds that other than a few pages, cycling groups have not had an opportunity to look at the proposed text of the changes to the regulations".

So until it ALL becomes clear what they plan or hope to do lets not blow a gasket slamming anti cycling and making Spain the worlds worst place to cycle  39 39

Avatar
Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Christ they don't muck about do they .....

Avatar
thereverent [406 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

A very poor set of proposals.  14

Having been in Spain in January, I was looking at potentially going back with my bike later in the year. Might reconsider that idea now.
As tourism is an important industry in Spain have they though about the affect on people who travel there to cycle?

Avatar
mrfree [76 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Second

Avatar
jimmyd [108 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Nope I'm not a troll, just a Cyclist, pedestrian and driver.

Avatar
Bikecat [3 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Yup Primary position is bang in the middle of the stream of traffic, it has nothing to do with the kerb whatsoever. Im from the kerb is the minimum distance one should be from it if at all possible. In fact that is the only time one should consider the kerb. At most other times it's better and safer to stick to following the stream of traffic either in it or near it. Makes it easier to pass parked cars and to be seen by drivers.

Avatar
Bikecat [3 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Municipal Waste wrote:
drmatthewhardy wrote:

Depressing to see all the same old tropes about road danger rehashed in Spain.

Its the MOTOR VEHICLES that are dangerous! NOT the bicycles.

It's the human being that's dangerous.

Yes and they are more likely to kill people if driving a ton of metal at high speeds!

Avatar
Paul M [360 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
jimmyd wrote:

Seems to me Spain actually has got this right. There are some cyclists that are just dangerous and these rules will help control them. As for helmets it's no different than a motorist wearing a seat belt or a motorcyclist having to wear a helmet.

How exactly are cyclists dangerous? Do you have statistics to that effect? Is Spain somehow different to UK where cyclists account for 0.3% of other-road-userKSIs from about 2.2% of modal share? Or do you mean that getting themselves creamed by an impatient motorist makes them "dangerous"?

Cycle helmets are hugely dfifferent from car seat belts. The latter have a decades-long proven record of effectiveness in mitigating injury. The former have at best inconclusive evidence that "a helmet saved my life" or "the ER where I work sees more head injuries from helmetless cyclists" which goes against the other adverse health impacts of cycle hemet compulsion.

Cycle helmets ar also hugely different from motorcycle helmets. The latter are designed for much more severe impacts (though still ineffective in the worst cases). Cycle helmets' design liitations are to 12mph max speed and 1.2m max height drop - useful for trips over roots while mountain biking but not much else.

Pages