While it does not seem to make a lot of sense, it is true that one can indeed be slapped with a speeding ticket while riding a bike.
The reason for this is that many modern bikes and especially hybrid bikes and road bikes especially ones rode by professional cyclists can go as fast as 50 mph.
It is also important to note that a cyclist may be ticketed for other violations of road rules aside from speeding.
Can You get a Speeding Ticket on a Bicycle UK?
If you live in the United Kingdom, you will be happy to learn that speed limits are not applicable to cyclists. In the UK The Highway Code Rule 124 has set speed limits for motor vehicles but not for bicycles.
Even though you will usually not be charged for speeding on a bike, police have been known to charge cyclists with dangerous cycling which can attract a maximum fine of £2,500, or careless cycling which attracts a fine no greater than £1,000.
Furthermore, cyclists may have to adhere to speed limits imposed by local authorities. For instance, you cannot go faster than 10 mph in Bournemouth.
Bikes are Treated as Motor Vehicles
When it comes to speeding tickets most people immediately think of buses and cars as being the most likely offenders. The reason for this is that these are the types of vehicles that usually cause horrific accidents that could easily injure or kill people.
However, in many countries and most states in the United States bikes are deemed vehicles. As such, they are subject to the same rights and duties as vehicles except for any laws that would not work for bicycles.
This means that bikes will need to follow the same speed limits and traffic laws just as vehicles under state laws. Again most cyclists are unlikely to hit 50 miles an hour which is a speed for pro cyclists at the Tour de France.
However, when it comes to school zones, construction zones, and steep hills, it is far more likely that bikes will have to adhere to speed limits or else get speeding tickets.
Speeding Tickets Differ from Place to Place
What makes speeding tickets very complicated for cyclists in the United States as their treatment varies wildly despite being treated as motor vehicles. Counties and cities have wildly varying laws let alone the states.
For instance, in New York, most cyclists can beat speeding tickets but in Seattle, it is very difficult to beat one, and getting a ticket could result in higher insurance premiums. Seattle cyclists found in violation can only get reduced fines by taking a course.
In fact, both Maryland and New York laws assert that cyclists have to be held to the same duties as other road users and drivers including having to adhere to speed limits.
What is the Legal Speed Limit for Electric Bikes
According to federal regulations, electric bikes are subject to certain regulations before they can be used on the road. These include:
- Have fully operational pedals
- Have a motor that produces 750 watts of power or less
- Have no more than 20 mph in speed that can be achieved when assisted by the motor
It is important to note that cyclists can usually go faster than 20 mph on an electric bike but are only allowed to do so without the assistance of the motor.
On your downhill ride, you are certainly going to attain higher speeds than 20 mph but will not be using the motor to get those higher speeds.
E-bikes that adhere to the federal guidelines can go practically anywhere where normal bicycles can go such as bike paths or bike lanes.
While some electric bikes may have higher-rated speed capacities, you should note that these bikes are usually intended for off-road or racing purposes. If they are taken to the normal road, it would be a violation of the law.
Is 20 mph too Low of a Speed Limit for Bikes?
While 20 mph might seem like a very low-speed limit, it is reasonable, particularly in places such as Europe where electric bikes are widespread. In most cities in Europe, the speed limit is 15 mph.
It is also important to note that the regular cyclist will usually have an average speed of 12 mph and most will hardly ever go higher than that. As such, 20 mph is overall a very sufficient speed.
Most police officers do not like to issue cyclists with speeding tickets while some treat all cyclists just like drivers. In fact, there are many horror stories of cyclists that had unpleasant encounters with local police.
If you are not sure about speeding laws in the state or county in which you are cycling, it is important to do your research to determine if you will be held to the same standards as drivers.
However, the rule of thumb is that if you are not sure of the speed limit laws, always assume that you have to adhere to the same limits as drivers of buses and cars.