Cyclists are a frequent cause of tension in the U.K. and the U.S., especially in cities that pose a risk to other, more vulnerable road users.
Cyclists are often portrayed as scofflaws and aggressors, but how true is this? Are cyclists always in the wrong?
Most cyclists do not ride on pavements, but why do some choose not to use the road instead? Are cyclists legally allowed to ride on pavements in the first place?
The answer depends on the laws of each country. Some countries allow their bikers to use footpaths to cycle, and some others don’t allow it due to various reasons.
Stay until the end to find out if the laws of your country allow you to ride your bike on footpaths and sidewalks!
Can I ride my mountain bike on a footpath?
Many people who regularly cycle on a footpath, usually for exercise, are not aware of the potential liability they may face if they injure someone.
Some cyclists think that riding bikes on footpaths is illegal because they are not allowed to cycle on footpaths in many states. This information is incorrect, as other states allow cyclists to use public footpaths as long as they don’t do it when pedestrians are present.
The law in your state can vary depending on the location of the pathway and if people are around.
As a general note, regardless of the country, a cyclist who rides on a footpath or shared path must always keep left and give way to any pedestrian. This can lead to conflict between cyclists and pedestrians when pedestrians are walking close.
Let’s analyze each country’s laws and rights for cyclists to find out what people can and must not do.
Is it legal to ride on sidewalks in the U.K.?
Based on British law, all bike types (mountain, road, electric, etc.) are counted as vehicles, making it illegal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalks, footpaths and pavements used by pedestrians or not considered as bicycle ways.
However, according to the legal theory, if someone gets caught cycling on those pavements with pedestrians walking, there is a penalty for trespassing against the law.
Under the Act, a cyclist has been deemed a ‘trespasser’ even if travelling at a speed of 10km/h or less and can be held liable for any injury caused to another person.
A 29-year-old mountain biker from Scotland back in 2013 was fined £75 and ordered to pay costs of £85 after pleading guilty to riding his bike on a public footpath in Elie.
So, instead of cycling in pedestrian areas, you can dismount and push it to prevent any possible problems and penalties.
Is it legal to ride on sidewalks in the U.S.?
The law in the United States about riding on the sidewalks is unclear because each state has a different opinion about this right.
Some States allow to ride on sidewalks, and some others don’t allow it. Some others want their riders to use only the sidewalk on the side that usually goes the traffic.
Also, many laws mention using an audible signal when a cyclist goes to pass by a pedestrian on a sidewalk to prevent any dangers and problems.
So, it depends on your state’s law if you can ride your bike in pedestrian areas.
You can check this article to determine if your state’s riding on sidewalks is legal.
Is it legal to ride on sidewalks in Australia?
In Queensland, Australia, in 2008, the Queensland Government introduced legislation that allowed cyclists to ride on footpaths, but only where signs permitted it. The new legislation was intended to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians by allowing cyclists to share roads with other vehicles.
In Queensland and the Northern Territory, adult riders can ride on sidewalks and footpaths. In other territories, this is not allowed, and it’s against the law.
Cyclists using footpaths should be aware that if they injure another person, they could be held liable for damages under the Wrongs Act, which is the legislation that governs civil claims in New South Wales.
However, there is an exception for children under 16 years of age. Children below this age can legally ride on the footpath unless there is not a sign that does not allow bikes.
You can visit the Australian government’s site to learn more about Australia’s road rules for bikers.
Can you walk a bike on a public footpath?
Yes, you can! After so many years of walking a bike on a footpath, the law has changed. The new rule is quite general and can be interpreted in different ways. This makes it difficult for the police, who often have to judge on a case-by-case basis.
The rule is now that you can walk your bike on any surface, not part of the road. That includes footpaths and cycle paths. However, walking your bike is illegal if the tracks are designed for bikes only.
Where can I use my mountain bike?
With the popularity of mountain biking growing every year, this is a question that many people ask. The great thing about using a bicycle is that it’s an activity that can be enjoyed anywhere there is a trail. However, there are some places where mountain bikes are not allowed.
The most common reason for a trail to be closed to bikes is erosion caused by overuse. In some areas, this may mean that bikes are only allowed on certain sections of a trail. Other factors include soil damage and concerns over public safety.
In addition, if you have ever wondered why bikers wear long socks, feel free to check out our latest article on why mountain bikers wear long socks.
While they may not look like it at first glance, many rules and regulations are in place to protect the trails and the bikers who use them. These rules vary depending on where you live, but in general, there are two main restrictions to keep in mind: off-trail riding and using trails used by pedestrians.
There are now many places where a mountain bike can be used, and the areas where it cannot be ridden are getting smaller. The last few years have seen more people working on making trails accessible for mountain bikes.
Summing up, most footpaths are unsuitable for mountain bike riding. Recently, there has been a rising trend of mountain bikers travelling on footpaths and getting into trouble with the law. Therefore, you must know your rights and responsibilities as a mountain biker in each country, state, town and municipality. To know exactly what to do is essential to find out the rights of cyclists depending on the place you live.