Speeding on a bike – reckless or illegal? While standard road rules generally apply to cyclists, there are a few grey areas that may lead to confusion.
Speed limits are not set for cyclists on public roads. Only motor vehicles are subject to speeding laws. It makes sense if you consider the logic behind the law – you will be hard-pressed to reach a speed of 60mph on your pedal bike. That said, you can get a speeding fine when you exceed the cycling speed limits in royal parks.
Zooming around on your bicycle may be dangerous, but not unlawful. You should always consider your surroundings and not pose a threat to the public. You may receive a fine for cycling recklessly, but not for speeding as such.
If you think that you have been wrongfully fined for exceeding the speed limit on your bike, our guide will shed some light on what the law says and what you can and cannot do when cycling.
Are cyclists subject to speed limits?
Under UK law, the Road Traffic Act and the Highway Code stipulate that speeding limits are only applicable to motor vehicles. Therefore, speeding laws apply to cars, motorcycles, buses, trucks and other vehicles, but not bicycles.
In essence, a quick cycle to the corner shop or a leisurely day trip on your bicycle doesn’t require you to watch your speed. You should only keep your speed in check for your safety and those around you, but there is technically no speed limit imposed on you.
There is one exception when it comes to cycling in royal parks, as we have briefly mentioned. If you are speeding in a royal park, you could potentially be liable to pay a fine. The speed limits are different in most parks and are detailed below:
- As common law throughout the UK, speed limits on park roads should not exceed 10mph.
- Park roads in Bushy Park, Greenwich Park, and Richmond Park is set at speed limits not exceeding 20mph.
- Green Park, Hyde Park (excluding Serpentine Road), St James’s Park, and Regent’s Park is set at a much higher speed limit than most parks in the UK. The speed limit in these parks is set at 30mph.
- On Serpentine Road in Hyde Park and the park road from Kingston Gate in Hampton Court Park, the speed limits are set at 15mph.
As long as you stay within these speed parameters in royal parks, the police can’t impose any speed limit violations on you.
Speeding fines aside, some laws can get you into trouble if you’re cycling recklessly and without regard for the safety of others.
Is there a speed limit on a cycle path?
Cyclists are not obligated by law to use the cycle lane and cycle track. It is merely seen as a safer option, and you should consider using either the cycle lanes next to public roads or cycle tracks that are separate from the carriageways. These facilities ensure safer passage for cyclists, but ultimately the choice is yours.
Although there are no set speed limits for cycle paths, some offroad cycle paths indicate a limit of 15mph. Some speed limits also suggest that any speed above 18mph on a bicycle should instead be done on the road. This is not a law but more of a suggestion.
What is the speed limit for an electric bike?
Electric bikes can be ridden anywhere where it’s legal for a standard bicycle to ride, providing you are over the age of 14. No licence, safety gear, insurance or any other form of security is needed to use an electric bike. This applies to standard electric bikes with motors no bigger than 250W. Your electric bike should not give you an additional boost once the bicycle reaches 15.5mph.
If the electronic assistance kicks in past the 15.5mph rate and the motor’s power exceeds 250W, it is no longer classified as an electronic bike but a moped. You need to be at least 16 years old to drive a moped under UK law and have a license. Mopeds are also subject to all the necessary safety precautions, like wearing a helmet and safety gear. You will also need insurance.
Can you get a speeding ticket on a bicycle?
Since there are no set speeding limits for cyclists, it is difficult to fine a cyclist for a speeding infringement alone.
Careless or reckless cycling may provide the police with a choice of fining you up to an amount of £1,000. Recklessness and extreme disrespect to hazards while cycling can lead to fines of up to £2,500. The latter applies to extreme cases where cyclists have no regard for the safety of other road users.
If you are riding side by side or with a passenger, you should also take precautions with excessive speed. According to Rule 66 of the Highway Act, cyclists can cycle side by side, but only if there are no more than two people side by side. Still, you cannot get a speeding fine if you are cycling side by side – but you can get a fine if you don’t stick to the co-riding rules.
There are also many bylaws that could land you in hot water if they are not followed. For instance, Bournemouth Promenade has a permanent speed limit of 10mph. It’s always wise to first check in with the local authorities on speeding laws for cycling.
You are also allowed to carry passengers at certain times. If you are carrying a passenger, the bicycle should have been built for that purpose. A longtail cargo or child seat is also allowed, and you cannot be fined for riding with a passenger.
While cyclists are technically and legally not obliged to adhere to speed limits on public roads, it is sensible and safer to think about your speed and slow down in areas with high traffic.
If you have not been cycling like a maniac and abided by the rules of the road, consult with a solicitor to find out what you can do if you have been wrongfully fined.
Other cycling laws
It is worth mentioning that if you do not have the correct pedals on your bicycle, it might be illegal to ride it at night. Between dusk and dawn, all UK riders are required to use lights, rear reflectors, or amber pedal reflectors. The amber pedal reflectors are only necessary for bicycles that were manufactured before 1995, according to Rule 60 of the Highway Act.
You might not get prosecuted for using the wrong pedals, but you could face a potential fine and a bicycle injury claim made against you if you get into an accident because of your negligence.
Should you consider your speed when cycling?
Responsibility is a choice, and you should be riding and cycling responsibly and with care for the safety of those around you. Speeding is not a crime on a bicycle as such. If you have been wrongfully fined for speeding on a standard pedal bicycle, you may seek the assistance of a solicitor to guide you through the necessary steps.