When bicycle touring away from home part of your research should include checking out the local laws. They vary between countries, states, provinces and even cities.
In Denmark for instance it is compulsory to use bicycle paths where they are available. In Switzerland you must have insurance for your bicycle. Countries such as France and Austria require reflectors and a bell or horn. In Toronto you must also have a bell or horn.
Many regions require that you wear a helmet and have proper lights if bicycle touring at night.
One summer one police division in Toronto had a bicycle blitz issuing 188 tickets.
A partial list of the offences and fines:
- Improper lighting, $20
- Improper brakes, $85
- No horn or bell, $85
- Defective horn or bell, $85
- Fail to wear proper helmet, $60
- Ride in crosswalk, $85
- Improper arm signal, $85
- Failure to ride in single file, $3.75
- Attach to vehicle for the purpose of being drawn along the road, $85
Click the link to check out bicycle helmets. Your helmet should be replaced every few years.
If you look closely at this list it is not only an traffic offense, but a bicycle safety issue as well. If your brakes, lights or bell are not working in an urban environment you are asking for trouble. And what was the person who attached themselves to a car while it drove down the road thinking, I assume it was a teenager.
I see it all the time, fellow cyclists not signaling when making a turn. Motorists are not mind readers and get confused when cyclists head in all directions without signaling.
These rules are just common sense in any country. Just be aware of some of the local rules as well when cycling.