These Six Insane Bike Laws Will Make You Laugh (or Cry)

Every urban cyclist knows that bike laws don’t always make sense. From the distance cyclists should keep from the curb to whether or not they should ride on the sidewalk, municipalities are constantly trying to negotiate and re-negotiate the delicate relationship between cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Recent attempts by cities around the world to introduce mandatory helmet laws and bicyclist licensing policies have only added to the controversy.

However, there are some cycling rules that pretty much everyone can agree are just plain strange. Here are six of the craziest, silliest and weirdest bike laws from the US and Canada.

Crazy Cycling Rule #1: Cyclists Must Attach a 15-Foot High Fluorescent Orange Flag to the Back of their Bicycle

The flag required would be a little bit bigger than this one. Photo: Dennis Bratland.

The flag required would be a little bit bigger than this one. Photo: Dennis Bratland.

Yup, you read that right: Representative Jay Houghton from Missouri thinks that cyclists should attach 15-foot high fluorescent orange flags to the back of their bicycles, to make absolutely sure they are seen by motorists. Local cyclists expressed concerns that this weird bike rule would not improve safety, and could lead to a dangerous situation in strong winds. Houghton admits that the bill he proposed in the US House of Representatives is ridiculous, but he thinks “it got people talking about the issue” of bicycle safety on the highways… which it definitely did!

Crazy Cycling Rule #2: Cyclists Must Dismount and Allow Faster Vehicles to go Ahead of Them

This cyclist will have to dismount so we can pass him in our 18-wheeler. Photo: Mat Fascione.

This cyclist will have to dismount so we can pass him in our 18-wheeler. Photo: Mat Fascione.

In January of this year, legislators in South Dakota proposed a bill that would “require persons operating bicycles under certain conditions to stop and allow faster vehicles to pass.” Specifically, this would have meant that when riding on a road with a 3-foot or narrower shoulder, cyclists would have to pull over and dismount from their bicycle every time a faster vehicle came up behind them. Since pretty much every vehicle on the road is faster than a bike, this would result in a whole lot of stopping for cyclists—making this strange bike law a worthy addition to our list.

Crazy Cycling Rule #3: It is Prohibited to Ride your Bike in a Swimming Pool

Looks like fun. Photo: Homagni Batista.

Looks like fun. Photo: Homagni Batista.

Just in case you were planning on enjoying a pleasurable day of underwater biking anytime soon, make sure you do so far away from Baldwin Park, California! It is unclear when the law against riding in a swimming pool was instated or what the original purpose was, besides its humour value. In fact, the whole thing may very well be an urban legend—but we’d like to think some innocent swimmers were protected from unruly underwater cyclists in the process.

Crazy Cycling Rule #4: It is Forbidden to Ride a Bicycle Faster than 65 Miles per Hour (100 km/hour)

Even these guys aren't going at that speed.

Even these guys aren’t going at that speed.

Think you’re a fast biker? Not as fast as whomever inspired this Connecticut bike law, which bans riding a bicycle at a speed normally reserved for cars, motorcycles and the occasional cheetah. To date, only two people in history, a Dutch man and a French woman, have ever reached this speed on a bicycle. Guess we won’t be seeing them in Connecticut anytime soon.

Crazy Cycling Rule #5: It is Illegal to Attach a Siren to your Bicycle

This probably wouldn't fit on a bike.

This probably wouldn’t fit on a bike.

Horn? Check. SmartHalo? Check. Siren? I don’t think so. Since 1973, residents of Sudbury, Ontario have enjoyed a quiet town, free from the noise of sirens on rowdy cyclists’ bicycles. So if you were planning on bringing back the 1950s with one of these somewhat-cool vintage bike sirens, you’re out of luck. But although the law is outdated, we have to admit it makes sense—listening to the noise of dozens of those riding around the block might get tiring after a while.

Crazy Cycling Rule #6: It is Illegal to Carry a Bicycle Inside Any Public Building

bikinglaw-dallas

Is this a public building or not?

Amid controversy over Dallas’ helmet law, section 9-2 of the city’s law code has remained widely overlooked. According to City Ordinance 13686, it is illegal to carry or push a bicycle inside any public building in Dallas—that means no more bringing your bike inside at work to protect it from foul weather! (Luckily, they don’t get much snow in Dallas). Or does “public building” refer only to government buildings? City officials are unsure. Either way, this spells an end for any members of the public who might have planned on wheeling their bicycles through Dallas City Hall.

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The truth is that many municipalities still have laws on the books from many years ago, and often no one quite remembers why they were created in the first place. But although these laws may address silly scenarios and contribute little to road safety, they add a bit of humour to the sometimes stressful task of understanding bike law.