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Moving!

9 July 2011

Over the weekend UK Cycle Rules is moving across to its new home at ukcyclerules.com!

Once the site is over there and all settled in you shouldn’t notice any difference. But if you’re a subscriber, or use an RSS feed, you’ll need to renew your subscription at the new site. Please do! The new site would be a lonely place without you.

The idea behind the move is to gain a bit more flexibility in the appearance of the site and the way it’s organised. It might also look for sponsors in the future, which is something it’s not allowed to do at its current location. But don’t worry – it will keep providing independent information on road rules for cyclists, and it will never charge you for reading.

Comments on the old site have been disabled while the move is finalised. But all previous comments have been taken across to the new site, which is up and running now – so you can head over there and continue the debate.

If you have any problems using the new site, please let me know via the contact form, or by email at  jorren[at]ukcyclerules[dot]com.

Hope to see you over there soon.

The cycle helmets debate – legal aspects

4 July 2011

helmetsHelmets are probably the most controversial part of cycling law.

They’re not compulsory for cyclists in the UK, although attempts have been made quite recently to bring in legislation requiring them (and a Bill to make helmets compulsory in Northern Ireland is still before the legislative assembly there).

But that’s not fully the end of the matter. The Highway Code recommends that cyclists should wear helmets, and the courts have found cyclists who haven’t worn helmets to be at fault in certain respects. Read more…

Buying an e-bike

14 June 2011

an electric bikeAn e-bike, or electric bike, is a bike with an electric motor. Basically, the motor is there to help you with the burden of pedalling. This can, I’m sure, be very comforting, especially if you live in south Bristol.

If you’re thinking of buying an e-bike, there’s one very important thing to bear in mind: you’ll want to make sure that it actually is an e-bike.

If you buy the wrong thing, you could end up with something which, legally speaking, is a motorbike.  In which case you could need a licence and insurance, a vehicle excise duty (or “road tax”) disc and a motorbike-grade helmet in order to use the thing.

You’ll also want to make sure, whether you’re buying or selling, that your e-bike is sold with the necessary kit. Read more…

Buying and selling bikes, part 2 – kit requirements for new bikes

8 June 2011

Last week I wrote about the basic kit rules which apply to sales of all bikes – new and second-hand.

In addition to the basic rules, there are more detailed kit rules which apply to sales of new bikes. So if you’re selling a new bike, you’ll need to comply with the basic rules, and also provide the extra kit required by the detailed rules.

And if you’re buying a new bike, the additional rules tell you what kit you can expect to receive.

The rules are quite complicated. I’ve summarised them as best I can.

Read more…

Buying and selling bikes, part 1 – basic kit requirements

31 May 2011

I’ve been promising for a while now to write about the rules on buying and selling bikes.

There are quite a few rules in this context, so I’ll take it in stages over the next couple of weeks.

This post looks at the basic kit that has to be provided with a pedal cycle whenever it is sold. As far as I can see, the rules apply to both new and second-hand sales.

Once again the rules are different for e-bikes. So this post deals only with non-electric bikes. I’ll post separately on buying and selling e-bikes.

Rules applying to all sales

If you sell a bike, whether new or second-hand, you have to comply with certain basic rules about the brakes. Read more…

The rules of bike brakes

4 May 2011

There are a few bike-related things that I’m planning to get around to some day. One of them is to cycle the length of Britain – preferably going the whole way on the national cycle network, if I can. Another is to learn proper bike maintenance – things like how to calibrate my gears properly. I’ll probably try to do these in reverse order, for safety’s sake and to avoid having to beg my girlfriend to pick me up somewhere in Scotland.

I also intend, in the not too distant future, to figure out what to do about the fact that I seem to have tightened my brake cables about as far as they will go. This is a bit more pressing, because the brakes are starting to feel loose again, and I can tug my brake levers disturbingly close to my handlebars. Bristol is quite a hilly place, so I could easily end up in a hedge (or, more worringly, the back of a car). I could also end up breaking the rules on bike brakes. Read more…

Dangerous and reckless cycling – do we need the new law?

7 April 2011

Last month the new Dangerous and Reckless Cycling (Offences) Bill passed its first reading in the House of Commons. The Bill is intended to create new offences of causing death or serious injury by dangerous or reckless cycling. Proposing it, Andrea Leadsom MP said:

I am a keen cyclist and I heartily support the many people who leave their cars at home and cycle to work and school. Over the last few years, there has been an upsurge in cycling, which is a great way to keep fit and healthy and a green initiative that I fully welcome. […]

[I]n the vast majority of cases, it is the cyclists themselves who are the victims on our roads when they are killed or injured by motorists who simply fail to spot them. The penalties for dangerous or careless driving for motorists are as they should be – very strict. Occasionally, however, it is the cyclist who injures or kills while riding their bike, and this is the area I want to address today. At the moment, the punishment for cyclists falls far short of the crime, and I believe we need to update the law so that all road users are equally protected and take equal responsibility for their actions.

Ms Leadsom wants cyclists to be “charged with similar offences and given similar punishments to those that motorists currently face”. She has since written an article for the Guardian’s bike blog justifying her proposals.  

The Bill has been prompted by the death of Rhiannon Bennett after she was knocked down by a speeding cyclist. There appears to have been conflicting evidence as to whether the cyclist was on the pavement at the time of the impact; some reports, as well as Ms Leadsom’s account to Parliament, suggest that he was.  The cyclist was charged with dangerous cycling, convicted and fined £2,200 (the maximum penalty would have been £2,500). Ms Leadsom says that the problem in Rhiannon Bennett’s case was that there was “no charge which is appropriate to the crime”, and apparently the Crown Prosecution Service has also blamed the lack of an offence of causing death by dangerous cycling.

The new Bill will have its second reading in November – the delay may be due to the fact that its detailed provisions don’t seem to have been written yet. There is a real possibility that it could become law. But do we need the new offences? Read more…