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I’m a bike insurance expert – and these are the silly cycling mistakes that could land you fines of up to £2,500, from using a phone to jumping a red light

For many, the new year has ushered in resolutions of a healthier lifestyle, with cycling emerging as a popular choice to boost fitness. 

Yet, amid the surge in enthusiasm for peddalling the pounds away, some overlook the rules and regulations that could land them in hot water.

Mark Brown, owner of bike insurance provider ProtectMyBike, has warned that even minor offences can ‘lead to hefty fines’, which could ‘deter people from cycling altogether’. 

Here he outlines nine cycling offences and their penalties.  

Using a mobile phone – fine up to £50

While it is not illegal in the UK to use a mobile phone while cycling, Mark warns it could land you a hefty fine

Mark says: ‘Using a phone while cycling can distract you from the road, leading to potential accidents.’ While it is not illegal in the UK, Mark notes that ‘it can be considered careless or inconsiderate cycling, which carries a potential fine of £50’.

Riding on pavements – fine up to £50

Mark explains: ‘The Highway Traffic Act 1988 states that cyclists must ride on the road unless there are specific exemptions, such as designated cycle lanes.

‘The law also applies to children, but those under 10 can’t be prosecuted. Watch out in Scotland, though, where criminal responsibility starts at eight. This didn’t stop a police officer in Lincolnshire threatening to confiscate a four-year-old’s bike in 2015.’

Riding through pedestrianised areas – fine up to £1,100

Although many cyclists avoid obvious pedestrian zones, Mark says: ‘Some smaller, less-marked areas can catch cyclists out. 

‘Fines tend to range from £50 to £100. However, a female cyclist was ordered to pay over £1,100 in fines and costs for riding her bike through Grimsby town centre in June last year.’

High Powered E-Bikes – fine up to £200

To be allowed on roads, Mark says e-bikes must have ‘a set of working pedals, an electric motor under 250 watts, and a maximum speed of 15.5mph (25km/h)’. If it exceeds these limits, he says, you’ll need a licence and insurance as it ‘enters motor vehicle territory’. 

Mark adds: ‘Riding without insurance is the biggest financial hit, with on-the-spot fines of up to £200 and potential prosecution leading to higher penalties.’

While many will avoid riding through obvious pedestrian zones, Mark warns that ‘smaller’ and ‘less-marked’ areas can catch cyclists out

Carrying too many passengers – fine up to £50

Mark explains that overloading can ‘affect the bike’s stability and handling, increasing the risk of accidents’.

Failing to display a front and rear light – fine up to £5

Mark says: ‘Increasing your visibility by displaying front and rear lights, especially during poor weather conditions or at night, is an essential step to prevent accidents.’

Ignoring ‘no cycling’ signs – fine up to £30

The expert explains that ‘no cycling’ signs are placed in specific areas where cycling may ‘pose a safety risk, such as crowded pedestrian zones’. He says: ‘Ignoring these signs not only breaks the law but also disregards the safety and convenience of others.’

Jumping a red light – fine up to £50

According to Mark: ‘Jumping a red light, whether on a bicycle or any other vehicle, is a serious violation of traffic laws. It’s crucial to obey traffic signals for the safety of everyone on the road.’

Careless or furious cycling – fine up to £2,500

Mark says these offences ‘cover a range of reckless behaviour, from weaving through traffic to speeding’. He adds: ‘Fines can reach £1,000 for careless cycling and a whopping £2,500 plus potential points on your driving licence for furious cycling. Reckless cycling can even land you with a prison sentence, depending on severity.’

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