When we think of a speeding ticket, we overwhelmingly think of cars and busses-motor vehicles in other words-being the vehicles under scrutiny.
After all, cars and trucks can hit speeds that can easily injure and kill people in cases of accidents, so it makes sense to ensure, insomuch as is possible, that the vehicles only go so fast and are penalized if they go faster.
So, it makes sense that cars would have to worry about speeding tickets. But can you get a speeding ticket on a bicycle?
It may not make much sense to a rider, but yes, yes you can indeed get a speeding ticket! Bikes may not go fifty miles per hour; however, tickets can still be issued to cyclists who aren’t following the rules of the road properly.
There are several examples of cyclists getting speeding tickets because of their circumstances. So, while a bike can’t blow past the speed limit on a highway, it is perfectly possible to get a speeding ticket in other ways.
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Bikes are Treated as Motor Vehicles
Before looking at a few more specific examples, it’s important to remember that in most states, bikes are considered to be vehicles, subject to the same duties and rights as vehicles except for the ones that wouldn’t work for bikes.
This means that as far as state law is concerned, bikes must follow the same traffic laws as vehicles, including speed limits. Again, most cyclists aren’t going to hit fifty miles per hour on a flat highway, so it doesn’t come up.
But when it comes to things like steep hills, construction zones, and school zones, it’s far more likely that bikes will come up against speed limit laws and may end up getting ticketed.
Speeding Ticket for Riding too Fast In a School Zone
This case came out in 2013 from Seattle where several people were getting speeding tickets on their bikes for cycling too fast on an avenue where there is a school zone in place.
In this case, the speed limit in the school zone is 20 mph, which would normally be difficult for many cyclists to reach except that the avenue in question is also quite steep, making it much easier to blow past the speed limit.
Bikes don’t tend to come equipped with speedometers, so cyclists going down the hill were going faster than the limit and several of them got ticketed.
In Seattle, the ticket for speeding is cheaper than driving ($103 in 2013, rather than $189) and you can drop it more by taking an online bike safety course and if you take the course and pay the reduced fee, the ticket is thrown out before it goes on your record.
This case shows that it’s important to recognize that school zone and other zones that change speed limits such as construction zones, apply to cyclists as well as motorists and cyclists can be ticketed for blowing by the speed limit, even if they weren’t aware that they did it.
Speeding Ticket for Riding Too Fast Due to Hills
Many roads lead to places on top of or at the bottom of steep hills. For example, UC Santa Cruz is on top of a mountain and many students choose to ride their bikes around and to and from the university in order to save money.
At the bottom of the mountain, off the main road, is a very busy speed trap due to the fact that too many people speed because of the steep hill. This, much to the surprise of cyclists, includes riders as well as drivers!
Many students have been ticketed for zooming too fast down the hill from the university. Fortunately, much like Seattle, you can have your bill reduced by taking a bike safety online class.
Steep hills and mountains can cause cyclists to greatly increase their speed and since they also do it to vehicles, speed traps are often found at the bottom. Make sure you are monitoring your speed and slow yourself down if you find you are going too fast.
Speeding Tickets Differ from Place to Place
What makes speeding tickets even trickier for cyclists is the fact that while in most states, bikes are treated like motor vehicles, the way that officers treat them vary wildly. Cities and counties alone vary in how they treat bikes, let alone state to state.
In New York for example, many cyclists have successfully contested their speeding tickets. In Seattle, not only can you get a speeding ticket, but it can also count against your motor vehicle insurance (unless you take the course and pay the reduced fine).
In fact, in both New York and Maryland, the law explicitly states that cyclists are held to the exact same duties as drivers, including speed limit observation.
Again, where this largely comes up in is in cases of school zones, construction zones, and other places where the speed limit is temporarily changed or changes depending on what’s going on.
The laws regarding speeding may not differ too much or be terribly explicit, but how police respond to it will and in the case of speeding, towns, and counties can be stricter than the state law.
Some police don’t like to issue speeding tickets to cyclists because they don’t want to ‘punish’ them. Other police treat bikes the exact same way they would treat cars and certainly many cyclists have horror stories about dealing with their local police.
If you’re not sure what to expect from speeding laws, it’s important to check with your local law before biking to find out whether you will be held to the same speed limit standards and if you’re not sure, always assume that you are. And maybe get a speedometer since not having one is no excuse!
We don’t often think of bikes hitting forty or fifty miles per hour, but with the right circumstances, it has been known to happen and while going that fast is fun, it is also dangerous and can get you ticketed. Be safe and smart out there and understand that yes, you can get a speeding ticket on a bicycle!