Monday, May 12, 2014

Biking in Germany

As of May 1, bike fines have increased in many parts of Germany and the police are out in full force for the next few weeks enforcing the laws.
NOTE: Signs are consistent throughout Germany. Penalties/fines may not be. Your local police department should have paper brochures available explaining yours.
Here are some sources to more thoroughly research them, below what I think are some of the more important ones.

ADFC on bike laws (large German bike club- link in German). Active politically for biker´s rights and bike safety, they also rate bikes. Members also get free bike maps and discounts at participating bike shops.

The Schweinfurt US Army Base (link in English) on bike laws in Germany. Note that some of the information (fines for example) is outdated. Great information on bike signs in Germany.

Bicycle Germany (link in English) on German bicycle laws. Also has information on interpreting signs.

Your bike must have the following (note there are exceptions for certain racing bikes and mountain bikes). Fines for not having one of the items listed are around €20 each.

- When a bike lane is provided, it must be used if this sign is present. . Ride to the right if it is a two way bike lane, in the direction indicated (with traffic) if it is not. Some bike lanes are in the street, others at sidewalk level - in which case, it is usually paved and closer to the street than the pedestrian sidewalk. Violations are around €20. 
- On sidewalks where biking is permitted, you may bike no faster than walking speed, and bikers are the guests of pedestrians. No klinging your bell to get them out of your way. :)
- Biking in pedestrian zones is generally prohibited (unless there are signs saying otherwise. In Bamberg, it is permitted only during certain times). 
- On rural bike paths tractors and farm equiptment always have right of way. 
- Helmets are not mandatory, HOWEVER, check with your health insurance company. They may be able to deny you coverage for a head injury as a result of not wearing a helmet. 
- Biking while intoxicated can cost anywhere between €800 and €4200 and include loss of your driver´s license. The legal limit is 1.6 (.05 for driving a car). If you appear to be impaired, this may be lowered. The police may fine as low as .05 if they observe you driving erratically. 
- You may be held liable for a car accident that occurs as a result of your unsafe biking. 
- Bikes are allowed on all trains except the ICE. Be sure to purchase the appropriate ticket. If there is not enough room for strollers and bikes on the train, strollers take precedence. 
- Jumping a red light can be costly. Less than one second - €45 + a point on your drivers license. More than that? €100 + a point. 
- Children under 8 years old must bike on the sidewalk. Children up to 10 years old MAY bike on the sidewalk. Exception: If they have their Fahrradpass. 
- Children under 10 must dismount their bikes and walk them to cross a street. 
- Riding with no hands is prohibited. 
- Using a cell phone is prohibited, except for hands free. 
- Biking with headphones is a grey area. If your hearing is impaired, causing you to be unsafe,  that is a €10 fine. 
- Biking side by side is ONLY allowed if it does not impact (car) traffic. 
- Arm turn signals are mandatory. Put your left arm out to indicate a left turn, right arm for right turn. 
- Right before left: This one almost got me hit once. At an intersection that is not marked (no stop sign or traffic light) the person on the right goes first, irregardless of whether it is a car or a bike. 

How do Germany´s bike laws compare to your home country´s? 


Snackonabike said...

Lovely summary. If I may throw in some comments: The dynamo is no longer required safety equipment, as long as both the front and rear light work (or in other words: we can now use battery lights in Germany. Only about a hundred years after their introduction).

The riding side-by-side depends on your arguing powers. Technically cars have to leave 1.5m distance while overtaking, which means they have to change lanes anyway. If they do that, they can also overtake two cyclists riding next to each other. You'll still get beeped, though, and depending on the mood of the police officer in person, your arguing might be useless. :)

Mandy939 said...

Thank you for the information!! Very much appreciated!