Families warned on French bike rules to avoid fines

It is important to know the law and respect the rules when out cycling in France

As summer continues and families take to their bikes for days out, cyclists in France are warned to pay attention to the state of their bikes and rules of the road to avoid fines of up to €375.

The biggest fines concern the wearing of helmets. Since March 2017, the law states that it is obligatory for children under the age of 12 to wear a helmet at all times when on a bike.

This applies whether the child is riding themselves, or is a passenger on a larger bike. Adults accompanying or leading an offending child risk a default fine of €135, varying between €90 and €375, depending on the situation.

All cyclists - adults and children - need to ensure that their bike is in good condition, especially if they cycle on roads or lanes that are also used by cars; whether in town centres or in more rural zones.

This includes having working brakes on both wheels, pumped-up tyres with sufficient tread, a supportive and safe saddle, and tightened bolts on parts such as wheels and handlebars.

Bikes must feature reflective stickers, panels or lights; with a red-coloured light or reflective label at the back; and orange reflectors on the pedals. Lights and reflectors must also be visible from behind and the sides.

Bikes must also be able to alert others to their presence, either with a horn or bell, that is audible from at least 50m away.

Riders who do not conform to these conditions risk a fine of at least €11 per bike, rising to €33 if not paid within 30 days.

At nighttime, or when visibility is poor, bikes must have a strong red light at the back, as well as a white or yellow lamp in front. Riders must also wear a reflective tabard at all times at night or during low visibility, and risk an additional fine of €22-€75 if they do not.

It is also advised to have two different kinds of locks, including a strong “D” lock for the frame, and another to loop through the wheels, when securing your bike in a town or village.

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