CYCLISTS who run red lights, use mobile phones, fail to give a signal before turning or ignore one-way signs could routinely receive token fines under new plans put forward by road safety authorities.
Cyclists, like drivers, are supposed to obey the Code de la Route and with cycling accidents up 6% between 2013 and 2014, the national road safety council CNSR said too few – just 12% – did so.
It said behaviour would improve if police started to impose small fines for about 15 offences with the fine being about half of the driving equivalent, eg €57 where a driver would be fined €135.
Failure to wear a helmet is not obligatory under the Code so is not be included but the CNSR advises cyclists to wear one.
The CNSR discussed the proposal with some MPs before Christmas but there is no draft law or formal debate planned at this stage.
It says 88% of cyclists do not obey the highway code – and a study by insurer MMA found 44% have a feeling of impunity, believing they will not be stopped by police.
Meanwhile, the number of bikes on the road in Paris alone has grown four fold in recent years and cyclist deaths in France rose 6% to 147 last year.
Geneviève Laferrère, of bike users’ group FUB, said: “There is no evidence to suggest that police turn a blind eye to cyclists, or that bikes commit more breaches of the highway code than drivers. This plan aims to remind cyclists they must obey the law. But it is important it does not turn into a witch-hunt.”
FUB estimates that three million people in France cycle daily and 17 million regularly. It wants more 30kph zones in towns.
Cédric Pouvreau, of Brittany cycling group Kernavélo, said: “The Code de la Route was drawn up with drivers in mind. Pedestrians and cyclists see things differently to drivers.
The idea [of systematic fines] is justified, but a balance needs to be struck and the legal terms clearly defined.”
Strasbourg has tested cyclist fines, with 833 fined since 2012, but although bike accidents fell 37% motoring and cycle groups said the large increase in cycle lanes played a major role.
The proposed fines
€11: No lights or defective brakes
€22-€35: Obstructive parking, excessive speed, using a mobile phone, carrying a passenger (except a child on a fitted seat), no hand signals, not using a cycle path where one exists, riding side-by-side in a group of two or more
Up to €57: Cycling on pavement, drink-cycling, passing traffic on the right, ignoring one-way and stop signs, pedestrian crossings, running a red light (unless sign allows a right-turn)