Healthplan Spain


Cyclist in cycle lane Cycling In Spain: 19 Rules That All Cyclists Should Know Expat Tips

Due to the country's exceptional climate, which is favourable almost all year round, cycling in Spain is a popular and enjoyable activity. The countryside offers a variety of routes and trails suitable for all levels, with breathtaking scenery along the way. In fact, Spain boasts the highest number of Biosphere Reserves (53) and 16 National Parks, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers. Spain offers some of the best and most well-marked routes in Europe.

With that in mind, it is important to understand the many rules you need to follow when cycling in Spain.

While bicycles do not require a permit, it is crucial to understand and abide by Spain's cycling laws to ensure your safety. Although some of these rules are general and applicable to all types of roads, others are specific to streets, highways, and expressways.

Similar to other drivers, cyclists must have a thorough understanding of and comply with the rules of the road. Infringement of these regulations may result in penalties, which include the following.

Here are 19 regulations that you should adhere to if you are cycling in Spain.

Mobile Phones: Using a mobile phone while cycling is strictly prohibited, as it can cause distractions and impair a rider's ability to concentrate on the road. Additionally, wearing headphones that are connected to receivers or sound players is not allowed, as they can limit a cyclist's ability to hear their surroundings and pose a safety risk.

If caught using a mobile phone or headphones, you could be handed a fine of 200 euros.

Alcohol: The legal limit for blood alcohol content, which is set at 0.5 g/l of alcohol in blood or alcohol in breath greater than 0.25 milligrams per litre, applies not only to drivers but also to cyclists. Therefore, cyclists are required to comply with this limit and are subject to the same breathalyser tests as other drivers when requested by a law enforcement officer.

If you test positive on a breathalyzer, you may be fined between 500 and 1,000 euros, which will depend on the level of alcohol in your system and whether you have previously been caught cycling while under the influence.

Helmet: Cyclists who are under the age of 16 are legally required to wear a protective helmet, while it is recommended and strongly encouraged for all other cyclists as well. Additionally, wearing an approved protective helmet is mandatory for all cyclists on the road, except in three circumstances: during long climbs, for medical reasons, or in extreme heat. It is essential to properly fit the helmet and always wear it fastened to prevent it from coming loose.

You could be issued with a 200 euro fine if you are caught not wearing a helmet when it is mandatory.

Using lights: To ensure good visibility while cycling at night, in underpasses, or through tunnels, it is mandatory for cyclists to have both front and rear lights turned on. This is crucial for the cyclist's safety, as it allows them to see any obstacles ahead and also makes them more visible to other road users.

Failing to use your lights will see you issued with a fine of 200 euros.

Wearing reflective clothing: When it is required to have lights on, cyclists must also wear reflective clothing to make themselves more visible to other drivers from a distance of 150 metres.

Cycling without reflectors could lead to an 80-euro fine.

Carrying a passenger: Cyclists are only permitted to transport a passenger on a bicycle if they are a child aged seven years or younger and seated in an approved additional seat. The rider must also be of legal age to operate a bicycle with a passenger on board.

A 100 euro fine will be given if you are carrying a child incorrectly.

Respect traffic light signals: Traffic signals, including vertical ones such as stop, give way, and limited speed, apply to all drivers, including cyclists. Cyclists need to understand and obey these signals to ensure their safety on the road and to avoid accidents or conflicts with other motorists.

Failing to stop at traffic lights will lead to a fine of between 150-500 euros.

Starting a journey: Before commencing their journey, cyclists, like all other drivers, must carefully observe the road they intend to join. They should ensure that there are no nearby vehicles or any other potential hazards that could endanger their journey. Additionally, cyclists need to signal their manoeuvres in advance to alert other drivers and ensure a safe transition onto the road.

Failing to comply with the above could see you being handed a fine of 200 euros.

Signal manoeuvres: In addition to joining traffic, cyclists must signal other manoeuvres such as turns, changes in direction, and lane changes. Signals can be indicated by extending the right arm horizontally at shoulder height or bending the left arm at an angle. This helps to ensure the safety of all road users and avoids accidents caused by sudden movements.

Not signalling a manoeuvre can lead to a 200 euro fine.

Giving braking warning: Cyclists may use an alternate arm movement, consisting of short and fast upward and downward movements, to signal sudden braking. While this signal is recommended to help prevent collisions, it is not mandatory, as it requires the cyclist to momentarily release their grip on the handlebars and react quickly.

Right of way: When cycling on a designated bike lane, through a cyclist lane, or on a properly marked shoulder, cyclists are granted the right of way over motor vehicles. However, in all other situations, they must respect the established priorities of other road users as outlined by traffic regulations and signs.

Not respecting the above rules will lead to a 200 euro fine.

Pedestrian priority: In addition, cyclists are required to give way to pedestrians who are crossing at a properly marked crosswalk, as well as when turning onto another road where pedestrians are crossing, even if there is no designated crosswalk. This is important for ensuring the safety of both cyclists and pedestrians on the road.

A 200 euro fine will be given for not respecting the pedestrians' right of way.

Using the bike lane: To enhance their safety while cycling in both urban and highway settings, it is always advisable to utilise available bike lanes. However, it is important to note that this is a recommendation and not a mandatory requirement.

Pedestrian crossings, walking: Despite common belief among cyclists, it is important to note that bikes do not have the right of way at pedestrian crossings (different from cycle crossings). To cross a pedestrian crossing, it is mandatory to dismount the bike and proceed on foot.

Crossing a pedestrian crossing without getting off the bike could see you being handed a 200 fine.

Cycling on the sidewalk: Unless specifically marked as a shared bike and pedestrian path, it is prohibited to ride bicycles on sidewalks and pedestrian areas.

If caught cycling on the sidewalk you could face a fine of up to 100 euros.

Keep to the right: When cycling in the city, it is required to ride as close to the right side of the road as possible, while maintaining a safe distance from the curb or parked vehicles. In the event of cycling in a group, it is permissible to ride in a maximum column of two.

Cyclists who ride in groups without maintaining proper order in the city may be subject to a fine of 100 euros.

Groups on roundabouts: When cycling in a group, all cyclists, from the first to the last, have priority at roundabouts and other intersections once the first cyclist has entered them.

Using the right shoulder: Cyclists must use the right shoulder of the road, if available, to travel. They may only leave the shoulder in extended descents when it is safe to do so.

Occupying the road when it is possible to cycle on the shoulder could lead to a 200 euro fine.

Cycling in parallel: Cyclists are permitted to ride in pairs on the road, keeping to the right-hand side as much as possible. However, in sections with limited visibility, such as bends, or when cycling in a group, they must ride in a single file.

A 100 euro fine will be issued if you are caught cycling in groups without order.

You can learn more about cycling safely in Spain including the current regulations by visiting the DGT website.