HEALTHPLAN MAGAZINE

Cycling Laws In Spain Expat Tips

With superb year round weather, Spain is the ideal country in which to hop on your bike and explore everything it has to offer.

Unfortunately, many of us are unfamiliar with the rules and laws that apply to cyclists here and the kind of fines that can be issued when such laws are not adhered to.

In Spain, bicycles are classified as vehicles and hence have to abide by similar rules and regulations that other vehicles on the road have to.

Although many of the cycling rules are self explanatory, a number of them are a little ambiguous and most definitely open to interpretation.

Bicycle Helmet Laws In Spain

Proposals were made in 2013 that had the intention of making it obligatory for everyone to wear a helmet at all times. However, this met with strong opposition from town halls and a number of cycle hire companies in large cities and the proposals were subsequently dropped.

The current law which was updated in May 2014, states that cyclists under the age of 16 are obliged to wear a helmet at all times, whether cycling in urban or non-urban areas.

Adults over the age of 16 must wear a helmet outside of urban areas, but are exempt when riding up steep hills, are riding during excessive heat or if they are professional cyclists. So does that mean that if you are hot, riding up a hill or a professional cyclist, you are less likely to have an accident?

Cycling Rules In Spain

Below you will find the main rules in Spain when riding a bicycle.

  • All cyclists must ride on the right hand side of the road and never ride against the flow of traffic.
  • Cyclists must use any designated bicycle lanes and trails and ride at no more than 30 km/h.
  • You must not cycle in a bus lane as they are only intended for public transport.
  • Using a mobile phone while cycling is prohibited.
  • You are not allowed to listen to music while cycling through headphones or earbuds.
  • You must keep both hands on the handlebars when cycling other than to signal.
  • You must use hand-signals to indicate your intention to turn or change direction.
  • You should park your bicycle in designated spaces and must not attach it to trees, benches, traffic lights, street lights and waste bins etc.
  • Unauthorised racing is not permitted.
  • When riding in bicycle lanes or similar areas, you must take care when approaching junctions which are used by pedestrians or other vehicles.
  • Cyclists must not exceed the speed limit of the road or make abrupt or dangerous movements.
  • When cycling close to a building, you must allow at least 5m between you and the buildings facade.
  • All bicycles must be fitted with a bell, rear reflector and have front and rear lights.
  • Reflective clothing must be worn between sunset and sunrise.
  • Children under 7 must be carried in an approved seat and must wear a helmet.

Riding a bicycle on pavements, sidewalks, public parks and other similar pedestrian areas is also not permitted, except at a speed of less than 10 km/h and when the following conditions apply:-

  • There are no cycle lanes available to use
  • There are no signs prohibiting cycling.
  • The pavement or sidewalk is over 3m wide
  • The sidewalk is not crowded and you are able to cycle at a distance of at least 1m from any pedestrian and can cycle in a straight line for more than 5m.

When pushing a bicycle, you are classed as a pedestrian and can therefore push your bike on the pavement.

Cycling Fines

Needless to say, any of the above infractions can potentially result in a hefty fine.

Below are just a few of the current fines that can be issued. However, it's hard to say how much of a fine you will incur for some of the other infringements listed above.

  • No brakes or faulty brakes - €80.00
  • Not having any lights on between sunset and sunrise - €200.00
  • Failing to stop at a traffic light - €200.00
  • Not having a bell - €80.00
  • Failing to give way - €200.00
  • Not wearing high visibility clothing - €200.00
  • Being under the influence of alcohol - €500.00

Although it can appear that many of the cycling laws are not enforced here, there are obviously exceptions to this and with the fines being quite severe, it's probably best to err on the side of caution.