Ride no hands: $120 fine!

Look Ma, no hands. Look Ma, no money!

There’s a lot to admire about cycling in Denmark, but high levels of bike traffic apparently comes with heavy handed traffic rules.

Denmark’s Folketing updated several traffic fines last March. They become effective with the New Year, 2012. Cycling with no hands carries a fine of 700 kroners — equivalent to about US$120.

I don’t know what enforcement is like in Copenhagen and other Danish cities, but maybe Mikael and other Danes can inform us. In the US, many of these bike laws are used as justification to pull over suspicious characters on bikes.

Other fines for scofflaw bikers include:

    * Riding without lights at night: 700 kr
    * Using a phone: 1,000 kr
    * Missing or defective brakes or reflectors: 700 kr
    * Running a red light: 1,000 kr
    * Cycling against traffic: 1,000 kr
    * Cycling across a pedestrian crossing: 700 kr
    * Cycling the wrong way on a cycle path: 700 kr
    * Not respecting traffic signs or arrows: 700 kr
    * Violating the right of way: 1,000 kr
    * Failure to signal a turn or stop: 700 kr
    * Sidewalk cycling: 700 kr
    * Holding onto a vehicle (i.e. “skitching”: 700 kr
    * Having two or more people on a regular bicycle: 700 kr per person
    * Wrong position while/before turning: 700 kr
    * Non-functioning bell: Warning

1000 kr is about US$170.

More about this at the Copenhagen Post.


  1. I’ve seen cops in CPH stopping people who cut through pedestrian plazas while riding, and I know they’ll stop you if you’re riding at night without lights.  But keep in mind the volume of bike traffic there dwarfs anything we’ll ever see here, short of a 5-boro tour.  So as heavy as the fines might be, they do make some sense.  That said, I’ve seen lots of riders on cell phones, and plenty of regular bikes with passengers.  As with many traffic rules (like coming to a full stop at a stop sign), some seem to be there just to give the cops an excuse to pull you over if they feel like pulling you over. 

  2. Chicago has a funny law:
    “No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the rider from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.” Doing so carries a fine of $25. 

    It seems, though, that you can ride without any hands on the handlebars as long as you’re not carrying a package. 

    Illinois has an interesting law:
    “A signal of intention to turn right or left when required shall be given during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the bicycle before turning, and shall be given while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn. A signal by hand and arm need not be given continuously if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle.”

    So you must signal, for a specific duration (in distance), but not for the full distance if you need that handle to operate the bike (like pull on the brake lever to reduce speed). 

    Both from: http://chicagobikes.org/bikelaws/

  3. Both of those examples are very similar to California law: no specific prohibition against no riding but rather no caring of packages that forces such; and a must signal unless you cannot rule.

    Sent from my Googaw

  4. “heavy handed” I see what you did there! I agree though, no handed bikers are a risk to the safety of bikers around them. Unless they can juggle and ride at the same time! In that case no problem!!! 🙂 I’m sure I’ll meet many cyclists who have their opinions on this subject while I tour across America in May! Visit my blog and help me go viral!
    http://www.johnsamericabiketour.blogspot.com Thanks and Happy New Year!

  5. When I was a kid there was an ancient city bylaw that required both hands on the handlebars at all times. Then the Highway Traffic Act was passed which required the proper use of hand signals. It was decades before somebody realized every cyclist in town was violating at least one of those statutes. 🙂

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