Beginning in the new year, riding no-handed, cycling through a red light, or forgetting to signal a turn will cost bicyclists dearly.
The traffic law changes will result in fines for a variety of bicycling infractions jumping from 500 to 700 kroner, and in some cases to 1,000 kroner. It is the first increase in biking fines in 12 years.
Cycling on the pavement, riding without lights, and cycling through a pedestrian crossing are among the acts that will net a 700 kroner fine, while cycling against the traffic, running a red light and using a mobile phone will result in a 1,000 kroner fine.
According to a Konservative MP, Tom Behnke, the fine increases are meant to discourage cyclists from breaking traffic laws.
Â“A 1,000 kroner fine will hurt more, so that most people will think: Â‘Oh, that sucked,’Â” Behnke told Politiken newspaper.
But a 100 percent jump in the cost of cycling infractions overshoots the mark, argued the cyclistsÂ’ union, Cyklistforbundet.
Â“Parliament is using a bazooka to shoot a butterfly in this case,Â” the unionÂ’s head, Jens Loft Rasmussen, said in a statement. Â“It cannot be right that it should cost [the equivalent of] one fourth of the cost of a bicycle to talk on a mobile phone while on a deserted bicycle path.Â”
Rasmussen, however, was not against the notion of fining cyclists.
Â“We donÂ’t think cyclists should have free rein,Â” he told Politiken. Â“But we know that it is primarily motorists who cause the serious accidents – itÂ’s not cyclists who kill others. Cyclists can be irritating, but I believe that smaller fines would be more appropriate.Â”
A Copenhagen Police spokesperson, John Sckaletz, told Politiken that while he hoped the fines would help to decrease traffic chaos, he questioned the higher finesÂ’ preventative effect.
Â“Adding 200 kroner to a fine isnÂ’t that much, so I donÂ’t think that will have a huge effect, but 1,000 kroner is a lot of money so I think that will have something of an effect,Â” he said. Sckaletz said police had no plans to increase their enforcement of bicycling laws in concert with the higher fees.
Â“We have an effective control system as it is, and we donÂ’t have any plans to increase it in 2012,Â” he said. Â“But weÂ’re still out there, and last year we wrote thousands of tickets.Â”
The traffic laws not only affect cyclists, but motorists as well. Registered traffic infractions that used to cost between 500 and 1,500 kroner will after January 1 cost 2,000 kroner, while speeding tickets will increase by between 500 and 1,000 kroner.
The new traffic fines passed parliament by a wide margin in March, with only Enhedslisten opposing the changes.
Factfile | Biking fines, effective Jan 1
- Cycling without lights in the dark: 700 kr
- Using a hand-held mobile phone while biking: 1,000 kr
- Missing or defective brakes or reflectors: 700 kr
- Cycling through a red light: 1,000 kr
- Cycling against traffic: 1,000 kr
- Cycling across a pedestrian crossing: 700 kr
- Cycling on the cycle path on the left side of the street: 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
- Cycling no-handed: 700 kr
- Cycling on the pavement: 700 kr
- Holding onto a vehicle: 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