New bicycle laws tough to enforce

Bicycle advocates indicate that it is virtually impossible for the police to properly check bicycles for compliance with lighting regulations

Female students are predominant on five out of the six Copenhagen University faculties (photo: iStock)
November 23rd, 2012 10:25 am| by admin

Bicycle advocacy groups are criticising new bike safety laws for being difficult to accurately monitor and enforce.

The law came into effect on November 1, and requires that lights are affixed to bike frames, that front and rear lights are visible from a distance of 300 metres and that they have a battery life of five hours. 

Failure to comply with the new rules is punishable by a 700 kroner fine, but Karsten Hansen, the head of cycle dealership association Danske Cykelhandlere, told 24timer newspaper that there has been a lot of confusion over how to enforce the regulations.

“Are the police to stand 300 metres away and look at cyclists? Will the police stand about for five hours?”

One of the other problems is that the light's packaging should indicate whether it the lives up to the new standards. But Hansen would rather have the light itself marked, indicating that it satisfies the laws.

“As it stands, the cyclist can take their fine and take it to court, so it could become a bit of a disorderly jumble,” Hansen told 24timer.

According to TrygFonden, a charity that donates money to safety initiatives, every fifth cyclist does not have proper lights, and more than half of serious accidents involving cyclists each year occur between November and January.

Cyklistforbundet, the national association of cyclists, also felt the police were having trouble enforcing the new law, but spokesperson Frits Bredal said he did not expect the police to hand out unwarranted fines because of light problems.

“We have been informed by the police that they will approach the new law gently,” Bredal told 24timer. “They haven’t been running around from November 1 handing out fines.”

This is the second time in two years that bike safety laws have been changed. The 2011 change saw fines for a variety of infractions jump from 500 kroner to 700 kroner, and in some cases, up to 1,000 kroner. Much to the consternation of cyclists, it was the first increase in biking fines in 12 years.

Factfile | Bike light regulations

Lights must be visible from at least 300 metres away in clear weather, without being blinding. Additionally, the light must be visible from the side.

Front lights can shine yellow, white or blue-ish.

Yellow lights may not blink, white or blue lights may. If the light does blink, it must do so at least 120 times a minute, or twice a second.

Rear lights must be red and may blink at least 120 times a minute.

Both front and rear lights must be able to be shine for five hours at five degrees Celsius.

Lights must be firmly attached to the bike. They may not dangle or be attached to the rider.

Lights sold after November 1 must meet all safety regulations.

(photo: Henrik Stenberg)
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