Can You Get A Speeding Ticket on A Bicycle?

Can You Get A Speeding Ticket on A Bicycle?

If you’re a cyclist who enjoys putting the pedal to the metal, you’ve probably wondered whether cops can slap you with a speeding ticket.

I feel you.

As much as I love cruising the bike trails at a leisurely pace, sometimes I get tempted to see how fast my two wheels can really go.

But I don’t want to get in trouble with the law either!

In this article, I’ll shed some light on bicycle speed regulations so you can stay informed.

We’ll look at whether speed limits apply to bikes, reasonable speed expectations, and what the risks are if you get carried away with speed.

Let’s jump in!

Can You Get a Speeding Ticket on A Bicycle?

The short answer is yes, you can absolutely get a ticket for speeding on your bicycle.

While it doesn’t happen too often, law enforcement officers can and do pull over cyclists for exceeding posted speed limits.

Bicycles are considered vehicles under the law in most states.

That means all the standard traffic rules – including speed limits – apply to bike riders on public roads.

If a cop spots you cruising faster than the limit, you could get cited and fined just like drivers do in cars.

Of course, bicycles aren’t capable of reaching the same high speeds as motor vehicles.

So in most cases, officers will pull you over only if you are excessively over the limit and biking in an unsafe manner.

We’ll get into reasonable bike speeds shortly.

But the bottom line is police can and will ticket cyclists who are clearly speeding in a hazardous way.

It’s not super common, but it does happen.

Just like drivers, bike riders are expected to obey all posted speed limits.

How Much is A Bicycle Speeding Ticket?

The cost of a speeding ticket received while riding a bicycle can vary by jurisdiction, but here are some typical fine amounts:

  • $50-150 for a first offense exceeding the speed limit by 5-15 mph.
  • $150-250 for 15-25 mph over the limit.
  • $250+ for 25+ mph over the speed limit.
  • Fines are typically higher in school zones or other sensitive areas.
  • Costs increase significantly for repeat violations.

Other factors that can increase or decrease the fine amount:

  • Local laws and judges’ discretion in setting fine amounts.
  • Whether traffic laws classify it as a moving violation or a non-moving infraction.
  • If the speeding resulted in an accident or reckless endangerment.
  • If you contest the ticket and the judge reduces the charges.
  • Fees tacked on for late payment.

In general, for a first offense 5-15 mph over, expect to pay $50-$150 depending on your jurisdiction.

Faster speeding, repeat offenses, and aggravating circumstances can increase the costs to the hundreds.

However, some areas may be more lenient and charge less for bike speeding than equivalent motor vehicle tickets.

Doe Bicycle Tickets Go On Record in California?

In general, no – bicycle infractions do NOT go on your permanent DMV driving record in California.

The California Vehicle Code treats bicycle tickets as non-moving violations that are separate from your driving history.

They function similarly to parking tickets.

So standard traffic citations like speeding, stop sign violations, etc. when you are on a bicycle will not appear on your DMV record or affect your driver’s license.

You still must pay any fines associated with the bicycle citation.

But it will not impact your auto insurance rates or driving privileges.

The main exceptions are if you were also operating a motor vehicle at the time of the violation, or if it involves more serious offenses like DUIs.

But for standard bicycle speeding and traffic tickets, your driving record will remain clean in California.

So in most cases, you don’t have to worry about bicycle citations appearing on your DMV record or driver’s license.

They are considered independent of your driving history in the state of California.

Is There A Speed Limit for Bicycles?

While regular posted speed limits apply to cyclists in most areas, some places do have special speed regulations specifically targeting bikes.

These locations set lower speed maximums that bikers must adhere to, separate from the limits for cars.

For example, many multi-use trails and bike paths have lowered speed limits in the 10-15 mph range.

These are intended to promote safety among the walkers, joggers, cyclists, and other users sharing the paths.

Exceeding the posted bike speed limits on trails can result in fines in some areas.

Certain neighborhoods and residential areas have also enacted special bicycle speed ordinances.

These are typically in the 15-20 mph range.

The goal is to reduce bike speeds through congested streets and promote safety.

So while standard road speed limits apply to cyclists, keep an eye out for specific bike speed limit signs on trails and in neighborhoods.

These special regulations are becoming more common as bike popularity grows.

Do Speed Limits Apply to Cyclists?

Given that bikes don’t have speedometers like cars, you might wonder how speed limits can apply to cyclists.

It’s true, we can’t simply check our speedometer to verify we’re within the posted limit.

So how can cops judge our speed?

The answer is that officers are trained to visually estimate a bicyclist’s speed based on their riding and the conditions.

They observe the bike and rider in motion, considering factors like:

  • How fast they pass by landmarks or cross intersections.
  • Their pedaling cadence and gearing.
  • The speed they move compared to cars.
  • Safe vs. unsafe riding conduct.

Based on this visual assessment, the officer makes a judgment call on whether the cyclist is exceeding the reasonable speed.

Many police departments consider 20+ mph over the limit to be the threshold for an unsafe speeding ticket.

So for example, riding 35+ mph in a 25 mph zone could get you cited.

However, the cops have discretion based on conditions.

If you’re coasting downhill they may allow faster speeds than if you were pedaling fast on the flat.

But in general, the same limits apply and visual speed judgment is used for enforcement.

What is The Highest Speed Allowed on A Bike?

Okay, so what’s actually considered an acceptable or achievable speed for a cyclist?

With no engine powering us, our max speed is limited by leg strength, terrain, and wind resistance.

On flat ground, a reasonably fit cyclist can sustain 15-20 mph solo pedaling speed.

Very fit competitive riders may hit 20-30 mph.

The absolute maximum speed for the best cyclists pedaling in a full sprint is around 35-40 mph.

Of course, we can go faster when coasting downhill!

But 35-45 mph is around the max for active pedaling.

Once you start exceeding those speeds, officers may consider it hazardous biking.

On steep descents, it’s possible for a rider to reach 50 mph or higher.

But at those speeds, even a minor mistake can be catastrophic.

So most jurisdictions consider 40+ mph to be unsafe on a bike under any circumstance.

As a general guideline, 20-30 mph is a good target speed range to avoid attention from law enforcement.

Even fit riders will struggle to actively pedal much faster than 30 mph.

And coasting speeds above 40 mph start to get into dangerous territory.

The terrain plays a key role too.

Higher speeds may be okay on a long straight rural road.

But doing 25+ mph on a winding path or congested urban area is asking for trouble.

Use good judgment based on conditions.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, use common sense and try to balance the fun of speed with safety.

We all love the thrill of sweeping down a hill at maximum velocity.

But treat speed limits and unsafe riding laws as you would in car.

Stay situationally aware, follow all posted limits, and don’t let the thrill of speed put yourself or others in danger.

Be especially careful on multi-use trails with kids, pets, and other cyclists around.

And finally, wear a helmet!

Even a minor spill at high speed can have serious consequences if your head hits the pavement.

With all that being said, I wish you happy and safe fast riding out there!

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Joey B. Ramsey
Passionate cyclist, father, and blogger.
I've been riding bikes since childhood and enjoy sharing my knowledge with fellow cycling enthusiasts.
My diverse bike collection allows me to write reviews and advice based on personal experience with various bikes and accessories.
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