Getting around on a cargo bike, should we follow traffic regulations?
Do you want to change your daily commuting habits and get around the city but doing that with a cargo bike that worries you? Don’t panic, we’re here to tell you how to ride in the city!
Breaking news: whether riding a cargo bike or not, one must respect the rules of the road. If you are driving a non-motorized vehicle, a driver’s license is not mandatory, so no loss of points is possible. An electrically assisted bike cannot go beyond 25 km/h and is therefore not included in this type of vehicle.
But we are still obliged to respect the traffic rules! Remember one thing: seeing and being seen on a bike is the most important thing!
The necessary equipment you need for safe driving on a cargo bike
In the event of an accident, bikers are the most susceptible to serious injury or death. We therefore emphasize: to ride a bike safely, it is necessary to have the right equipment.
Protect yourself and your bike:
- First make sure you have a functional bike with fully reliable front and rear brakes.
- Your bike must be equipped with a bell that can be heard from at least 50 meters away.
- The helmet, although optional for those over 12 years old except in Australia, New Zealand and some parts of Canada, is still a highly recommended protection in our European countries. If the cyclist (or passenger) is under 12 years old, they must wear a helmet that is regulated AND secured, of course.
- In case of bad weather, remember to be well equipped and to be extra careful.
Being visible, one of the must-knows of cycling :
- Having reflective devices (or reflectors) on your bike is mandatory. Where: at least at the front (white), at the rear (red) and at the sides (orange).
- Passing through a tunnel, riding at night or in fog are three situations that require position lights. Front (white) and rear (red) lights.
- For nighttime riding outside of well-lit cities, cyclists must wear a retro-reflective vest (yellow or other color).
- In France, failure to wear a reflective vest at night may be punishable by a fine of 22 euros up to 35 euros if payment is made within 45 days.
The traffic regulations to understand: the most important ones
Reminder: In cases of non-compliance with traffic laws, cyclists risk penalties ranging from a call to order to imprisonment and the payment of fines.
Our list of the main points you should be aware of:
- The cyclist must use the bike paths and bike lanes. This is no longer mandatory in all countries since 1999, but is strongly recommended.
- Make yourself visible when turning by signaling your direction with your arm. There are also turn signals that you can integrate into your bike. These are recommended but not mandatory.
- Take into account traffic lights, ground markings, right-of-way and pedestrian crossings and priorities.
- For traffic lights, we have some precisions. There are certain well-defined cases where you don’t have to make a stop:
- if a sign authorizes you to do so
- if you are going straight at a three-way junction
- if you are turning right at a four-way intersection
- It is prohibited to ride your bike on sidewalks unless it is marked as a bicycle path
- If there is no bicycle path, ride on the road in accordance with traffic regulations. Do not forget to be extremely careful with the surrounding traffic (stay well to the right for example).
- Keep a safe distance from other cyclists.
- It’s obvious, but we’ll say it again: you are not allowed to cycle on the highway.
- Use reserved bicycle lanes (if available) at intersections.
- Possibility of using pedestrian areas if no other bicycle lanes are available, unless there is a posted prohibition.
- Going in the opposite direction in a lane is allowed only if the speed limit is less than 50 km/h.
- Two cyclists can ride side by side if the lane is wide enough, but also if it doesn’t hinder traffic and if it respects posted signs.
- Yes, you can pass stationary vehicles, whether in bike lanes or not, with caution, if the visibility is good, and if the surrounding traffic allows it.
- Parking may be on the pavement or in designated parking spaces. (And you are encouraged to lock up your bikes!)
- Waiting in front of cars at a red light is possible and allows you to start more safely and to position yourself well if you need to turn.
- You won’t be surprised: but it is forbidden to take calls while you are riding your bike (the €135 fine can, quite rightly, quickly discourage you).
- Finally: for your own safety and that of others, do not ride your bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The advantage of a three-wheeled electric cargo bike is that it retains the benefits of a conventional bicycle while remaining a practical and active means of transportation!
And for cargo bikes?
Finally, we have explained the rules to follow on a normal bike, but how does it work on a cargo bike? That’s the subject of our article, so let’s get down to it:
Three-wheeled, two-wheeled, longtail, midtail… If you are riding a cargo bike and it doesn’t exceed the width of one meter, then your cargo bike is considered a conventional bike with the same rules of the road as stated above. If your cargo bike exceeds one meter: reflectors and position lights will be mandatory on the front or rear trailer. However, riding a cargo bike differs from riding a conventional bike. It should be tested beforehand in a safe place to ensure all parties feel at ease.
Indeed, make sure you are stable with front or rear loads while being aware of the width of your bike in order to ride safely in traffic.
In France, if you are transporting your children, they must be in approved child seats. You need a belt-type attachment strap or a handle and foot rests. And don’t forget about helmets (unless over 12 years old). Learn more about the conditions for transporting your child on three-wheeled bikes, two-wheeled bikes, or other cargo solution here.
Tips: If you want to get around on a cargo bike without exceeding the width of a conventional bike, AddBike transport modules are a solution, since they do not exceed 69 cm (and can therefore pass through the doors of your home). We have also created a midtail bike that is 20 inches longer at the back: the U-Cargo, which is designed for the needs of the family. This bike allows you to transport children and loads (simple and family option) while remaining manoeuvrable in an urban setting. It is currently on pre-sale with electric assistance.
As cyclists, we are asked to be more cautious when riding in urban jungles. But don’t panic, the rules to be applied are logical for everyone involved and very easy to follow.
Mobility by bike is a big yes for us, but in complete safety.