Some traffic rules for cyclists are quite different than many think. This can be expensive, for example, if you are partially at fault in an accident is awarded. Stephanie Krone from the General German Bicycle Club in Berlin explains regulations where both cyclists and motorists often get it wrong from experience.
Read below to find out which special rules every cyclist must know.
Who has the right of way at the crosswalk?
Clearly, pedestrians in the crosswalk have priority, so cars must stop and let people cross the street. However, this does not apply to cyclists crossing the crosswalk – at least not as long as they are driving. So cyclists have to wait until the cars have passed by. Alternative: Dismount. If you push your bike across the crosswalk, you are considered a pedestrian and therefore have priority.
What is valid in the meantime when overtaking?
Many cyclists are annoyed by drivers who overtake so closely that their pants almost clean the car door. Rightly so, because this is not only dangerous, but also forbidden. According to a new regulation of the road traffic regulations, a minimum distance of one and a half meters is obligatory in towns, and even two meters outside towns. So in practice the driver has to change lanes.
If that's not possible, he has to jog behind the bicycles until he can pass safely. If a queue of at least three cars forms, the cyclist must move to the side or make room for the cars to overtake at the next suitable opportunity.
Is alcohol allowed on the handlebar?
It is well known that alcohol and driving do not go together. However, many do not know that this also applies to cycling. So after an excessive party to drive home on the wire wheel is absolutely not hip. At a blood alcohol level of 0.3, cyclists are liable to prosecution if they are clearly no longer in control of the bike or even cause an accident.
From 1.6 per mille, you can even get two points in Flensburg and a hefty fine. In addition, you have to take a medical-psychological examination (MPU), popularly known as an "idiot test". In such cases, by the way, not only the revocation of the driver's license threatens, but also even a ban on cycling.
Is it allowed to listen to music with headphones??
Listening to music while cycling is not forbidden, nor is wearing headphones. But you can't turn it up so loud that you can't hear the surrounding noise, such as engine noise, ringing or shouting. Who hears too little because of the headphones, can be awarded a partial blame in an accident.
But studies show anyway that distraction from headphones reduces reaction speed by up to 50 percent, even at moderate volumes. Whether the enjoyment of music is worth the fact that you may react too late and end up seriously injured in hospital is something everyone must decide for themselves.
Handling your cell phone in the saddle – is that okay??
The cell phone at the ear is forbidden not only in the car, but also on the saddle, as well as "times fast" a Whatsapp send or even a selfie shoot. If you get caught, you pay 55 euros. However, it is okay to use the phone if it is attached with a special mount so that the cyclist has both hands free. Then, for example, it is allowed to find the way by navi.
It is also okay to make phone calls, either shouting loudly via the hands-free function or using a headset. Nevertheless, you have to keep an eye on the traffic of course. If you are too distracted by your cell phone, you may be partially at fault in the event of an accident.
May cyclists ride side by side?
Even if it drives some drivers crazy: Cyclists do not necessarily have to ride behind each other, but may also ride two abreast if they do not obstruct traffic and approaching cars can overtake them without any problems. This is expressly stated in the road traffic regulations.
For groups of 16 or more people it makes sense to ride in two rows, because it is easier to overtake a group of cyclists than an endless row of single cyclists. In designated bicycle lanes, more than two riders are still allowed to ride in parallel.
In practice, however, on normal roads you usually have to ride one behind the other, because otherwise you will obstruct the traffic. In traffic-calmed zones and on bicycle lanes, on the other hand, it is practically always possible to ride side by side, because car drivers are not allowed to overtake here anyway.
Do you have to use the cycle path??
Not every bike lane has to be used, even though both cyclists and motorists often think so. This is only obligatory if it is marked by the cycle path sign with the white bike on a blue background (a bicycle symbol on the road is not sufficient).
Even with this signage, cyclists are still sometimes allowed to ride on the road: Namely, whenever the bike lane is objectively unusable or unreasonable. This would be the case, for example, if it becomes an obstacle course due to potholes and breaking roots, if it is completely icy in winter, or if parked cars or construction sites make it impossible to get through.
In such situations, however, it always depends on the individual case. The fact that a sporty racing cyclist is not fast enough on the bike path and therefore ruins his training time is not an argument.
More on the topic
Children's bikes from Puky made in North Rhine-Westphalia: Great riding fun for the little ones
Alcohol in road traffic: These are the blood-alcohol limits in Germany
What applies to e-bikes?
Unfortunately, there is often a little confusion here due to the use of language: Colloquially, every bicycle with an electric motor is called an "e-bike". But for lawmakers, e-bikes are only models for which you need insurance and a driver's license, which drive even when you're not pedaling, and which also don't go faster than 25 kilometers per hour – in other words, a kind of electric moped.
Signage on some bike paths indicating that e-bikes are allowed to ride here as well. If, on the other hand, you ride a so-called S-class e-bike, with which you can even reach 45 kilometers per hour, you are not allowed to ride on such bike lanes, despite the e-bike signs, but must abide by the regulations for car drivers.
For the vast majority of electric cyclists, however, this is completely irrelevant. Practically all e-bikes on the market are classic pedelecs, which you can ride without a driver's license, insurance or helmet, and which only work when you pedal hard. They are considered bicycles from a road traffic point of view. And therefore the normal rules apply to them just like to any other bike.
And what about the green arrow at the traffic light?
At some traffic lights there is a green turn arrow made of sheet metal despite a red light. It now also applies to bicycle traffic, not only to car traffic. In addition, there have been special green arrows for cyclists only for some time now. In both cases, the following applies: First you have to stop briefly, then you may turn right, provided everything is clear.