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Old 2004-03-10, 12:37 PM   #1
ned
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does a unicycle count as a bike

hello can anyone tell me if a unicycle counts as a bike (legally) in the uk. in other words do you have to ride a uni on the road or can you ride on the pavement.

thanks

Last edited by ned; 2004-03-10 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 2004-03-10, 01:02 PM   #2
nickjb
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Yes it does.

Under the UK road traffic act Pedal cycle are defined as "unicycles, bicycles, tricycles and pedal cycles of four wheels or more". 'Unicycles' were added to this definition fairly recently. IIRC there is a minimum wheel size so very small wheeled unicycles might not count. Police don't seem very clued up on the law and I don't think anyone riding normally (not doing street tricks) has had any trouble while riding on the pavement.

Most of us make a judgement call as to what is safer for us, other road users and pedestrians and ride accordingly.

HTH
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Old 2004-03-10, 01:12 PM   #3
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What about in the US? It's obviously a state by state thing. I always understood it as a bike is defined as having a drivetrain.

The place I ride the most has signs saying no bikes or rollerblades, and I've always ignored them. I've even had cops come and watch me ride without so much as a word about it, so I assume I'm ok.
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Old 2004-03-10, 01:19 PM   #4
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IIRC someone in Utah had a bit of trouble
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Old 2004-03-10, 01:49 PM   #5
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Because unicyles aren't specifically written into most pedestrian & traffic laws in the US, the comparison to a bicycle is completely open to interpretation by law enforcement.

Sometimes this can be a real pain, while at other times it's a boon.
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Old 2004-03-10, 03:21 PM   #6
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I can make a pretty good case about being a pedestrian in Utah. Never had to back it up though. The cops don't seem to care.
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Old 2004-03-11, 10:53 PM   #7
Danny Colyer
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Re: does a unicycle count as a bike

nickjb wrote:
> Yes it does.
>
> Under the UK road traffic act Pedal cycle are defined as "unicycles,
> bicycles, tricycles and pedal cycles of four wheels or more".


Not quite. The Road Traffic Act 1988 (section 192) defines a cycle as
"a bicycle, tricycle, or cycle having four or more wheels, not being in
any case mechanically propelled".

The Road Traffic Act 1991 does not define a cycle, as far as I can see,
effectively retaining the definition from the RTA 1988.

> 'Unicycles' were added to this definition fairly recently.


The Traffic Sign Regulations 1994 (Statutory Instrument 1519, not
actually an Act of Parliament) define a cycle as "a unicycle, bicycle,
tricycle, or cycle having four or more wheels, not being in any case
mechanically propelled". I don't believe (though I'd have to read the
SI again to be sure) that this affects the definition wrt any other
acts. I believe there have been other acts since that use the older
definition.

It's not entirely clear, but I now believe (and IANAL) that the
definition that includes unicycles would only be valid when referring to
acts that specifically define a unicycle as a cycle. In other words,
unicyclists are required to obey traffic signs, but are not otherwise
bound by the RTA.

> IIRC there
> is a minimum wheel size so very small wheeled unicycles might not
> count.


I've been hearing and reading rumours (popular among riders of folding
bikes) for years that cycles with wheels of 20" or less are legally
allowed to ride on the pavement (US - sidewalk). But I've never seen
any real evidence for it. I certainly couldn't find anything about it
in the RTA 1988. I'd love to know exactly which act (and whereabouts in
the act) small wheels are exempted from the law on pavement cycling, if
it's true.

Of course, it's quite possible that it's covered by the 1835 Highway
Act, which I have never been able to find online. FWIW, all acts of the
UK Parliament since 1988 are available at
url:http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/acts.htm

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Old 2004-03-12, 09:09 AM   #8
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Re: Re: does a unicycle count as a bike

Quote:
Originally posted by Danny Colyer
I've been hearing and reading rumours (popular among riders of folding
bikes) for years that cycles with wheels of 20" or less are legally
allowed to ride on the pavement (US - sidewalk). But I've never seen
any real evidence for it. I certainly couldn't find anything about it
in the RTA 1988. I'd love to know exactly which act (and whereabouts in
the act) small wheels are exempted from the law on pavement cycling, if
it's true.

Of course, it's quite possible that it's covered by the 1835 Highway
Act, which I have never been able to find online. FWIW, all acts of the
UK Parliament since 1988 are available at
url:http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/acts.htm



[/B]
I just had a quick look for this one and it seems it is mentioned European safety regulations. Bikes with certain size wheels and certain saddle heights are exempt from some safety and perfomance requirements. It also says that it does not apply to bicycle designed for 'stunting'

These ones came up but I haven't read them through : EN71, EN14764, EN14765.

You could probably ride one without a bell and reflectors

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Old 2004-03-12, 07:38 PM   #9
Danny Colyer
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Re: does a unicycle count as a bike

nickjb wrote:
> I just had a quick look for this one and it seems it is mentioned
> European safety regulations. Bikes with certain size wheels and
> certain saddle heights are exempt from some safety and perfomance
> requirements. It also says that it does not apply to bicycle designed
> for 'stunting'
>
> These ones came up but I haven't read them through : EN71, EN14764,
> EN14765.


Thanks, I never thought about checking European legislation. I'll have
a look at them sometime.

I thought a lot more overnight about the question of whether a unicycle
can be ridden on the footway, and I came to the conclusion that the
defintions in the 1988 RTA and the 1994 Traffic Sign Regulations are
probably completely irrelevant as far as this question is concerned.
What matters is the 1835 Highways Act.

AIUI, the HA makes it an offence to drive a carriage on the pavement. I
found the following extract at
url:http://www.spokeseastkent.org.uk/secret.htm :

"If any persons shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the
side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot
passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule,
swine or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge,
upon any such footpath, or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass,
mule, swine or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the
tethered animal to be thereon............ every person so offending in
any of the cases aforesaid shall for each and every such offence forfeit
and pay any sum not exceeding (level 2 on the standard scale) over and
above the damages occasioned."

So what matters is how the HA defines a carriage. Although the act
predates the bicycle, it's generally accepted that bicycles are covered
by carriage (along with prams, pushchairs and wheelchairs). I should
imagine the wording of the definition would probably cover unicycles as
well, but I've never been able to find that definition.

Does anyone here have access to a good university library in the UK?
Particularly anyone whose university does a law course? Maybe you could
find the act?

When the new spot fines for pavement cycling were introduced in 1999, I
read that the HA had to be updated to allow it. I suspect the change
was probably just to increase the allowable fine. The relevant
legislation is apparently
url:http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/s...9/19991851.htm , which
specifically makes pavement cycling an offence under the Road Traffic
Offenders Act 1988 (i.e. it redefines the fine).

BTW, there was another Highway Act in 1980, which I know next to nothing
about. I expect I would have read about it many times if it had any
significant impact on cycling, though.

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