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    Bicycling laws in France, Belgium & The Netherlands

    I shall be departing on a trip through France, Belgium & The Netherlands soon and I was hoping someone could advise me (or post links) the cycling laws of each of those countries.

    In particular I'd like to know if helmets are compulsory and which type of roads bicycles are allowed to cycle on (for example, in the UK all roads are OK apart from motorways). Moreover, are there any laws that are particular for the country, e.g. France has something about wearing a reflective vest?

    Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

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    Senior Member flavio's Avatar
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    I suggest to use always the helmet, to turn on the front and rear lights [if possible] in the day and in the night, and to wear something which is reflective in the night. Also, avoid always routes with traffic.

    If laws are different country by country don't worry, privilege your own safety and apply the safest.

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    Of course common sense dictates using lights and being as visible as possible is a must. Helmets are another thing. I don't personally use one but I will if the laws of the country I am journeying through demand it. Avoiding routes with traffic? I am not going to be so naive to think I can get from France to The Netherlands without having to deal with traffic at some point. What I am asking is which road I am not allowed to cycle on in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. I may be in a situation where I have no choice and I would be grateful if someone could point me to where I can know my options.

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    Senior Member Cedfromfrance's Avatar
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    Hi, I live and cycle in France. Helmets are not obligatory here, nor any particular clothes... However as Flavio rightly says, you should privilege your own safety, and I would say that 80% of cyclists in France use helmets, and reflective vest when the weather is not so good.
    What part of France are you planning to visit ? (I live near Albertville), If I can be of any help please let me know.

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    http://maps.google.be/maps?q=belgium...-8&sa=N&tab=wl

    Highways (E and A numbered streets) are forbidden for bikes. All the others are fine, except were signed.

    http://www.fietsnet.be/routeplanner/default.aspx could be interesting for planning your trip. I know the site is in Dutch, but it's pretty self-explanatory. Signs like this http://www.google.be/images?q=fietsk...N&hl=nl&tab=wi are planted all around the Flemish part of Belgium (upperside that is). A lot of them are on bike friendly roads.

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    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedfromfrance View Post
    Hi, I live and cycle in France. Helmets are not obligatory here, nor any particular clothes... However as Flavio rightly says, you should privilege your own safety, and I would say that 80% of cyclists in France use helmets, and reflective vest when the weather is not so good.
    What part of France are you planning to visit ? (I live near Albertville), If I can be of any help please let me know.
    Ced.. Seems I recall, reflective vests are mandatory in dark conditions.. If you don't have one on, the police could ticket you...
    .. You can't cycle on E roads. Other than following the rules of the road of which cars must abide- that is about it..
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    ^ Since June 16, 2011

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    Most important ones in Belgium:

    - We cycle at the righthandside of the road expect where stated differently.
    - A bell is mandatory (hearable at a distance of 20 meter).
    - Two functioning brakes (on front and rear wheel).
    - Reflectors on the wheels or tires.
    - A white reflector at the front.
    - Lights must only be present and working from sunset to sunrise or when sight is limited to 200 meter. A white / yellow light at the front and a red one at the rear. The lights may be blinking and don't have to be attached to the bike itself, but may also be fixed to the rider.

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    Senior Member flavio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rotarblader View Post
    ...Avoiding routes with traffic? I am not going to be so naive to think I can get from France to The Netherlands without having to deal with traffic at some point...
    Believe me, I went from Northern Italy to Netherlands in 2008, and to Denmark in 2009: both trips were almost all along quasi-zero-traffic routes. Obviously it is necessary to accept some curves and some ascents more; if one looks for the straightest and fastest roads, it's impossible to avoid the traffic.
    So I studied with attention the maps and the guide books; at the end we found only few kms in traffic roads, which were signed in the guide books with yellow/red sign. It is often possible to jump them using trains or, in the Alps, shuttle buses (I learned they are there exactly for the cyclists who pass some dangerous points in the Alps where cycle paths are missing); I'll do these jumps, this year.

    From France border to Netherlands I think this could be useful also, in addition to the links which were previously written:
    http://www.northsea-cycle.com/
    It's a 6000 km long cycle route, all around North Sea; it seems to follow small and quiet roads only. The part which is in Belgium and Netherlands could be for you.

    Instead inside France I don't know long distance cycle paths. Maybe they are missing, maybe not...
    Last edited by flavio; 05-30-10 at 01:16 PM.

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    Senior Member Cedfromfrance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
    Ced.. Seems I recall, reflective vests are mandatory in dark conditions.. If you don't have one on, the police could ticket you...
    .. You can't cycle on E roads. Other than following the rules of the road of which cars must abide- that is about it..
    This is common sense that if you cycle at night, you'd better wear a reflective vest and possess lights on your bike, This is not allowed to cycle without it at night, thanks Sir

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rotarblader View Post
    I shall be departing on a trip through France, Belgium & The Netherlands soon and I was hoping someone could advise me (or post links) the cycling laws of each of those countries.

    In particular I'd like to know if helmets are compulsory and which type of roads bicycles are allowed to cycle on (for example, in the UK all roads are OK apart from motorways). Moreover, are there any laws that are particular for the country, e.g. France has something about wearing a reflective vest?

    Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
    no.

  11. #11
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedfromfrance View Post
    This is common sense that if you cycle at night, you'd better wear a reflective vest and possess lights on your bike, This is not allowed to cycle without it at night, thanks Sir
    French law requires motorists to carry reflectorized vests within their cars as standard equiptment to be used during emergencies.. Rental cars companies will provide their customers with vests.. Certainly justification for cyclists to do the same ..
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living









    ^ Since June 16, 2011

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    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    There's not much difference between cycling in the UK and on the continent in the countries you suggested, and there are no helmet laws in any of those. One general driving rule that is different (at least in France and Switzerland, not sure about the rest of Europe) is to yield/give way to traffic approaching from the right, even if you are going straight on a more major road. This rule only doesn't apply if the intersection or road you are on is clearly marked otherwise, which is communicated using yellow diamond road signs, see this page for more info.

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    Senior Member stevenc's Avatar
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    There is an exception to the 'obligatory lights' rule: a racing or mountain bike doesn't need lights/reflectors front/back. But in that case you cannot ride when it's dark of course. See full description here (Google Translate does a good job...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
    French law requires motorists to carry reflectorized vests within their cars as standard equiptment to be used during emergencies.. Rental cars companies will provide their customers with vests.. Certainly justification for cyclists to do the same ..
    The reflective vest for bikes is mandatory only at dawn and dusk and if you're out of city limits.
    Reflective sproket thingy mandatory on both wheels and pedals, as well as front an rear light.
    Note that depending on the interpretation of the law, lights should be steady, not blinking, though I've never seen nor heard of anyone getting in trouble for using blinking lights.

    Some cities have a "reverse one-way", i.e. bike can go against traffic in one-way roads, provided, the bike lane is there and the mandatory sign post is present at the entrance of the street.

    No riding on sidewalks. You should hand push the bike. No bikes on highways or speedways

    reagarding bike lanes. There are two types of indication of bike lane: square or round ; both are blue. The round one indicates a mandatory bike lane, while the square one is a recommended bike lane

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rotarblader View Post
    I shall be departing on a trip through France, Belgium & The Netherlands soon and I was hoping someone could advise me (or post links) the cycling laws of each of those countries.

    In particular I'd like to know if helmets are compulsory and which type of roads bicycles are allowed to cycle on (for example, in the UK all roads are OK apart from motorways). Moreover, are there any laws that are particular for the country, e.g. France has something about wearing a reflective vest?

    Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
    I've never cycled in The Netherlands or Belgium but I have toured many times in France.

    No you don't have to wear a helmet in France. As far as I know you are only required to do so in Spain.

    The only roads you can't cycle on are the motorways.

    I have never seen french cyclists wearing anything special.

    As always common sense applies.

    You should have got back from your tour by now. Did you fall foul of the law?
    History is the future

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