What you need to ride a bike in France

Mass transportation strikes are prompting many Parisians to take to cycling to get around - but before you hop on a bike, check what the legal requirements for cyclists are.

What you need to ride a bike in France

If you're riding a bike on the roads in France you are covered by the Highway Code so need to make sure you are obeying the law.

The law in France states that to ride on a public highway you must have;

A high-vis vest or jacket if you are riding at night or in poor visibility

A working bell – so you can alert other road users to your presence. It should have a radius of 50m

Functioning lights – white at the front and red at the back

A helmet – but only if you are under the age of 12. Cycling helmets are not compulsory for adults or teenagers, although the government does advise wearing one, pointing out that they reduce the severity of head injuries in the case of an accident.

Any parent or carer who allows their child under the age of 12 to cycle on the road without a helmet faces a fine of €375.

If you do not have a working bell or lights you can be fined €33, while the lack of high-vis clothing could cost you €75. 

It's also worth pointing out that it is illegal to wear headphones while cycling, and also to use your mobile phone.

Not compulsory but recommended are reflectors,  mirrors and the wearing of light-coloured clothing while cycling, top make you more visible.

The government also suggests that cyclists monitor the condition of their tyres and avoid clothing that is either long – such as a scarf or floor length skirt – or potentially destablising such as a shoulder bag.

One more thing that you will need to cycle in Paris is a certain amount of courage.

The city's drivers have quite the reputation and while things are getting better as more people cycle and more cycle lanes are built, you need to expect that not everyone will obey the rules and some people will beep or shout at you.

Bon courage!

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