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Old 13th May 2008   #1
Velocio's Avatar
Cycling and the law

Richmond Park and the 20mph limit... I asked a lawyer about this a while ago and in response to the 60 London Dynamo riders on a Saturday morning this was his view:
Originally Posted by a lawyer
Just off the top of my head, as I don't have immediate access to an updated version of the Road Traffic Act 1988, I'd call your attention to section 29:

Originally Posted by HMSO
If a person rides a cycle on a road without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road, he is guilty of an offence. In this section "road" includes a bridleway.
It's arguable that a group of 60 or more cyclists cycling together would be failing to have reasonable consideration for other persons using the road. If it were Scotland, you'd face a host of common law offences too, from breach of the peace to mobbing. I can't comment on what the English equivalents would be though. You could also have section 163(2) and (3): a person riding a cycle on a road must stop if required to do so by a constable in uniform, and commits an offence if he does not do so.

More interestingly, I thought there might be Park byelaws but it transpires that Richmond Park is a Royal Park and so it's regulated by secondary legislation instead, which is helpful as it means HMSO publishes the Regulations: The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997. They were amended in 2004 to reduce the speed limit in Richmond Park to 20 mph.

I call your attention to Regulation 3 (acts prohibited in the park), in particular:

  • Reg. 3(1) (intentionally or recklessly interfering with the safety, comfort or convenience of any person using a Park in accordance with these Regulations)
  • Reg. 3(9) (failing to comply with any direction for the regulation or control of... (a) horses or pedal cycles... given by a constable or by a notice exhibited by order of the Secretary of State)
  • Reg. 3(10) (using any pedal cycle... in any manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any person)
  • Reg. 3(16) (failing to comply with a reasonable direction given by a constable to leave a Park or any part thereof)

Regulation 3(9) is a constable's authority under the law to give directions for the regulation or control of pedal cycles. Compare this with regulation 3(16) which has to be a reasonable direction. Interestingly, the Regulations only give power to demand your name and address (reg. 5), so the police must presumably be intending to rely on sections 29 and 163 of the Road Traffic Act which allow arrest if you fail to supply that information, if I remember correctly.

On balance, I'd say the facts you described give rise to potential breaches of section 29 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, as well as the general regulation 3(1) and the more specific regulations 3(9) and (10) of the The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997, with potentially regulation 3(16) thrown in for good measure.

Breach of the RTA are punished under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988: Schedule 1 lays out the maxima, but the relevant ones are section 29 offences (level 1 i.e. 200) and section 163 offences (level 3 i.e. 1,000). I was struggling to find out how breaches of the Royal Parks Regulations were punished, but it's done under the Parks Regulation Act 1872 and the Parks Regulation (Amendment) Act 1926, section 2(1) of which provides that contravening the Regulations is an offence against the 1872 Act and is punishable by a level 1 (200) fine.

I thought they'd moved the fines levels up, but I can't see anything to show this. Anyway, have fun...! The 'just off the top of my head' bit is now wrong, as I had to log in to various things to pull up the pre-1987 legislation.
Basically you can be done for speeding in a Royal Park, and if you're stopped by a policeman it would be an offence to not do anything reasonable asked by him (i.e. slow down, or leave the park).

On consuming alcohol and cycling, I'd asserted that you couldn't be done as you weren't in charge of a motorised vehicle, but the correct answer was:
Originally Posted by a lawyer
RTA 1988 s. 30(1) covers cycling while under the influence of drink or drugs. It provides that:

A person who, when riding a cycle on a road or other public place, is unfit to ride through drink or drugs (that is to say, is under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle) is guilty of an offence.
which is a rather less stringent test than motorists having to have less than a certain proportion of alcohol in blood. There's always still the general offences of dangerous cycling and careless and inconsiderate cycling (ss. 28 and 29) too. I've not been able to find any reported cases of prosecutions for cycling while under the influence, but the odds are that they wouldn't make it into the law reports anyway.
Which basically means you can drink providing you have retained control of your bicycle and aren't doing a murtle (as it's known).

Any other legal clarifications that we know to these kind of assumptions/questions?
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