Police vs handle bars

Yesterday during a group training we were riding up a steep one-way street and in a street to the left a police van waited for us to pass by.
I installed a Qa-Ax handle bar just one day before the ride and covered it in yellow tape so it matches the back black-yellow color scheme.
Due to the yellow color it stands out well against my black riding attire.

As I passed in front of the police van I heard: “If you have a “stuur” you should hold it”.
Stuur is the Dutch word for the steering wheel in your car as well as for the handlebars on a bike.

I think the comment was in jest and I found it a superb comment but all in all it got me wondering.

On a bike you are obliged to have your hands on the handle bars.
So if your unicycle has a handle bar, are you obliged to hold it?
You could still argue it is not a “stuur” but it sure looks like it.

Technically, in Belgium a unicycle is not a bike so it would not apply anyway.
But perhaps in countries where unicycles are considered bikes and the “hold the handlebars” applies?

Has anyone ever gotten the same comment from the police?

Wow, something about Belgian law that I never knew! In NYC, bike laws are unenforced most of the time, but every now and then there is a wave of ticketing. A friend who ran a red light on his bike told me it’s $250 for the first offense, then $500, then $1000. Another friend was actually arrested on the Upper East Side because he had a lot of unpaid bike tickets, and he told me the cops inside the police station were giving each other fascist salutes. A book I read makes a similar claim about the Highway Patrol in New Jersey. Anyway, unicycles, unless the law has changed recently, are not considered bikes here, but I have met several unicyclists who got ticketed for riding a “bike” on the sidewalk anyway. Those who went to court always won, but not everybody has time to go to court. In practice, I guess a bike is whatever a cop decides it is! Lately, there has also been a proliferation of e-bikes, scooters, one-wheeled skateboards, electric skateboards, electric unicycles and so on, and law enforcement is undoubtedly beefing up its legal toolbox so as to be able to issue fines for all of these new vehicles. The officer who shouted at you about your handlebars may have been invoking some new law or some new directive from the high command, but of course I am only guessing.

I also don’t know the answer to your question about handlebars. My unis don’t have them, and anyway there’s no law about handlebars around here, as far as I know.

Same applies to anything that might be a weapon, so always be nice to the cops! :astonished:

If one runs into someone questioning bike laws in relation to unicycle handlebars, one can point out that the handlebars don’t steer the thing. If they don’t agree with you, ask them to demonstrate.

Don’t ask a cop to demonstrate.

I wouldn’t worry about it, but I don’t do much urban riding.

“No need to fine me officer. I am already behind bars.”

No, but I find the police in Brussels a bunch of childish idiots and corrupt liars.
And that’s exactly what I wrote them in return of the ticket at the bottom (so the order of this is odd - because of the attachment).

I found it dissapointing to never have received a follow-up or apologies.

Big town cops can be hard to deal with indeed.
Especially when they are insecure about the regulations; then whatever is in their head you will have to deal with.

I mostly ride in the smaller villages / country roads and come across police vans every 4th ride or so.
Apart from the “stuur” comment I never got any remark.
Perhaps because on these roads typically there is no pavement or bicycle lane.

I’ve very rarely gotten comments from police. I don’t think there are clear regulations on unicycles anywhere in the world (why should there be, it’s way too uncommon of a transportation device), so my recommendation is: don’t argue with them, just tell them straight up: “I’m sorry, I wasn’t sure of the exact regulations.” Then do whatever they tell you until you’re sure they are gone, and then go back to doing what you think is safe (for yourself and others). So far, that has worked 100% of the time for me.
I’ve never heard anyone getting away from a ticket with arguing, but being friendly, explaining why you did what you did, and accepting what they say might work. Funnily enough I’ve been moved from the bike lane to the sidewalk, and vice versa from police before.

I’ve even been let of with a warning for using my phone, on a bike, on a sidewalk (double illegal, but no one was in danger). I told them: “I’m sorry, I needed to answer this call, the sidewalk was empty, so I moved over there and proceeded to ride slowly since there was no one around. Next time I’ll dismount and push my bike.” The consequences are pretty high here in germany, you can actually get points on your drivers license from breaking trafic laws on a bicycle (Horribly unfair I think). I think most policemen think those punishments are a bit high too, so they don’t hand out tickets unless you are really doing stupid things.

Yeah, a guy from the Bronx told me the cops yelled at him to ride his unicycle on the sidewalk and not in the street because he was holding up traffic, but then a few days later some other cops saw him riding on the sidewalk and wrote him a ticket.

That’s probably the best general advice you can give for riding in most places in the world.

Are you not on public roadways where you might be ticketed? It should be considered all the same thing, long as the police apply it sparingly, as you mentioned. I’m not an expert on the ins and outs of driving in Germany, but I know your country has some of the best-trained and most skilled drivers, and a culture that rewards people for following the rules. You set an example the rest of the world mostly doesn’t meet. :slight_smile:

Each of those situations is probably linked to the larger picture of the traffic situation at that moment. Busy street traffic; unicyclist is slowing traffic (potentially dangerous situation). Later riding on the sidewalk, possibly without busy traffic on the street… I’m not saying it was consistent, but it may have made sense from an immediate safety standpoint… :thinking:

I’m trying to collect tickets for both, so I can wear them left and right, and pull the opposite one as soon I get the next one.
But ever since I’m begging for tickets, they feel suspicious and I never got one anymore.

Do we want a geared long distance unicycle on the sidewalk? I guess not.
Do we want young learners on the road? I guess also not.
Let’s use common sense; before you cause undesired law.
So if you end up in a discussion, then be constructive to others.

And please don’t make any deadly incident; cause those statistics is what I often use as argument to put the true danger factor in perspective.

There are explicit rules in most (if not all) states of Australia though they do vary from state to state. These rules are quoted from the Road Rules for New South Wales.

A couple of weekends ago I operated my 36er on a road for 30 km as part of a “Ride For Life” event (promoting organ donation.) The road was divided in places and had speed limits of up to 100 kph. I was clearly breaking the law though I fitted in with the ride quite well.

On an 80 kph section I was overtaken by a motorcycle police officer who was presumably escorting the ride. A little further on he was stopped on the side of the road as I passed by. Moments later he overtook me again and kept going.

He was probably just curious. Would have been seen as poor form to ticket me in an event like that.

It has slowly started to get darker in the evenings here. I have been a little caught of guard by this, since up until recently it has remained very light until quite late.

Anyway I was out for a ride the other day and on the way back I realised it was dark enough that I should probably have had lights on. I have clip on lights but they were not with me, since I had not expected that I would need them.

I was cycling on the pavement (side walk for “American English” speakers) at the time and since it was a little bumpy, I decided to drop onto the road. This might seem counter-intuitive (given the lack of lights) but there was not a single car in sight and I was more concerned with increasing my speed, so that I could get back before it got a lot darker.

I only saw one vehicle on the way back. A van heading towards me. As they drew closer I realised it was a police van. :slight_smile:

Luckily, they didn’t stop or acknowledge me at all. I’ll admit I was a little unsure how I would explain away being on the road without lights on a unicycle. Whilst I still felt pretty safe at that stage, I wasn’t sure if an officer with no familiarity with unicycling or my competence would see it quite the same way.

I havent ever been stopped by the police but did do some research and sent an email to police HQ in the netherlands just to have something for backup. Im certain there are cops who dont know the specific rules and im sure they can be made aware. Just like peeps on inline skates i can ride on both the road and the pavement, depending on my speed and i suppose as long as i dont hinder traffic.

Though if there are areas where bikes arent allowed bc of dangerous situations you could be responsible and question what impact riding a uni in the same area might have and compared to ur own control of course.

Someone who runs a red light in a car or truck is quite possibly endangering the lives and property of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists. Making bicyclists (or unicyclists!) pay the same fine for running a red light is ridiculous! People sometimes get hit and killed by bikes, but it is extremely rare. Hit and killed by a unicycle? I doubt it has ever happened!

Obviously with a G36 it is usually better to stay off the sidewalk, but this is common sense. If traffic laws were ever written for unicycles of differing wheel sizes, it would only lead to extra police harassment. The less they notice us, the better off we will be.

I have seen cops stake out a spot on a street that had high-speed car traffic going uphill and almost zero pedestrians because it was on a bridge. The cops knew that bicyclists, fearing for their lives, often rode on the sidewalk at that spot, so they deliberately picked it for a sting operation!

Same fine for bikes/unicycles vs. cars? No. It should be based on mass/kinetic energy. Bike, not so much. Small car, more. Big car, more. Big truck, even more!