Taking advantages of loopholes...

My cousin just sent me a link to this image, which was on Mandatory.com. Always a favorite thought of mine as a unicyclist; to ride, or not to ride where it doesn’t say you can’t?

What do you think?

I’ve actually avoided tickets, and potential arrest, in Richmond, Virginia because of similar circumstance. Based upon state law in Virginia, a unicycle is considered a pedestrian. Basically, if you can walk there, I can ride there. I mostly ride muni now, so this law is rather irrelevant. However, when I first started riding, big street was my main focus. I have two memorable experiences where knowing that a unicycle was technically a pedestrian saved me from being ticketed, or arrested. First one, me and a couple of skater buddies were sessioning a popular street spot in downtown RVA. Clearly posted, no skateboarding, BMX, inline. Even though it was posted, it was one if the most popular skateboarding spots in town. We’d been there for maybe 10 minutes, and a couple of really polite cops showed up. They told us we had to leave. I was quite literally seconds away from crankflipping my first 5- stair, so I told them the truth; I don’t have to leave, a unicycle is considered a pedestrian in Virginia, pedestrians are allowed here. They left, came back a few minutes later and chased my skater friends off. They both shook my hand, thanked me for knowing the law, and left me alone. Honestly probably one of my most respectable unicycle moments ever. Second moment wasn’t quite as extreme, but still pretty enjoyable. The zombie walk is an annual Halloween event in Richmond, VA every year. Dress up as zombies and walk down and back through one of our most popular retail areas called Carytown. I decided to do it as a unicycling zombie a couple of years ago. A cop tried to tell me I had to walk. I told him, rather politely, that a unicycle was technically a pedestrian. He left for a few minutes, came back and told me to have a good time and left me alone.

I used to carry around a card in my wallet with the states definition of a bicycle in case I ran into an issue.

However, I’ve since grown up a bit and come to realize what the intent behind that type of signage is. Just because a unicycle isn’t explicitly listed, doesn’t make it okay.

Are they supposed to list every wheeled vehicle out there? Tricycles? Street louges? Segways?

This is an important discussion that we as unicyclist have to have. Where I live it is also timely.

My state of New South Wales, Australia recently introduced controversial laws for cyclists to carry photo ID while they raised the penalties on a range of cycling-related laws. (eg $400+ for not wearing a helmet). This has brought the issue sharply to focus.

It has no effect on unicycles because a bicycle is defined as having “two or more wheels” and being “driven primarily by human power via belt or chain” and specifically excludes unicycles and other “wheeled recreational devices”.

The laws specifically state that unicycle is not a “vehicle” and a unicyclist is not a “rider”. A unicyclist is “a pedestrian operating a wheeled recreational device”. This places unicycles in the same category as skates, skateboards and scooters. It allows me to ride on the footpath, on streets without marked lanes and a speed limit not exceeding 50 KPH.

I expect the people who wrote the laws contemplated the unicycles they had seen in circuses, never having contemplated a unicyclist doing 20 KPH on 29 inch uni along a footpath. I can find no speed limits imposed on footpaths for anything. Sports unicycling on falls into the cracks because it is so uncommon. As pioneers of this sport, we should be discussing where we are going legally, because riders of our bigger unis are going to eventually fall foul of the intent of the laws.

Personally I’m happy to forgo riding on major streets and roads and ride at an unlimited speed o the footpath;). I don’t want to see these laws revised to force us off the footpaths. Consequently I avoid unnecessarily testing the definition, tending to read “skateboard” as “wheeled recreational device” and don’t usually go where skateboards are prohibited.

On the other hand I have occasionally received disparaging comments from pedestrians who assume I am riding illegally on the footpath. Also from motorist interactions at pedestrian crossings suggest the believe I am bound by the rules of a bicycle and should dismount on a crossing.

In fact the law states that I must cross roads “taking no longer than necessary”. Since I can “operate the device” to cross the road faster than I can walk, I am hence instructed to operate the device as I cross the road. Note, not “ride” across, since I am not, by nominated exclusion in the legislation, a “rider”.

At the other end of the scale I know there are unicyclists who do ride big unis on busy streets in defiance of the law. I don’t see why they should be discriminated against because they are no more a problem in traffic than a cyclist, indeed often much less. Maybe there will be ultimately be a compromise with big wheels allowed to be treated as a bicycle and swap the highway for the footpath.

It would seem inevitable that the law would be reviewed but the trivial numbers of riders affected have always put the issue under the legislative radar.

With the raised profile of laws and cycling, attention could well fall on unicycling, precisely because we represent the middle ground between cycling and walking laws. A Sydney newspaper did an article on unicycling when the new bicycle laws came in. Sadly, they misreported unicycles as “wheeled recreational vehicles”.

Best we be prepared to present a case to legislators when called upon. It would be interesting to hear from riders where other jurisdictions are going. NSW is part of a unified set of Australian State Codes. Changing in that jurisdiction will involve changing laws in six states so it won’t happen overnight, but it could happen.

How would you like to see the laws change?

What do you think the intent behind that sign is? In general the listed activities are a hazard to pedestrians in a way riding a unicycle normally isn’t (well that or the person/organization putting up such signs is just being a killjoy and should be ignored for that reason). Looking at the photo posted up there - exactly what harm is the unicyclist doing? Personally I figure that apart from on my Schlumpf (where I take a slightly different attitude) I’m going no faster on a uni than I can run and I’m in just as much control and just as manoeuvrable, so anywhere I’m allowed to run is fair game - which is pretty much anywhere pedestrians are allowed.

I seem to be the first poster from the UK, where the law isn’t very clearly defined regarding unicyclists - I think this works in our favour, and in general you can do what you like (I ride on roads and footpaths depending on what I feel is most suitable - though of course here there is also no law preventing pedestrians from using the road). On the local hills there are some paths which have “no cycling signs” (which appears to include unicycles, and the associated bylaws certainly do), which I’ll only ignore on a bicycle at night or in winter when I’m confident of not meeting anybody else - on a unicycle I’m not so bothered, and it appears that most people aren’t either.

In fact ironically the only 2 times I can think of when anybody has been bothered about me riding somewhere I’ve been on an explicit shared use path where I have a right to be however a uni is classified - and the people complaining have had uncontrolled dogs hence have been breaking the law themselves!

IMHO the only law we should make sure not to break is Wheaton’s law.

I absolutely love the UK laws. vague enough to help me in just about any situation :smiley:

I tend to ride my smaller uni (24") on pavements, my 29er on both, and my 36er on road-only. My local police chief actually told me publically that I am 100% road-legal, as long as I’m riding safe and have the relevant gear (lights/reflectors), so I’m trusting him on it as it’ll be his crew that pull me over.

As for riding on ‘no cycling’ zones… I’ve never come across one, aside from things like supermarket car parks, where it’d be stupid to ride anyway.

Really? I did quite a bit of my learning in supermarket car parks!

Here in Quebec we’re not legally bikes, as bikes are never defined in the road usage laws… But a unicycle is not a bike by standard definition, therefore we’re not legally bikes, and I know it’s gone to court once, and the unicyclist won (Anyone here remember Merde-Mental?)

On the downside, I know someone here who was warned not to ride on one of the highways because a unicycle is a “toy” and not a bike (which are legal on the highway he was riding alongside). Ticked him off as he had ridden something like 50 miles that day on his “toy” (29"? I think?) uni :stuck_out_tongue:

I think that would be a good solution. I own both a 26" and 36" uni. The 26 is too slow to ride in traffic anyway, so I happily ride it on the footpath and do everything that a pedestrian would do. The 36, however, is big and fast enough that I feel it is more appropriate to ride it like a bike. I have all the legal bits and pieces attached (brake, bell, lights, rear reflector) just in case, because hey, this is Sydney. If I’m stopped by a cop I don’t want to debate the finer points of whether a unicycle is a bicycle.

I haven’t had any problems yet but I do live out in the 'burbs. I would not be keen to take my 36er through the city centre at the moment with the heightened police focus on cyclists.

I would be a sad day for me if I had to give up riding my 36, which is my favourite wheel, but it does represent a bit of a grey area right now. One day I’d like to gear it up, which will make the situation even more interesting.

As far as muni riding, I don’t try and split hairs. If a mtb is permitted than you can ride a muni. If bikes aren’t allowed then I don’t.

I think in most cases a sign like that is basically saying that only walking is allowed.

Also, I can’t see how rollerblading, rollerskating, or skateboarding, are more or less obtrusive than Unicycling. I’d say they’re pretty close to the same.

That said, unicyclists can get away with a lot because most people are surprised by what we do. But if it’s posted like that, I still believe it’s better to stay away.

It’s always easier to receive forgiveness than permission. Ride on, you wild man.

Examining the guy’s hair and hands, he looks of northern European descent. If he were a person of color, he’d be about to be harassed by the police in the above picture. But, seeing as he’s white, he’s able to unicycle through the loophole.

The sign is very specific listing rollerblading and rollerskating both, and therefore must be regarded as a complete list which means unicycling is allowed. Because the sign maker was so eager to forbid everyting, he created a loophole for unicyclists.

It would be interesting what the legal implications would be for a unicyclist colliding with someone leaving one of the stores. I would bet that they put up that sign for a reason.

Maybe the sign maker is a unicyclist.

The person that was hit by the unicyclist would have to turn around and go back in to the dry cleaners with his clothes. I don’t think the unicyclist can be blamed as he was probably distracted by that long prohibition sign.

I’d be happy to see larger wheel unicycles (say, 24" and up) treated like bicycles - there’s never been a time when I felt I had a special right to ride somewhere bikes were prohibited, and plenty of times when I wanted it the other way around.

Where I live unicycles are considered “play vehicles” and aren’t street legal. I’m not worried about getting a ticket while just riding along in the street, but if there were an accident I’m sure I’d be held at fault, just for being there “playing in the street” illegally, no matter who was really at fault.

Interesting point - presumably you’re also allowed to use other brands of inline skates.

I would bet by looking at that sign that it is located on PRIVATE PROPERTY.
Business owners in a lot of cases like this have to carry liability insurance.
Whether it lists unicycling or not, the signs are there so that the property owner doesn’t loose his or her livelihood because some moron (with a good lawyer)wanted to get air off the stairs.

Obviously this is a different situation than on public(city, county, state) run pathways and roads.