the law

I have recently had problems riding in my city.because as kids we terrorized Burlington Vermont with our skateboards and rollerblades and what not we now have to follow strict laws within 4 blocks of the city. However thats where i find the best lines. I have got my final warning if i get caught riding anywhere other than the raoad within those 4 block i lose my uni and get a $50 fine.
THE CRAPPY PART: legally i cant ride in the road either because i cant go fast enough to keep up with the flow of traffic.
do i have to follow bike laws on the uni? they said something about it being a pedalcycle but i cant find that word in any dictionary i have looked in. Should i push it and if the worst happens fight it?
I dont know but the sad part is I think people enjoy me being out there

Re: the law

Just a question: can’t the traffic overtake, making your speed irrelevant?
What if you were on a bike, but old and frail, and riding at a snail’s
pace -
would the rozzers do you, then?

Arnold the Aardvark

good ? However i dont know the answer.
If you ride a skateboard in the road YOU CAN get a ticket but the cops tell you you have to ride in the street
I guess it depends on the cop and if he or she got laid the night before :]

write a very polite letter to the person in charge of the police in the area (chief of police / chief constable or whatever) asking what the situation is in your particular case.

Do it in writing because you’ll get a written response and you can take a photocopy with you when you go riding.


Re: the law

On Wed, 30 Apr 2003, jugglelots wrote:

> THE CRAPPY PART: legally i cant ride in the road either because i cant
> go fast enough to keep up with the flow of traffic.

In the UK, a wheel under 16 inches is a toy, and can’t be ridden
on the road. A wheel over that is an acrobatic prop, and is an
obstruction wherever you ride it. Or something like that. My
memory is hazy.

You could check your local laws in detail, but a polite letter
to the chief of police might be best. If that fails, you could
try making a story for your local paper, but may get more bad
luck than good from it.



Re: the law

Stu Carter wrote:
> In the UK, a wheel under 16 inches is a toy, and can’t be ridden
> on the road. A wheel over that is an acrobatic prop, and is an
> obstruction wherever you ride it. Or something like that. My
> memory is hazy.

No, legally it’s a bike. See one of my annual postings on the subject:


I’m planning on putting this FAQ on the UUU website soon.

  • Richard

The letter-writing idea is a sensible approach, but risky. Once it’s in writing, it works both for and against you. If the person responding to your letter knows you are a notorious former skateboarder, or a notorious downtown Trials rider, your letter may confirm what you don’t want to hear.

You mentioned “lines” in the downtown area. I have no idea of what they are, but I will assume they involve benches, walls, and other objects that will potentially get wear & tear from a unicycle. Unlike a street, which is intended for such traffic, non-street objects are not. There is no reason for the town to want you to ride on them.

They will have three main concerns, in this order:

  1. Liability, in relation to pedestrians that might be injured.
  2. Liability, in relation to you being injured and suing the city, which you can legally (ridiculous as it sounds) do.
  3. Property damage.

Obviously it is in the city’s best interests to avoid all three of the above. So why should they let you ride on anything other than the sidewalk?

Skateboards cause visible damage. Anyone can point out whether or not a concrete bench, for example, is a popular skateboard prop.

Unicycles cause damage too. Anything you grab onto, unless it’s rock or hard concrete, will get marks or worse damage. Knobby tires will make black marks on anything light colored. And mistakes, such as being slammed by a pedal, can also chip stone or gouge wood.

Does your riding leave marks? If so, you shouldn’t be doing it. The objects in your downtown are not intended for unicycling, or skateboarding, and it is not your right to put wear & tear on them at the expense of their looking good.

The town can’t pass special laws or rules just for you either. Whatever decisions they make they must apply to all unicyclists who may live in, or visit Burlington. This could add up.

I guess all of that says that even if you ask real nice, they are likely to say no. Trials is generally not a good downtown activity, especially when done around pedestrians or where it leaves marks. The best Trials places are usually found in less populated or public areas.

Good luck, and please be considerate of what you ride on.

This all started from me just riding on the sidewalk
it had nothing to do with me hopping on anything
i am somewhat of a beginner rider i am hopping on to fountains and stuff but it appears i do no damage other than to my uni or myself. I want to know why i cant even ride on the sidewalks without marking anything
HOwever I can see your point MR. Foss
you sound like your quite older than me SO maybe its the 23 YR> old rebel in me :]

The laws regarding bikes and unicycles are different in every city. The laws in the UK are different than the laws in the US.

Try to find the local municipal code and state code regarding bikes for your city. If you’re lucky they’ll be online and be searchable. If “pedalcycle” is mentioned in the law there will also be a definition of it. It doesn’t matter what the dictionary says the definition is, it only matters what they define it as in the law.

I only know the laws for Seattle Washington. In Seattle you can ride a bike (or a unicycle) on the sidewalk. By Seattles definition of bicycle a unicycle is not a bike.

In any event, I’ve never had any problems while riding around in downtown Seattle or any of the Seattle area. When riding on the sidewalk you just need to operate in a careful and prudent manner and a rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation. That’s easy enough to follow on a unicycle.

City of Seattle bike code:

Searchable online version of the Seattle Municipal Code
Handy for searching for any laws that mention bicycle, unicycle, skate, etc.

Washington state code:

So find the local laws for your area and see what they say about bikes and unicycles. Cities can ban bikes, skates, etc. from the sidewalks in their core downtown area. It’s different for every city.

for just plain sidewalk riding, you should be in relatively good shape. But if bikes are already banned from that area, unicycles probably will be too. Some pedestrian areas are considered too high-traffic for faster-moving vehicles to be in the mix.

[/b] Fountains are, of course, another story. Don’t know which kind of fountain you mean, but neither type is obviously intended for riding on. The little kind is the one we drink out of. The big kind is prone to tire marks or scratches and dings from mishaps. Unfortunately the city doesn’t want you hurting yourself either. Not so much that they care about you, they just don’t want to get sued.

Yah I’m old. I like riding on interesting stuff too, but some places are more appropriate than others. As a leader in the unicycling community, I have to recommend legal and prudent actions. If it doesn’t leave a mark, I don’t really have a problem with it. But if it’s not legal, I have to recommend that you don’t do it.

I did my share of urban riding many years ago, and no harm done. I remember being kicked off the grounds of Detroit Receiving Hospital. I thought, “But what better place to potentially hurt myself?” But they’d rather I just didn’t. And I still carry guilt from the scratches I made in the marble steps of the Detroit Public Library from dismounts with metal pedals.

If you’re riding on marble, get the hell off! That’s expensive stuff, meant to look a certain way for many years.

The problem with riding in the same area all the time, especially one with lots of people in it, is that eventually you become known. Now, even if somebody else unicycles through downtown Burlington and causes a ruckus, it may be blamed on you. So you have to decide if you want to be the high-profile guy that everybody likes, or the low-profile guy who tries not to get noticed. You can’t be high-profile and not noticed because you’ll stand out too much.

I hope that makes sense.

My rules of thumb for riding in public are:
If it’s ok to walk there it’s ok to ride there.
I don’t get in anyones way.

That said, I ride a uni intended for freestyle indoors with no metal parts which can touch the ground and a non-marking tire. With my metal pedals I don’t ride on anything where scratches wouldn’t be considered normal wear and tear.


As reported in the last thread here:

the Vermont state statutes make no reference to “pedal cycle”. The DMV for Vermont does use the term in its accident report form. The DMV should therefore have a definition. (Recommendation: if you want to get it from someone at the DMV, be very polite. :wink: ) This definition is not, to the best of my ability or one Vermont state reference librarian’s ability to find it, online. There might be something in the Burlington municipal code, too. Try the public library; a good reference librarian is usually up for a challenge like this.

Good luck,
Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

You just can’t win

I went to the supermarket on the uni today as an excuse to play with the fireball. Going along a small street in town - right next to the pedestrianised bit; it’s not pedestrianised but it might as well be, people just walk all over it - I was following a car at about walking pace when a policeman in a van asked me to get off the road.

I did, turning to stare in an obvious “I’m puzzled, tell me why you said that” kind of a way, but they drove on.

I hopped back on again and followed them down the road; they didn’t seem to care after that. Maybe he wasn’t using his mirrors… :thinking: