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Miscellaneous

**IMPORTANT: The information is provided for reference only and should not be considered to be legal advice. Please consult the government’s BLIS legal database for yourself at www.legislation.gov.hk to be sure of what the laws are.**

Bike lights

Bike lights (white front, red back) are required to be used when there is low light or at night under the Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulations. In our experience these can single LEDs, but must be visible to other road users.

Lights should be mounted on the bike, not the helmet. ‘Normally mounted’ lights should meet the (quite detailed) requirements.

It is unclear whether flashing lights are allowed under Hong Kong law, but here and worldwide they seem to be accepted.

Brakes

Every bicycle should have a braking system, which could be either traditional levers and brake pads or pedal-back brakes, as specified in the Road Traffic (construction and maintenance of vehicles) regulations.

Bells/horns/shouting

According to the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations, “Every bicycle and tricycle shall be fitted with a bell capable of giving sufficient warning of the approach or presence of the vehicle”, and “No bicycle or tricycle shall carry a warning instrument other than a bell”. A horn is therefore illegal, and even shouting may not be permitted, it has been suggested, though we are not aware of any prosecutions for having “a warning instrument other than a bell”.

Riding on pavements/footpaths

Bicycles are defined as vehicles in law, so if vehicles in general are banned from pavements, that means we should also not be using pavement, however there is a small caveat in the law, as follows:

Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap 228), Section 4 – Nuisances committed in public places, etc.

Any person who without lawful authority or excuse …

(8) rides or drives on any foot-path without obvious necessity; or in any public place rides or drives recklessly or negligently or at a speed or in a manner which is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances of the case … shall be liable to a fine of $500 or to imprisonment for 3 months.

One-way streets

On one-way streets vehicles can use any lane, and pass on either side, as can bee seen on Transport Departments ‘Cycling Safety: Riding on the Road

Single file

The Road Traffic Ordinance requires bicyclists to ride in a single file except when overtaking.  The Road Traffic (traffic Control) Regulations specifically targets rickshaws and bicycles and not motorcycles or other similar vehicles.

Cycling in tunnels and on bridges

The Road Tunnel (Government) Regulations do not permit bicycles in tunnels.  There is no general rule about cycling on bridges or overpasses or through short underpasses but many have a ‘no cycling’ sign.  It is the this sign that determines whether you can ride there (unlike tunnels and expressways, on which cycling is prohibited even when there is no sign).  Being stopped for this offence is not common.

Country parks

Cycling in Country Parks is not permitted unless an Application for Use of Country Park Mountain Bike Trail/Site Permit is obtained from the AFCD. More information is available at the Hong Kong Mountain Bike Association website.

Cycling minimum age

Children under 11 may not cycle on the road without adult supervision.

Electric bikes

Electric bikes are not considered to be bicycles under Hong Kong Law, and are classified as a form of motorbike.

Cycling while under the influence of drink/drugs

Not surprisingly, it is against the law to cycle whilst under the influence of drink or drugs, under the Road Traffic Ordnance, section 47.

Dangerous goods

There are limitations on the carriage of dangerous goods,  which can be found under the Dangerous Goods (General) Regulations.

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11 Responses

  • David Weaver says:

    Your quote about riding bicycles on pavements is wrong. Read the paragraph very carefully and you will see that it actually refers to horses, water buffalo and the like.

    Rides is not defined

    David

  • Martin Turner says:

    ‘Riding on the pavement’ is the most commonly prosecuted cycling offence, and it does use this law, Cap 228 s4(8).

  • frankie says:

    hi, i am a bike commuter who lived in Australia, Japan and arrived in HK since last year. Last night while riding along Victoria Road, I was hit by a minibus coming out of a junction straight at me. I suffered bruises and my bike was damaged. The police and ambulance came, and I was examined at the hospital with minor wounds. But the police has not gotten my statement yet, gave me his namecard and told me he will call me. Is this normal?

    Also, how do I claim against the bus company? Any advice greatly appreciated.

    • Martin Turner says:

      Hi Frankie. Sorry to hear that. I hope you are ok.

      What’s your priority? Prosecution of the driver? Or compensation for the damage, injury etc?

      The police are often less keen to prosecute than seems reasonable. Or they may prosecute you – if the driver makes up a story that you were at fault. (A favourite line is that you were ‘wobbling’/’weaving’ and somehow caused the collision.) Any case against you would obviously slow your claim. Have you any idea what he told the police?

      Anyway, if you want to press the criminal prosecution, tell that to the police, even if they don’t mention it.

      If so, and you need a lawyer, get in touch with us directly. It won’t be free, but at least you’ll have someone who understands cycling and sympathises with our point of view.

      A settlement is simpler than a civil action. Ask for an amount (eg. via the police) that is attractive enough for him to accept, either as less $ than he might have to pay in court, or with the carrot of a promise not to press for criminal prosecution.

      If a civil case goes to court, and the police refuse to be involved, you may be able to pursue it in the Small Claims Tribunal’, which is designed to be simple enough to handle yourself. Again, if you went that path, you and he might settle along the way, with the case as pressure on him to do that.

      Anyway, after another couple of days, you could call the police, find out who is handling the case, and the case reference number. And if they yet know whether they intend to prosecute.

      Keep in touch, as we are very willing to support you through this.

      (Do bear in mind that I am not a lawyer. For the usual yada yada liability reasons ..)

      Martin

    • glyn says:

      Ouch, without wishing to teach you to suck eggs….
      Probably the cop that attended is not trained in traffic accident investigations and has passed the issue over to the traffic police who will eventually and probably later rather than sooner make a few attempts to find you. Make sure you have given them enough phone numbers and emails etc to make sure they do not duck out by saying they could not find you, If not then keep calling them.
      Register the incident with the traffic complaints unit (website) so they have a record too.
      Lots of photos of the bike and injuries etc.
      Keep all estimates or bills for repairs and medicals
      Sick notes and the like too.
      Prepare your own statement and send it to the cops to force their hand and give it some urgency.
      Photos, google map references and street views are very helpful.
      Highly likely minibus company will not be interested in settling or paying to have the bike repaired until proven they were in the wrong they will stall and stall.
      Did cops inspect your bike for lights reflectors, bell, brakes…. If so any comments, if not then do not chuck any broken stuff away.
      Do not give up.

  • frankie says:

    thanks so much martin and glyn for your advice. i am now preparing a report so i can follow up with the police.

    just a quick question, if i ask for monetary settlement, i am not sure how much to ask too. on the other hand, i am happy to pay for legal cost to ensure that us(bicyclist) interest and rights are well represented.

    thanks again, now i know the next steps and will consult you again, many x2 thanks

  • captam says:

    Your advice about electric bikes needs challenging in court. We need a volunteer to risk prosecution by riding a peddled but power-assisted electric bike openly around Hong Kong. I sincerely believe the Transport Department and police have misinterpreted the law when they claim these are motor vehicles.

    Yes electric bikes would be good for Hong Kong. It would get a lot of people out of their air-conditioned cars and buses.

    Some years ago I campaigned for the “legalization” of electric power-assisted bikes in Hong Kong on the grounds that they would be good for the environment (Please don’t start a diversion here about the pollution caused by the power needed to charge batteries or re the disposal of dead batteries. I know about this but it’s all relative and overall electric bikes are better for the environment than gas-guzzling private cars).

    I put detailed proposals to the Transport Bureau (TB) and requested they draft legislation similar to that introduced in most European and N. American countries to specifically authorize and regulate electric bikes. TB wouldn’t budge. They quoted serious objections from the “Ministry of No Fun” (read “Police”) who feared that these bikes or the more “lethal” scooters would be souped-up to do 40 miles an hour.

    So what? Any machine can be souped-up to go faster than its intended speed. Some private car owners do this everyday but the police don’t ban private cars because of it. It’s just a matter on enforcing the law to stop lawbreakers. A few weeks later I met a “gueilo” Chief Police superintendent who was running the traffic branch and he effectively said “electric bikes would be allowed over his dead body”. He might have continued: “Not only can they be “dangerous” they get in the way of us private cars owners” (presumably including those who road race but who are not banned from owning cars).

    So the main objectors appear to be the traffic police, the same people who go around town jumping up and down when see a “dangerous” and “illegal’” electric bikes. Electric bikes are OK for the rest of the world but not Hong Kong!

    Well I have advice for any “lawbreaking” power-assisted electric bike owner. You are probably not breaking the law even though the police say you are. The same situation use to apply in the United Kingdom before the Road Traffic was amended in 1988 (I think) . The police would get annoyed by these bikes and attempted a number of prosecutions, however I can find no record of a conviction on record for a successful prosecution against these bikes for “using an unlicensed or uninsured motor vehicle.

    The reason is that the definition in law of a motor vehicle is a “mechanically propelled vehicle designed and intended for use on a road” (or words to that effect) Well, what does “mechanically propelled” mean. It’s not actually defined and the meaning has never been tested in a Commonwealth high court (on which our laws and precedents are based). Common sense would say it means exactly what it says, i.e. the vehicle (bike) is powered by an engine of some sort and exclusively so. The police who wanted to prosecute in UK, however, faced a problem. A power-assisted bike won’t move unless you are peddling to provide some proportion of the power. The bike is therefore not “mechanical powered”, only partially so. It is quite obvious that UK Crown Prosecution Services looked at these cases at the highest level and advised the police not to prosecute because ultimately they would not succeed in upholding any conviction in a lower court.

    The whole problem was neatly put to bed by the UK Government’s introduction of electric bike rules and regulations. These exclude electric bikes (even non-power-assisted models) from the normal definition of motor vehicle and therefore make their use clearly legal. But the regulations do impose controls on the power ratings of the electric motors and therefore, effectively the maximum speed of the bikes.

    When will our Government start leading effectively and catch up with legislating for environmentally friendly modern technology. They need a prod

  • Cristopher Tatum says:

    I noted with interest while visiting Tucson, Ariz., this summer that in their public transportation system, each bus has a front-loading bicycle rack to accommodate the two-wheeling segment of the population. A bike-friendly city such as Fort Lauderdale would be well served by equipping Broward County Transit buses with bike racks.;

  • Alan says:

    I particularly objected the part where it reads “a bicycle shall not be fitted with a warning instrument other than a bell”; dude, a bell will do its job well…for pedestrians and other cyclist on a cycle track or shared path (if any in HK), but for road-going bicycles, ring a bell against that motor vehicle cutting in front of you or peeping out into the intersections and cross your fingers that they’ll even hear it! even with a car horn, the other car might not pick up your warning with their windows up and music pumping loud. as with pedestrian, I’ve had cases where the bell simply won’t work with their ear plugs in or simply absent minded. something like this: http://deltacycle.com/airzound-horn is totaly safe and a necessity for road-going bicycles like mine. (I’d seen it on the shelf in one of the bicycle shop in Salisbury Rd, TST)

  • Alan says:

    the authority banning electric bicycles from the road fearing they would do 40 miles and hour down the road <– thz totally nonsense!! my MT bicycle (not an electric bike) does a 65kph descend down the road with a gradient of 1 in 11 EVERYDAY on my way to uni. (ps. the speed limit for that section of road is 50kph, be funny if I got caught on a mobile speed camera) Any road bike can easily do 50kph on a level road and an MTB can do 40kph with a bit of pedaling. fearing electric bike riders racing automobile is more like a joke. a normal motorcycle would easily beat a car on HK's roads and how many of them actually races? This is more of an attitude issue, not legal issue.

  • Rob says:

    Regarding cycling in Country Parks – I understand the permit scheme has now been disbanded. But where is the definitive list of country park bike routes. For instance, Maclehose Stage 1 in Sai Kung to the dam – are cycles permitted on that ‘road’?



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