Reader Q&A: Is it legal to ride a Surrey bike in France?

Published by Lyn on 28 July 2015

Charlotte emailed to ask if it was legal to ride a Surrey bike in France. Here's an edited version of our correspondence.

Surrey bike

Photo from Wikipedia Commons

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Hi Lyn,

I hope you don't mind me contacting you, I need a little advice and a struggling at the moment.

Do you know if it's legal to ride a Surrey bike on the road in France?

Thanks so much in advance for your help.

Charlotte.

I wrote back:

Hi Charlotte,

This is something I've never been asked before ...

I don't know 100% for sure as the Code de la Route, the French Highway Code, defines bikes as two- and three-wheeled vehicles that are pedal-powered – including electric bikes upto 250 watts that give upto 25km/hr of assistance – in relation to what's permitted on cycle paths and roads.

So as long as it's pedal-powered and not motor assisted (or electric more powerful than the limits outlined above), then I can't see how you'd be in breach of any licensing or insurance rules as these only apply to motorised transport.

Some seaside resorts have trike hire bikes for tourists, so I can't see how this is remarkably different (in the sense of being an unusual bike).

I did ask a representative from the French tourist board for their advice and a spokesperson for the Veloscenic bike route from Mont St Michel to Paris came back with this reply:

"There is no problem to use a Surrey bike in France as horse-drawn carriage are allowed on greenways, for example. On many greenways there are these kind of ‘gates’ (below). Some can be opened, but not all of them, which could pose a problem for wider bikes.

voies vertes for cycling in france
"By main roads, you mean roads for cars that may compose a cycle route?

"If yes, I think this is the same answer, horse-drawn carriage can be ridden on main roads. But it may not be appropriate (e.g. crossing a city centre on narrow cycle paths)."

Charlotte, I hope that helps.

However I'm not a legal expert. If you're thinking of visiting with one from the UK, I'd maybe suggest clarifying it with the French embassy in London. 

Cheers,
Lyn.

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