In Poland, when we notice that the temperature outside is warm enough not to freeze during the ride, we most of the times take out our bike from the garage, basement, balcony or any other place where we usually store it, to take it for a spin. Other times we do it when we decide to change our lifestyle and start living a healthier life by doing exercise – a bike seems like a good idea for a start. Whatever your reasons to start riding your bike in Poland, it’s good to know how to ride your bike through the city and not get killed or violate the rules and regulations.
Preparing your bike for a ride
We’re not going to describe every single detail about how you should take care of your bike because it’s a more personal thing and probably every bike owner treats it like their own baby, but we must point out the necessary equipment that each and every bicycle must have before hitting the road:
– front position lamp with a white or selective yellow color
– red tail light
– red rear reflector in a shape other than a triangle,
– at least one efficient brake (front or rear)
– bell or other warning sound
Preparing yourself for a ride
Once you get your bike ready make sure that you’re ready as well. There are a couple of things that we want to focus your attention on.
First of all, if you’re an adult you don’t need any kind of permission to ride your bike on the streets. However, if you’re under 18 you technically need a so-called “bicycle card”. In order to get one you need to pass an exam about the rules of the road. Most schools offer this cycling exam for free as part of there curriculum. Easy.
The good thing is also that you don’t need to wear any kind of helmet during a ride. It might help you one day but it’s not an obligation.
As an adult who doesn’t need any kind of permission to ride a bike you might probably want to go for a beer or two with a couple of friends from time to time. It’s a great way to socialise and we highly recommend this kind of activity. However, keep in mind that afterwards you are not able to ride a bike until you are sober again. If you don’t play with the rules and decide to use your bike after drinking alcohol and you get caught by the police you must take three possible scenarios into consideration.
If the alcohol promille in your blood is below 0.2 you don’t need to worry about a thing and you will be allowed to continue your ride home without any trouble.
If the alcohol promille in your blood is between 0.2 and 0.5 per mil or the alcohol content of one cubic dcm breath is between 0.1 and 0.25 mg you are under the influence of alcohol. In such case you will be punished by jail up to 14 days or a fine of between 20 to 5000 zl and temporary detention of your driving license (if you have one).
The court may (but need not) also decide to ban you from driving for a period of six months to three years.
If the alcohol promille in your blood exceeds 0.5 parts per thousand or the alcohol content of one cubic dcm breath exceeds 0.25 mg you are under a state of intoxication which means you commit an offense. Therefore, you will face a lawsuit, a fine and imprisonment up to one year. The court may (but need not) also decide to ban you from driving for a period of six months to three years.
Important: If you drank alcohol there are only two things you can do with your bicycle – you can leave it at the place you had your fun and go home on foot or you can, literally, walk your bike home. Moreover, the mentioned scenarios are valid not only on the road, bike path or sidewalk but wherever you ride your bike at.
Couple of rules to remember
1. When you’re on the road you need to follow the rules of the road
2. When you want to take a turn you use your hand to signal your intention – left hand when you turn left and right hand when you turn right
3. You are obliged to use the bike path (if there is one next to the road) or cycle lane designated for the bicycles
4. If there is no bike path or cycle lane designated for the bicycles you use the road normally as the other vehicles do. Just remember to stick to the right side of the roadway.
5. If you travel on the road with your friends you can go side by side if you do not obstruct traffic
6. You are allowed to travel on the sidewalk if you:
- take care of another rider under the age of 10,
- width of the sidewalk along the road where vehicles can travel faster than 50 km/h is greater than 2 m and there are no road paths or road lanes for bikes around,
- weather conditions threaten your safety on the road (snow, high winds, rain, sleet, heavy fog) Just keep in mind that on the sidewalk the pedestrians are the kings.
7. You are not allowed to cross zebra crossing while riding a bike.
Well, that should be all. You can be proud of yourself. From now on you know everything about riding a bike in Poland and you can show everyone what kind of a badass you are.