Cycling Rules in Germany [English Guide 2023]

Cycling is very popular in Germany and is a relatively common means of transport in the countryside. Germans and most of the expat residents prefer to use their bikes to commute to markets, work, university or school.

Cycling is healthy, good for the environment and -of course- lots of fun. In most German streets, there are specific pathways where you can safely ride your bike.

We are outlining the list of the cycling rules in Germany to ensure safety when cycling and the key guidelines to adhere to keep in mind to ride bikes.

Cycling Rules in Germany

Bikes Essentials for Cycling in Germany

Before they are allowed on the roads in Germany, all bicycles must have a specific set of accessories installed in order to be legally roadworthy. The majority of the regulations center on being able to stop suddenly and being visible at night when it’s dark for safety purposes.

Image Source: German Road Safety
  • Bicycles are required to have bells, lights, and brakes.
  • Each bicycle can only hold one rider at a time.
  • Reflector with a lot of red surface area and a backlight (red).
  • Two brakes with independent operation (front and rear).
  • Bell on the cycle must be audibly heard.
  • Reflector and headlight are required (white).
  • Two spoke reflectors, reflector strips, or cat’s eyes (per wheel) (yellow).
  • There should be a small reflector on the back tail (red).
  • Per pedal, bicycles should have two (yellow) reflectors.
  • Every cycle should have a dynamo or hub dynamo.

Cycling Rules in Germany You Should Follow

Don’t Ride on the sidewalk

In Germany, it is usual for cyclists to ride on the street rather than the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk can result in a fine of 55€. However, there are a few exceptions to this general rule. Children under the age of eight are permitted to ride on the sidewalk, while children above the age of ten may do so at the parent’s discretion. Also, parents who are riding with their kids are allowed to do so on the sidewalk. It’s important to keep in mind that even in all these scenarios, pedestrians on the sidewalk continue to possess the right of way.

Follow Traffic Signs

Like with a car we have well defined cycling rules in Germany, cyclists cannot cross the street at a red signal. You risk getting a 90€ fine and you will lose one Flensburg point if you cross at a red light.Turning right on red light is not allowed and you can start only after you notice this sign.

Use Bicycle Paths with Blue Signs

You must ride on the bike route specified by blue signs rather than the roadway. If you see one, a 20€ fine may be issued for failure to do so. You may ride in the street if there are no blue signs visible. If there is a “bike frei” sign, you are still allowed to ride there but you do not have priority. Also, there is a 20€ fine for cycling the wrong direction on a bike path or street.

You Must Use Hand Signs

Turning left or right when riding requires requires using hand signals in Germany and a fine anywhere between 10 to 35 euros could well be imposed for not complying with the rules. Bike riders should extend their left arm straight out to the side to signal a left turn and the right arm should be lifted to the side when making a right turn.

Don’t Drink & Drive

One of the very very important cycling rules in Germany is not to ride a bike under the influence of alcohol which is completely prohibited and you are subject to strict penalties if you cause an accident or are found to have alcohol in your blood.

The following are the two relevant legal alcohol limits to consider:

  • Up to 0.3 per mil: Cycling is allowed up to 0.3 per mil as long as you don’t act suspiciously or cause any accidents.
  • From 1.6 per mil: Cycling in this state is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine equal to one net salary, two Flensburg points, and a medical-psychological examination (MPU). Your driver’s license could be permanently suspended if you don’t pass the MPU, and cycling can even be banned.

Depending on the situation, a blood alcohol level between these two levels may also result in penalties, Flensburg points, and a temporary suspension of your driver’s license. It’s recommended to push your bike home or use a taxi after having more than one drink to prevent putting yourself and others at risk.

Never Ride in the Bus Lane

Bus and Tram lanes can’t be used for riding the bikes unless you see a “Fahrrad Frei” sign, a fine of 15 Euros will be levied for not complying with the cycling rules in Germany.

If you come across a bus or tram stopped while cycling, you must slow down and give priority to the passengers who are entering or exiting the bus/tram and the cyclists must wait for the passengers to finish boarding or alighting before continuing on their way.

Don’t Use Mobile Phones While Riding Bike

You are not allowed the usage of mobile phones while riding the bike and you may get a fine of 55 Euros for not following the rule. However, you are allowed to use hands free phone calls using your earphones or wireless pods.

Listening to Music while Riding

It is allowed to listen to music while cycling in Germany, but it must not be so loud that it interferes with hearing horns, sirens, or other important traffic noises. Cycling while using headphones could have an impact on your insurance claim in the event of an accident because the insurance provider might claim that you bear  some responsibility for the accident even though you weren’t at fault. Thus, it is advised to exercise caution and maintain a manageable volume while cycling with headphones.

Respect No-Ride Signs in Parks

Upon entering a park, make sure to check for signs indicating whether or not bikes are allowed. Riding a bike in a park where it is forbidden can result in a fine of 15€, which is a common occurrence in Germany.

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Riding Bike the Wrong Way & Fines

The following are some of the fines and consequences for violating traffic cycling rules in Germany:

  • 20 euros for using a cycle path that has signs pointing in the wrong direction.
  • 30 euros of fine may be levied for putting another person in danger.
  • One point on your record and 70 euros in fines for parking on the sidewalk or obstructing traffic.
  • 80 euros fine, one point on your driving record, and a one-month driving ban for traveling at 51 km/h (21 km/h over the posted limit in a 30 km/h zone).
  • 5 euros for riding the bike hands-free by letting go of the handlebar.
  • Level crossings with closed barriers are punishable by a fine of 700 euros, two points on your driving record, and a three-month driving ban.

Respect the lane, Ride in a Row

Considering that you came out on a cycling trip with your friends or family please do bear in mind that you are not allowed to ride your cycles next to each other and you should always ride them in a row thus making room for other cyclists and pedestrians to pass through without any obstructions.

This not only violates the cycling rules in Germany but will also leave your otherwise friendly Germans frustrated.

Keep Left to Overtake

As a norm you should always take left to overtake another cyclist, a pedestrian or any other passing vehicles to ensure safety. If you overtake from the right you might scare the other riders as they don’t expect you to overtake from the right and it may result in an accident.

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Cycling Rules in Germany, Common Questions?

Is it compulsory to wear a Helmet when riding a cycle in Germany?

You don’t need to wear a helmet to ride a bike in Germany. However, by law you are required to wear a helmet when riding a motorized bicycle that can exceed 25 km/h or if the bike has the capability to operate solely with the motor without the need for pedaling.

Do I need a Driving License for riding a bicycle in Germany?

Absolutely No, you don’t need a driving license for driving a bike in Germany.

The rules for riding the e-bikes that don’t require pedaling are different and depending on the speed limits different rules apply for riding these battery operated mopeds.

Can I ring the bell of my bike in Germany?

Yes, you are allowed to ring the bell and in fact it is mandatory to have the bell as a standard fitment to your bike. However be advised that you are being friendly and don’t annoy people by ringing it unnecessarily and continuously. 

We have a handbook that outlines the cycling rules in Germany in English created by the Deutscher Verkehrssicherheitsrat (DVR) & Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung (DGUV) for German Road Safety, if you have any other questions about cycling rules in Germany please do let us know and we will be glad to help and Happy Cycling!

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