I was reading this question which seemed a totally weird thing to worry about and sparked my question.

I've always disregarded stop signs, lights, crossings and waving policemen as basically irrelevant since I'm on a bike and don't have a number plate or a licence that could be suspended.

So far I've only been hassled once by a cop telling me I have to ride on the sidewalk after I went through a couple of red lights next to his vehicle, and had a few yell at me about wearing a helmet which I just ignored.

Are there any realistic consequences apart from the obvious safety concerns (which I'm not asking about) to doing whatever you want on the road?

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    In the US most police will cut you a little slack, but you're still at risk of being stopped and having a citation written (which will cost you $$). If you try to dodge that by not carrying ID you can be arrested. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 24 '16 at 13:11
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    One other "consequence" is that both motorists and other cyclists will hate you. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 24 '16 at 16:58
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    I like your questions, @Kilisi! Since you're living in some far far away place (with regard to my home, Switzerland), I'm not gonna answer the question. Here you'd get fined (if caught) and for really bad behaviour you could lose your drivers license if you had one. – dru87 Nov 25 '16 at 15:02
  • "wouldn't apply in my locale" What is your locale ? – Max Nov 25 '16 at 18:30
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    +1 This is a good question. I have a feeling that the downvoters are downvoting Kilisi's behavior rather than the question. – BSO rider Nov 25 '16 at 21:22

The consequences for you as an individual are perhaps not as important as the broader ramifications of your behaviour.

By behaving as if you think that the local rules of the road don't apply to you, you are contributing to a perception that cyclists are dangerous idiots who disregard the rules and the safety of themselves and others. This has the effect of making other road users much less sympathetic about the needs of cyclists as a whole. This can result in more dangerous behaviour from motorists, which is a battle that the cyclists will only come off worse in.

If cyclists are seen as unpleasant or dangerous, we are much less likely to be effective in campaigning for better provision in terms of infrastructure such as segregated bike lanes, safer parking and so on.

  • Irrelevant to the question and wouldn't apply in my locale anyway. – Kilisi Nov 24 '16 at 6:27
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    @Kilisi I disagree that the answer is irrelevant; you asked about the consequences of disregarding laws that pertain to bicyclists, and srank listed a consequence. I don't know where you live, but surely public opinion about cyclists matters there. – rclocher3 Nov 24 '16 at 6:45
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    Another thing to add is that motorists can be aggressive if you act in a way they don't expect, and possibly attack you (maybe with their vehicle; see youtube for road rage videos from motorcyclists, for example). – Batman Nov 24 '16 at 7:00
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    @kilisi It is irrelevant to the answer whether these consequences apply to you or not. You asked a generalising question; generalising answers you will receive. – gschenk Nov 24 '16 at 9:27
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    @Kilisi - not personally; vigilante justice is sorta my thing. – Batman Nov 24 '16 at 15:35

This is highly dependent on where you are. Generally, in the US, if you're on the road, you're subject to the standard vehicle regulations in the area (e.g. what applies to cars) you are in (with some possible modifications for bicycles at the city/town/county level or state level).

In the town I live in, there are laws for running lights or stop signs on a bicycle or riding on the sidewalk in certain areas or whatever. You can also get fined/arrested for drunk cycling.

Sometimes the police ignore these infarctions, in other times they catch you and write you a ticket (with fine) or a warning (moreso when it starts getting nice out, since people start to ride more) -- YMMV. [And running from the cops in the US is not a great idea.]

On the other hand, if I went a few towns over, I'd be very surprised if a policeman stopped me for any of those issues (except for possibly drunk cycling; don't ride your bicycle drunk, folks).

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    Drunk cycling being illegal depends state to state. – whatsisname Nov 24 '16 at 9:07
  • @whatsisname Nearly made me choke on my breakfast! – andy256 Nov 24 '16 at 22:11
  • @andy256: what? – whatsisname Nov 25 '16 at 5:08
  • @whatsisname The weird and wonderful inconsistencies of laws in the US :-) – andy256 Nov 25 '16 at 5:30

In my area there are several possible consequences. Financial fines are most obvious, for minor law infringement. For serious offences, especially drunk driving, one, when caught, will be taken to court and banned from right to cycle for some time, and for breaking that ban you risk some more severe consequences. Few years ago it was even more strict: for driving drunk, using any wehicle (including bicycle) you could lose your driving license for all type of wehicle. Really.

When, for instance, someone, as a result of your behaviour on the road, will have to swerve or slam on the brake and that will cause collision, you will be forced to pay for damages and, if there will be some injuries or fatalities, you risk trial and inprisonment.

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    "banned from law to cycle " where do you live? – Vorac Nov 24 '16 at 15:46
  • The profile says "Warszawa, Polska". – rclocher3 Nov 24 '16 at 17:36
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    Beautiful city. Love those trams! Just be careful when cycling near the tracks :-) – andy256 Nov 24 '16 at 22:15
  • @Vorac that really happen, not so rarely. For those, who know Polish: forumprawne.org/prawo-karne-wykonawcze/… – krzyski Nov 25 '16 at 2:05
  • @andy256 offtop nice to hear:) Bike lanes along the tram tracks is a rarity in Warsaw, it's more the case in Łódź or Wrocław. In Warsaw we die or get hurt at junctions by wehicles entering the junction at conditional turn. – krzyski Nov 25 '16 at 2:20

If you did a red-light run past me while I was properly stopped at the red light, I would loudly call out "YOU D*CK HEAD!" and anyone in earshot would turn and look at you.

You give all cyclists a bad name by disobeying road rules. Please stop.

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    People here would be more offended by you swearing in public, which is both a serious criminal offense and likely to get you involved in physical trouble with all in earshot, and most likely your car would take some damage. Best to yell out 'You idiot!; or something like that. – Kilisi Nov 24 '16 at 20:40
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    I assume Criggie is on his bicycle. – RoboKaren Nov 24 '16 at 21:06
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    It amuses me that you're prepared to shout "YOU DICK HEAD!" in the street but not write it on Stack Exchange. For what it's worth, I'm exactly the opposite way around. – David Richerby Nov 24 '16 at 21:58
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    Oh. Unless you pronounce the star as "star", in which case I've just been gratuitously rude. ;-) – David Richerby Nov 24 '16 at 21:58
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    If someone doesn't cause any sort of danger or tricky situation on the road for me, I don't see a point yelling at them. I'm more pro minding my own business and against trying to educate other people. – dru87 Nov 25 '16 at 15:07

The main most important consequence is that you will eventually get hit by a car (or something heavier); and the way things are, if you survive, you will be charged with reckless "driving" (cops are good at detecting accident causes).

People using road expect that everyone follow a certain "social contract" that we (driver, cyclist, pedestrians) should follow traffic regulation.

If you come to an intersection with 4 stops, and all the cars in turn stop and wait for other cars to stop an go. If one of the car, or a cyclist or a pedestrian does not respect the regulations (social contract) then the risk of accident will increase.

  • I don't see that in practice. I have been hit a few times, but never at lights or crossings. Every time I have been hit was when I was in theory doing nothing wrong. Once I wasn't even moving, just sitting on the bike. – Kilisi Nov 26 '16 at 7:40

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