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I was told that there is a fine of €300 for cycling on a "carretera" in Spain without a helmet. But it's possible the guy just wanted to sell me a helmet. I'm not completely sure what exactly distinguishes a carretera from any other road, but on this trip, I don't have that helmet with me and several police have seen me riding.

A web search gets more advertisements than information. Anyone know what the law is there? Extra credit if you have a link to the official text. (I can read Spanish.)

9

http://www.bikeramble.com/do-you-need-a-helmet-spain/ says

Well, the short answer is: it depends.

There is a mandatory helmet law for cyclists in Spain, but it is seldom enforced.

Are you required by law to wear a helmet in Spain? Yes. But there are four notable exceptions:

  1. You don’t need to wear a helmet in Spain if you are in an urban area. Since 2004, it has been mandatory to wear a helmet for all cyclists outside urban areas. It is not required in urban areas. In 2013, it was made mandatory for all cyclists, everywhere, to wear a helmet, even in urban areas. This was met by opposition from council bodies and the new law was quickly overturned. However, it is still necessary for under 16’s to wear a helmet at all times. The definition of “urban area” is quite loose and everything bigger than a couple of houses should qualify.

  2. UPDATE - This exemption was deleted in 2015 and NO LONGER APPLIES. You didn’t need to wear a helmet in Spain if it was too hot. What classifies as too hot? Probably anywhere in the south of Spain from May-September, or all of Spain from June-August. The exception applies because wearing a helmet in extreme heat is pretty uncomfortable, and would completely deter some from cycling at all.

  3. You don’t need to wear a helmet in Spain if you are going up a hill. Convenient as I usually find that if I’m not in an urban area, and it’s not that hot, I’m going up a hill.

  4. You don’t need to wear a helmet in Spain if you are a professional. Get paid for cycling a bicycle? Great, then you are probably already subject to hundreds of rules, one of which is that you must wear a helmet at all times!

  • 1
    Conclusion: Better wear a helmet. There are some very decently ventilated (even Spanish-made) models around. – Carel Sep 17 '17 at 7:53
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    This answer is outdated - the heat/hill exception was removed. See my answer :-). – sleske Sep 18 '17 at 13:12
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    So, er, you don't have to wear a helmet if you're in the place where most bike accidents happen? That's nuts. – David Richerby Sep 19 '17 at 17:17
  • @DavidRicherby I'm just quoting what I found, never said it was a good idea. I'm guessing, but perhaps its legalising what would happen anyway to decrease the overall workload of policía. Coming from a location where helmets are mandatory, there are fewer cyclists/riders and helmet law is one of the causes. – Criggie Sep 20 '17 at 6:29
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    @Criggie "[I] never said it was a good idea." Of course -- I'm definitely not shooting the cycle courier. – David Richerby Sep 20 '17 at 9:16
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The law basically is:

A helmet is required if you are

  • under 16 years of age , or
  • cycling outside a settlement/town (vía interurbana)

See Ley sobre Tráfico, Circulación de Vehículos a Motor y Seguridad Vial, article 47.

So as long as you are in a city or village, you're fine. Otherwise you need a helmet (though I can't say how vigorously this is enforced). The fine can be up to 200€.


Note: Some websites list an exception for cycling in extreme heat or uphill. This expection did exist, but was removed in 2015.

  • The guy I mentioned said it wasn't required on the trails, but I'm not sure whether he meant paths too narrow for cars or dirt roads, but if it's anywhere outside of urban area... – WGroleau Sep 18 '17 at 23:26
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There's a pretty good summary of the whole situation here: https://www.bikeramble.com/do-you-need-a-helmet-spain/

  • There's already an answer to this question containing this link and a lot more information besides. – srank Jun 25 '18 at 20:34
  • Hello Juan - thank you for joining SE to contribute. Please have a browse through the tour to see how SE works. This answer is a link-only answer, doesn't expand on the info, and duplicates an existing answer so to keep the quality level high the answer will probably get deleted. Don't take it personally, its all about keeping the signal:noise ratio high. So have a go at answering another question, or use the Edit link to share your own relevant experiences of helmet law in Spain. – Criggie Jun 26 '18 at 1:41

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