Basic traffic regulations for cyclists (in Czechia)

Publikováno: 13. srpna. 2023, 10 min. čtení
Publikováno: 13. srpna. 2023, 10 min. čtení

Although a cyclist is not required to have a driver’s license, according to the Czech law he is a driver of a non-motorized vehicle and a road user. To the extent necessary, they must master Act No. 361/2000 Coll. about road traffic and recognize the basic cycling infrastructure. The following guide provides the most important things you need to know.

What a cyclist should know about road traffic rules

The general duty of a driver is to behave in a respectful and disciplined manner, so that his actions do not endanger the life, health or property of other persons, or his own. The driver must also adapt his behavior to the state of traffic, weather conditions, his abilities and state of health, and the technical characteristics of the vehicle – which for cycling more or less means not getting into situations in traffic that he cannot handle. The law also requires that special consideration be given to children and persons with limited mobility and orientation.

A cyclist must:

  • Drive on the right edge of the road. At the same time, the cyclist must not endanger himself or others while riding. In justified cases, the cyclist can ride at a safe distance from the right edge of the road.
  • Use a cycle lane, dedicated cycle lane, cycle path or designated cycle area. However, this obligation is significantly narrowed both in terms of space and purpose. The obligation applies only in the given place and direction (for example, at the point of a direct connection of the cycle path to another road). It does not apply if this could jeopardize the safety or smoothness of traffic on the roads. Typically, there could be an unsuitable route, poor technical condition of the road, or a high number of pedestrians, which makes the listed infrastructure unusable at the given moment. This obligation then does not apply at all, for example, to a sidewalk where cyclists are allowed to ride or a path for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • (With the exception of the cycling zone) Ride only one behind the other.
  • Before crossing the crossing for cyclists, give way to passing vehicles; the exception is a signalized crossing.
  • Use a bicycle helmet if under 18 years of age.

In particular, a cyclist must not

  • Endanger pedestrians walking on a pedestrian path and cyclists, on a separate pedestrian path in a lane marked for pedestrians.
  • Drive in the opposite direction in one-way streets, unless permitted by a traffic sign.
  • Ride on the pavement. Some interpretations of the law do allow children up to 10 years of age to ride on the pavement.
  • Ride in pairs on a single-seater bike (with some exceptions for children).
  • Drive under the influence of alcohol.

Other, less substantial restrictions can be found in § 57 of Act No. 361/2000 Coll.

A cyclist can

  • Ride on the roadside if pedestrians are not endangered or restricted.
  • Overtake or pass on the right side a vehicle moving slowly or standing at the right edge of the road. They must be extremely careful and cannot perform the maneuver if the vehicle turns right and signals to change the direction of travel.

Points are not deducted from driving license holders for traffic offenses committed while riding a bicycle.

Basic cycling precautions

In order to know how to behave and what behavior you can expect from others, you need to know what type of infrastructure you are dealing with.

Cycle path vs. cycle route

A cycling route is marked with yellow signs. But these are only indicative. They do not allow cyclists to ride wherever they want (e.g. on a sidewalk), other traffic signs give instructions. A cycle route is not a cycle path, just as a tourist sign is not a forest path.

Cycle paths are marked with blue circular traffic signs. Anything designed for cyclists is often mislabeled as a „bike path“. However, a cycle path is neither a pedestrian zone with permitted cycling nor a dedicated lane on the road. Cycle paths are always off the road, although sometimes they run right along it.

Cycle paths and the so called „cycle paths“

Cycle paths cross the road with crossings for cyclists, at which the cyclist does not have the right of way unless the traffic light is green. Entrances to houses led through the cycle path, marked only by color, do not mean a loss of right of way for cyclists.

A bike path and a cycle route are not the same thing

We distinguish three basic types of cycle paths. The cycle path is reserved primarily for cyclists, but skaters, riders on personal transporters (i.e. segways) and other users of similar equipment can also legally move here. The use of the cycle path is mandatory by law (with the exceptions mentioned above). The path for pedestrians and cyclists enables the joint movement of pedestrians and cyclists. If the area for cyclists is separated, both pedestrians and cyclists must use their part of the path. They can enter the second part only when bypassing, riding around or crossing and may not endanger others by doing so. On a mixed path, everyone moves together, a pedestrian must not endanger passing cyclists and vice versa.

A sidewalk where cyclists are allowed is marked as a pedestrian path with an additional bicycle sign. Cyclists are only allowed to ride up to 20 km/h and must stop if necessary. But pedestrians must allow cyclists to pass. The same rules as for the legalized sidewalk also apply to the pedestrian zone with cyclists allowed and the residential zone when riding a bike. In addition, pedestrians can move in all directions here, while cyclists should not enter the sidewalks (if they are marked).

Bicycle zones are created relatively rarely. Here, the speed is limited to 30 km/h and cyclists can exceptionally ride two abreast.

Cycle lanes

Cycle lanes are spaces on the road intended for bicycles. Other vehicles may only cross them when turning, going around and as part of a parking maneuver. Vehicles may not stop and stand in the cycle lane. There are two basic types: Dedicated (mandatory) cycle lane and advisory cycle lane. The advisory cycle lane is established in cramped conditions. Passenger cars and smaller vans can usually fit to the left of it, large vehicles can drive through it if they do not endanger the cyclist. Advisory cycle lanes are painted with a thinner line and are not marked with a vertical traffic sign.

Sharrows only warn of the possible presence of cyclists and do not create any special rights or obligations for anyone. In the past, they were often created instead of advisory cycle lanes, which are now gradually replacing them in many places.

At certain intersections, an advanced stop lane can be reserved for cyclists, where the cyclist can wait in front of the exhaust gases of the line of cars and exit onto the intersection first, and therefore be more visible, which ensures greater safety.

Contraflow movement in one-way streets

Special sign can allow cyclists to ride in the opposite direction of a one-way street. Very often a contraflow bike lane or sharrows are added. In quiet streets slowed down to 30 km/h, an additional sign at the beginning of the street (witout any further road markings) is sufficient. It is necessary to be careful when entering and exiting oneway streets with contraflow cycling traffic allowed, but concerns about danger of such streets are unfounded.

This is a Google translation of this article:

Suzanne Verhaar
Originally from cycling paradise, the Netherlands, I prefer to live here in Praha. Working hard to improve my Czech and learning a lot about history and society. I don't miss home at all, except for one thing: joyfully and safely riding my bike at all times.

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