An issue has arisen in Germany which also has relevance for many countries where millions of people get around on bicycles, whether for pleasure or as their only means of transport. The issue relates to drinking and cycling. According to reports German state interior ministers are reviewing the country’s drink driving limit for cyclists after a number of accidents involving cyclists who were intoxicated.
Many lobbyists are of the position that the new cyclist drinking limit should remain higher than the current limit imposed on other ordinary motorists but under current German law, the legal blood alcohol content limit for cyclists is 0.1, whereas other motorists have to stick to a limit of 0.05, including car drivers and motorcyclists.
But German website www.thelocal.de is reporting that the figure is now under threat, with research showing one in 10 bike accidents in the European country are the result of riders under the influence of alcohol.
“Nobody can travel safely at the current limit of 1.6,” Boris Pistorius, Lower Saxony’s state interior minister told the publication.
According to figures from the General German Bicycle Association, 3725 cyclists involved in accidents during 2011 were under the influence of alcohol. An spokesperson for the group,RenéFilippek, conceded that figure needed to be reduced but argued the BAC limit shouldn’t be dropped to 0.05 per cent.
“Bikes are easier to ride than cars,” she said.
While a reduction of the blood alcohol content is likely, Pistorius said careful considerations would be made.
“We shouldn’t get fixated on numbers alone,” he said.
“It’s much more about the dangerous notion that alcohol is less dangerous behind the handlebars than it is behind the steering wheel.”
In Oz currently cyclists are subject to the same blood alcohol limit as car and motorcycle users, which is 0.05 per cent. But which is a more complex task, driving a car or riding a bicycle?
Although many people may feel 100 per cent fine after drinking and may believe that they can safely drive or cycle, science has proven that alcohol alters our ability to drive, cycle or operate any machinery safely.
Whatever your opinion may be, the law is clear, whether you drive a motorcar or a bicycle your blood alcohol content should not exceed 0.05.
Although many may argue that bicycles are easier to operate than cars and therefore should have a higher blood alcohol limit, the truth is that bicycle’s offer no protection for riders if a crash were to occur. Whereas people in a motor vehicle are somewhat protected from the impact of a crash by the metal of the vehicle, bicycle riders are left at the mercy of the accident. They can fly off the bicycle, be crushed by other vehicles etc. which is why cyclists should refrain from drinking before cycling. Sometimes it may be difficult to measure how much alcohol you have consumed, in this case rather than get back on your bicycle, call for a taxi or a friend to drive you home.