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Cycling Laws in Spain??

wickmanukwickmanuk Posts: 6
edited September 2010 in Tour & expedition
I'm about to go on a week-long cycling tour of Spain following the "Sierras de Gredos y Guadarrama" route from a book "Cycle Touring in Spain" by Cicerone. The book was written in 2003, and revised in 2006.

The route is a loop from Madrid, via Navas del Rey, Piedralaves, Burgohondo, Ávila, Segovia and Cercadilla. Much of the early part of the route, from Madrid to Navas del Rey, goes along Autovias, and I'm now in a bit of a panic as I'm hearing that the law has been changed (presumably since the book was published) and it is now illegal to cycle on Autovias, but I can't find any authoritative websites to validate this.

Could anybody confirm what the law actually is, or - better still - send me a link to a website explaining traffic laws in Spain for cyclists.

Many thanks

Posts

  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    I found this (in Spanish).

    http://www.autovia.com/legislacion/nls-vial.php

    A quick skim suggests that the nub is that cyclists can ride on the hard shoulder provided that there are no signs specifically prohibiiting them.

    Una de las principales modificaciones es la prohibición del uso de los móviles y de emisoras de radio dotadas de micrófono mientras se conduce, salvo que sean del tipo ‘manos libres’ que no requiera manipulación manual ni ningún otro dispositivo como cascos o auriculares. Igualmente se prohíbe el uso de equipos técnicos para detectar y anular los controles de velocidad del radar.

    Por otro lado, se contempla la posibilidad de que los ciclistas puedan circular por autovías, salvo que expresamente lo prohíba la señalización


    and further on

    Más protección para los ciclistas

    La Ley introduce cambios y términos nuevos para los ciclistas:

    Los ciclistas, cuando no dispongan de una vía o parte de la misma especialmente destinada a ellos, circularán por el arcén de la derecha; también podrán hacerlo los vehículos en seguimiento de ciclistas, a una velocidad por debajo de los límites mínimos.

    Los ciclistas podrán superar la velocidad máxima fijada para ellos (40 km/h) en aquellos tramos en los que las circunstancias de la vía aconsejen desarrollar una velocidad superior, pudiendo ocupar incluso la parte derecha de la calzada que necesiten, especialmente en descenso prolongados con curvas.

    Podrán circular por los arcenes de las autovías salvo que, por razones de seguridad, se prohíba con señales
    [My emphasis, and arcén is the hard shoulder].

    Los ciclistas pueden circular en grupo, en cuyo caso se les considera como una única unidad móvil a efectos de prioridad.

    Para adelantar a un ciclista o grupo de ellos, se ocupará parte o la totalidad del carril contrario de la calzada, incluso cuando esté prohibido el adelantamiento, siempre que se pueda efectuar la maniobra sin peligro.

    Se añaden nuevos términos como VÍA CICLISTA (específicamente acondicionada para las bicicletas); CARRIL-BICI (cuando discurre adosado a la calzada); CARRIL-BICI PROTEGIDO (con elementos laterales que lo separan del resto de la calzada); ACERA-BICI (con trazado independiente de la carretera); y SENDA CICLABLE (vía para peatones y bicicletas que discurre por espacios abiertos, parques o bosques).


    I have to say though, even if it's legal it doesn't sound like a great way to start a holiday. Why not spend a bit of time researching possible alternatives (fallbacks)? the viamichelin.com website is particularly useful because all the scenic roads are highlighted in green - so it's very easy to plot a route from Madrid to Navas del Rey and then on to Avila. There's also an automated route planner which will suggest a bike-friendly route out of Madrid that avoids the autovias (in fact it gives you two alternatives).
  • eskimo Joeeskimo Joe Posts: 764
    Apart from the vuelta I havent seen any cyclists on autovias. YOu could maybe chcnage your route a bit and leave Madrid on a Cerencia train http://www.ctm-madrid.es/red_transportes/renfe/red_renfe_esquema_general.jsp?CODPANTALLA=25&CODBOTON=107
    These are local trains , cost next to nothing and you can take your bike on them outside of rush hour. Get the train to El Escorial and it takes all the hassle of cycling out of the city.
    Suburban studs yodel better than anyone else
  • Thanks Andy and Joe for the replies!

    Andy's link does say that cyclists are allowed on autovias except where expressly prohibited.

    The first two stages in the book, from Madrid to Piedralaves, use the M-501, but I can see from Google streetview that this is one of those roads which does prohibit cycling, and so I shall now be heading south from Brunete on the M-606 and west to Piedralaves on the M-507. I'll feel a lot happier when I get to Piedralaves and up into the Gredos.

    I'm sure I shall come across other issues ahead of, and during my ride, though I should be OK as I will have the 'mapas provinciales' with me.

    Once I've completed my ride, I shall be writing to the publishers to point out all of the inaccuracies (I have already found others) and to tell them that they shouldn't be printing books which are now so badly out of date.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    wickmanuk wrote:
    Once I've completed my ride, I shall be writing to the publishers to point out all of the inaccuracies (I have already found others) and to tell them that they shouldn't be printing books which are now so badly out of date.

    While I'm not defending them, there has been a huge roadbuilding programme in Spain in recent years. Keeping up with it would have been an impossible task.
  • I agree to a point Andy - I'm a regular traveller to Spain and do appreciate the amount of 'obras, obras y más obras' in recent years.

    However, the book only has eight routes and cost £14, which isn't cheap, so I would expect this to be reasonably up to date. One easy way for the publishers to mitigate this would be to have some sort of forum on their website, with a 'route update' thread for each route so that people who have actually done the route can add updates and comments.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Only eight routes and one of them runs along an autovía? Not very impressive.
  • Precisely - I'm less than impressed!!
  • hdowhdow Posts: 172
    Wickmanuk & Andy,

    Read your comments with interest.

    Cicerone does have an updates section for this book on it's website. Go to the page for the book. However, the updates you require for this route are absent. Hopefully your experiences can be fed back and the situation corrected.

    As the author I share your disappointment that but it is not practical to keep the book under constant revision. Sales for this type of book are never going to be large and short print runs are expensive. Although the RRP is £14 Amazons price today is £8.60 - guess where the majorityof sales are. Sadly this doesn't leave much for overheads and royalties - believe me. It wasn't written for the money even though Cicerone does pay good royalties. Annual royalties would usually pay for one return trip with bike (travel only, no accommodation or food).

    This route is due for heavy revision especially the first stage to Navas (which will probably now end at San Martin) and the return into Madrid which has been really fouled up with terminal 4 and later road building. The revisions should make for a better route than when first researched.

    Michelin maps which are revised anually (Amazon price £4.99) with huge print runs still miss out many updates. Even Google Streetview is not always up todate as I found out earlier this year researching a route near Malaga. Maybe the only positive thing to come out of Spains current economic worries is a long term halt to non-stop road building.

    Sadly all such books & guides are out of date as soon as the author puts pen to paper. It's one of those things we have to live with if we want any form of guide book. I hope this gives you some background even if it doesn't solve the problems you face.

    If you can feed your experiences & suggestions back to Cicerone they will be much appreciated and will be taken on board.

    Hope you enjoy your trip.

    Yours

    Harry
  • Hi Harry

    Thanks for replying, I appreciate your comments.

    I shall certainly be suggesting that they add a forum as an enhancement to the website, which would certainly help. They might also add a 'traffic laws for cyclists' section for each of the different countries, with links to authoritative websites.

    I get your comments re Amazon, though I'm one of those who paid RRP for the book, as I would hate to see shops like Waterstones go bust.

    I'm ending Stage One in Brunete, mainly because I don't get to Barajas until 1pm and I don't fancy cycling in the dark, so I'll be making the ground up on Stage Two.

    I will definitely be sending my comments to Cicerone, pointing out where the route is out of date, with suggestions as to how the route might be revised.

    Cheers

    Mike
  • ItalianoItaliano Posts: 75
    Been around Calpe/Benidorm 3 times and law seems quiet simple, at least for an italian like me; you have to be wearing your helmet (only pros are allowed to ride without) and keep on the right side of the lines (if possible) that you find along the roads.
    Once I've got a policeman complaining to me while riding in a busy road along the coast.
  • Italiano wrote:
    Been around Calpe/Benidorm 3 times and law seems quiet simple, at least for an italian like me; you have to be wearing your helmet (only pros are allowed to ride without) and keep on the right side of the lines (if possible) that you find along the roads.
    Once I've got a policeman complaining to me while riding in a busy road along the coast.

    Laws for drivers are supposed to be simple as well, give bikes a minimum of 1.5 metres space when overtaking them :lol: How often is that one breached? I'm up the coast from Calpe in Denia where the roads are quieter and traffic pretty considerate but lots of Spaniards still get harrassed with riders that are two abreast. This is a fairly new law in Spain and clearly a lot of drivers aren't aware of it.

    As far as Autovias go, riding on motorways and A roads is a mugs game - far, far too dangerous. Spain is nowhere near as advanced as the UK when it comes to enforcing drink driving and speeding laws. I don't like going on them in cars, never mind a bike.
  • prb007prb007 Posts: 703
    I've ridden (deliberately and inadvertently)on Autovias in Central Spain.
    Did it about 8/9 years ago on a tandem with my (considerably) better half,
    Madrid-Avila-Salamanca-Lisbon and back to Madrid again.
    It wasn't a particularly terrifying experience, nobody honked us
    but neither was it very pleasant - stick to minor roads if you can
    you'll get more of a feel for the country - passing through towns rather
    than passing by them.
    Did get hassled by Police - in a motorway services, but they then 'chaperoned' us at
    15mph for about 5 miles to the next exit and gave us directions to his cousin's
    hotel in Avila!

    Enjoy - and double check RENFE's bike policy, they wouldn't allow us on from Salamanca-Lisbon, ended up renting a Renault Kangoo and jamming the tandem inside with the wheels off! There's 300 or so miles of petty much nothing south-west of Salamanca until you get to Lisbon!
    If Wales was flattened out, it'd be bigger than England!
    Planet X Ti Sportive for Sportives & tours
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  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Renfe's bike policy is basically - local and regional trains mainly posible (although check for particular restrictions into and out of Madrid. Long distance - officially, I think, you can,t take a bike even in a bag - although you might get away with it if the bag is small enough to go through a scanner and fit on a luggage rack.
  • megillelandmegilleland Posts: 786
    edited September 2010
    Harry Dowdell's "Cycle Touring in Spain" published by Cicerone is a worthy introduction to the country and provides a useful insight into the vast and varied landscape of the country. The main reason there are not many touring cycle guides to Spain is because the Spanish do not wander far from home and tend to be mbt users. They like to stick together socially for an event and finish the day off with a meal.

    A lot of cyclists' introduction to Spain are mainly following the Camino Santiago routes, cycling down the Mediterranean or traversing the Pyrenees. The Picos Europa area and the Costa Verde are also popular and The Via de Plata is publicised a lot. Wander away from these areas and you will be literally on your own and relying on your own resources. Harry's book is an encouragement to get out and try something different and will encourage cyclists to Spain to discover other parts away from the usual tourist haunts. As far as I am aware other than Harry's guide there are only two other accounts/guide published in hard back form.

    "Trans-Iberian Challenge" an Interesting and accessible adventure along the length of the Iberian Peninsula". Santander to Gibraltar by two retired dentist cycle tourers
    and "Cycling the Mediterranean" bicycle tours in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel Cyprus, Malta, Crete, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily - very sketchy.

    Of course there are plenty of cyclists' reports of their tours on the net - so it's not surprising that there are only a few published and sold in book shops.
    Andy Miller - Why not spend a bit of time researching possible alternatives (fallbacks)? the viamichelin.com website is particularly useful because all the scenic roads are highlighted in green - so it's very easy to plot a route from Madrid to Navas del Rey and then on to Avila. There's also an automated route planner which will suggest a bike-friendly route out of Madrid that avoids the autovias (in fact it gives you two alternatives).
    Totally agree. Other suggestions to get you around Madrid. Get a decent street plan of the city. You can then easily cycle around without much hassle. Most streets in Madrid are one way so it is safer as long as you keep your wits about you, but turning left in some cases can pose problems as most routes turn off right, go around the block, and come back across the road at right angles. This can throw you out when planning a route. The one I use and covers the area within the M40 is Michelin's Madrid Plano and Callejero, an A5 booklet spiral bound which fits into my map case nicely. Previous editions have a red cover which you may come across second hand. Here is my suggestion for a route to get you from Madrid Barajas to Brunete avoiding autovias.

    The Anillo Verde (Green Ring), a 64kms circular route around the city is now complete, bar 4.5kms from Canillejas to Las Musas - alternative route shown here. This route keeps you out of the city centre and connects with other minor cycle routes. Information and gallery of photographs of the route broken down into stages (Tramos) here, although only in Spanish: Example of photo gallery

    The time to complete the circular route is approx 3 hours at 22km/hr, 4.5 hours at 15km/hr and 11hours at 6km/hr.

    The site also covers the parks at Juan Carlos I, which I pass through from the airport at Barajas and Casa de Campo where you can have lunch by the lake. Another booklet of the route in .pdf is here. It also gives information on taking bikes on the Metro and Cercanias.

    A new transport development is the MetroLigero (light railway). There are three lines on which you can take your bike on at the weekends only. Line 1 from Pinar de Charmatin to Las Tablas; Line 2 runs from Colonia Jardin to Estacion de Aravaca and Line 3 from Colonia Jardin to Boadilla del Monte.
    prb007 - It wasn't a particularly terrifying experience, nobody honked us but neither was it very pleasant - stick to minor roads if you can you'll get more of a feel for the country - passing through towns rather than passing by them.
    Agree again. I always try to end up the day in a sizeable village or town, so that after a shower and clean up I can spend the evening sauntering around sampling the bars and tapas and mixing with the locals.
    The more you spend - the faster you go - the less you see.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    When I was in Spain (andalucia) there were plenty of Spanish roadbikers around.

    there's also lots of information around - although MTB routes such as the TransAndalus, transpirineica, Ruta del Cid, Camino Frances, Rita de Washimgtom Irving, etc do seem to be more prominent (although that may just reflect my interests).

    If you are interested in cycing in Spain, my advice would be to go to viamichelin.com or buy one of their regional maps, or check out wikiloc.com.
  • Most of the above coments are correct.

    Cycling on the coast of spain and cycling inland are completly different.
    The Guardia civil have no consistency in the way they treat cyclists.
    On the coast they are very leanent where as in the big citys and surrounding areas they are a law made up on the day!!

    Many cyclists have been fined and lost penalty points on their driving licence.........illegal as you dont need a licence to use a bike...............what happens if you have no driving licence i dont know!

    I have lived in Spain for 7 years and ride on the coast and mainly outside of Madrid i ride with ex pros,ex tour stage winners,etc and we never have a problem.
    Yes some roads have banned cyclists and many voices of cycling here in Madrid are fighting to get these bans changed.
    The politicians here are soon ready to hug and greet tour winners and get a free yellow jersey,but go deaf when asked about the roads that prohibit cyclists especially the M501 which is a big sticking point as its a main exit from Madrid out mountainous areas.

    For touring just try and stick to the smaller roads.
    Wear a helmet on busy roads (on hot days or climbing mountains its not illegal to not wear a helmet)
    Myprotein referral code mp288135 (get money off)
  • Just make damn sure it's an autovía an not an autopista.

    TF2 in Tenerife is/was supposedly an autovía. But I wouldn't be caught dead on it.

    Autovía:
    autovia.jpg

    Autopista:
    100px-Spain_traffic_signal_s1.svg.png
  • Here is the complete list of Spanish Autopistas (toll roads) and Autovias (restricted user - at least dual carriageway) to help your route planning and avoid them. I wouldn't want to find myself on either!
    The more you spend - the faster you go - the less you see.
  • Came across this video of a Spaniard extolling the virtues of cycling across Madrid on a bike. He has being doing it for years - surprised he hasn't been killed! I have cycled along many roads like this in Spanish cities but have taken a more cautious approach. Note how many red lights he goes through. He says respect the motorists and they will respect you!!!!!
    The more you spend - the faster you go - the less you see.
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