What do pubs need to know about alcohol and cycling?

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Staying on track: what responsibility pub operators have to ensure that cyclists don’t exceed legal drinking limits?
Staying on track: what responsibility pub operators have to ensure that cyclists don’t exceed legal drinking limits?
What are the laws on cycling and alcohol consumption, and what responsibility do pub operators have to ensure cyclists don’t exceed legal drinking limits if they are riding their bike to and from the pub?

National cycling charity, Cycling UK, outlines legal guidance on cycling and alcohol on its website, stating: “Cycling on a road or other public place (including a bridleway) while unfit through drink or drugs carries a fine up to £1,000.

“There's no breath test for this and no blood alcohol or other legal limits.

“The key question is simply whether you are under the influence to the extent that you're incapable of having proper control of your bike.”

Potential risk to license

Andy Grimsey, partner at licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen said: “First and foremost a licensee obviously cannot sell alcohol to someone who is drunk, however they travelled to the pub.

“As the use of cycling as a mode of transport has increased (and been supported by Government) the number of victims of careless cycling, as well as cyclists being victims themselves, has increased.

“Cycles are a form of transport and there is a specific offence of cycling while unfit to ride through drink or drugs, but only in the most extreme cases can I imagine a licensee being held legally responsible for an accident caused by a drunk cyclist.

“Such a situation has not occurred with drink drivers in the UK to my knowledge, let alone cyclists. This is ultimately a question of personal responsibility.

“However, some pubs are known cyclists’ favourite stop-offs, and if it became clear that groups of cyclists were consuming large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis and then going cycling in the full knowledge of the licensee, this is something that may result in the premises licence being reviewed under the public safety objective.

“Again, licensees should use their common sense. Measures to assist drivers, for example, allowing them to leave their cars overnight or offering to arrange a taxi can be extended to cyclists, if necessary, with cycle racks.”

Overnight storage

Sam Jones of Cycling UK explained: “For those pubs trying to attract the weekender, having the option of a secure place for people to leave their cycles overnight is a real bonus.

“It doesn’t have to be a fancy cycle locker – but having the option of leaving a bike in a secure area whether it’s a courtyard, shed or storage room, will always be appreciated and noted.

“Otherwise, cyclists are no different to any other pub visitor – with the only difference being they’ll probably ask for their water bottles to be filled after having enjoyed a drink or a meal.”

Jones also suggested that pub landlords may look to register with Cyclists Welcome – a database hosting cycle friendly businesses https://www.cyclistswelcome.co.uk/.

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