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Cycling in Switzerland: 9 rules you can be fined for breaking

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
Cycling in Switzerland: 9 rules you can be fined for breaking
What are the rules of cycling in Switzerland and the punishment if you flout them? Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

Switzerland's rules of the road don’t just apply to motorists but also to cyclists, who risk paying a hefty fine if they break them. Here are the nine common violations to be aware of and the amount you’d pay if you break the rules.


According to Switzerland’s Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, 42 percent of the Swiss resident population aged over 15 named cycling as one of the sports and physical activities they practice. This means that almost three million residents get on their bikes at least occasionally – and that’s impressive for a nation of hikers.

In principle, the same road traffic rules apply to cyclists as to motorists on Swiss roads: road signs and traffic lights must be obeyed, right of way applies and anyone riding a fast e-bike must also comply with speed limits.

Still, cyclists are often suspected of not obeying traffic rules. We have therefore drawn up a compilation of all the rules that apply to cyclists in Switzerland and the fines they risk paying if they flout them.

Ignore the red light – CHF60 fine

Despite arguably being the simplest rule to follow, cyclists are guilty of crossing red lights repetitively – particularly in larger cities.

Since the beginning of 2021, bicycles have been allowed to make a right turn at red traffic lights (a yellow arrow with a bicycle symbol will indicate this is allowed) so long as neither cars nor pedestrians are impeded or endangered. But beware: cyclists are advised to not take this as a free pass for disregarding the red light signal.

Not stopping at the stop sign – CHF30 fine

Just like with cars, those on a bicycle are also required to come to a complete stop (both feet on the ground!) whenever they are confronted with a stop sign. While this rule can feel awfully tedious it is meant to keep you safe in blind and potentially dangerous spots.


Driving on the pavement – CHF40 fine

There are many reasons cyclists may choose to ride a bike on the pavement, from using them as a shortcut to avoiding a busy or blocked-off road. Whatever the reason may be, riding a bike on the pavement is not permitted in Switzerland and poses a threat to pedestrians.

Exception: Where there are no cycle lanes or paths, children up to the age of twelve are allowed to ride on pavements.

Driving in a pedestrian zone – CHF30 fine

In Switzerland, many shopping streets and old towns have been converted into pedestrian zones since the 1980s and allow only limited vehicle traffic (e.g., deliveries, taxis to hotels), with vehicle speed reduced to walking pace.

Naturally, this implementation leads to a lot of conflict in inner cities with some cyclists choosing to disregard riding at a leisurely pace or refusing to dismount and push their bicycles in zones explicitly marked as pedestrian zones.


Ignoring the cycle lane – CHF30 fine

If officially indicated by traffic signs, cyclists must always use the cycle lane which must be driven in the prescribed direction of travel as defined in Article 46 of the Road Traffic Act.

Article 46 also stipulates that bicycles may only be ridden side by side on a cycle path in Switzerland, something that is prohibited on the roads and other paths.

Ignoring pedestrians at a pedestrian crossing – CHF40 fine

The following applies to both motorists and cyclists: pedestrians not only have the right of way if they are already on the pedestrian crossing, but also if they are standing on the sidewalk and clearly show an intent to cross. Bicycles are strongly advised to resists the urge to ride past - even if there is a gap wide enough for a bicycle to pass through.

The rule is slightly different at a zebra crossing with a central island, which legally turns one strip into two. Even in this case, cyclists are advised to stop and wait lest the pedestrian changes their mind.


Driving without a light - CHF40 (illuminated road) or CHF60 (on an non-lit road)

In Switzerland, lights are compulsory in the evening and at night – and yes, even in well-lit areas! For e-bikes, this rule also applies during the day.

Cyclists must therefore ensure that their bicycle is properly equipped, which means having at least one stationary white light to the front and one stationary red light to the rear. At night and in good weather, the lights must be visible from 100 metres and must not dazzle others.

Note: even in tunnels, a fine can apply if your light is not switched on.

Letting go of the handlebars – CHF20 fine

While riding your bicycle hands-free might make for a handy balance exercise, it is forbidden. And for good reason.

As in a car, in which at least one hand must remain on the steering wheel and the other hand must be ready to intervene, according to the Road Traffic Act, cyclists must also have at least one hand on the handlebars while driving.

Missing e-bike equipment - CHF20 (no bell/mirror) or CHF30 (no helmet)

In addition to the new obligation to wear headlights during the day, in place since 1st April 2022, drivers of e-bikes must also observe further rules for safely riding on Swiss roads.

Cyclists of all e-bikes must ensure their bikes have a permanent bell installed. Additionally, those on fast bikes of up to 45km/h must also have a rear-view mirror installed on their bikes and wear a helmet at all times.


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