Warning to UK holidaymakers over £174 fine in Spain for simple cycling mistake

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A little-known rule could see tourists face a hefty fine while holidaying in Spain

British tourists heading to Spain this year face a fine up to €200 (£174) for making a really simple mistake.

Holidaymakers are being warned that they could be hit with the hefty penalty if they are caught wearing earphones while cycling.

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In the UK it is not illegal to cycle whilst wearing earphones or headphones, but cyclists could still be prosecuted for cycling dangerously as this constitutes a breach of the Road Traffic Act (1991)”, according to legal expert Lena Farnell at Cycle SOS.

But in some destinations in Europe, including tourist hotspots Spain and France, the rules are much more strict, so visitors should be wary of the rules before heading out on a bike.

Holidaymakers could be fined for wearing earphones while cycling in Spain (Photo: Getty Images)Holidaymakers could be fined for wearing earphones while cycling in Spain (Photo: Getty Images)
Holidaymakers could be fined for wearing earphones while cycling in Spain (Photo: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Ms Farnell explained: “It is illegal to cycle whilst wearing earphones in popular holiday locations, Spain and France. The ban came into force in France in 2015, whilst current Spanish law, (which was updated in 2014) states that you cannot cycle whilst listening to music through headphones or earbuds.”

“Cyclists who are caught wearing earphones can expect to pay a €200 fine in Spain, whilst if you’re found in breach of the rules in France, you can expect to be fined €135.”

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Ms Farnell said the laws are in place for safety reasons as earphones prevent cyclists from hearing other sounds clearly on the road. She added: “Wearing earphones whilst cycling could present a safety risk to yourself and other road users.

“Listening to music compromises a cyclist’s ability to listen to road traffic, including the sirens of emergency vehicles. They may also be less aware of warning signals such as vehicles using their horn or pedestrians shouting.

“Not wearing earphones allows cyclists to be more aware of their surroundings, helping them to cycle in a safer way, which will reduce the number of road traffic accidents.”

Elsewhere in Europe, Italy and Portugal require cyclists to wear just one earphone while travelling on bicycles. Those who breach this rule in Italy face a penalty of €160 for wearing both earphones whilst cycling.

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But in the UK, Sweden, Belgium and Germany, it is not against the law to wear earphones whilst cycling. Although German law stipulates that you must be able to hear surrounding traffic noises, meaning cyclists  must have the sound on low, rather than blasting loudly.

The earphone ban while cycling is just one of several strict rules being enforced in Spain that holidaymakers should be wary of falling foul of. Smoking is now banned on several beaches across the country, including 28 beaches in  Majorca, Ibiza and Menorca.

The “smoke-free zones” are part of plans to improve people’s health and create a clean, unpolluted space for beachgoers, free from cigarette butts. But no fines will be issued to those who are caught smoking on beaches, as it is hoped that members of the public will act responsibly and respect the rules.

Meanwhile, the use of soap and shampoo cannot be used to wash with at all Spanish beach showers as the products are harmful to marine life. Those who breach this rule can be fined up to £620.

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Holidaymakers who go nude on a non-nudist beach could also be issued with a £620 fine, and in Majorca, 11 seaside restaurants have banned tourists from wearing certain clothes associated with “drunken tourism”. In these restaurants, mostly in the Playa de Palma, shirtless, costumed or football-jersey-clad holidaymakers will not be allowed entry.

In a similar vein, several parts of Spain have clamped down on people being inappropriately dressed on public streets, with authorities dishing out fines to men walking around with no shirts on, or women only wearing bikinis or swimwear on the seafront promenade or the adjacent streets, according to travel advice issued by the UK government.

In Barcelona, people can only wear bikinis on the beach and those caught wearing one in the town centre could face a fine of up to £260. Bikinis are also restricted to beaches in Majorca, with fines of up to £500 for those who flout the rules. The rules also apply to shirtless men in both areas.

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