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Cyclists' Federation opposes ministry's proposed blood alcohol limit for bike riders

Introducing a specific blood alcohol limit would ultimately do more harm than good, the federation says.

One in four Finns admit to have cycled while drunk, according to state alcohol monopoly Alko. Image: Jani Aarnio / Yle
Yle News

A ministry proposal to specifically limit the permitted Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of bike riders would cause more harm than good to overall traffic safety, according to the Finnish Cyclists' Federation.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Transport and Communications proposed to limit the BAC of people riding bikes and e-scooters to 0.5 promille (mg per ml of blood).

According to the federation, the law would be too difficult to enforce and likely damage people's respect for the law. At worst, it said, such a move could backfire by encouraging intoxicated people to get the behind the wheel of cars instead, the federation said in a statement.

According to Finnish law, riding a bicycle while drunk is already a serious traffic offense. However, there is no legal penalty because the law does not specify a BAC limit for cyclists, or for example, someone riding a horse.

If the proposal becomes law in its current form, drunk cycling or e-scooter riding would become a crimes that carry potential penalties of day fines and up to three months in jail.

The federation said current laws on the books are sufficient in ensuring safe cycling, adding that giving police more tools to deal with drunk riders would be more effective.

"Police can already stop an intoxicated cyclist or scooter rider if they pose a danger to others. To facilitate better police control, the simplest solution would be to give officers the legal power to breathalyse or carry out drug tests on cyclists and e-scooter users on the spot. There is no need to set a separate blood alcohol limit", head of the federation Matti Koistinen said in the statement.

The rising popularity of e-scooters has increased support for introducing BAC-level limits for people using light vehicles. Last summer, it was reported that around half of the accidents on the battery-powered devices in Helsinki were linked to the use of alcohol.

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