German police apologise for fining one-armed cyclist for riding his bike with only one arm

Cologne’s Bogdan Ionescu had (completely legally) modified his bike so he could operate one brake with his foot – but police fined him anyway

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 02 July 2014 12:12
One-armed cyclist Bogdan Ionescu poses with his bike on July 1, 2014 in Cologne, western Germany
One-armed cyclist Bogdan Ionescu poses with his bike on July 1, 2014 in Cologne, western Germany

A one-armed man in Germany has received a full apology and refund from the police after an overzealous officer fined him for cycling using only one arm.

Bogdan Ionescu, a theatre box office worker from Cologne, gets around the usually cycle-friendly city using a modified bicycle that allows him to operate both brakes – one with his foot.

But on 25 March he was pulled over by a police officer who, he says, told him he was breaking the law.

Under German road safety rules, bicycles are required to have to have two handlebar brakes. After a long argument at the roadside, the officer insisted that Mr Ionescu’s bike was not roadworthy and issued him with a €25 (£20) fine.

The incident was investigated by local newspaper the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, which discovered that with its modifications the bike was in fact entirely legal.

Last week police agreed to offer a refund – but disputed the figure to be offered. It said that while €5 of the fine had been related to the “missing” brake, the other €20 was for an allegedly faulty light.

Mr Ionescu did not let the matter lie there, though, and said he was able to prove that he had always had two functioning, pedal-powered lights throughout the episode.

Police apologised on Tuesday to Ionescu who was fined €25 for having only a single handlebar brake on his bicycle, not two as required by law (AFP)

By Monday, the incident had been picked up by the national press in Germany and even some news outlets in the Netherlands – sympathetic to the cause of a cycling enthusiast.

Finally, yesterday police told Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that they had offered a full refund an apology to Mr Ionescu, with a spokesperson saying: “We only hope something like this never happens again.” Cologne Police also confirmed that the bike was completely roadworthy.

Speaking to the newspaper, Mr Ionescu said: “It's great news, I'm really happy.”

He said the case had weighed on him for weeks and that he believed he was discriminated against. “It's good that this is how it ends,” he added.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments