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The answer to Are country-specific questions OK? was basically "let's see if it works".

Pushing a bit further, I have a question about a particular bicycle accessory that is authorized in some countries and probably banned in others.

Is it OK to ask whether that accessory is legal in my country?

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Fundamentally, the site is here to answer questions; while the legal specifics could be a cause for being too localised there are going to be many situations where the question is going to be interesting to a wider audience.

While the question might be about Toronto/California/Scotland/wherever, it is almost certainly going to be relevant in some way, shape or form to where others are. Further, if somewhere has got a really good law or is handling a scenario in a particularly innovative way, it's going to be interesting to hear about it. Or, vice versa, if others can explain that other locales aren't so backward, the OP might learn something useful to press their case outside Bicycles.SE.

Many of us here are also involved in campaigning, advocacy and similar pressure groups and learning about how other people do things is useful in our situations. Many cities don't like being new and learning about other precedents is good information. After all, we can't always let Shelbyville have the best toys.

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Interesting that more than two years after this question was first asked, there is debate on the main site as to whether legal questions are on- of off-topic. Here is the question:

Bicycles riding in pedestrian crosswalks — Houston

One of the commenters states that he was voting to close because the question was asking for legal advice, and was therefore off-topic, and by the looks of things three other people to date agree with them, just going on votes to close. But I'm not sure that I can find anything within the Help section to say that, by its very definition, legal == off-topic. Is there anything?

I think legal stuff is very much like medical advice. I see no problem with general medical advice (e.g. will cycling make me fitter?), but I think we need to stop short at getting into specifics, e.g. I have a heart condition, is it safe for me to cycle?, where clearly professional advice would be appropriate.

So on that basis, I'm quite happy to get into a debate about whether cyclists should be allowed to ride on the pavement at an intersection (which is broadly what the question asked), but less happy to get involved in a kind of I-did-this-He-did-that-who's-in-the-right type question.

  • Thanks for posting this Peter. It's good to re-read the rules from time to time. – andy256 Feb 2 '15 at 9:57
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I think you run two risks.

1 - Some people may see region or country questions like this as too localized. Unfortunately this is sometimes a factor of the size of the country you are talking about, but it is also by design.

2 - If you were to ask this, I would include in the body of the question what attempts you have made to find the answer. If someone can do a simple google search and find the answer they may be more likely to find an excuse to downvote the question because you didn't put in any effort.

Neither of those risks are life threatening, so I would probably ask away. Even if the question gets closed you may get an answer before that action takes effect.

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I think questions about law are OK, so long as all parties understand that nothing said here constitutes a "legal opinion" that would hold up in court -- the advice may be wrong.

Probably in any thread involving legal questions this point should be emphasized once or twice, but in general I've found discussions about bike laws here both helpful and interesting.

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