Overview of Bicycle Laws

Posted on behalf of Henness & Haight on Mar 31, 2015 in Car Accident News

It is unfortunate, but all too often cyclists and motorists have an adversarial relationship on the roads. While cyclists have every right to be on the roads, motorists often consider them a danger to those around them. Cyclists, on the other hand, view motorists as the danger, not respecting their rights. Many bicycle riders, however, are not fully educated on the laws that govern the use of these vehicles.

The Basics

Both motorists and cyclists share responsibility for safety on the road. Bicycle riders are required to obey all of the same rules as motorists. Motorists, in turn, are prohibited from interference with people operating bicycles in traffic, and vice-versa. Accidents involving bike riders are fatal far more often than those with two cars.

Passing, Intersections and Lane Sharing

Bicycle riders are viewed the same as pedestrians at intersections. This means that motorists are required to yield to cyclists just as they would for pedestrians. Any time a vehicle passes a bicycle, a minimum of three feet of clearance is required. If possible, the motorist must move into an adjacent lane. Motor vehicles are not permitted to drive, park or stop in a bicycle lane. The only exception to this is if the motorist needs to cross the lane to turn, or is operating in performance of an official duty such as a police officer. Cyclists in bike lanes are considered to have the right of way.

Cyclist Responsibilities

Bicycle operators have a number of responsibilities as well. They are required to ride on the right side of the road, as far to the edge of the traffic lane as possible unless they are passing or turning. They must observe and obey all traffic signals and signs and must use hand signals when turning or braking.

Night Bicycle Riding

When riding at night, the bicycle operator is required to have a white light on the front of their vehicle. This light must be visible up to 500 feet from the cycle. They must also have a red reflector on the bike's tail which can be seen by vehicle lights up to 300 feet away. The sides of the bike must have reflective material which is visible in the lights of a car up to 600 feet distant, or must have a light on either side visible at 500 feet.

Dos and Don'ts of Bicycle Laws

Cyclists should always take care to obey the law, perhaps even more than motorists. While bike riders share the same responsibilities as those driving cars, the danger is arguably much greater for a bicyclist, which increases their responsibility. Always wear a helmet and bright clothing, and make sure your cycle is in good operating condition. Take great care when passing cars or navigating through traffic. Under no circumstances should the bike operator ride against traffic or on the left side of the road. Avoid using an MP3 player or headset, which can distract you and make you unable to hear horns or other signals. Never, ever ride at night without the requisite reflectors and lights. If you are in an accident involving a bicycle and need help, we are here to answer questions and provide legal representation. Give us a call for a free consultation today.