Laws That Apply To BicyclistsAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 677 people were killed while riding bicycles in 2011 and 38,000 were injured. (Some believe that, because most bicycling injuries are not reported to the police, the actual number of injuries could be as many as ten times the number of reported injuries.) According to the National Safety Council, the total cost of bicyclist injury and death is over $4 billion per year.

So this is something we should talk about.

Rules Of The Road That Apply To Bicyclists

Under Maryland law, bicycles are vehicles, and bicyclists have rights and responsibilities just as do drivers of motor vehicles.

These are some of the main rules that govern bicyclists . . .

  • Bicyclists must obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings, just as drivers must.

  • A bicyclist riding slower than the speed of traffic must stay in the right hand through lane (much the same way as a slow moving vehicle must) and as close to the right side of the road as is safe. A bicyclist can move farther left to: (1) make a vehicular-style left turn, (2) pass a stopped or slower moving vehicle or (3) avoid pedestrians or road hazards.

  • A bicyclist riding at the speed of traffic (way to go!) can operate in any lane, just as any other vehicle can.

  • Bicycles may not be ridden in the travel lanes of any roadway where the posted maximum speed limit is more than 50 miles an hour; however, bicycles may be operated on the shoulder of these roadways.

  • Bicycles may not be operated on expressways (access-controlled freeways and interstate highways), except on an adjacent path.

  • All bicycles must be equipped with brakes capable of stopping from a speed of 10 miles per hour within 15 feet on dry, level, clean pavement.

  • If operated in low visibility conditions (nighttime or unfavorable visibility conditions), bicycles must be equipped with a white beam headlight visible at a distance of 500 feet, and a red rear reflector visible at a distance of 600 feet.

  • Any rider under the age of 16 must also wear a helmet.

Basically, bicyclists on a roadway must comply with all of the normal rules that apply to vehicles, plus a few more bicycle-specific rules.

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**These questions and answers are designed to provide helpful information that can be read quickly. They are neither a full explanation of the subject nor legal advice. To learn more, and to receive legal advice on which you can rely, contact me or another lawyer.