What Rights Do You Have as a Biker in the US?
The United States does not lack bike enthusiasts. Whether it is for entertainment or to save on costs or to be more health-conscious, riding a bicycle or a motorbike can serve many purposes.
In the US, each of the states has its own set of laws and rights of a biker based on their respective code statutes.
And today, we are going to talk about your rights. Yes, this article is about your rights as a biker in the US.
Let’s get started!
Things to Consider Before We Begin
In this article, we are going to have a look at some general rights and laws bikers have in the US. But before you start reading, please keep in mind that rights and laws vary from state to state, so this article is not exhaustive by any means.
So, we recommend going through your state’s list of laws on this topic to fully understand what your rights are if you are interested. We also recommend checking out the Bikers Rights blog for more details on your rights as well as fun reviews on different models of bikes and related gadgets.
Now, let’s dive in to learn more about your rights!
Common Biker’s Rights and Laws in the US
Bicycles are considered as a vehicle and therefore, has all the same rights as any other vehicle operator such as car or truck drivers do. Because of the same reason, bikers are also obligated to follow all the rules and laws that apply to vehicle operators. In short, bikers have the same rights and duties as other vehicle operators.
Rights and Laws for Using Public Roads & Major Highways
If you are operating a bike on a public roadway meant for all vehicles (as opposed to specific bike pathways made for bikes only), then you should always do your best to remain on the right side of the road. But you can make exceptions to this rule; the circumstances in which you can are explained in the next two paragraphs.
When you need to take a left turn or an exit to a different highway, or to overtake a slower vehicle, or on a one-way road where you prefer to be on the left, you have the right to not follow the above rule. While passing a vehicle, make sure it is done in accordance with the local law; otherwise, you do not have the right to do so.
It also applies when there is a condition on or of the road such as parked vehicles, animals, surface hazards, debris, accidents, etcetera that prevents you from safely using the right side. Minors can use bicycles provided that they have helmets on and are properly trained to use a cycle.
Rights and Laws for Biking at Night
You are also allowed to have as many reflectors and lights on your bike as you want. In the nighttime, you have the right to ride your cycle provided that you have equipped enough and proper headlights, taillights, & reflectors as the law states.
Rights and Laws Related to Signaling
To signal stops and turns, you may use either of your hands as convenient. It is a legal requirement to always use hand signals to enlighten others about your possible stops or turns. If there is a chance of danger, you have the right to omit from signaling using hands. Follow proper rules when signaling.
Always make sure you have at least one hand on a handlebar, both of them, if possible, just to be safe. It is also allowed for you to pass cars on your right provided that they are slow enough to pass, and you are not doing it on the curve of a road or in any state where the other vehicle operator’s view is obscured.
Rights and Laws for Using Roads & Pedestals
You have the right to bike on any public road, bikeway, or streets except on roads with limited access and express highways where there are signs explicitly prohibiting bikes. Riding on sidewalks with a bicycle is permitted unless you are on a business strict or somewhere where local laws prohibit riding on sidewalks.
If you are on a sidewalk, though, always give pedestrians the right of way and signals that are loud enough to be clearly heard when passing or overtaking pedestrians. You can not ride a bike if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Rights and Laws for Bespoke Biking
Cyclists can ride side by side and are allowed to do so, but more than two are discouraged or prohibited in some states because it can impede the flow of vehicles. You must also facilitate any vehicle passing by if you are doing this.
In some states, provided that the road is clear and not a busy/major one, two or more persons may ride side by side, but it is discouraged for rider’s safety. You have the right to carry items with you, but make sure your hands are on the handles at all times, and the item being carried is not compromising your safety in any way.
Rights and Laws for Carrying a Passenger
If your bike is equipped to carry more than one person or has an approved and connected child seat, you have the right to carry exactly as many persons the bike is equipped for; but in some states such as California, more than one person on a bike is prohibited.
Assuming that you are carrying children within a trailer or other vehicle that will secure them sufficiently and cover their heads in the event of a collision, they aren’t required to wear helmets, meaning you are not obligated to have them wear one.
Rights and Laws for Hosting Biking Competitions
You may run a competitive bike race and choose any public road or street of your state provided that you are holding the race in conjunction with a well-known bike organization, and also, if you manage to get permission from the relevant law enforcement department before the race starts.
In these races, you have the right to enforce special bike rules and regulations provided that your sponsoring bike organization and the law enforcement department have both agreed to it.
That’s all the basic rights you have as a biker in the United States. When you are riding and practicing your rights, always make sure to put your and other’s safety above everything else. Happy riding!