Definition:

"Bicycle" shall mean that certain class of vehicles which are exclusively human-powered by means of foot pedals, which the driver normally rides astride, which have not in excess of three wheels and which may be commonly known as unicycles, bicycles and tricycles. Also, includes a two- or three wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 hp) whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 m.p.h.

Remember: Bicycles are vehicles, therefore:

  1. Bicyclists must obey all traffic laws.
  2. Motorists must treat bikes as all other vehicles.

Rules of law and common sense can help both motorists and bicyclists to share the road safely. It is useful to look at the task of sharing the road from three viewpoints: that of the motorist, that of the parent of the youthful bicyclist, and that of the adult bicyclist.

The Motorist And The Bicyclist

Bicyclists have the right to use all roads except those from which they are specifically excluded. They are subject to the provisions of the vehicle code, just as other vehicle drivers are. Thus in a given situation if you would yield the right-of-way to a motor vehicle, you would yield it to a bicycle as well.

A modern bicycle is capable of speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour. However, its small bulk may make the bicycle hard to spot in traffic, particularly when visibility is poor (as in rain, at dusk, or in fog).

Bicycles are quite sensitive to irregular road surfaces and to the air pressure from vehicles passing very close; trucks and buses in particular can push a bicyclist over just by the air pressure as they pass at high speed. Allow plenty of room when passing a bicyclist, particularly when you are traveling at a high speed. If the road is narrow and you are unable to pass safely, follow at a safe distance and wait until it is safe before passing. Allow plenty of clearance after overtaking a bicyclist before you pull to the right; the bicyclist's speed may be much greater than you realize. Avoid blowing your horn at a bicyclist except in an emergency.

Many car/bike accidents occur because the motorist does not see the bicyclist, while the bicyclist falsely assumes that the motorist has seen him. Motorists are accustomed to searching only for motor vehicles and tend to overlook oncoming bicyclists. Be especially careful to look for bicyclists when you are preparing to enter a roadway or to make a turn. At night, be aware that bicycles, like other smaller vehicles, are harder to see.

The Parent Of The Youthful Bicyclist

Under the law, the parent (or guardian) can be held responsible if a child, while bicycling, violates any traffic law. As a parent you have the responsibility to be sure that the child is ready and able to use a bicycle safely, and that he or she knows and obeys the traffic laws. You are also responsible if your child (under the age of 16) is not wearing a helmet.

The Adult Bicyclist

Keeping three important principles in mind will help the adult bicyclist to share the road safely with motor vehicles and pedestrians: control, predictability, and visibility.

Before you venture into traffic, make sure that you have mastered the control of your bicycle; riding in a straight line, and turning and stopping smoothly. Riding your bicycle in a predictable manner is essential to your safety on the road. This means riding with the traffic, not against it; signalling your intentions clearly and in plenty of time; and choosing a path of travel which won't result in you swerving into traffic to avoid hazards. Increasing your visibility will help to protect you on the road. Clothes of bright colors during the day, and white or reflective clothing at night will help you to be seen. A good bicycle helmet of white or yellow color is an excellent option. It will both protect you and make you more visible. At night, always have the required white headlight and red rear-reflector on your bicycle; a red tail light and additional reflectors are also helpful.

Use hand signals to communicate your intentions to other vehicles. (See Section Five - Communicating)

As the rider of a bicycle, you have all the rights and all the duties and responsibilities of the driver of a motor vehicle, except where by their nature the laws are inapplicable to bicycles. The following additional laws apply to bicyclists:

  • When riding a bicycle you must be on or astride a permanent seat.
  • You may not carry a passenger unless your bicycle is designed for carrying a passenger.
  • You must not cling to any vehicle upon the highway. This law also applies to sledders, coasters, skaters, and riders of toy vehicles.
  • You must not ride on a highway facing traffic.
  • When upon a roadway you must ride as far to the right of the roadway as practicable.
  • When riding a bicycle, you must keep at least one hand on the handle bars at all times.
  • You must not ride at night unless you have a white headlight visible for 500 feet, a red rear-reflector visible for 600 feet, and either reflective material visible from both sides for 600 feet or a lighted lamp visible from both sides for 500 feet. A tail light is recommended.
  • You must yield to pedestrians on a sidewalk and in a crosswalk and give an audible signal before overtaking.
  • You must not wear a headset covering both ears.
  • All persons under the age of 16 must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.