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Bicyclists' Rights and Responsibilities

The bicycle has been legally considered a vehicle in North Carolina since 1937. Thus bicyclists have full rights and responsibilities on the roadway and are subject to the regulations governing the operation of a motor vehicle, where applicable.

Bicyclists' Rights

  • The bicyclist has a right to ride on any state maintained road, except roads of the Interstate Highway system and other fully-controlled access highways.
  • While a bicyclist should ride as far to the right as practicable, a bicyclist may ride well out into the traffic lane under the following conditions:
    1. if he or she can maintain the same speed as other vehicles on the roadway;
    2. if the right-hand edge of the roadway is in poor condition or is littered with debris.
  • A bicyclist is not required to ride on the shoulder, since the shoulder is not legally defined as part of the roadway.
  • A bicyclist may choose to make a left turn from the appropriate lane, like a vehicle, or may dismount and walk the bicycle across the intersection, like a pedestrian.

Bicyclists' Responsibilities

  • North Carolina traffic laws require the rider of a bicycle to:
    1. ride on the right, in the same direction as other moving traffic;
    2. obey all traffic signs and signals, including stop and yield signs and one-way directional signs;
    3. use signals to communicate intended movements;
    4. yield to pedestrians and emergency vehicles;
    5. equip the bicycle with a front lamp visible from 300 feet and a rear reflector or lamp which is visible from a distance of 200 feet at night;
  • Bicyclists should ride predictably and courteously to keep traffic moving safely and to avoid accidents.
From: Bicycle Program, North Carolina Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 25201, Raleigh, NC 27611, (919) 733-2804.
 

Page maintained by Barbara Ballentine and Micheal Wolosin
Last modified:1/13/01