More and more people are seeing the benefits of biking instead of driving. Exercise, fresh air, and saving money on gas are some of the reasons people are opting to leave the car at home. With the increase in biking, the bike accident lawyers at Schehr Law, PLLC, Attorney at Law are receiving lots of questions about the laws governing vehicles. Here is a compilation of the most frequently asked questions and answers.
- Is a bike actually a vehicle? Yes, a bicycle is a vehicle under North Carolina law, which means bicycles are expected to follow the rules of the road. The law does, however, make a distinction between vehicles and motor vehicles.
- Do I have to wear a helmet? It depends. If you are under 16 years old, you are required to wear a helmet by North Carolina law. If you are over 16, you are not legally obligated, but strongly encouraged to wear one.
- Is there any other equipment I am required to have to bike? During the day, no. However, if you are biking at night, you must be visible from the front and the back from at least 300 feet away. You can do this either by purchasing a light for your bicycle or by wearing reflective gear.
- Can I ride opposite traffic so I am able to see cars coming? No, since bikes are considered vehicles, this is illegal. Furthermore, it is actually less safe. Cycling on the wrong side of the street is a leading cause of collisions.
- Do I have to use bike lanes if they are available? This is a common misconception, but under North Caroline law, bikes do not have to use the bike lane.
- Do I have to come to a complete stop at a traffic light? Yes, you do have to come to a complete stop at a traffic light or stop sign under North Caroline law. While many cyclists roll through stops, this does put you at risk of being stopped by the police or being found at fault if an accident occurs. If the cyclist is the only vehicle and does not trip the sensor, you can treat the light as you would any light that is out of order.
- If biking with a friend, can I bike next to them on the road? There is no state law on this matter, but some municipalities do have laws, so check local laws to know for sure. In most cases, riding two bikes side by side is legal.
- If I have had too much to drink, can I bike home? No, North Carolina’s Driving while Impaired laws apply to cyclists too. If you do not feel safe driving, you should not bike.
Hopefully these answer your questions about the laws around biking in North Carolina. While following these laws are designed to keep cyclists safe, accidents do happen. If you are injured in a biking accident, contact a bike accident lawyer in Charlotte, NC for a free consultation.