Bike Lane Rules: Same as Traffic Laws

There you are, straddling your new Capitol Hill bike, waiting for the light to change so you can finally head home. Rush hour on Pennsylvania can be brutal, especially when you’re forced to bob and weave your bike through hundreds of potentially road-rage-addled motorists. However, you brace yourself, say a little prayer and as the light turns green, you go for it.

Within the past decade more and more bicyclists are opting to ride their bikes to work, causing a dramatic increase of bicycle congestion on busy roads. This has prompted D.C. to create over 72 miles of bike lane paths to help ease congestion and protect cyclists from having to maneuver dangerously around rush hour traffic.

However, with these lanes comes a new understanding between bikers and motorists that can’t be ignored: bikes are now considered road vehicles and therefore subject to traffic laws.

Bike Lane Traffic Rules

Unfortunately, many bicyclists find it hard to make the transition between off-road biking etiquette and bike lane traffic rules. Many bike accidents occur when bicyclists decide they’d rather pick and choose what laws they want to obey instead of following the basic rules for all road traffic.

If you’re riding a bike, these rules apply to you:

  • Come to a complete stop at intersections, red lights, and stop signs; do not bypass the stop by suddenly riding in a crosswalk. Not only can you confuse the drivers around you, but oncoming turning traffic may not see you as you weren’t on the sidewalk at the time.
  • Follow traffic signs accordingly; if there is a “No Turn on Red” sign posted, do not turn on red.
  • Make sure you signal when you’re changing lanes to alert traffic around you.
  • Avoid suddenly stopping in the middle of traffic lanes when you’re attempting to change lanes. Not only is it hard to see you, but sudden stops could cause rear-end collisions for those behind you.
  • Always stay in the bike lane unless you’re turning left. If you’re making a left turn, you need to move carefully to the left turn lane.
  • Do not attempt to pass vehicles on the left.
  • Remember to stay cautious of vehicles around you. Even though you may have the right of way, that won’t protect you if you get hit by 2,000 pounds worth of steel going at 45 mph.

Bike lanes are meant to provide an easy route for bikers to take in order to avoid weaving in and out of traffic. However, just because you can now choose (in most counties) to use either the bike lanes or sidewalks, that doesn’t grant you a get out of jail free card when it comes to obeying traffic laws. When riding in a bike lane, you must follow the same traffic laws as the cars next to you. If you don’t, you risk serious injuries, lawsuits, and a painful death.

Now that spring and summer have finally arrived, more and more bikers are taking to the road. Help your friends and family stay safe and knowledgeable by sharing these safety rules with them via Facebook or Twitter.

Sometimes accidents happen even when you’re obeying the laws; if you’ve been seriously injured in a bike lane accident, contact us for a free consultation. We’re here to help you understand your rights and options. Call today!

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