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Washington State Bike Laws

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As traffic and road construction become ever more frustrating for commuters, more and more people are using alternate means of transportation, including bicycles. Unfortunately, the rise of bicycle use has also led to an increase in bicycle accidents, which tend to be especially devastating for cyclists who do not have the same protections from impact as motorists. In an effort to combat this trend, the Washington Legislature enacted a series of bicycle laws, with which both motorists and cyclists must comply.

Special Equipment

Although under Washington law, all bicyclists have the same rights and are subject to the same duties as motorists, cyclists are required comply with a few additional safety rules. For instance, when it is dark outside, bicyclists must travel with:

  • A lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light that is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet; and
  • A red reflector on the rear of the bike that is visible up to 600 feet.

Bikes must also be equipped with a brake that when engaged, will skid on dry, clean, and level pavement. Although there is currently no statewide law requiring cyclists to wear helmets, many cities and counties within Washington have made it mandatory for anyone riding a bicycle. Cyclists who violate these, and other traffic laws, can be ticketed.

Traveling on Roadways

Some parts of the state’s highway system are closed to bicycles. Local governments are also permitted to adopt city laws banning cycling on certain roads or sidewalks that are within business districts. Although cyclists are generally permitted to ride side by side, no more than two people can ride next to each other.

Cyclists who are traveling on a road at a lower speed than the flow of traffic must ride as far to the right side of the right lane as is safe. Cyclists can also choose to ride in the bike lane, on a bike path, the shoulder of the road, or a regular travel lane. Unless a city code prohibits it, bicyclists are also permitted to ride on sidewalks and when doing so, have all of the rights and duties that apply to pedestrians.

When turning, cyclists must also use the following hand signals before initiating the turn:

  • Left turns are indicated by extending the left hand arm horizontally beyond the side of the bicycle;
  • Right turns are indicated by extending the left hand and arm upward or the right hand and arm horizontally to the right; and
  • Stopping or decreasing speed is indicated by extending the left hand and arm downward.

Schedule a Consultation With an Experienced Seattle Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today

Bicycle accidents can have devastating consequences for cyclists, who lack the protections offered by seat belts and airbags. Fortunately, injured cyclists can collect compensation for their injuries if a motorist violated a traffic law or was otherwise driving recklessly, so if you were recently involved in a bicycle accident, please call Khan Injury Law at (253) 528-7369. Our Seattle personal injury attorneys can also be reached via live chat.

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