With more people riding bicycles, following the rules of the road is especially important. A bicycle is a legal road vehicle, just like a car. This means that bicycle riders have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers.
Here are some laws to be aware of whether you are biking or driving a motor vehicle:
- Bicycle Helmets - Currently, there is no state law requiring helmet use. However, some cities and counties do require helmets. See Localities Requiring Bicycle Helmets.
- Riding on the Road - When riding on a roadway, a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver (RCW 46.61.755). Cyclists who violate traffic laws may be ticketed (RCW 46.61.750).
- Roads Closed to Bicycles - Some designated sections of the state's limited access highway system may be closed to bicycles for safety reasons. See State Highway Sections Closed to Bicycles for more information. In addition, local governments may adopt ordinances banning cycling on specific roads or on sidewalks within business districts.
- Children Bicycling - Parents or guardians may not knowingly permit bicycle traffic violations by their ward (RCW 46.61.700).
- Riding Side by Side - Cyclists may ride side by side, but not more than two abreast (RCW 46.61.770).
- Riding at Night - For night bicycle riding, a white front light (not a reflector) visible for 500 feet and a red rear reflector are required. A red rear light may be used in addition to the required reflector (RCW 46.61.780).
- Shoulder vs. Bike Lane - Cyclists may choose to ride on the path, bike lane, shoulder or travel lane as suits their safety needs (RCW 46.61.770).