Understanding the basic principles of traffic law will help you understand how to ride
your bicycle in any traffic situation. All road users expect each other to act in
accordance with these principles to avoid conflicts and collisions. Complying with traffic
laws will decrease the likelihood of a crash by making your actions predictable, and make
your ride more enjoyable. As a bicycle rider, in all states, you are accorded all the
rights and assume all the duties of a vehicle driver. Therefore, drive your bicycle as
you would any vehicle. Although a bicycle is very maneuverable, this does not mean that
cyclists should violate traffic laws.
First Come, First Served
Operators of vehicles, including cyclists, are entitled to the lane width they need,
with reasonable clearance behind and to each side, and reasonable stopping distance in
front of them. Drivers must yield before moving into space occupied by vehicles that
are there first.
Drive on the Right-Hand Side of the Road
Drivers of vehicles, including bicyclists, must drive on the right-hand side of the
roadway. Traveling against traffic puts you in positions on the road where other drivers
do not expect you, and makes it impossible for you to read signs and signals. To be
predictable to motorists and other road users, never be a wrong-way rider. Many common
crash types result from going against the flow.
Yielding to Crossing Traffic
Drivers on minor roads, including driveways and alleys, yield to traffic on more major
roads. Yielding means proceeding onto a roadway only when it is safe to do so and obeying
all traffic control devices (e. g. signs, signals and markings).
Yielding when Changing Lanes
Drivers who want to move into a new lane on the road must yield to traffic in their new
lane of travel. Yielding means moving only after looking behind you to see that no traffic
is coming and looking in front to see that the way ahead is clear. This is a special case
of first come, first served.
In general, stopped or parked vehicles are next to the curb, slower moving vehicles are to
the left of them, and faster moving vehicles are closest to the centerline. Overtaking on
the right violates this principle and therefore is more risky that overtaking on the left.
Lane Position Rules
Ride three feet to the right of the motorized traffic when the lane is wide enough (about
14 feet) to share safely. When lanes are too narrow to share safely, control the lane by
riding the center of the lane or just to the right of the center in the right hand tire
track. This is legal in all states.
If traveling at the speed of traffic, a bicyclist should control the lane unless it is a
very wide lane. If traveling faster than other traffic, overtake on the left, keeping a
safe distance from slower traffic.
At intersections, drivers position their vehicles so as to avoid conflicts with the movement
of other drivers. Right turners are to the right of center, left turners are to the left of
center and straight-through cyclists are between these positions.
Reprinted from League of American Bicyclists "Smart Cycling/Traffic Skills 101".
For more information on good cycling tips, see
How You Can Ride Better.
For more information about the League of American Bicyclists, visit
their web site, www.bikeleague.org,
or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.