Bicycles Versus Cars – what to know to keep you safe

In the spring, summer and fall months in Eastern Washington we see a lot of bicyclists out enjoying the beautiful weather, getting some exercise, or commuting to work. When a bicyclist is on the roadway, however, there are specific laws in place to protect not on the bicyclist, but pedestrians and even those operating vehicles. So what are the laws I need to be aware of?

The most important law is that while on a roadway, cyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver. RCW 46.61.755. A cyclist can even be ticketed if they violate a traffic law. RCW 46.61.750. If you’re out riding your bike near traffic, make sure to be very cautious, but also abide by the rules of the road to stay safe. This means cyclists must also be careful of pedestrians on the road, and yield to the appropriate party when necessary.

If you’re riding with a buddy or a group of other cyclists, remember that under Washington law, cyclists may ride side by side, but not more than two abreast. RCW 46.61.770.

If you chose to ride at night, to make sure vehicles can see you on the road, Washington law requires that you ride with a white front light, which is different from a reflector, that is visible for 500 feet. Additionally, you must also ride with a red rear reflector, but can also have a red read light along with the reflector. RCW 46.61.780.

Washington has many other laws that pertain to bicycles and the rules of the road. If you’re interested in finding out more information check out the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Website.

Whether you’re riding your bike or driving your car, remember to be safe and look out for others on the road.