Washington State Bicycle Laws

To operate a car, truck, or any other motor vehicle legally, you need to pass set tests that determine you know the rules of the road and how to abide by a safety standard. No such tests exist for those who operate a bicycle, which can be deemed as a type of vehicle as well and has specific rules and regulations when operating through busy intersections and streets. It is up to the bicyclists to seek out the bicycle laws and abide by them for their safety and others’ safety. 

Washington State has become more bicycle-friendly, especially with its utilization of Pronto bike share, and particular knowledge of Washington State’s bicycle laws are pertinent to those enjoying biking through the city. Knowing specific laws can prevent you from becoming a victim of a bicycle injury due to another vehicle. If you are following the laws at the time of the accident, you may be able to seek compensation against the driver for the injuries you’ve endured. 

What Are the Bicycle Laws in Washington State?

Since bicycle riding is becoming much more popular in Washington State, it is essential for anyone operating a bike to know their rights and civil responsibilities when they are on the roadway with other vehicles and pedestrians. Bicyclists may be surprised to know that they have all the responsibilities of motor vehicles driving on the road. This means that all bicycle operators must abide by traffic lights, stop signs, and signals when turning. 

How to Properly Signal When Operating a Bicycle

By law, bicyclists must signal with their left hand when turning. Common signals include: 

  • To turn left: Keep your left arm out to your side, parallel to the ground, extend your fingers, or point with your index finger to signal a turn. 
  • To turn right: Hold your left arm out at a 90-degree angle with your hand pointing up. An alternate way to signal a right turn is to hold your right hand out to the side, parallel to the ground, and extend your fingers, or point with your index finger to signal a turn. 
  • Slowing down/Initiating a stop: Hold either arm out at a 90-degree angle with your hand pointed down. 

Neglecting to signal may be a safety hazard for you and other drivers sharing the roadway.

Are Helmets Required by Law in Washington State When Operating a Bicycle? 

Washington State has no law indicating that bicyclists must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. However, certain counties in Washington State have mandated laws requiring the use of a helmet for bicyclists

Can Bicyclists Use Every Public Road? 

Depending on the local governments, some roads are off-limits to bicyclists; this includes highways and congested, heavily-trafficked areas. 

Bicycle Laws Specific to Bicycling at Night 

Every bicyclist choosing to ride at night is required to have lights on both the front and back of their bike. The front light is required to have a white light, not a reflector, visible for up to 500 feet. The backlight is required to have a red reflector visible for up to 600 feet. 

Right of Way Laws for Bicyclists

In many cities in Washington State, bicyclists are permitted to ride on the sidewalk.  However, they must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks or crosswalks. When passing, they must give an audible signal to pass safely, for example, with a horn or bell. 

Special Rights Pertinent to Bicyclists in Washington State 

Motor vehicles are obligated to follow certain precautions and regulations pertaining to bicyclists on the roadway. These rights are placed on drivers in order to protect cyclists from collisions and other accidents. If a motorist violates any of these duties, they may be held financially responsible for the injuries the cyclists sustained: 

  • Drivers and other vehicle occupants must check their surroundings for cyclists before opening doors. 
  • Motorists must stay a safe distance from cyclists when following and when passing. 
  • Drivers are prohibited from making any sudden turns in front of bicyclists. 
  • Drivers must yield to cyclists when making left turns. 
  • Drivers must exercise caution when sharing the road with cyclists and changing lanes. 

If you have been hurt due to a driver’s negligence while following the cyclist’s rules of the road, you may be able to recover compensation due to the injuries you’ve endured from the accident. Speak to an experienced Washington State personal injury lawyer for an assessment of your case. 

Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer at Premier Law Group 

Sometimes even the most careful bicyclists get injured when following the rules of the road in Washington State. If you have been terribly injured in a bicycle accident due to a negligent driver, speak with an experienced Washington State personal injury attorney at Premier Law Group for guidance surrounding your unique case. 

Premier Law Group provides client-oriented representation and a compassionate approach to every case. With upwards of 18 years of experience, we understand how essential it is to get justice for the injuries you’ve sustained because of the careless actions of another driver. Call (206) 880-7518 for a complimentary consultation or fill out our contact form to speak with a knowledgeable Washington State personal injury lawyer.