Washington State Bicycle Laws

Washington State Bicycle Laws

Many drivers don’t realize that bicycles are a legal road vehicle, just like their car and that cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as a driver on the road. As a Renton personal injury lawyer at my Seattle auto accident law firm, I see cyclists who were injured due to negligent drivers every day. It is important for both drivers and cyclists to know the laws when it comes to bicycles on the road because it could save a cyclist’s life and a driver’s livelihood. Auto accidents are expensive enough when you injure another driver, but injuries sustained by a cyclist are guaranteed to be much more severe due to their lack of surrounding protection.

It is important to remember that, when it comes to bicycles on the road, cyclists have to adhere to the same traffic laws as drivers and, if they violate them, they will be ticketed. For a cyclist, this means that you cannot run a red light or ride through a stop sign without coming to a full stop. Other Washington State bicycle laws to remember are:

  • Cyclists can ride side-by-side but by no more than 2 people.
  • Cyclists can choose to ride in the bike lane, shoulder or travel lane and should base their decision on the road conditions and their safety.
  • Some designated roads are closed to bicycles for safety reasons, and cyclists may not violate these laws for any reason.
  • Children must follow the same laws as adult cyclists.

For a cyclist, riding on the road is dangerous enough but riding at night can be fatal if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Anyone riding at night must have a white front light (not a reflector) that is visible from 600 feet, and a red rear reflector attached to their bike at all times.  The cyclist may also have a red rear tail light that is visible for 500 feet, however, that is optional. Most drivers do not look for bicycles on the road, so it is important for cyclists to take every safety precaution seriously when deciding to ride a bike. And remember, not following these laws will result in a possible ticket and fine!

Now I know you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned helmets, the single most effective way for cyclists to protect themselves. Currently in Washington State, there is no law requiring helmet use, however some cities and counties like Tacoma and King County do require cyclists to wear a helmet while riding. But, even if it weren’t required, would you really want to risk your life to ride without a helmet? In 2008, 714 cyclists were killed on U.S. roads and, of those accidents, 91% of the cyclists were not wearing a helmet. Just imagine how many of those fatal accidents could have been avoided if the cyclists had been wearing a helmet.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Bellevue bicycle accident, please contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation. At Premier Law Group, we will make sure to answer any questions you may have. We will even tell you what the other law firms won’t: you may not need an attorney for your case.