State Bicycle Laws

You have rights

According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center in response to the Frequently Asked Question “Are bicyclists allowed to ride on the road?” they say, “Yes! In all 50 states, bicyclists are either considered vehicles or have the same rights and responsibilities as the operator of a motor vehicle.”

State-specific cycling laws

We have collected the research done by the League of American Bicyclists to bring you the main cycling laws that you should be aware of in each of the following states. 

Source: League of American Bicyclists

 

Treatment as a Vehicle: In New York bicycles are not vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles, but a person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle under Title 7 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Code, except for those provisions that by their nature can have no application. [N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law §§159; 1231]

Safe Passing Laws: New York requires that the operator of a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of a roadway shall pass to the left of such bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear. [N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law §1122-a]

 

Treatment as a Vehicle: In Massachusetts bicycles are not vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles, but a person riding a bicycle upon a way has the right to use all public ways except where prohibited by sign, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the special regulations. [Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 90 §1; Ch. Mass. Gen. Laws. 85 §11B]

Safe Passing Laws: Massachusetts requires that in approaching or passing a person on a bicycle the operator of a motor vehicle shall slow down and pass at a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed. If it is not possible to overtake a bicycle or other vehicle at a safe distance in the same lane, the overtaking vehicle shall use all or part of an adjacent lane if it is safe to do so or wait for a safe opportunity to overtake. [Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch.90, §14; Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch.89, §2]

 

Treatment as a Vehicle: In California bicycles are not vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles, but a person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of the driver of a vehicle as provided in Division 11 – Rules of the Road – and certain other enumerated Divisions of the California Vehicle Code, except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application. [Cal. Veh. Code §§670; 21200]

Safe Passing Laws

California requires that the driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. [Cal. Veh. Code §21760]

Treatment as a Vehicle: In Oregon bicycles are vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles, are vehicles for the purposes of the vehicle code, and when the term vehicle is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles. In addition, every person riding a bicycle upon a public way has all of the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle, except those provisions that by their nature can have no application and when otherwise specified under the vehicle code. [Or. Rev. Stat. §§801.590; 814.400(2)]

Safe Passing Laws: Oregon requires that the driver of a motor vehicle pass a person operating a bicycle by driving to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance (a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver's lane of traffic) and returning to the lane of travel once the motor vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle. [Or. Rev. Stat. §811.065]

Treatment as a Vehicle: In Washington bicycles are vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles and a person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle under Chapter 46.61 of the Revised Code of Washington, except for special regulations specific to bicycles and those provisions that by their nature can have no application. [Wash. Rev. Code §§46.04.670; 46.61.755]

Safe Passing Laws: Washington requires that the driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian or bicycle that is on the roadway, on the right-hand shoulder, or on a bicycle lane within the roadway shall pass to the left at a safe distance to clearly avoid coming into contact with the pedestrian or bicyclist, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken pedestrian or bicyclist. [Wash. Rev. Code §46.61.110