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Bicycling and North Carolina Law

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2016 | Uncategorized

North Carolina Bicycling Safety and Law

As the weather changes prime cycling season is upon us. North Carolina, like most states, considers a bicycle a vehicle, and cyclists as drivers of vehicles. The traffic laws and regulations that apply to cycling in North Carolina are important to bear in mind to ensure a safe and legal trip.


Bicycles are permitted on all public roads except interstates. To ensure the safety of cyclists and motorists alike, only motor vehicles, those which are self-propelled, are permitted on interstates. A cyclist is to obey all traffic signals and signage, including stop and yield signs. Failure to observe these signs may result in a citation, just as one can receive in a motor vehicle.

When cycling on public roads, the driver should drive on the right side of the road unless overtaking and passing a vehicle, when obstructed, or on a highway with multiple traffic lanes. Cyclists are permitted to occupy a full lane of traffic. When making a right hand turn, bicycle drivers should do so as close to the curb of the right side of the road as is practical. When turning left, a cyclist should be as far to the left in the furthest left lane of traffic on the right side of traffic as possible.


Cyclists are restricted from traveling “…at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing. …” (§ 20-129) irrespective to the speed limit posted. In lay terms, cyclists must travel at a safe speed that enables maneuverability and safe stopping, even if this is slower than the posted speed limit. Failure to do so may result in a citation for reckless driving.


Cyclists must follow the same rules as the operator of a motor vehicle when it comes to alcohol consumption and other substances that may impair. Cyclists may be charged with DUI, DWI, and other offenses. The legal limit for blood alcohol content, or BAC, is 0.08 for a cyclist, the same as for the driver of a motor vehicle.


Bicycles are required to be equipped with a lamp mounted to the front that provides visibility of at least 300 feet at night under normal weather conditions. The rear of the bicycle is to be equipped with a lamp or mirror on the rear that displays red light visible under normal weather conditions of at least 200 feet at night. Children under the age of 16 are required by law to wear a helmet. Tandem riding is prohibited on bicycles unless the additional person riding is under 40 pounds in weight and properly secured and seated in a restraining seat.


By following the rules outlined above, you can expect to enjoy a safe and enjoyable bicycle trip. Accidents do occur from time to time, and if you are injured in a bicycle accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Ledbetter & Titsworth. With more than 20 years experience, the personal injury attorneys at Ledbetter & Titsworth have the knowledge and experience you want representing you. If you are injured, contact us online or call now at 919-297-2372.

Ledbetter & Titsworth proudly serves clients in Triangle area, including Garner, Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Apex, Chapel Hill, Morrisville, Holly Springs, and beyond