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Do Bicyclists In Washington Have To Follow The Same Laws As Drivers?

Generally speaking, bicyclists are required to adhere to and follow the same rules of the road as drivers of standard motor vehicles. This includes - but is not limited to - signaling lane changes and turns, giving others the right of way, obeying traffic signs and signals, and so on.

Bicyclists are legally considered vehicle operators and therefore they essentially have the same rights to the roadway as motorists do. But with this right also comes the responsibility of obeying the same laws and regulations that motorists are required to obey. 

Bicycle Laws For Washington State

Helmet Use: There is no state law requiring bicyclists to wear a helmet while riding. Cities and counties are left to set their own individual bicycle helmet laws.

Riding In The Roadway: Washington state law states that, "When riding on a roadway, a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver...Cyclists who violate traffic laws may be ticketed."

Roads Not Accessible For Bicyclists: The Washington State Department Of Transportation keeps an updated list of Washington state highways that are closed to bicyclists. This is purely for safety reasons in areas where there is no reasonable way for bicycle traffic to be integrated with regular traffic, such as a busy interstate or highway.

Children & Bicycles: Parents/guardians are responsible for children who may be riding with them and are prohibited from authorizing or permitting a child to violate traffic laws.

Riding Side-By-Side: Bicyclists are permitted to ride side-by-side, but not more than two abreast.

Riding At Night: Bicyclists must have a white front light and a red rear reflector affixed to the bicycle when riding at night. 

Riding On The Shoulder vs. Bike Lanes: Bicyclists may ride on a bicycle path, in a designated bike lane, on the shoulder, or in the lane of travel as they see fit. 

More From The City Of Seattle's Bike Code

"Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway, street, alley, or any other way open to the public is subject to the same rules, laws and duties applicable to the operator of a motor vehicle, except as to the special regulation of this chapter and except as to those provisions of the Traffic Code by which their nature can have no application."

Any law enforcement officer (city, county, state) is authorized to enforce all applicable traffic codes and other laws on bicyclists just as they do on motor vehicle operators (this includes the issuing of tickets). As mentioned above, bicyclists may receive citations for failing to follow general traffic laws. 

Contact An Attorney After An Accident

Washington state law permits bicycle accident victims to pursue legal action against the person, party, or entity responsible for causing their injuries. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact the award-winning team of attorneys at Davis Law Group in Seattle.

Our top-rated team of bicycle accident attorneys will review your case free of charge to determine if you would benefit from hiring a lawyer. If we believe we can help, our staff will meet with you for a free legal consultation to answer your questions and help you better understand the legal process. Call (206) 727-4000 to speak with our team today.