Frequently asked questions for the state Department of Transportation concerning bicycles, and the DOT answers:

Q: Which traffic laws apply to bicyclists?

The same laws that apply to motor vehicle operators, with some obvious exceptions and special rules, apply to cyclists. Most importantly, bicyclists must obey and are protected by the rules of the road.

Q: On what roads are bicycling activities permitted?

Bicyclists have the legal right to share the road on most public highways, but they are prohibited on interstate highways and expressways. Authorities with jurisdiction over other controlled-access highways may prohibit bicycle. Localities often prohibit bicycling on sidewalks. However, some local ordinances permit children to bicycle on sidewalks.

Q: Should I ride with or against traffic?

The law requires that bicyclists ride with traffic. Bicycling against traffic is a leading cause of bicycle crashes. Riding with traffic makes bicyclists more visible and their movements more predictable to motorists.

Smart cyclists plot a line straight down the roadway 3 to 4 feet from the curb or parked car, to avoid being “doored.”

Q: Is a motorist required to treat bicyclists any differently from a motorist?

Motorists must always remember that cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of a motor vehicle and are required to exercise “due care” to avoid colliding with bicyclists. As a safety measure, motorists should make scanning for cyclists second nature, giving cyclists plenty of clearance when passing them and the right-of-way when appropriate.

Q: What signals must bicyclists use for turns and stops?

To indicate a left turn, extend the left hand and arm to the left, horizontally. To indicate a right turn, extend the right hand and arm to the right, horizontally, or extend the left arm and hand horizontally and bend it up at the elbow. To indicate a stop, extend the left hand and arm to the left, horizontally, and bend it down at the elbow

Q: May bicyclists ride side-by-side on the roadway?

Yes. They may ride two abreast on roadways, but they must ride single file when being overtaken by other vehicles.

Q: How should a bicyclist prepare for turns at intersections?

A bicyclist should use the same through or turning lanes as motorists. However, a bicyclist may choose to dismount and use the pedestrian crosswalk, especially in heavy traffic. After crossing at an intersection, a bicyclist should move to a usable right-hand shoulder or to the right side of the right hand lane.

Q: Where do I ride if there is no shoulder or bike lane and the travel lane is too narrow to share?

The best approach is to position yourself several feet out into the lane where motorists will see you and not be invited to squeeze by in the same lane.

Q: Who has the right of way, a bicyclist or a pedestrian?

The pedestrian. Bicyclists like motorists, must yield the right of way to a pedestrian.

Source: The state Department of Transportation

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