Even with a helmet, a bicyclist is at a severe disadvantage for being injured in a collision with a car. There are too many personal injury accidents between bikes and cars in Bellingham and beyond. Knowing and following the rules of the road before you get out on your bike is critical.

Drivers should “see bicycles” which they cannot do if they are distracted. To drive defensively, bicyclists need to assume that some drivers won’t see them, and to always ride cautiously. The best way to avoid a personal injury claim is to avoid being in a collision.

  •     Bicycle Helmets – Currently, there is no state law requiring helmet use. However, some cities and counties do require helmets. None of the cities in Whatcom County, including Bellingham, require bicyclists to wear a helmet.
  •     Riding on the Road – When riding on a roadway, a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver (RCW 46.61.755). Cyclists who violate traffic laws may be ticketed (RCW 46.61.750).
  •     Roads Closed to Bicycles – Some designated sections of the state’s limited access highway system may be closed to bicycles for safety reasons. See State Highway Sections Closed to Bicycles for more information. In addition, local governments may adopt ordinances banning cycling on specific roads or on sidewalks within business districts.
  •     Children Bicycling – Parents or guardians may not knowingly permit bicycle traffic violations by their ward (RCW 46.61.700).
  •     Riding Side by Side – Cyclists may ride side by side, but not more than two abreast (RCW 46.61.770).
  •     Riding at Night – For night bicycle riding, a white front light (not a reflector) visible for 500 feet and a red rear reflector are required. A red rear light may be used in addition to the required reflector (RCW 46.61.780).
  •     Shoulder vs. Bike Lane – Cyclists may choose to ride on the path, bike lane, shoulder or travel lane as suits their safety needs (RCW 46.61.770).

In a nutshell, if you’re on a bike, follow the rules of the road as though you were in a car. And if you were struck by a driver who did not follow the traffic laws, contact Bill Coats Law, Bellingham’s top personal injury attorney, for a free consultation.

For more: Should you hire a personal injury attorney if you were injured in a Bellingham bike accident?

Washington State Bike Laws


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