There are basic bicycle traffic laws in the State of Washington that perhaps the most savvy of cyclists could benefit from while on the road. For example, the use of hand signals when turning, stopping or changing speed is the law (RCW 46.62.758). These laws that clearly define parameters for bicycling were introduced, not just with the safety of bikers as a concern, but for that of pedestrians and drivers as well. In addition to laws there are a few safety tips recommended by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
Make Sure you Bike is Safe. Before you embark on the next biking trip check to ensure wheels, pedals and handlebars are well attached and in working order. Inspect brakes to be sure they function properly.
Wear a Helmet. No surprise that concussions can be the result of cycling accidents without the use of a helmet. While it’s not a law in Bellingham it may be in other cities and counties. Besides, it one of the smartest things riders can do to protect themselves on the road.
Make Yourself Easily Seen. It’s sound advice that helps to avoid accidents. This means making sure that you’re not in a drivers blind spot and that you wear bright colors or lights that help to improve your visibility- especially during the “hours of darkness” which is defined by law.
Ride Predictably. Avoid tricks on the road. This includes weaving in and out of traffic, jumping curbs or popping wheelies.
Give Yourself Adequate Room. A buffer between bikers and street traffic is a solid way to prevent accidents. Three feet is the suggested space to avoid swinging doors of vehicles whenever possible.
Be Mindful of Road Hazards. Be mindful of potholes and slick or icy roads particularly in the winter months. Wet leaves can be a menace during the fall leading to potential accidents. Breaks will get more wear and tear in these conditions so always check them before the journey.
Cycling on Sidewalks, Trails or Paths. These paths are safer alternatives to boing the streets, but be sure to yield to pedestrians and traffic at all times. Riding at safe speeds is imperative to prevent accidents especially on narrow paths.
Be Responsible for Yourself. While can’t controlling the actions of others on the road is clearly not an option, bikers can be mindful of their actions, as well as adherence to laws and safety tips.
Safety Tips for Kids. Teaching children these safety tips and to obey traffic laws is critical to their well-being when bike-riding. In doing so they become responsible cyclists in the future.
Obey Traffic Laws. 1) Following the flow of traffic. 2) Abiding signals and signs. 3) Yield when entering a roadway. 4)Signal before turning or changing lanes. 5) Pass on the left. 6) Use proper lighting at night.
Links to Bicycle Laws for Washington State and Relevant Resources
Bicycle Laws for Washington State
Washington State Department of Transportation