By Maryland law, bicycles are vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. Motorists should drive carefully around a bicyclist; even a slight mistake can result in death. Bicyclists fare best when they act like and are treated as drivers of vehicles.
1. Maryland’s traffic laws apply to bicycles and motor scooters.
2. A bicycle may not carry a passenger unless it is specifically designed for and equipped with a seat for each passenger.
3. A person may not ride a bicycle, motor scooter, or EPAMD while wearing a headset or earplugs that cover both ears.
4. Bicycles are vehicles and as such must obey all the same traffic laws, including stopping at red lights, stop signs, etc.
5. Where there is a bike lane or paved shoulder, a person must use those and not ride a bicycle or motor scooter in the roadway except: (1) if passing safely cannot be done within the bike lane or shoulder; (2) when preparing for a left turn; or (3) to avoid hazards.
Rules for Motorists
1. Expect bicyclists on the road – Always expect to encounter a bicyclist; they will be out on all types of roads, in all types of weather and at all times of the day and night.
2. Pass with care; give bikes at least 3 feet – Pass a bicyclist as you would any slow-moving vehicle. Allow at least 3 feet of clearance between your car and the bicyclist when passing. After passing, check over your shoulder to make sure you have allowed enough room before moving over – a bicyclist may be closer than you think.
3. Be careful in intersections – Yield to bicyclists as you would to another vehicle. Do not turn left or right in front of a bicyclist unless you can do so safely. You can be fined $1,000 and receive 3 points if you injure a bicyclist by violating their right-of-way.
4. Watch for children – Children on bicycles are unpredictable – expect the unexpected.
5. Use extra caution in bad conditions – In bad weather, give bicyclists extra trailing and passing room.
Rules for Bicyclists
1. Obey the rules of the road – Ride straight and single file in a predictable manner. Allow time to maneuver around road hazards and to negotiate with traffic and open car doors. Yield to pedestrians and obey all traffic signals and signs.
2. Ride with traffic – Always ride on the right side. Use caution if passing other traffic on the right. When approaching an intersection, use the appropriate lane.
3. Signal all turns – Look back before you make a lane change or turn. Use arm signals in advance of turning.
4. Make left hand turns safely – You may turn left as a vehicle by moving into the left side of the travel lane (or left turn lane) OR cross like a pedestrian by stopping, dismounting and walking across crosswalks.
5. Be prepared for conditions – When braking in the rain or snow, allow extra distance to stop and look for pavement markings and utility covers which may become slippery.
6. Be visible; use lights at night – When riding at night, MD state law requires a white headlight on the front of your bike and a red reflector on the back visible from at least 600’. In addition, it is recommended that you wear bright clothing in the daytime and reflective clothing for night riding.
7. Maintain your bike – Check your tires, chain and brakes before every trip. Take your bike to a bike shop at least once a year for a professional inspection and tune-up.
8. Wear a helmet correctly – Helmets are required by law for anyone under age 16 and for any passengers, but everyone should wear one to prevent head injury. Your helmet should be level and snug and should not shift while riding. Helmets are also required for everyone under the age of 16 who are riding on a scooter or on in-line skates. Helmets must meet or exceed the standards of the American National Standards Institute, the Snell Memorial Foundation, or the American Society of Testing and Measurements.
Do your part by being a safe and courteous motorist or bicyclist and share the road. For more information go to www.choosesafetyforlife.com.