When you were a child learning how to ride a bike, your parents undoubtedly gave you all sorts of advice. One of the things they may have told you the first time you went rolling down the road by yourself was to ride facing traffic. It makes sense. When you ride on the wrong side of the road, you can see what’s coming.
Unfortunately, and we must apologize to Mom and Dad for saying this: You were given bad advice. Pedaling on the wrong side of the road is not only more dangerous than riding with traffic but, in most areas, it is against the law. While no police officer is going to give a six-year-old a ticket for riding their bicycle incorrectly, they will certainly hand a citation to an adult doing so — or the parents of a kid doing so.
Urban areas across the country are being more accepting of bike riders. Dedicated bike lanes have been installed in several cities in an attempt to make riding safer. Where there aren’t dedicated bike lanes, riders must share a greater amount of space with traditional vehicles. Here is what you need to know before you set out upon two wheels again.
Bicycles are considered vehicles. In most cities, it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk or on parts of the road dedicated to pedestrian traffic. Bicyclists are legally responsible for following the same laws that dictate how motor vehicles operate on the road. That means staying on the right side, remaining in line with traffic rather than darting in and out of it and obeying traffic signals. If you are riding at night or in the early morning, make sure you understand your city’s laws regarding lights and reflectors on your bike.
Why Follow the Law?
Let’s ignore the fact that you can be ticketed for not following the law for a moment. While it is certainly true that you could be facing a judge if you don’t follow the law, it could be the least of your worries. Here are even better reasons to obey the law when you are riding on two wheels.
1. Severe Injuries
It has been shown that people involved in injuries while riding against traffic often suffer those that are more severe. Even a helmet cannot fully protect a rider who has been struck by a car or truck. Keep in mind that a bike rider will often sustain more serious injuries that a vehicle driver simply due to the lack of protection a bicycle offers.
2. Limited Visibility
A vehicle is less likely to see a bicyclist coming at them from the front. That is because most vehicle drivers expect cyclists to be riding with traffic. You are smaller on a bike and more difficult to see no matter which way you are riding, so improve your chances of being visible by riding with the flow.
3. Reaction Time
Because drivers don’t expect to see a bicycle heading towards them, they will be surprised. That surprise will limit reaction time on the part of the driver, making them less likely to maneuver accordingly.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident in Charlotte, reach out to Auger Law for a free consultation. We will review the details of your accident and advise you of your legal options.