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Alabama Bike Laws

ALABAMA BICYCLE LAWS

It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Alabama. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here).

For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Danny Feldman directly.

Right to the Road

  • Every person on a bike has all the rights and obligations (except those specifically designated differences) the same as any motor vehicle driver on the road.

Prohibitions

  • A cyclist may not attach himself/herself or his/her bicycle to a vehicle upon the roadway.
  • A cyclist may not ride without a permanent seat affixed to the bicycle.
  • No bicycle shall be used to carry more than one person at a time for which it is designed and equipped.
  • No cyclist shall carry any package which prevents them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.

Helmets

  • There is no state law that requires an adult cyclist to wear a helmet; however, any cyclist, or passenger on a bike, under the age of 16 must have a helmet.

Alcohol

  • Alabama’ DUI statute does apply to bicyclists.

Where to Ride

  • When riding on roadways, cyclists are to ride as near to the right hand side of the road as is “practicable.”
  • If a cyclist is going to make a left-hand turn, then the cyclist can move to the center of the left lane.
  • Cyclists are to use reasonable care when passing a stopped vehicle, or other vehicle traveling in the same direction.

Sidewalks

  • There is no specific provision in the State Code that prohibits bicycles to be ridden on the sidewalk. Bicycles, however,  generally are considered “vehicles” and may be subject to the various regulations imposed on vehicles under the Alabama Rules of the Road chapter.
  • Many municipalities do prohibit bicycling on sidewalks.

Motor Vehicle Doors

  • Alabama does not have a specific statute addressing when it is proper to open the door of a motor vehicle.  However, it is reasonable to presume that one should not open the door of a motor vehicle unless it is safe to do so.

Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths

  • Bicyclists are not to use the roadway but rather shall ride on a “usable bath for bicycles” which is “adjacent to a roadway.”

Left turns

  • The Alabama Code is silent on the proper hand signal to use when making a left turn.
  • Cyclists may “take the lane” and move to the center of the roadway when making a left.

Stop Signs and Traffic Control Devices

  • Bicyclists are governed the same as motor vehicles and must come to a complete stop for both a STOP sign and a red light.

Signaling

  • While signaling, a cyclist must be able to keep one hand on the handlebars at all times.
  • A right turn may be signalled by extending the right arm and hand horizontally.
  • Children under the age of 16 are not required to comply with the right hand signalling requirement.
  • The Alabama Code is silent on the proper hand signal for a cyclist to use when making a left turn.

Drivers Overtaking Bicyclists

  • A motor vehicle driver must allow a cyclist at least 3 feet clearance on all roads with speed limits of 45 mph or less and no double yellow line.
  • Motor vehicle drivers also are required to pass bicyclists safely.

Bicycles Passing on the Right

  • A bicyclist passing on the right is treated the same as a motorist passing on the right – it can be done if done safely, but in no event, it cannot be done by driving or cycling off the roadway.

Group Riding

  • Bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast.

Equipment

  • If riding at “nighttime” a bicycle must be equipped with a front white light that is visible from 500 feet and also have a “red reflector” visible from 100 to 600 feet in the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beam headlights.
  • Every bicycle must have brakes which will enable the operator to make teh braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

Police Inspection of Bicycles

  • No Alabama statute directly addresses police inspection of bicycles, but since bicycles generally are treated like cars, police seemingly would have the right inspect a bicycle if they have reasonable cause to belief that it is unsafe or not properly equipped.

Electric Assist Bikes

  • Alabama does not necessarily have an “E-Bike” law pertaining specifically to what most would think of as an electric bicycle. However, for the time being, “E-Bikes” probably would be governed under Chapter 12 of Title 32 which pertains to Motorcycles and Motor-Drive Cycles.In sum, the provision would be – follow the rules of the road the same as any other motor vehicle.  

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