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Maryland Bike Laws

MARYLAND BICYCLE LAWS

It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Maryland. 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 Peter Wilborn directly.

Right to the Road

  • Maryland bicyclists generally have the same rights, and same duties, as drivers of motor vehicles.

Prohibitions

  • Clinging to motor vehicles while biking is not permitted.
  • Bicycles may only carry the number of persons for which it is designed.
  • You cannot ride with your hands full; both hands must be on the handlebars
  • Bikes may not have passengers unless they are equipped for it with proper seats and bikes are not permitted on any road with a posted speed limit of fifty miles per hour or faster.
  • It’s also illegal to ride your bike hitched up to a car.
  • Maryland prohibits the wearing of headsets or earplugs on both ears while riding

Helmets

  • Required for operators or passengers under age 16.

Alcohol

  • Maryland’s DUI statute applies to bicyclists.

Where to Ride

  • When in travel lanes, Bicyclists must ride with the flow of traffic as closely as practicable to the right side of the roadway.
  • Full lane use allowed when traveling at the normal speed of traffic, operating on a one- way street, passing, preparing for a turn, avoiding hazards, traveling in a lane too narrow to share and avoiding a mandatory turn lane.

Sidewalks

  • Sidewalk riding is permitted by local ordinances but bicyclists riding on a sidewalk must yield the right of way to pedestrians.

Motor Vehicle Doors

  • A person may not open the door of any motor vehicle with intent to strike, injure or interfere with any bicyclist.

Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths

  • Use of bike lanes required when available except when passing, preparing for a turn or avoiding hazards. No required us of separated paths.

Stop Signs and Traffic Control Devices

  • Bicyclists are required to come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs and traffic lights displaying a red signal.

Signaling

  • Bicyclists use hand/arm signals when turning or stopping. (If safe to do so, 100 feet before the turn).

Drivers Overtaking Bicyclists

  • Motor vehicle drivers must allow at least 3 feet of space when passing a bicyclist.
  • The driver should be able to see the passed vehicle in the rear view mirror before returning to the original lane. After passing you must make sure you are clear of the bicyclist before making any turns.

Bicycles Passing Cars

  • Exercise due care when passing.

Group Riding

  • Bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast and may not impede motor vehicle traffic.

Equipment

  • Front white light and rear red reflector (or rear red light) required when dark.
  • Bikes must have functioning brakes that can stop a bike traveling 10 mph within 15 feet on dry, level, clean pavement.
  • Each bicycle may be equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible, sirens are prohibited.

Electric Assist Bikes

  • The state of Maryland (MD) defines electric bikes as a bicycle with fully operational pedals, a motor of not more than 500W and a maximum speed of 20mph on flat surfaces. Electric bike motors must be design to disengage at 20mph.
  • Any person operating and motorized devices, including electric bikes, must be wearing a helmet.
  • E Bikes are allowed on bike paths, but not sidewalks.

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