02

Blog

North Carolina Bike Laws

NORTH CAROLINA BICYCLE LAWS

It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in North Carolina. 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 Ann Groninger directly.

For a more in-depth analysis of North Carolina bicycle laws, please refer to the North Carolina Ride Guide.

Right to the Road

  • North Carolina bicyclists generally have the same rights, and same duties, as drivers of motor vehicles

Prohibitions

  • Unsanctioned bicycle racing is prohibited

Helmets

  • Helmets are required for children under 16

Alcohol

  • North Carolina’s DWI statute DOES apply to bicyclists

Where to Ride. Bicycles (if going less than the legal speed limit) are to ride:

  • In the right hand through lane is there is more than one lane going in the same direction; or
  • If more than one lane, as far right as “practicable”

Sidewalks

  • Each municipality has its own rules about sidewalk riding
  • Many municipalities in North Carolina allow sidewalk riding except in center city areas
  • More information can be found on www.municode.com

Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths

  • North Carolina bicyclists are not required to ride in or upon bike lanes or paths

Left turns

  • Rules pertaining to motor vehicles also pertain to bicyclists turning left
  • A left turning bicyclist has the right of way over a driver intending to proceed straight at an intersection

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
  • A bicyclist who cannot trip a traffic signal should treat it like a broken signal and stop until the way is clear to proceed

Signaling

  • Bicyclists must use hand/arm signals when turning and stopping

Drivers Overtaking Bicyclists

  • Motor vehicle drivers must allow at least 2 feet of space when passing a bicyclist
  • Motor vehicle drivers may cross a double yellow line to pass a bicyclist as long as (1) there is enough sight distance to do so and (2) the motorist allows at least 4 feet of space between the motor vehicle and the bicyclist OR moves completely into the opposite lane to pass

Bicycles Passing on the Right

  • Bicyclists may pass motor vehicles on the right only if it a motor vehicle could legally make a similar maneuver

Group Riding

  • North Carolina places no restrictions on group riding
  • Smart group leaders who want to our law to stay the way it is will enforce safe and conscientious group riding practices and keep their groups to two abreast

Equipment

  • Front light: When operated at night, every bicycle must have a white front facing headlight visible from 300 feet
  • Rear lighting: also when operated at night, every bicycle must have a reflector and either a light or reflective clothing visible from 300 feet (tip: your blinkie light should operate as a reflector)

Electric Assist Bikes

  • In North Carolina, an “electric assist bicycle” is a bicycle with pedals used for pedaling, an electric motor of no more than 750 watts and a maximum speed on a level surface when powered solely by the motor is no more than 20 miles per hour
  • The same rules apply to bicycles and electric assist bicycles

Comments

Peter Wilborn Aug 20, 2019

A camera is necessary kit for every ride. But finding the right camera has been a challenge, until now. My rebuttable presumption: the Ricoh GR III is the best cycling camera of all time. Read on, and if you can prove there’s a better one, let me know. The Ideal Cycling Camera To find the […]

Read More
Human Shield Bike Lane
Bruce Hagen Jul 29, 2019

If you ride bikes around Atlanta, chances are that you know Niklas Vollmer and Andreas Wolfe.  They’re some of the many people in town who seem to live on their bikes and can be seen riding everywhere.  While they both have their “day jobs,” folks in the cycling world know them for their place in […]

Read More
Bruce Hagen Jul 19, 2019

This is a time when advocacy efforts are crucial to making our streets safer for everyone. Within 24 hours from the Two Wheel Tuesday gathering we suffered two more casualties.  On Wednesday morning, Marten Bijvank was on his way to work on his bicycle when he was struck and killed by an unlicensed DUI driver […]

Read More
AJ's Bicycle Shop in Iowa
Jim Freeman Jul 15, 2019

Bicycling Magazine recently published an article titled, “Hey, Bike Shops; Stop Treating Customers Like Garbage.”  The story follows a heavy-set 59 year old’s sad tale of how he was treated poorly from a number of local bike shops.   First and foremost, I would be clear that bikes are for almost everyone.  If you are big, […]

Read More
Bike accident scene
Rick Bernardi Jul 12, 2019

The big bike news out of the Oregon legislature this year was the passage of a Stop as Yield law. This was an enormous legislative victory for Oregon cyclists, the culmination of over a decade of advocacy. But it wasn’t the only legislative victory for Oregon cyclists this legislative session. A less glamorous but equally […]

Read More
Uber Biking Escort
Charlie Thomas Jul 11, 2019

I often find myself wanting to ride on a roadway corridor that doesn’t want me there. At best, I could make it across alive with some close calls and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. At worst, I wouldn’t be around to write this blog post.  Of course, a safer, alternate route […]

Read More
Cycling Without Age Bike Law
Brian Weiss Jul 11, 2019

The founder of the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team loves his life on two wheels. Gary Harty was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and raised in Colorado – Denver Metro area, and now makes bicycling in Lakewood, Colorado safe and fun.  Gary is part of the baby boomer generation. He attended Colorado State University (CSU) and […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Bike Law
Rachael Maney Jul 10, 2019

Outrage.  It is what drives action and engagement on the interwebs these days. If it’s not outrageous, it’s boring. The Election of 2018 proved that outrage increases TOS (“time on site”) more than friendship, sympathy, desire, or anything else.  Judgment. By definition it is necessary to reach any conclusion about anything. But passing it on […]

Read More
Stop as Yield for Cyclists
Rick Bernardi Jul 09, 2019

The Oregon Legislature made national news this past week, for all the wrong reasons. The State Senate, with a super-majority of Democrats in control, had been working on climate legislation which would have Oregon join a cap-and-trade market with California and Quebec. Unable to stop the legislation, Republican Senators fled the state en masse, preventing […]

Read More
Bike Law Alps
Charlie Thomas Jul 07, 2019

It’s Tour de France time. I follow the racing daily through the footage on TV feed and still photos. But I hadn’t ever considered what’s happening on the other side of the camera lens. Like, what actually goes into snapping these pictures that we see documenting the Tour’s happenings? I started to care more about […]

Read More
E Bike and insurance
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Jul 01, 2019

Prologue  Last month, I rode across the Casco Bay Bridge to talk e-bikes and insurance with Bob O’Brien, the Vice President of Noyes, Hall and Allen Insurance in South Portland, Maine.  Although I have yet to invest in an e-bike for myself, I have been captivated by e-bikes and their potential to get and keep […]

Read More
Brooke Nelson
Danny Feldman Jul 01, 2019

Brooke Nelson has been the ride director of the Cheaha Challenge (www.cheahachallange.com) since shortly after the 2014 ride and in the past 5 years, ride participation has increased 188%.  Since 2017 when it became the only UCI Qualifier, Alabama’s biggest ride has become known nationally and internationally.  The 2019 ride had participants from 31 states […]

Read More
Load More