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South Carolina Bike Laws

SOUTH CAROLINA BICYCLE LAWS

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

Right to the Road

  • South Carolina 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.
  • Cyclists may not carry any items which prevents them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars

Helmets

  • South Carolina does not have a state-wide requirement for helmet use.

Alcohol

  • South Carolina’s DUI statute does not apply 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.
  • A bicyclist may, but is not required to, ride on the shoulder of the roadway.

Sidewalks

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

Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths

  • Use of bike lanes is required when they are present.
  • Cyclists may ride on the roadway when there is only an adjacent recreational bicycle path available instead of a bicycle lane.

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

  • Cyclists must give the proper signals when turning or stopping.

Drivers Overtaking Bicyclists

  • Motor vehicle drivers must a safe operating distance when passing a bicyclist.

Bicycles Passing Cars

  • When operating a bicycle upon a roadway, a bicyclist must exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.

Group Riding

  • Bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

Equipment

  • A bicycle when in use at nighttime must be equipped with a lamp on the front which must emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear that must be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of the lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
  • A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that will enable the bicyclist to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

Electric Assist Bikes

  • E-bikes lack a specific classification under current South Carolina traffic laws. However, “e-bikes” are “vehicles” and are therefore subject to the requirements for “vehicles.”
  • E-bikes equipped with motors that have a power output of less than 750 watts are specifically exempt from the definition of “moped.” Therefore, e-bikes are not subject to requirements that apply to “mopeds,” such as licensing and registration.
  • E-bikes are subject to the rules of the road that apply to vehicles.

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