Critical Rules to Remember When Cycling in Washington

Categories: Bicycle Accidents

what to do after a bicycle accident

The state of Washington considers your bicycle a “vehicle,” any time you ride it on a roadway.

So, what does that mean for you?

That means you are required to follow the rules of the road, just like a motorist. Motorists are also required to look out for those cycling on the road. While you cannot control how these motorists act, you can avoid a collision by being aware of the vehicles around you and knowing the laws that apply to you.

Washington Bicycle Laws Every Cyclist Should Know

Did you know there are laws that apply specifically to cyclists? While you do not need a license to ride your bike, you still must adhere to specific laws. Failure to do so could result in a citation – and if you were to cause an accident, you could be liable for the damages you cause.

Here are just a few laws that you must know as a cyclist in the state of Washington.

Helmets are Not Required by the State, but Counties Differ

While the state of Washington doesn’t require you to wear a helmet, the city or county you ride through might. For example, Vancouver requires you to wear a helmet, while Poulsbo only requires those under the age of 18 to wear one. You can check if your specific area requires a helmet by reviewing the list from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Bike Lanes are Preferred, but Not Required

As a cyclist, you can choose between a bike lane, path, or riding in the travel lane. It is up to you and your comfort level. However, you cannot hinder traffic or cut off motorists – regardless of your preference. You must ride as far to the right as you can so that you do not slow traffic, and you must use the proper hand signals to notify drivers when you are overtaking a rider in the bike lane ahead of you, as per RCW 46.61.770.

If You Ride on the Road, You Accept Traffic Laws

If you choose to ride on the roadway and outside of a designated bike lane or path, you have officially accepted the rights and responsibilities of a motorist. That means if you violate a traffic law, you can receive a citation.

Your Bike Must be Equipped for Night Rides

If you want to ride your bike at night, you are required to use a white light on the front of your bike – not a reflector. Also, your light must make the road visible for a minimum of 500 feet. Then, you must equip a rear reflector in the color red. You can use a red rear light in addition to your reflector, but not in place of the red rear reflector.

You Have Rights as a Cyclist Too

You may be required to follow the rules of the road, but motorists are also required to look out for cyclists. Sadly, motor vehicles rarely take the time to look for cyclists – which leads to catastrophic accidents.

If you were involved in a bicycle accident because of an inattentive motorist, you have the right to seek compensation from that driver.

To see if your case qualifies, you need to speak with a personal injury attorney. The team at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC is here to assist you with your claim. We understand how to negotiate with insurance companies, and we know how devastating a cycling accident can be financially, mentally, and emotionally.

Let our team help you and your loved ones recover the compensation you need for medical costs, lost wages, and more. Schedule your free case evaluation by calling 800-925-1875 or request your appointment online.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.