Arizona Bike Law: Rules of the Road for Bicyclists

Arizona Bike Law: Rules of the Road for Bicyclists

Whether you’re driving a car or riding a bike in Arizona, it’s important to know the rules of the road. Since there is a significant disparity between bicycles and larger vehicles, accidents can result in particularly severe consequences for cyclists. When an automobile collides with a bike, for example, the car and driver typically experience minor damage while the bicycle victim will experience injuries ranging from broken bones and road rash to traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage depending on the speed and force of impact. Any bicycle accident lawyer will tell you that understanding bike law in Arizona is important and will keep you safe.

Bicyclists share many of the same rules and responsibilities as drivers do while navigating Arizona roadways. Let’s review some of the most important bike laws and safety tips together.

Bicyclists Have the Same Rights as Arizona Motorists

Did you know that cyclists are required by law to follow many of the same traffic laws as motorists? According to the Arizona Traffic Code, a person riding a bike has the same rights as drivers. Regardless of whether they’re on the roadway itself or its shoulder, bicycle riders must travel in the same direction (and corresponding lanes) as traffic, obey signals, give pedestrians the right of way, and use bike lanes whenever possible. Just like a car must come to a complete stop at a red light, so must a bicycle. Those operating cars must treat cyclists the same way they would treat other vehicles, and vice versa.

Overtaking Other Bicyclists

A legal bicycle pass, as defined by the Arizona Traffic Code, follows the same principles used when legally passing a vehicle. For example, if a bicyclist is riding behind a slower-moving bicycle in the bike lane or on the right-hand side of the road, the faster bicyclist can overtake the slower one by moving to the left and passing it.

Making a Left-Handed Turn

Arizona law permits cyclists to move over to the left of the roadway when they need to prepare for a legal left turn at an intersection or into a driveway. The law also allows cyclists to move leftward into the roadway if there are obstacles or potential hazards on the right side that need to be avoided for safety reasons. These could include objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, or other situations that may pose a risk if the cyclist remains on the right side.

Commuting on a Bicycle to School or Work

If you commute to school or work on a bicycle, there’s a good chance that you’ll be carrying the day’s belongings with you. According to Arizona law, cyclists must not carry anything on them that prevents them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.

Bike Lane Usage

Bike lanes provide ample road space for both motorists and cyclists. For that reason, Arizona law encourages cyclists to use bike lanes whenever possible to maintain safety on the road. However, there are several exceptions – such as when cyclists leave the bike to make a turn, avoid a hazard, or pass another bicycle or pedestrian.

Riding a Bike on the Sidewalk

At a state level, Arizona law doesn’t prohibit riding your bike on the sidewalk. However, local ordinances can vary depending on where you live. Always check local laws before riding on the sidewalk to see if it’s banned or limited in certain areas.

Proper Bicycle Equipment and Lighting

Be prepared for any riding condition. Arizona law requires that bicycles must be equipped with white headlamps visible from 500 feet away when being used at night. They must also have rear red reflectors visible from 50-300 feet. 

Night or day, bicycles must also maintain working breaks that allow them to stop on dry, level pavement.

Helmet Laws for Cyclists in Arizona

If you’re operating a bicycle, wearing a helmet is ALWAYS recommended to reduce the risk of head injury. However, you are not required by Arizona law to wear one, regardless of age. 

There are exceptions to this law in certain cities and counties: Along with Pima County, the cities of Tucson, Sierra Vista, and Yuma, require helmet usage for riders under the age of 18.

Riding Side By Side

Bicyclists are permitted, by law, to ride side by side (two people maximum) as long as it doesn’t  interfere with the flow of traffic. If they’re frequently being overtaken by faster traffic, then it is recommended that they revert to riding single file to avoid traffic jams or collisions. 

Tips for Arizona Cyclists

Beyond what is required from Arizona bicycle law, there are helpful rules of the road – or best practices – that cyclists should observe when sharing the road with others. For example, always be courteous and make room when passing or being passed. 

Here are some additional tips for keeping Arizona cyclists safe. 

Wear a Helmet

Although there is no law in Arizona that makes it mandatory for cyclists to wear helmets, it is always best to be safe in case an accident occurs.

Stay Alert

No matter where you live, there will always be careless or distracted drivers. Arizona is no exception. Stay alert and operate your bike as cautiously – if not more cautiously – than you would your vehicle. Stay vigilant and defensive at all times while riding your bike.

Make Yourself Visible

Because your bicycle is much smaller than the cars around you, make yourself as visible as possible. Always use appropriate hand signals when making turns or slowing down, wear bright colors, and use your headlamps and reflectors at night.

Bicycle Accident Law Services

Despite the best intentions of the law to keep bicyclists safe, accidents can happen. If you’ve been in a bicycle accident, consult with a firm that specializes in bike law to get the support and recovery you need. 

Esquire Law advocates for bicycle accident victims by helping them navigate bike laws in Arizona, working hard to get them fair compensation for injuries sustained. We do this by helping gather and document evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, and providing representation in court if necessary.

Call us today and take your first step towards recovery.

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