Riding a bicycle is a health-conscious and eco-friendly means of getting from Point A to Point B in Washington State. You simply need to remember to obey all relevant laws when riding your bike.
No single blog entry could cover all the laws and regulations Washington bicyclists should be aware of. The following are merely among the more noteworthy requirements to keep in mind:
Treat a Bicycle Like Any Other Vehicle
This is a general provision in Washington State’s bicycle laws that are nevertheless sometimes ignored. Quite simply, when you’re on a bicycle, that does not mean the rules of the road any longer apply. Bicyclists must obey the law the same as they would if they were operating motor vehicles.
Wear a Helmet
There is no statewide law in Washington that requires a bicyclist to wear a helmet. However, there are county and city laws requiring helmet usage. Additionally, if you are injured in a Washington bicycle accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, but you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, an insurer could argue that your own negligence contributed to the severity of your injuries.
This may have a negative impact on the amount of compensation you could recover. Thus, whenever you’re riding a bicycle in Washington, even if you’re only making a short trip, it’s best to err on the side of caution and wear your helmet.
Use Hand Signals
Bicycles typically aren’t equipped with turn indicator lights or brake lights. This does not mean bicyclists do not have to let those with whom they are sharing the road know when they intend to make a turn or stop.
Instead of using indicator lights, bicyclists can use hand signals to let other motorists and bicyclists know what their intentions are. Specific signals they may use include the following:
- Extending your left hand and arm horizontally indicates you plan to turn left;
- To indicate a right turn, extend your left hand and arm upward beside your bicycle, or extend your right hand and arm horizontally;
- Extend your left hand and arm downward beside the bicycle to indicate you intend to stop or decrease your speed.
Be aware that you will not be using these signals properly if you wait until you are in the process of making a turn to do so. You must make the appropriate hand signal before you perform a turn.
Of course, it’s always important to exercise basic caution and common sense. If you suddenly encounter an unexpected hazard on the road and you need to keep both hands on the handlebars to properly maneuver your way around the hazard, you do not need to make any hand signals if doing so would unreasonably prevent you from avoiding danger.
The Importance of Obeying Bicycle Safety Laws in Washington State
Again, failing to obey these laws could prevent you from recovering compensation if you’re injured in a bicycle accident. More importantly, these laws have been designed to optimize both your safety and the safety of those with whom you share the road.
Unfortunately, it is possible you will one day be injured in a bicycle accident because someone else was careless. Contact a Spokane and Everett bicycle accident attorney at Russell & Hill, PLLC if this ever happens. We will help you pursue any compensation for which you may be eligible. Learn more about how we can help by calling us at 800-529-0842 to schedule your free consultation.