NC Bicycle Laws
This is a collection of the more relevant bicycle laws in NC. For the entire legislation, visit North Carolina’s DOT page here.
North Carolina traffic laws require bicyclists to:
- Ride on the right in the same direction as other traffic.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Use hand signals to communicate intended movements to vehicle, and clearly audible signals to any pedestrians who may be affected by the bicyclist’s movements.
- Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, and it is the bicyclist’s responsibility to avoid a collision with a pedestrian
- Equip their bicycles with a front lamp visible from 300 feet and a rear reflector that is visible from a distance of 200 feet when riding at night.
- All bicycle operators under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet on public roads, public paths and public rights-of-way.
- All child passengers under 40 pounds or 40 inches must be seated and secured in a child seat or a bicycle trailer.
- Bicycling on Interstate or fully controlled limited access highways, such as beltlines, is prohibited by policy, unless otherwise specified by action of the Board of Transportation.
Below are some issues for which there are no laws against, or issues for which legislation is determined by local ordinances. Such an issue is that of riding bicycles on the sidewalks. We do not know if this is illegal in Durham, but to be on the safe side, assume it is illegal!
- Requiring bicyclists to ride single file, nor is there a law that gives cyclists the right to ride two or more abreast. It is important to ride responsibly and courteously, so that cars may pass safely.
- Prohibiting the wearing of headphones when riding a bicycle; however, it is not recommended. It is important to use all your senses to ensure your safety when riding in traffic.
- Requiring bicyclists to dismount from their bicycle at a crosswalk; however, it is not recommended.
- Prohibiting bicyclists from riding on the sidewalk. Remember to ride safely and be respectful of pedestrians’ rights.
Note that North Carolina defines a bicycle as a vehicle (though a non-motorized vehicle), and so all laws that apply to cars can apply to bikes. For example, it was recently made against the law to ride a bicycle while under the influence—alcohol was involved in more than one-third of bike fatalities in the year 2000. This suggests that bicycles should NOT be ridden on the sidewalk, since it is illegal for vehicles to do so.
Every attempt has been made to provide complete and thorough information on the North Carolina laws pertaining to bicycles. Bikeduke.com cannot be held responsible for any exclusions, omissions nor deletions of relevant laws. If you have questions or concerns regarding North Carolina law pertaining to bicycles or pedestrians, you may wish to consultan attorney.