Riding Safe- Road Laws for Cyclists and Skateboarders
Skateboarding Can Be Fun if You Do it Safely
Pro Skateboard Complete 7.75"
The Dangers of Bike Riding and Skateboarding
Each year in the United States, around 20,000 bike riders are killed or hurt because of an accident on the road. During 2012, over 100 people were killed and 3,000 people were severely injured because of bike accidents.
Despite what you may think, over three quarters of these accidents happen during the day, when it is bright and sunny out, and only 20% of these accidents occur at night. Over half of accidents reported in 2012 were not a result of negligence by the cyclist, but rather negligence on the part of the driver that collided with the cyclist.
Although skateboarding accidents are not as common, they do happen, and when they occur they are typically a result of negligence on the road- either on the part of the skateboarder or another person on the road. In 2012 almost 50 skateboarders died from skateboard related injuries, and hundreds of riders were injured.
Many of these injuries, both bike riding and skateboarding, can be avoided if people properly follow the laws of the road. By educating cyclists, skateboarders and drivers, many of these injuries and deaths can be avoided.
Ride Safe by Always Wearing a Helmet
Biking 101: Sidewalk or Street?
Bike riders by law are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk unless it is labeled as a shared path for both pedestrians and cyclists. When a sidewalk is a shared path, it is typically large, well marked as a shared path and broken into two parts by a line, designating where it is safe to walk and where it is safe to ride.
Cycling on the sidewalk puts the lives of pedestrians at risk, no matter how strong of a rider you are, which is why by law, cyclists should remain on the street and not the sidewalk.
Although this is a general rule, almost all laws that apply to bike riding are governed at a state level and laws vary slightly depending on where you are riding. Be sure to familiarize yourself with local cycling laws before riding in a new place.
Pay Attention to Road Signs While Cycling or Skateboarding
Are you a cyclist or skateboarder?
Rules for Bike Riding on the Road
There are many rules that apply to the majority of bike riders while using a main road. One of these rules states that cyclists need to stay as close to the edge of the right side of the street as possible. They must use caution when passing stationary vehicles and are lawfully obligated to stop at red lights and yield to yellow lights, just like other vehicles using the road.
If the street a cyclist is riding on has a designated bicycle lane, the rider is required to use that lane unless it is obstructed by cars, buses or other objects that interfere with the cyclists ability to ride safely.
Most states have speed regulations for cyclists who use the road, typically requiring cyclists to remain under 25 miles per hour and prohibiting them from streets with speed limits exceeding 40 miles per hour.
If a cyclist finds himself behind a turning vehicle but is not making a turn himself, it is okay for him to move to the safe side of the vehicle so as to not interfere with the vehicle making a turn. When cycling on a one way street, riders should stick to the left hand side of the street as long as it is safe.
Parking Bikes Legally
There are regulations set up to keep bikes parked in a manner that does not interfere with drivers, pedestrians or other cyclists.
These laws state that bikes may only be parked in designated areas, and may not be positioned in a way that interferes with a sidewalk or street. Bikes may not be parked in any way that interferes with another vehicles ability to get out of a parking spot, assuming the vehicle is parked legally.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road to Avoid Accidents
Basic Skateboarding Laws
In many cases, skateboarders are subject to the same rules as bicycle riders. However there are places where bikes are permitted and skateboards are not.
Many public parks and areas surrounding government offices prohibit the use of skateboarding. Be sure to check for signs before skateboarding in a new place.
Similar to laws that regulate cyclists, skateboarding laws are regulated on a state and local level.They vary from state to state and even from town to town.
Some areas require the use of protective gear, such as a helmet and shoulder/knee pads when using a skateboard in certain places.
Be Safe When Riding and Wear a Helmet
Were you aware of the landowner's responsibility to keep the sidewalk in front of their property in good shape?
A Word of Caution to Landowners and Non-Riders
Not only should cyclists and skateboarders be aware of the laws of low-speed vehicles, but so should non-riders. Many laws pertaining to bike riding and skateboarding are written in a way that in the event of an injury or accident, the rider is not always liable.
This can happen when a collision occurs between a bike and a vehicle, a skateboard and a vehicle, a bike and another bike, a skateboard and another skateboard, as well as a pedestrian and either a bike or a skateboard. Laws regulated fault in these cases vary from state to state.
Another instance where non-riders could end up responsible for the injury of a skateboarder or bike rider is if the rider gets injured due to a poorly kept sidewalk in front of the landowner's property. If a landowner has been found to be neglegent to take care of damage that interfered with the biker's or the skateboarder's ability to ride, they can be responsible for medical bills and repair costs.
FAQs from Skateboards, Cyclists and Pedestrians
Q: What, if any, are the laws pertaining to transporting goods while cycling?
A: There are laws that pertain to transporting goods on a bicycle. Most states require riders to be able to steer with two hands while riding a bicycle. Packages can go in a basket or in a backpack, but cannot take up either of the bike riders hands.
Q: What are the penalties for violating skateboarding or cycling laws?
A: If you are found to be violating a skateboarding or cycling law, you typically will get a warning for the first offense, a fine for the second offense, and possibly an arrest for the third offense, or a more serious first or second offense.
Q: Is it illegal to ride a bike or skateboard without a helmet?
A: In many cases. However, most states do have instances were helmets ARE required, such as when a skateboarder is under a certain age. Then there are states like California have rules in place requiring all bicyclists to wear helmets when riding on the road. Always be sure to verify the laws for the specific area before riding.
If you have a question you would like answered about skateboarding or cycling laws, please post it in the comment section and I will answer as quickly as possible!
© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal