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Understanding the Variety of Bicycle Laws in Washington State

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on January 30, 2013

Washington Bike Crash InjuryWashington is considered one of the most bike-friendly states in the country. Unfortunately, bicyclists in Washington State still face the same risks and hazards that bicyclists in other states face. One way you can reduce your chances of being involved in a Washington bicycle accident is to obey the law.

First, it is important for riders and drivers to remember that cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Under RCW 46.61.755, “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.” Additionally, “Every person riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk or crosswalk must be granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to a pedestrian.”

According to RCW 46.61.770, riders may choose to ride on the road, a path, a bike lane, or the shoulder. Not all roads, however, are open to bicyclists. There are many sections of Washington’s highway system that are closed to cyclists. These are typically roads with higher speed limits and shoulders that are not safe for bicyclists. It can increase your visibility to ride in groups, but it is against the law to ride more than two abreast. When there are three or more riders, it takes up too much of the lane and causes congestion. When riding at night, all cyclists must have a white front light that is visible for up to 500 feet and a red rear reflector when riding at night.

All riders would be well advised to wear a helmet at all times. There is no state law requiring helmet use, but many cities and counties, such as Aberdeen, DuPont, Eatonville, and Spokane, have bicycle helmet laws in place. Whatever the requirements of your city, it is important to remember that a properly-fitted helmet can greatly reduce your chances of suffering a traumatic brain injury.

The experienced Washington bike accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. have a long history of helping injured cyclists and their families. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, please contact us at (888) 228-3860 for a no-cost consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.

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