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North Carolina's Bicycle Laws

If you’re a cyclist and you ride on public roads in North Carolina, it’s essential to understand our state’s traffic laws and how they apply to bicycles. In part two of our right-of-way series, we’re explaining North Carolina’s bicycle laws and how they affect riders, pedestrians, and motorists on the roadKeep reading to learn more. 

North Carolina Traffic Laws Treat Bikes Just Like Cars 

Because bikes are pedal-powered, many people don’t realize that North Carolina traffic laws treat them the same as motor vehiclesBikes and bicyclists have the same rights on the road as motor vehicles, but they also have the same responsibilities to follow traffic laws. This includes signalingmaking proper lane changes, and obeying all traffic signals.  

Here are some of the fundamental rules that cyclists need to keep in mind: 

Ride on the Road 

In general, cyclists must ride on the road as long as it’s safe to do so. Different communities in North Carolina have different laws regarding cycling on the sidewalk. If it’s legal and you choose to bike on the sidewalk, watch for pedestrians and move with the flow of foot traffic. 

When you ride your bike on the road, you should position yourself as far to the right as you can safely manage and move with the flow of traffic. Drivers must treat cyclists like they would any other vehicle, which includes yielding to them. 

Follow the Rules of the Road 

Too many cyclists weave between cars, pass on the shoulder, or perform other risky maneuvers just because they can. These types of behaviors can put you in danger, and they’re illegal as wellRiding on the road and behaving like a car allows pedestrians and other drivers to anticipate your movements and give you plenty of leeway. 

Use Your Arms to Signal 

Since your bike doesn’t have blinkers, your arms become the turn signals that let other vehicles know what you intend to do. Just like drivers, cyclists must use turn signals to communicate as they ride. 

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Bike Safely With These Tips 

North Carolina’s bike laws are designed to keep you safe on the road, but there’s much more you can do. Follow the steps below to reduce your risk of a collision or injury. 

Wear a Helmet 

North Carolina law only mandates helmet use for cyclists under 16, but this doesn’t mean adults can safely leave their helmets at homeWearing a proper helmet is the simplest and easiest way to dramatically reduce your risk of a deadly head injury. More than half of all cyclists killed in 2018 were not wearing helmets, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. 

Ride With Lights at Night 

Under North Carolina law, cyclists who ride at night must use front and rear lights that are visible from up to 300 feet. Although the law doesn’t mandate a blinking taillight, many cyclists choose to use one for the extra visibility it provides.  

Choose High-Visibility Clothing 

Cycling isn’t the time to put on dark colors that blend in with the road. Choose bright, reflective colors that stand out on the street. This will help cars see you well in advance and act accordingly. 

Make Sure Your Bike Is Ready to Ride 

Bikes don’t have a “check engine” light or an oil-change reminder, so it’s easy to forget to maintain them. But bikes are complex machines, and they need regular maintenance to provide a safe ride. 

Make sure to perform routine brake checks, inflate your tires often, and oil your chain to keep things running smoothly. If your bike has been sitting in the garage for a while or hasn’t been checked by an expert in years, bring it to your local bike shop for a tune-up before you take to the road. 

RELATED: Who’s Right? North Carolina Right-of-Way Laws for Pedestrians 

Hurt in a Bike Crash in North Carolina? Call Myers Law Firm 

At Myers Law Firm, we believe everyone should feel safe on the road, and we’re passionate about helping people who become injured through no fault of their own. If you’re a cyclist who’s suffering after a crash, get in touch with us to learn about your rights and options. We’ll meet with you in person during a free case evaluation, get to know you, and offer practical advice about your legal options and your best path forward. 

To schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys, call 888-376-2889 or complete our quick online form. 


Bicycle safety. (2019). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://helmets.org/stats.htm#effectivenes 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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