DC Bike Lane Laws

If you are a bicyclist or a driver in DC, it is important you know what rights cyclists have on the roadways and whether they are required to stay in bike lanes at all times. Below, a DC bike accident lawyer discusses these laws and how they can impact a bike accident injury claim. For assistance with your claim, call and schedule a consultation today.

Rules Regarding DC Bike Lanes

There are bike lanes in designated areas for bicycle traveling on the roadway in Washington, DC. However, a person on a bicycle does not necessarily have to use a bike lane. They can ride in traffic, however if they do so, there are certain things that are different for the bicyclist. For example, a bicyclist can pass either on the left or the right, whereas cars always pass on the left. A bicycle can share a lane with a car, whereas cars can’t share lanes, and bicycles can ride on sidewalks, whereas cars cannot. Cars are not allowed to be parked in bike lanes. If they are, that’s a violation and can be a potential cause for an accident if a bicycle and a motor vehicle are involved in a collision.

Are Bike Lanes Common?

Yes, there are bike lanes throughout DC and they vary a great deal. So while some lanes may be long and wide, others can be much shorter. Additionally some go the length of the street while others may even be in the middle of the road. There is a really great inconsistency regarding what a bike lane looks like in DC.

Impact of Bike Lanes In Bike Accident Cases

There is no statute that says that a bicyclist must use a bike lane if one is provided. Just the fact that someone is not in a bicycle lane when one is available does not automatically present contributory negligence on the part of the bicyclist if there is a collision between a bicycle and a car. Bicycles can also split the lanes, meaning that someone overtaking a bicycle can overtake and pass other vehicles in the left or the right side. The bicyclist could stay in the same lane as the overtaking vehicle, or change to a different lane, or ride off the roadway as necessary to pass for safety. If a lane is partially occupied by the vehicle, a person operating a bicycle may ride in that lane or in the next adjacent lane used by the vehicles proceeding in the same direction.

How Can Bike Lanes Impact Driver Behavior?

A driver can’t travel in a bike lane and they can’t park in a bike lane. What often causes frustrations for drivers is that a bicyclist can’t maintain the same speed as the car. Having a bike lane just means that driver has to exercise more than ordinary care when driving their vehicle because there is potential to strike or be involved in a collision with a bicyclist.

What Are Safety Measure To Take When Using Bike Lanes?

The most important thing to prevent a bike accident is to wear a helmet. If you are involved in an accident, a helmet can save your life and prevent you from having any kind of traumatic brain injury. Putting lights on your bike is also very important so that other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians can see you at night and avoid a collision. The use of reflective clothing such as clothing with silver reflective tape or silver reflective material that most stores sell for fitness purposes like running or walking outside can help you be seen by drivers. Using hand signals for turning are also very helpful because this lets pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers know what your intentions are when you come to an intersection or what your intentions are if you intend to switch lanes.

Also taking caution while riding a bike is very important because even though you’re on a bike, you still have to obey the same laws of traffic that cars follow, meaning that you have to go in the direction of traffic; you shouldn’t go against traffic.