Understanding Traffic Laws for Maryland Bike Riders

Bicycles are treated like vehicles in Maryland. There are some limiting exceptions for bicycles, such as occasionally being allowed to ride on sidewalks, for instance. However, for all intents and purposes, bicycles are treated like vehicles in Maryland and they are held to all the same laws and regulations as motor vehicles.

With a bicycle accident, just as with a car accident, it is important to work with an experienced Maryland bike accident attorney who knows the local traffic laws and ordinances.

Bike Laws v. Traffic Laws

Bike traffic laws are really not that different from Maryland traffic laws in general. There are a few minor exceptions in terms of the ability of bikes to travel on sidewalks and in certain areas. When they do ride on sidewalks, bicyclists have a responsibility to look out for pedestrians. In addition, if they are crossing from a sidewalk or crossing a highway, they must use crosswalks. Short of that circumstance, when a bicycle is on a roadway it is treated as a motor vehicle and held to account as any motor vehicle to follow the laws of the highway.

Out of State Riders

Anyone choosing to use a bicycle in the state of Maryland should familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations regarding the use of bicycles. Simply because a person is from out of state or out of town does not mean that they are excused from following the rules and regulations regarding the use of a bicycle in the state of Maryland.

Each state writes the no-fault insurance policy differently. For example, in Delaware, a person has an insurance policy that is different than he or she would have in Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, or New York. Out of state laws do not apply when a bicycle accident occurs in Maryland, as a bicycle rider is subject to the laws of the state where located.

Familiarity with Regulations

Anyone choosing to use a bike in the state of Maryland should familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations regarding the use of a bicycle. Additionally, they should take all necessary precautions to utilize a bicycle in a safe and prudent manner, based upon the circumstances that exist.

The fact that a bicyclist is from out of state and not familiar with the rules and regulations is not a legal defense. Generally, the bicycle laws apply to bicyclists operating the vehicle in the state where the bicycle is being operated. The fact that the bicycle may be from out of state is not a legal defense to any issues regarding any collision.

Important Reasons to Follow Traffic Laws

Bicycles are at a disadvantage to begin with in an accident situation, just because they are lightweight and offer no protection for the bicyclist. Therefore, it is extremely important that a bicyclist maintain consistency in following the traffic laws so that there is a proper, free flow of vehicles on the highway and that both the bicyclist’s and the driver’s expectations in relation to one another are known. It is the consistency of the bicyclist and the motorist following the same laws that allows this. Generally speaking, the bicyclist needs to follow the laws of the highway for safety, not only for themselves but for the other motorists on the highway.

Also, there is a doctrine in Maryland law known as contributory negligence. If there is an accident and the motorist is 99% at fault and the bicyclist is as little as one percent at fault, then the bicyclist may not be able to recover for the injury because they contributed to the accident. Even if it is as little as one percent, they are barred from the recovery of damages. It is extremely important for the bicyclist to follow the rules of the road as much as any motorist, because if they are deemed to have contributed to the accident in any way, the bicyclist may not recover damages even if the other party is primarily at fault.

How Laws Impact a Case

Following traffic laws allows a person better chances at recovery, especially if the motor-vehicle driver involved in the accident does not follow the laws and the bicyclist does. Bicyclists do not want to put themselves at a greater disadvantage by not following the laws, because in the event that a failure to follow the traffic laws results in an accident, the bicyclist may not be able to recover.

Maryland Bicycle Accident Laws