Gearing up for Bike Month: Seattle bike laws

Biking around Seattle can be scary. Unless you ride regularly, it’s easy to forget the bike laws – and heavy car traffic is intimidating.

Seattle Bike Laws 101:

  1. Yes, you have to wear a helmet. It’s the law in King County: police officers can fine you $100 for riding a bike without a helmet. More importantly, in the event of an accident, you’re less vulnerable to a traumatic brain injury.
  2. You’re a pedestrian on the sidewalk … It’s legal to ride on the sidewalk, but you have to yield to people on foot.
  3. … But you’re a vehicle on the road.  Stop at stop signs, obey traffic lights, yield to pedestrians, and signal before you turn.

    Ride the City has an easy-to-use interactive bike map: plan your bike ride to avoid major roads and traffic.

  4. How to signal: For a left turn, left arm is straight out, parallel to the street. For a right turn, left arm bent at the elbow and pointing up.  To stop, left arm bent and pointing down.
  5. Ride to the right, and always with the flow of traffic.
  6. It’s OK to pass. It’s a good idea to put a bell on your bike so you can warn other cyclists or pedestrians when you’re riding up behind them or about to pass. Look over your shoulder first, even if you have a mirror.
  7. Lights and reflectors are absolutely necessary for night riding.
    • A front white headlight must be visible from at least 500 feet ahead.
    • A rear reflector or taillight must be visible from 300 feet behind.
    • It’s not the law, but even during daylight hours, wear a bright jacket or helmet.

Need more info on Seattle bike laws? See Complete Regulations for Bicycling in Seattle from the Department of Transportation, or this Seattle By Bike Guide.


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