Illegal to Ride a Bike Against Traffic? - Law and Daily Life
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Illegal to Ride a Bike Against Traffic?

Is it illegal to ride your bike against traffic? The answer may not seem so obvious, especially since riding a bike seems so casual compared to operating a motor vehicle.

Even so, bike laws are fairly strict when it comes to certain rules of the road. This includes things like riding a bike while inebriated -- which can potentially get you busted for a DUI-related offense in many states -- and, yes, riding your bike against traffic.

Here's what you need to know about the law:

Just like any other driver, a bicyclist is considered a motorist. This means cyclists must also follow all traffic laws as well.

A failure to do so could result in a bicyclist being ticketed, just as a car driver would be.

To help illustrate this, here are what three states' laws have to say about biking against the direction of traffic:

  • California: Under California's Vehicle Code, Section 21650.1 states that a bicycle "shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway." The language clearly states, therefore, that a bicycle needs to be going in the same direction as any cars.
  • Texas: The Lone Star State's bicycle law states the rule similarly to California's. Under the Texas Transportation Code, the relevant statute (551.103) states that a bicyclist shall ride in the same direction as all other traffic, and as near the curb as possible, according to a nonprofit group called BikeTexas.
  • New York: The law in New York requires that bicyclists (and those operating in-line skates, even) ride "with the flow of traffic" as well, to avoid accidents.

While it may seem like the right way to go, riding your bike against traffic actually places you in a very dangerous situation and is not worth it. Not only is it generally illegal, but you also run the risk of not being seen by drivers -- and of being badly hurt in a head-on collision.

To learn more about the rules of the road for bicyclists, check out FindLaw's page on Bicycle Laws.

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