Today is National Bike to Work Day -- a great way to both cut down on your carbon footprint and get some exercise by biking to work.
However, there are a few laws to keep in mind anytime you hit the road on a bike. Here are our Top 10 legal tips for National Bike to Work Day -- and pretty much any other day of the year:
- Don't bike against traffic. As demonstrated recently by actor Alec Baldwin, biking against traffic is generally against the law and can get you cited, or in his case, arrested for being belligerent.
- Don't bike on the sidewalk. Though biking on the sidewalk may or may not be illegal, depending on where you live, it's usually kind of a bad idea as it makes a bike vs. pedestrian accident far more likely.
- Be careful on bike trails. If your ride to work includes a detour onto a bike trail, be aware that winning a lawsuit stemming from any potential bike trail accident may be tougher than you think.
- Be extra careful on a borrowed or shared bike. Whenever you're riding a bike that's not familiar to you, the odds of being involved in an accident and hurting yourself or someone else are increased. One New York City tourist wrecked his Citi Bike (the name of New York City's public bike share program) and claims he can no longer taste or smell.
- BUI might be a DUI. In some states, riding a bike is the same as driving a car for purposes of DUI charges. In fact, certain states such as California have cracked down on drunken biking.
- Don't run over any pedestrians. Even if you're not riding on the sidewalk, if you hit and kill a pedestrian you could even be charged with vehicular homicide, as happened to one cyclist in San Francisco.
- Wear a helmet. Although wearing a helmet may or may not be legally required in your state, it's a pretty easy way to keep yourself from being killed in an accident.
- Lock up your bike. It'll be pretty hard to bike home from work if your bike gets stolen while you're there. Get a decent bike lock or bring your bike inside a locked building until you're ready to head home. If your bike is stolen, don't lose hope. There are ways to get it back.
- Don't text and bike. Like distracted driving, distracted biking can lead to accidents. Which is why California along with cities like Chicago have tried to outlaw it.
- Bike defensively. Biking can be fun, but it can also be deadly. Don't assume that drivers or other bicyclists can or do see you.
Have a safe National Bike to Work Day!
- Shifting Gears for Your Commute: FindLaw Celebrates Bike to Work Week (FindLaw Insider)
- Illegal to Ride a Bike Against Traffic? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Bicycle Accidents: Cyclists Must Obey Traffic Laws (FindLaw's Injured)
- Bicyclists Hit-and-Run Video Leads to Arrest (FindLaw's Injured)