It’s officially spring, which means cyclists are out and enjoying the warmer months. For many local residents bicycling is a great way to get from point A to point B or squeeze in some exercise time. Whatever the case may be, they’re riding alongside our vehicles in neighborhoods, backroads and even heavy traffic crosswalks. The problem? Most drivers ignore or don’t quite understand basic bicycle and traffic laws.

North Carolina is one of many states that treats bicycles like vehicles and bicyclists as drivers of vehicles. Cyclists must also follow the same rules and regulations as automobile drivers. That being said, it’s critical to know what to do when you find yourself driving behind a bicyclist, especially in areas with considerable traffic. Below are a few important traffic rules to keep you and others safe on the road.

Don’t drive too close. Although North Carolina does not have a law in regards to passing a bicyclist, most states have a minimum 3-feet passing distance. Be aware that 3-feet is not always enough space to pass carefully. Give riders as much space as you can.

Pay attention. Bicyclists can come from anywhere at any given moment. Be conscious of your surroundings when you’re backing out, turning and changing lanes.

Be aware of bike lanes. Although there’s less worry about sharing the road because bicyclists have their own lane, it’s important to be aware that they are there. Bike lanes can start and end at any time – moving riders back in your lane and route.

Don’t drive under the influence. Not only are you putting yourself in danger, you’re also placing everyone around you at risk too, including riders.

Avoid rushing. Everyone has places they need to be. That doesn’t mean rushing past a cyclist to get where you’re going is a good idea. Wait until the road is clear in the opposite direction to safely pass.

Know your rights. Bicyclists are expected to follow the same rules as automobile drivers. That means they must use hand signals, stop at traffic signals and signs, ride with traffic and have the necessary lighting equipment to be visible at night. If an accident occurs and they’re at fault, it’s important you fight for your case.

We know that accidents happen, whether they’re the fault of the automobile driver or cyclist. That’s why our attorneys are here to help when unfortunate situations occur. Ludlum Law Firm specializes in traffic and personal injury cases in the Sampson County and Duplin County areas. If you have questions about your case, don’t hesitate to reach out. Give us a call or fill out our contact form for a consultation.

Be safe and remember – bicyclists have just as much authority on the road as you do.