Safety

Helmets
Required by Law: Helmets are required for anyone under 16 years of age.
Safety Guideline: Everyone should wear a helmet.  Make sure it fits.

Where & How to Ride
Required by Law: According to the Maryland State Highway Administration:

"Maryland law provides for the right-of-way of bicyclists, just as it does for the operators of motor vehicles. Bicyclists also have the duty to obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings, just as do drivers.

Riding in Traffic Lanes and on Shoulders

  • A bicyclist riding slower than the speed of traffic is confined to the right hand through lane (much the same way as a slow moving vehicle is) and as close to the right side of the road as is safe. A bicyclist can move further left to:
    • Make or attempt to make a vehicular style left turn;
    • Pass a stopped or slower moving vehicle; or
    • Avoid pedestrians or road hazards.
  • This ride-to-the-right provision does not apply when operating in a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle to travel safely side-by-side with another vehicle within the lane. The provision also does not apply where the right-hand lane is a turn lane, or the bicyclist is operating on a one-way street. (TR § 21-1205(a))
  • A bicyclist riding at the speed of traffic can operate in any lane, just as any other vehicle can..Where there is not a bike lane, a bicyclist may also use the shoulder of the roadway. (TR § 21-1205.1(b))
  • Bicycles may not be ridden in the travel lanes of any roadway where the posted maximum speed limit is more than 50 miles an hour; however, bicycles may be operated on the shoulder of these roadways.
  • Bicycles may not be operated on expressways (access-controlled freeways and interstate highways), except on an adjacent path or facility approved by the State Highway Administration. (TR § 21-1205.1(a)(2))"

Safety Guideline: As a vehicle, you have the same rights and responsibilities as a motorist.

Intersections
Safety Guideline:  Make eye contact with motorists and pedestrians before crossing paths with them.
Turning left. There are two ways to turn left: "vehicular" style and "2 Step" style. It should rarely be a necessity, but use a "2 Step" turn if traffic is too heavy for you to turn left like other vehicles. Go through the intersection, align yourself facing left, and proceed when clear or on the green if at a signal.

Passing
Required by Law:  Riders may pass slower riders or a vehicle on the left.
Safety Guideline:  Take caution by using hand signals, verbal warning and/or a bell.

Bike Lanes
Required by Law: Riders must use bike lanes when available, except when passing or turning. 
Safety Guideline:  Be sure to use proper hand signaling when passing and turning. 

Sidewalks
Required by Law:  Allowed where permitted by local ordinance (such as in Montgomery County).
Safety Guideline:  Always yield to pedestrians and give verbal warning when passing.

Night Lights
Required by Law:  Front white lights and rear red reflectors (or red lights).
Safety Guideline:  Stay visible, wear reflective clothing.

Turning
Required by Law: Use hand signals when turning.
Safety Guideline:  Use verbal warning for pedestrians, as they may not be able to see you.

For more information, contact Tom Robertson at trobertson@bethesda.org or 301-656-0868 x130.