On December 1st, new laws took effect regarding bicycle safety in North Carolina. The new laws put additional responsibilities on bicyclists as well as provide more protection from collisions with motor vehicles.
One of the most important changes in the law states that a motorist is now required to leave at least 4 feet of space between their vehicle and a cyclist in a no passing zone. Most states in the nation require that drivers give cyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing. Until December 1st, we had a 2 foot rule in North Carolina. However, we now have a major improvement with the new 4 foot rule in a no passing zone.
Of course, most motorists will not be aware of this rule change, so we ask all cyclists to please repost this information to spread awareness. The law is longer and more complicated than this, but the main takeaways are that a motorists now must:
- Have clear sight
- Pass totally in the left-hand lane or
- Allow at least 4 feet
- Not pass when a cyclist is in the process of making a left turn
As an added protection for bicyclists, fines for violations by motorists have been increased and now give bicyclists the same level of protection as motorcyclists.
Under the new law, bicycles operated at night must have must have front and rear lights visible for 300 feet, or a front light and reflective clothing or vest visible for at least 300 feet to the rear. This is common sense safety, and many cyclists have been doing this for quite some time.
The laws have always required cyclists to use hand signals, but now the laws have been changed to comply with our common practice of being able to signal with either arm. Bicyclists often use their right arm to signal a right-hand turn, and this is now recognized by state law.
Please encourage all of our friends in the bicycling community to be good ambassadors to others on the road. Our good conduct will reflect well on the cycling community and make the roads safer for all of us.
Please be safe, and we look forward to seeing you on the road!
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