North Carolina Bike Laws

silhouettesWith the passage of the Bicycle and Bikeway Act of 1974, North Carolina established the first state bicycle program in the nation, which quickly became a national model.

In North Carolina, a bicycle has the same legal status as a vehicle. This means that bicyclists have full rights and responsibilities on the roads, and are subject to the regulations governing the operation of a motor vehicle.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (, North Carolina traffic laws require bicyclists to:

  • Ride on the right in the same direction as other traffic
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals
  • Use hand signals to communicate intended movements
  • Equip their bicycles with a front lamp visible from 300 feet and a rear reflector that is visible from 200 feet away when riding at night.
  • Yield the right-of-way and avoid collisions with pedestrians
  • Pass to the left at least two feet away from the vehicle or bicycle they are passing

The Child Bicycle Safety Act of 2001 also requires the following:

  • All bicycle operators under the age of 16 must wear a helmet on public roads, public paths, and public rights-of-way.
  • All child passengers under 40 lbs. or 40 inches must be seated and secured in a child seat or bicycle trailer.

Bicycling on Interstate or fully controlled limited access highways, such as beltlines, is prohibited by policy, unless otherwise specified by action of the Board of Transportation. Currently, the only exception to the policy is the US 17 bridge over the Chowan River between Chowan and Bertie Counties.

In addition, bicyclists should not park bicycles on the main traveled portion of a highway or bridge outside municipal corporate limits.

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