“Do I have to ride all the way to the right? What if there is no bike lane, or zero shoulder? Where in the road is it legal to ride my bike? Where is it illegal to ride?” I get asked these questions fairly often. The short answer is “it depends.”
Why is there so much confusion among police officers, motor vehicle drivers, insurance adjusters and even some cyclists when it comes down to this question? Simple, most people are confused because they either don’t know the law and how to apply it, and/or they are blinded by bias.
“GET OFF THE F*ing ROAD” he screamed…
True story: car drives by and buzzes a cyclist within an inch or two. Yelling and screaming gout the window to get off the f*ing road. Cyclist is nearly knocked of his bike in the process and run off the road in what certainly amounts to very dangerous conditions. All because this driver couldn’t wait to pass, or pass with 3 feet of clearance between himself and the cyclist.
This is not an unfamiliar story to many of us who ride. You each likely have dozens of these experiences yourself. No doubt we can all share story after story of reckless and angry drivers who place our lives in danger out of their own impatience.
This raises the major question of where exactly are we legally obligated to be and allowed to be? They are different. Lets look at Arizona bicycle laws. Arizona is where our Bike Accident Attorneys National Network is headquartered. Arizona bicycle laws and traffic laws are very similar to many other states:
Bicycles Can Use the Roadway
Arizona Revised Statutes 28-812 expressly grants cyclists the right to use the road when it states that a person riding a bicycle is “granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties” that apply to a driver of a vehicle. In its simplest intent this statute says bicycles can use the roads. The very same roads that cars use. It is from this statute that the conflict between cyclist and driver seems to be born, both having equal rights and duties on the roadways. Most states have a similar statute wherein cyclists are granted express permission to use the roadways as well as express duties that for the most part mirror that of drivers.
So why then do drivers get so mad at cyclists on the roadways? Good question. Too much to address here in this article, but my personal belief is our culture in America is so different towards cycling as a means of transportation that tend to view cyclists as annoying pests instead of equals. And that culture has a lot of contributing factors, from our impatience to the sheer number of people who commute via car rather than bike, etc. and so much more.
So Where On the Roadway MUST We Ride? To the Right?
In general, the law requires a cyclist who is riding “at less than the normal speed of traffic” to ride “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” (ARS 28-815). This the Arizona law that many other states also have. Note that this only applies if the cyclist is riding at less than the normal speed of traffic. And even then the statute further specifies that it is “less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing.” One great example is a downhill descent. It is often much safer to take the lane when you can reach speeds comparable to that of traffic under the conditions, time, and place then existing.
Essentially, as cyclists we are REQUIRED to stay to the right. However, there are a list if exceptions: (ARS 28-815)
- If passing another bicycle or vehicle going in the same direction as you on your bike
- If prepping for a left turn into an intersection, private road, or driveway.
- If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions like fixed or moving objects, parked cars, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, or other surface hazards.
- If the lane you’re riding in is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely, side by side.
That last point is the one we must really clarify. When is it unsafe for a vehicle and a bicycle to ride side by side? Simple, in a state like Arizona where we have a 3 foot passing law (see ARS 28-735 and/or this article) then any lane where you can’t pass a cyclist with 3 feet then the cyclist can take the lane. Period. End of story. Or is it…?
The exception to the exception: if you are riding your bicycle slower than the normal flow of traffic on a 2 lane highway where passing is unsafe (i.e. curvy mountain roads, etc.), AND 5 or more vehicles are all waiting behind you; then you are now impeding traffic. You must pull over to let them pass you (ARS 28-704).
Final Conclusion: Ride to the Right or Take the Lane, Both Seem to Work!
Cyclists: At the end of the day you should ride to the right except when it isn’t safe or impracticable to do so. Then you should occupy the lane. When taking the lane just take the right 1/3 or 1/2. Proceed cautiously and take the lane after confirming it is safe to do so with any oncoming traffic, etc. Pay attention to curvy two lane highways or other roadways where due to the lack of a bike lane you end up causing 5 or more cars to stack up behind you. If that happens pull over and let them pass. Also be wise, be safe, don’t take the lane just because you think you can. ONLY take it when necessary for your safety.
Drivers: Be careful and cautious. The cyclists out there have the same right to use the roads that you do. Do not pass them unless you can do so with at least 3 feet of distance between you and the cyclist. At times you may see a cyclist out in the lane. This is normal. Most likely there is debris in the road that the cyclist can see more clearly than you. Avoid honking as you drive by as this can often cause a crash. Be wise, be patient and chill out. Stay off your phone and pay attention to your surroundings.
Enjoy the ride! Hopefully you’ll never need us, but if you are ever involved in a wreck- we are here for you. My practice is exclusively for cyclists. I manage a national network of cycling attorneys who represent cyclists in every state. I ride. I race. I advocate. I choose to live and ride. #mylawyerdoesntsuck #arizonabicyclelawyer #bicyclelawyer #BAA
Ben Dodge, Esq., Endurance/Ultra Cyclist
Bicycle crash and bicycle accident lawyer Ben Dodge
A bicycle crash is not always an accident. If you, or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle crash or accident caused by a road hazard or dangerous road condition, hire a personal injury attorney who is experienced and has a successful track record. Ben Dodge, a licensed Arizona bicycle accident lawyer, has dedicated his entire firm to one purpose: representing cyclists. Bicycle accident cases are the only cases Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC handles. Home based out of the great state of Arizona, Ben can still help cyclists in the entire United States. Ben also founded Bike Accident Attorneys Network, a national network of attorneys who focus on representing cyclists. He can find you help anywhere in the country.
Ben Dodge has represented and assisted bicycle accident victims across the entire United States. As an avid and competitive cyclist himself, Mr. Dodge currently participates in national and local cycling events all over the world. It isn’t uncommon to spot him in early morning hours out riding his bike. Having competed in 8 Ironman triathlons, numerous local and national cycling races, and a successful finish in the Race Across the West 2016, he really knows what it’s like to ride and race a bike. Ben competed in the first ever Race Across France – 2018. This was a non stop 1500+ mile race across the entire country of France. He and his teammate finished 3rd. He is registered for a 2 man Race Across America (RAAM) team as well in 2019.
The day he fell in love with his job was the day he devoted himself completely to bicycle accident cases. Ben represents cyclists injured in bicycle accidents, at the police station, with insurance companies, and in the courts. He advocates for the rights of all cyclists, not just his clients. He teaches police about bike laws and bike safety, he educates drivers about the rules of the road, and he trains cyclists and clubs to ride more safely.
A consultation with experienced Arizona bicycle accident attorney Ben Dodge is free
In recent years there has been approximately 700 bicycle fatalities in the United States every single year. Approximately 2,000 bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Approximately 30 fatal bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Bicycle fatalities are terrible and horrific tragedies that affect the lives of too many families and friends to count. Understanding your rights and obligations as a cyclist can bring clarity to your specific accident situation. It will always be in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who knows the bicycle laws and has a successful track record of winning bicycle accident cases. The negotiation tactics and strategies of winning a case are extremely important, but should always take a back row seat to the litigation experience and knowledge of court room rules, local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure that can have significant impact on your bicycle accident case. Ben is certified through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) as having completed extensive litigation courses and has demonstrated these skills over and over again. Most lawyers are pencil pushers and shouldn’t be in a court room… not Ben Dodge. He is a gifted and aggressive litigator. It is wise to be represented by someone well versed in bicycle accident law, local and state bicycle ordinances, rules, regulations, policies, and laws. You should hire someone very familiar with negligence and tort law, civil procedure, and the rules of evidence as they all relate specifically to bicycle accident cases.
Ben Dodge always offers a complimentary in person consultation to all local cyclists and a complimentary phone consultation to any cyclist injured in a bike accident. Typically the consultations are schedule from 30-60 minutes depending on the severity of the accident. You can expect to get answers to questions, clarity, information, and reassurance of your personal bike accident liability and potential for recovery. In your free consultation you can generally expect to discuss such topics as:
- Your specific bike accident details, diagrams, and pictures from your perspective and then from the perspective of your bike accident attorney.
- The applicable local, state, and federal laws underlying your case.
- Your rights as a cyclist, obligations, and any potential liability.
- The process, procedure (in and out of court), and the time frame required to conclude your case.
- The value of your case and what you might expect as compensation.
You can call Arizona bicycle lawyer Ben Dodge of Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC at 1.855.663.3922. Mr. Dodge’s staff is standing and ready to accept your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year. Ben will personally return your call within 24 hours. There is never an obligation past a complimentary consultation with Mr. Dodge. His passion is in representing cyclists and his entire office stands ready to serve with kindness and patience.
Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, the Bicycle Lawyer today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 1.800.958.8902.
Mr. Dodge can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
His main Arizona offices are located at:
Mesa Arizona (home base office)
4824 E. Baseline Rd., Suite 124
Mesa, Arizona 85206
Phoenix Arizona office
2415 e. Camelback Rd., suite 700
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Tucson Arizona office
One South Church Avenue, 12th Floor
Tucson, Arizona 85701
Mr. Dodge represents cyclists in the entire state of Arizona including but not limited to Mesa, Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Gilbert, Peoria, Glendale, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, Tempe, Chandler, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, Surprise, Kingman, Page, Lake Havasu City, Payson, Goodyear, Buckeye, Queen Creek, Paradise Valley, Show Low, Winslow, Maricopa, Nogales, Globe, Avondale, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Carefree, Wickenburg, Pinetop-Lakeside, Strawberry, Anthem, Safford, and more. Ben Dodge is currently involved with bicycle accident cases all over the country and has founded BikeAccidentAttorneys.com a National Network of independent and incredible bicycle lawyers that can assist in representation in all 50 states.