Riding a Bike in Maryland: Laws and Liability
There are a lot of great reasons for riding a bike instead of driving. It’s good exercise, it’s cost efficient and it’s environmentally responsible. But bicycle accidents can and do happen – which is why both cyclists and drivers need to be careful about following the rules.
Laws for Maryland Bike Riders
Before you hop on your bike and hit the road, familiarize yourself with Maryland’s bike laws and make sure you’re protecting yourself against injury and liability. Here are some suggestions to consider:
Ride on the right. If there is a bike lane on the road, you’re required by law to use it. If there isn’t one, then you should ride on the right side of the road, close to the shoulder. Riding on the sidewalk is allowed, but you’ll have to yield to pedestrians. If you’re riding in a group, you’re not allowed to ride more than two people across.
Think like a car driver. In the state of Maryland, bikes are considered vehicles, so it’s important that you follow the same rules that are required of car drivers. For example, bicyclists need to come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs, and signal a turn well in advance of making it (100 feet, if possible).
Be safe. In some parts of Maryland, helmets are required for riders of all ages; in other parts, they are required only for those 16 (or 18) and younger. Nevertheless, you should always wear a helmet, regardless of your age; they reduce your risk of serious head injuries by 85%. Maryland law also prohibits cyclists from wearing ear buds or headphones in or on both ears while riding, and from riding on roads where the posted speed limit is more than 50 MPH.
Riding at night? Maryland law requires that your bike have a white front light and a red rear right (or reflector). Make sure your brakes are in good working order, too – it’s illegal to ride a bike without them. And don’t drink and ride – Maryland prohibits cycling under the influence.
Don’t assume anything. You may have a lot of the same rights as car drivers, but you have a lot less wiggle room when it comes to accidents. If it looks like a driver near you is doing something illegal or dangerous, yield or get yourself out of the way – even if you know you’re in the right. That driver might not realize they’re breaking the rules, or they might not care. It’s not worth taking a chance, regardless of who’s at fault.
What about drivers?
If you’re driving, the most important thing to remember is to be patient. You have a responsibility to share the road safely with bike riders in Maryland. Imagine if the cyclist you’re stuck behind was one of your loved ones; keeping them safe would be far more important than getting to your destination five minutes sooner, right? Don’t risk injury to cyclists (or yourself) by passing them too closely or swerving to get around them when cars are approaching in the opposite direction. You’re also required by Maryland law to yield right-of-way when a bike rider is making a turn. If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident in Maryland, a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we