The City of Vancouver has a bicycle helmet ordinance requiring both adults and children to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, roller skates, in-line skates, skateboard, scooter, or unicycle in a public area. Please review the ordinance before heading outside.
The National Bike Registry (NBR®) has been working with law enforcement to return stolen bikes to their rightful owners. A bike registered with NBR, the only true national database, can be identified by police and returned to you instead of being sold at an auction. The Vancouver Police Department works with this registry. Visit the National Bike Registry to register your bike today.
Q: Which traffic laws apply to bicyclists?
A: When ridden on any roadway, a bicycle rider has all of the rights and responsibilities of any vehicle. (RCW 46.61.755)
Unless bicycles are specifically excluded, all traffic laws apply to bicycles. All violations are subject to issuance of an infraction.
Q: Are children required to comply with bicycle traffic laws?
A: Bicyclists of all ages are required to follow the same traffic laws and may be cited for violations. Parents or guardians may be held responsible for a child's violation. (RCW 46-61.700) A parent or guardian shall not knowingly permit bicycle traffic safety violations by their ward (RCW 46.61.700).
Q: May bicyclists ride side by side?
A: Yes. They may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. (RCW 46.61.770.2)
Q: Should bicyclists ride with the flow of traffic or facing traffic?
A: Bicycles are required to be ridden with the flow of traffic at all times. (RCW 46.61.100)
Riding against the flow of traffic is one of the leading causes of bicycle/automobile collisions.
Q: It sounds like bicycles are treated just like cars by the law, right?
A: Right! A "vehicle" is defines in RCW 46.04.670 as "every device capable of being moved upon a public highway..., including bicycles."
Q: What equipment is required on bicycles being ridden at night?
A: A white front light and a red rear reflector are required. (RCW 16.61.780)
In addition, a red lamp may be used on the rear of the bicycle. A brake or brakes capable of making the wheels skid on clean, dry, level pavement is required at all times.
Q: Can I carry something in my hands while riding a bicycle?
A: As long as you can keep one hand on the handlebars and maintain control of the bicycle, you can carry things in your other hand. (RCW 46.61.775)
Q: Where in the traffic lane should a bicyclist ride?
A: That depends on the number and types of lanes as well as the traffic in the area. A bicycle traveling at the speed of traffic may use the middle of the lane.
A bicycle traveling at less than the speed of the traffic flow should ride as near as is safe to the right side of the right lane except when preparing to turn, passing another vehicle or on a one way street where it is legal to ride on the left side of the roadway. (RCW 46.61.770)
Bicyclists may ride on the right shoulder, but this is only required on limited access roadways, (such as freeways).
A bicyclist should ride in the middle of the right lane when the lane is too narrow to permit side by side sharing of the lane with motor vehicles and hazards prevent safe operation of the bicycle on the shoulder or at the right edge of the lane.
A bicyclist must pull off of a 2-lane roadway, like any other slow moving vehicle, when 5 or more vehicles are lined up behind it, if there is sufficient area for a safe turnout. (RCW 46.61.427)
At intersections bicycles will normally follow the same path as other vehicles. At difficult or dangerous intersections, riders may dismount and use the crosswalks.
Q: If there is a bike path adjacent to a roadway, do I have to ride on the bike path or can I ride on the roadway?
A: It is your choice. Sometimes a fast rider may want to ride on the roadway if the path is too crowded.