Talkin’ Transit: Rules of the Road

Photo courtesy of
‘follow your path’ courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

There’s lots of news everywhere regarding Metro and Inaugupocalypse, so I don’t see a need to rehash all that here. Instead, I’ve been intrigued with a lot of referencing lately to cycling in the District, especially as an alternate form of travel. I was thinking it might be a good idea to run down some of the rules and guidelines for biking in the District, for both cyclists and drivers to remember.

The “golden rule” to keep in mind? Cyclists traveling on roadways have all the general rights and duties of drivers of vehicles. This is true for the entire region, not just the District. Photo courtesy of
‘Gravelly Point – Competing Transportation – 12-29-08’ courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

Ride with the flow of traffic as closely to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway. Full lanes may be used when traveling at the speed of traffic, passing, prepping for a turn, avoiding hazards and turn lanes, and where necessary for the cyclist’s safety.

Cyclists may travel on the left or right side of one-way roads.

Passing is allowed on the right or left, in the same lane or changing lanes, or may pass off-road.

There is no mandatory use of bike lanes and paths within the District.

Biking on sidewalks is prohibited in the downtown business core, defined as Mass Ave NW, 2nd St NE-SE, D St SE/SW, 14th St NW, Constitution Ave and 23rd St NW. It’s posted if it’s allowed in that area, prohibited if posted outside the area. ()

Bikes must have an audible warning device, but it cannot be a siren.

Helmets are required for riders age 16 or younger.

Front white light and rear red reflectors required if riding at night; these are allowed to be attached to the cyclist.

All bikes must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

For a complete breakdown of these guidelines and how they differ between DC, Maryland and Virginia, head over to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s site. They’ve also got direct links to various bike laws, in case you need the specific wording of a law.

Happy cycling!

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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One thought on “Talkin’ Transit: Rules of the Road

  1. You are quite correct when you say “Cyclists traveling on roadways have all the general rights and duties of drivers of vehicles.” But from a drivers viewpoint, bike riders are considered pedestrians and have all the rights thereof. So the way I always phrase it: “Cyclists have all the rights of a pedestrian but also all the responsibilities of a driver”.