Bicycle laws in South Carolina are designed to ensure the safety of cyclists and promote responsible cycling practices. Here’s an overview of some key bicycle laws in the state, as explained by Woron and Dhillon, LLC, in Columbia, SC:
- Helmets: South Carolina law does not require all bicyclists to wear helmets. However, cyclists under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets while riding on public roads, public paths, or public rights-of-way.
- Traffic Rules: Bicycles are considered vehicles in South Carolina, and cyclists must obey the same traffic laws as motor vehicle drivers. This includes stopping at stop signs, obeying traffic signals, and yielding the right-of-way when necessary.
- Use of Bicycle Lanes: When a designated bicycle lane is present on a roadway, cyclists are generally required to use it, but they are not obligated to use the bicycle lane if it is unsafe or obstructed.
- Riding on Sidewalks: South Carolina law allows cyclists to ride on sidewalks unless prohibited by local ordinances. However, when riding on sidewalks, cyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
- Lights and Reflectors: Bicycles ridden at night must be equipped with a front white light visible from at least 500 feet and a rear red reflector visible from 50 to 300 feet when illuminated by a vehicle’s headlights.
- Passing Rules: When overtaking a vehicle, including another bicycle, cyclists must pass on the left and provide a safe distance. South Carolina law requires at least three feet of clearance when passing.
- Hand Signals: Cyclists are required to use hand signals to indicate their intentions when turning or stopping. A left arm extended straight out indicates a left turn, a left arm extended downward indicates a stop, and a right arm extended straight out indicates a right turn.
- Electric Bicycles (E-Bikes): South Carolina law defines three classes of electric bicycles (Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3) and regulates their use based on these classifications. Each class has specific rules regarding speed and power assistance.
- Riding Abreast: Cyclists are generally allowed to ride two abreast in a lane, but they must not impede the normal flow of traffic. When riding two abreast, cyclists should move into single file if necessary to allow vehicles to pass.
- Passengers: Bicycles designed for one person should not carry more passengers than they are designed for, except for child seats or carriers specifically designed for that purpose.
It’s important for cyclists to familiarize themselves with these laws and practice safe cycling behaviors. Additionally, local ordinances may impose additional regulations, so cyclists should be aware of any specific rules in their area. If you are involved in a bicycle accident and have legal questions or concerns, Woron and Dhillon, LLC, can provide guidance and legal assistance.