An Overview of Alabama’s Bicycle Laws
Bicyclists in Alabama are at an increased risk of suffering serious and fatal injuries in an accident compared to motor vehicle drivers. According to the most recent Alabama Traffic Crash Facts Report, 209 bicyclists were injured and 9 tragically lost their lives in bike accidents in a single year. Before you head out on a bicycle in Alabama, learn the laws that apply to you. Knowing Alabama’s bicycle laws can help prevent accidents.
Where Can You Legally Ride a Bicycle in Alabama?
First, learn where to ride. Bicyclists have the right to use the road like other motorists. In fact, in most places in Alabama, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is prohibited. Bicycles are viewed as vehicles under state law, meaning they have the right to be ridden on public roadways. This also means that bicyclists have the same responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers.
On a roadway, bicyclists must ride in the same direction as surrounding traffic. They must obey all traffic laws and roadway rules, including signs, signals and lane markings. A bicyclist must come to a complete stop at a stop sign or red light, for example, and yield the right-of-way to other motorists, as necessary.
When riding on a road, a cyclist must keep as far to the right-hand side as is practicable, except when turning left or if there is a hazard that needs to be avoided. Two bicyclists may ride side-by-side in a single lane; however, a bicyclist cannot ride side-by-side with a motor vehicle, nor can a bicyclist ride on the line between two lanes (lane-split).
How to Safely Ride a Bike
No bicyclist in Alabama is allowed to carry a passenger unless on a bicycle that was designed to do so. Clinging to motor vehicles while on a bike is also not permitted. All bikes must have the proper equipment to ride on public roads, including a front white light and a red rear light or reflector. Bicycles must also have adequate brakes that enable the bike to stop on dry, clean, level pavement.
When riding a bike, stay alert. Do not ride while distracted, including using your cell phone or listening to headphones. Never operate a bicycle after drinking alcohol. Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys have seen cases in which dangerous bicycle accidents occurred from distracted bicycling. In addition, since bicycles are classified as vehicles in Alabama, the state’s driving under the influence (DUI) applies. This means you could face criminal charges for biking while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.
What to Wear as a Bicyclist on the Road
Alabama’s helmet law only requires the use of one by bicyclists who are under the age of 16. Any biker who is 16 years of age or older does not legally have to ride with a helmet. However, wearing a helmet can drastically reduce the risk of a serious head or brain injury as a bicyclist. It is also important to improve your visibility to others by wearing bright colors or a reflective vest to decrease your risk of being in an accident.
Your Rights as a Bicyclist
As a cyclist, you have the right to be respected and protected by other motorists. In Alabama, the rule is that a motor vehicle driver must maintain at least three feet of distance from bicyclists when following or passing. This gives the biker a buffer that separates him or her from the flow of traffic. Motorists should also take steps to prevent dooring, or opening a car door directly in front of an oncoming bicyclist. If a motorist breaches or violates these duties, he or she could be liable for a collision.
Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Get Help From an Attorney
If you have been injured in a recent bicycle accident in Alabama, an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in Birmingham can help you with an accident claim. Through every step of the legal process, your lawyer will protect your rights and help you understand the laws that apply to your case. To learn more about filing a bicycle accident claim in Birmingham, contact Drake Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.