How to Stay Safe When Riding a Bicycle in North Carolina?

Whether you ride your bicycle for exercise or as a means of transportation in Raleigh or elsewhere in the Triangle, it is important to understand cycling safety and to take precautions to reduce the risk of a dangerous bicycle accident.

As the AAA guide points out, one of the most important aspects of cycling safety is to make automobile drivers more aware that they need to share the road. What does it mean to share the road? In short, drivers should be alert for cyclists and show common courtesy and respect. Motorists should recognize that bicycle riders want to make it home safely at the end of the day, just like all other drivers.

At Hardison & Cochran, we are dedicated to assisting clients who have been injured in automobile collisions and cycling accidents. If you or someone you love sustained injuries in an accident, we can help you understand your options for seeking compensation. In the meantime, we want to ensure that Raleigh cyclists understand the best ways to stay safe on the roads and avoid being struck by other vehicles.

The Rights and Responsibilities of Cyclists

Cyclists usually have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers when they are on the road. In short, North Carolina law considers a Raleigh cyclist to be akin to an automobile driver when riding on the street.

What are cyclists’ rights and responsibilities on the road, according to North Carolina traffic law?

  • Bicyclists usually ride on the right side of the lane but are entitled to the entire lane on public roadways.
  • Stop at stop signs or traffic lights;
  • Use turn signals;
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or on the road, and
  • Travel in the lanes with the flow of traffic.
  • Bicyclists should wear headlamps visible for at least 300 feet and a lamp or reflector on the rear visible for at least 200 feet at night.
  • Bicyclists shall not pass motorists on the right except in a separately marked lane.
  • Motorists must allow at least two feet of space when passing to the left side of Raleigh cyclists.
  • Bicyclists are not permitted to ride on interstates and other fully controlled access highways.

Guide to Safe Cycling

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) takes bicycle safety seriously. To prevent fatal cycling accidents, the NHTSA provides a guide to safe cycling that includes the following tips:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, and ensure that it fits properly.
  • Always ride a bicycle that matches the size of your body. How can you tell if your bicycle “fits”? When standing over it, you should see one or two inches between you and the top bar if you have a road bike and about three to four inches if you have a mountain bike. You should also adjust your seat height so that you can bend your knee slightly when your leg is fully extended.
  • Always inflate your tires and check your brakes before you go for a ride.
  • Always wear reflective or brightly colored clothing so other drivers can see you. Even if you are riding in the daytime, wearing reflective tape, neon, and/or fluorescent apparel is important.
  • Always keep at least one of your hands on the handlebars to control your bike.
  • Always carry your books or other belongings in a carrier or backpack.
  • Remain alert for roadway hazards, including puddles, potholes, uneven pavement, loose gravel, and broken glass. Even a dog running without a leash can cause a serious bicycle accident. If you are vigilant and watch for road hazards, you may be able to avoid a crash.
  • If you can, avoid riding your bicycle on the street at night. Riding at night is much more dangerous because it is more difficult for motorists to see you.

Helpful Hints to Avoid Common Bicycle Accident Scenarios

You can take specific steps to avoid a serious cycling accident involving other motorists or pedestrians. According to, some of the most common collisions include the following:

  • A right or left cross, in which a parked car pulls out on the right or left of a cyclist and an accident happens;
  • A driver opens a car door to a bicyclist;
  • A driver attempts to pass a cyclist, meets an oncoming car, and veers right into the cyclist;
  • A driver hits a cyclist while the cyclist is crossing the street in a crosswalk;
  • A driver hits a cyclist who is riding the wrong way (or against traffic);
  • A bicyclist stops at a red light alongside a driver’s blind spot;
  • A bicyclist attempts to pass a slow-moving car that turns into the bicyclist;
  • A bicyclist attempts to ride around a stationary object like a parked car and gets hit by a motorist from behind, and
  • A motorist hits a bicyclist from behind.

How can Raleigh cyclists avoid these common cycling accidents? Consider the following recommendations:

  • Use a headlight and a rear light;
  • Ride slowly;
  • Look around you (including behind you) before you turn;
  • Use back streets where possible.

Allow enough space when passing parked cars to avoid being struck if a car door swings open suddenly.

  • Do not ride on a sidewalk;
  • Do not ride against traffic;
  • Do not ride in a car’s blind spot;
  • Do not pass vehicles on the right;
  • Do not hug the curb.

Cycling Collision Facts and Figures

How common are cycling collisions? And who is at the most significant risk of a severe injury? An NHTSA fact sheet cites the following data:

In 2013, 743 cyclist fatalities occurred across the U.S., and that number is on the rise.

The average age of a cyclist killed in a collision is 44.

The average age of a cyclist injured in an accident is 32.

Two-thirds of bicycle accidents occur in urban areas (68%).

Most accidents actually occur at non-intersections (nearly 60%).

Bicycle Accident Lawyers Serving Clients in North Carolina

At Hardison & Cochran, our Raleigh bicycle accident lawyers prioritize cycling safety in our community. If you or a loved one recently sustained injuries in a bicycle accident, we want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn more about our services and how we can help with your case.

About the Author

Hardison & Cochran was established based on the conviction that a modern approach was essential in today’s legal landscape. Focused on delivering exceptional results through a skilled team, the firm prioritizes personal attention, integrity, and client needs. Each attorney, paralegal, and staff member is dedicated to this vision. Over three decades, with Ben Cochran overseeing daily operations, the firm has evolved into a highly respected practice.

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