Seattle Bike Laws

Did you know that bicyclists have most of the same rights as vehicle drivers on the roadways of Seattle and throughout Washington? With these rights also come similar responsibilities on the part of the bicyclist. If you are a regular bicycle rider in or around the Seattle area, we need to know the bicycle laws that pertain to your safety and the safety of others around you. If you are already familiar with most of these laws, a quick refresher would be beneficial. 

Bicyclists Have Rights and Responsibilities

There are many basic rules and regulations bicyclists must follow, but Washington law confers most of the same rights onto bicyclists as they do other motor vehicles on the roadway. There are only a select few areas where bicyclists are not allowed to operate, but everywhere else, bicyclists must follow basic traffic laws.

Under state law, we can see the following general requirements placed on bicyclists:

  • Bicycle Roadway Rules – Cyclists on roadways are subject to the same rights and duties as vehicle drivers, including potential citations for traffic law infringements.
  • Restrictions on Bicycle Access – Certain areas of the state highway system may prohibit bicycle access. Detailed restrictions can be found on the official bike restrictions map. Local laws may also restrict cycling in specific areas, such as business district sidewalks.
  • Responsibility for Child Cyclists – It’s the duty of parents or guardians to prevent their children from committing bicycle traffic violations.
  • Formation While Cycling – Cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast (side-by-side), but no more, ensuring smooth traffic flow and safety.
  • Requirements for Night Cycling – Bicyclists must have a white front light visible up to 500 feet and a red rear reflector when riding at night. Optionally, a red rear light can be used in conjunction with the mandatory reflector.
  • Choice of Cycling Path – Cyclists can opt to ride on paths, bike lanes, shoulders, or travel lanes based on what they deem safest.

Bicycle Helmets in Seattle

In the state of Washington, there is no law requiring bicycle helmet use. However, local jurisdictions are allowed to set their own requirements for bicycle helmets. Seattle used to require all bicyclists to wear a helmet, but that is no longer the case. This law was overturned in 2020 out of concerns that the helmet requirement was discriminatory and its enforcement against homeless individuals and people of color.

Using Seattle’s Bicycle Lanes

Seattle is part of the larger Green Lane Project, which is a massive program to build safe bike lanes across the US. The bike lanes located throughout Seattle are designed to minimize risks for bicyclists and others on and around the roadway.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the use of bike lanes throughout Seattle. We particularly recommend that you learn the proper signage related to these bike lanes.

Call an Attorney After a Bike Accident

If you or somebody you care about sustains an injury in a bicycle accident caused by the actions of another driver or third party, we encourage you to contact an attorney quickly. A bicycle accident lawyer in Seattle can help you through every aspect of the claim, lessening the burden on you and your family as you recover from your injuries and focus on moving forward.