Riding a bicycle is an excellent exercise and a unique way of getting around, especially in a city where distances are barely too far to walk, but parking can be somewhat nightmarish. Bikes are also relatively inexpensive (you can probably find a decent one for around $100 at a bicycle resale shop) and do not require any fuel to operate, so they are incredibly cost-effective. They do not add to the environment's buildup of fossil fuel emissions.
If you just bought a bicycle or are planning to get one soon, you need to familiarize yourself with the biking laws in your state. Many states have rules for bicyclists to follow to help ensure their safety on the road. This includes following road signs, staying on specific areas of the road, and installing required safety equipment.
Looking at the education, safety measures, traffic laws, and infrastructure in each state, some stand out as especially good choices for cycling enthusiasts. Massachusetts is the most bike-friendly thanks to strong infrastructure combined with education and encouragement for bicycling and policies that support this encouragement. Other states such as Oregon, Washington, California, and Minnesota are also supportive bicycling locations.
Wyoming is noted as the worst state for cyclists. Although there is decent education about bicycling, the infrastructure, traffic laws, and state policies do not support this. Nebraska, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Missouri similarly are weak in physical and policy support to make bicycling easier.
Each state has its own laws regarding bicycle ownership and usage. In most states, bicyclists do have to follow the same signs and signals as automobile drivers. That means bicyclists must stop at red lights and stop signs and watch for pedestrians.
Some states have laws about whether or not bicyclists can ride on a sidewalk to protect pedestrians on the sidewalk from being hit by a bicycle. Some allow bicyclists to ride on sidewalks in neighborhoods but not in busy business districts, while others do not allow bicyclists on the sidewalk at all. Consistent with traffic laws regarding slower vehicles, many states require that bicyclists ride in the far-right lane or a designated bicycle lane. Many states do not allow bicyclists to ride on highways or freeways, as fast-moving traffic can create a sharp blast of wind that can knock a bicyclist over.
State laws also address the safety equipment necessary for biking. Many states require that bicyclists wear a helmet; even if your state does not require a helmet, wearing one is always a smart choice. Helmets need to fight tightly around the head to prevent possible brain injury in the event of a crash. Some states also require reflectors, especially at night, and other safety equipment. Some states also require that bicyclists use hand signals to indicate when they are preparing to turn; even when these signals are not mandatory, they are a good idea.
States also may have other laws to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe. For example, Maine requires cyclists to stop for school buses when they are flashing their lights, just like motor vehicles. Arkansas similarly must abide by motor vehicle laws.
While bicycle laws may seem cumbersome, they are ultimately designed to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians remain safe while sharing the road with fast-moving automobiles. Learning the laws in your state regarding biking can help you ensure that you stay safe while getting lots of exercise in an environmentally clean, cost-effective way.
# of Bike Friendly Actions
Infrastructure and Funding
Education and Encouragement
Traffic Laws and Practice
Policies and Programs
Evaluation and Planning