Why did the bicycle fall over? It was two-tired. Horrible jokes aside, bicycles are a common sight on the roads of North Carolina, and, as bike lanes become more prevalent, their numbers will only increase. Appropriately, the North Carolina General Assembly has just made some important changes to laws concerning cyclist safety.
Starting December 1, 2016, (just when it starts getting dark at 5pm) cyclists on a public street, public vehicular area (e.g. parking lot), or public greenway must:
- Affix a lighted lamp to the front of the bicycle, visible from at least 300 feet away;
- Affix a red reflector to the rear of the bicycle; AND
- Affix a lighted red lamp to the rear of the bicycle, visible from at least 300 feet away OR wear clothing or a vest that is bright and visible from a distance of at least 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle.
Prior to this change, bicycles only needed a lighted front lamp and a reflector or lamp on the rear. This change will help ensure that cyclists can see and be seen when they ride at night. G.S. 20-129(e)
Starting October 1, 2016, automobiles may pass bicyclists in a “no passing zone” provided:
- The slower moving vehicle is a bicycle or moped;
- The slower moving vehicle is traveling in the same direction as the faster moving vehicle;
- The driver of the faster moving vehicle either gives 4 feet of clearance when passing the slower moving vehicle or the faster moving vehicle completely enters the left travel lane; AND
- The slower moving vehicle is not making a left turn or is not signaling that it intends to make a left turn.
Prior to this change, automobiles were not allowed to pass bicycles or mopeds in “no passing zones” even when there was no other traffic around. This created a significant hazard, as traffic would back up behind the slower vehicle and the back-up of cars could risk forcing the cyclists off the road. G.S. 20-150(e)
Starting October 1, 2016, Unsafe movement that causes a bicycle operator to change travel lanes or leave the road is an infraction subject to a fine of at least $200. Unsafe movement that results in a crash causing property damage or personal injury to a bicycle operator or passenger is an infraction subject to a fine of at least $500. Unsafe movement that results in a crash causing property damage of more than $5,000 or serious bodily injury to a bicycle operator or passenger is an infraction subject to a fine of at least $750. DMV must treat the violation as a failure to yield the right-of-way to a bicycle, which results in the assessment of four driver’s license points. In addition, the trial judge may suspend the offender’s driver’s license for up to 30 days. G.S. 20-154