Bicycle Safety in NH

The air is warm, the days are long, and bicycles are everywhere in New Hampshire.  Keeping a few things in mind when you take to the road on your two-wheeled adventure can make the difference between a good ride and a trip to the hospital.  Likewise, as an automobile driver, there are several thing to remember regarding the rules of the road – and just because you’re in a larger vehicle doesn’t mean you always have the right of way. 

For Bicyclists

Bicycles are vehicles and have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.  That means that you must ride in the same direction as traffic, yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, and obey the rules of the road.  (In New Hampshire a crosswalk is defined as “that part of a highway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs, or in the absence of curbs from the edges of the traversable highway or any portion of a highway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.”)  Bicyclists also need to use due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian anywhere – whether in a crosswalk or not.

Bicycles are expected to ride on the right side of the road with a few exceptions.  A bicycle would move over from the right side when it is passing another vehicle in the same direction when something is on the right side of the road – including an opened door of a parked car when the road is divided into three marked lanes, or if a street or roadway is marked one-way.

The group “Commute Orlando” created a good video about bicycle safety which the New Hampshire Department of Transportation has linked to on its website.  It shows that riding to the far right of the road is not always the safest spot for a bicycle – and for many reasons. Watch it here.

It’s advised that bicyclists learn and use hand and arm signals.  They are to be given from the left side of the rider.  A left turn is indicated by hand and arm extended horizontally.  A right turn is indicated by hand and arm extended upward.  And a stop or decrease in speed is indicated by hand and arm extended downward.

If you are riding with a group of cyclists, state law says that riding two or more abreast should not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.  Further, on a laned road, bicyclists should ride single file.

Anyone riding a bicycle in New Hampshire on a public road must wear at least one item of reflective outerwear from a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise.  This can include a vest, jacket, or helmet strip.

Speaking of helmets, while it’s only mandatory that riders younger than 16 wear helmets while on a bicycle, it is advised that all bicycle riders wear helmets.

Additionally, every bicycle on a road after dark must have a headlight that can be seen from 300 feet away.  There should also be a red reflector on the back of the bike.  The state says a red light that can be seen from 300 feet can be used in addition to the reflector in the back.

Finally, if a police officer or other law enforcement officer asks you to stop, you must by law.

Automobile Drivers

In New Hampshire, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.  That means that they can ride in the same lane of traffic as you, they must obey the same road signs and signal lights, and they must be treated like other vehicles.  If you treat a bicycle like any other vehicle on the road, you will be within the law.

When passing a bicycle in your vehicle, it is New Hampshire state law to leave at least three feet of clear space between the vehicle and the bicycle.

If you have been injured while riding a bicycle, the personal injury attorneys of Tenn And Tenn, P.A. are here to discuss your case and work with you to make sure your medical bills and any other expenses are covered.  Our NH injury attorneys have handled many bicycle accident cases and have represented many injured bicyclists.  Call our office for a free consultation at (888) 332-5855.

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