Important Bicycle Laws in Arizona

Important Bicycle Laws in Arizona

Bicycle accidents are a major concern throughout the country, and Arizona is no exception. These vehicles offer their riders almost no protection relative to a car, meaning bicyclists are vulnerable to sustaining severe harm in the event of a collision. 

Whether you’re a cyclist or a motorist, it’s important to be aware of Arizona bicycle laws and the duties motorists and bicyclists share to avoid accidents. 

Bicyclists Share the Same Rights and Responsibilities as Motorists

Arizona Revised Statutes Section 28-812 grants bicyclists on roadways the same rights as motorists but also subjects them to the same duties or responsibilities. If you are a bicyclist, Arizona law considers you as operating a vehicle. You are required to follow all traffic laws. This includes the following: 

  • Use hand signals to let drivers know when you intend to turn or change lanes by extending your left or right arm
  • Yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and at crosswalks
  • Stop for stop signs and traffic lights

Bicyclists can be cited for failing to stop at an intersection or running a red light, two common traffic violations. 

Bicyclists Should Usually Ride Near the Edge of the Road or Curb

Cyclists have the same right to use traffic lanes as vehicles as long as they adhere to the same basic traffic laws. Generally, cyclists must ride as close as practical to the edge of the road or right-hand curb when traveling slower than traffic. 

However, there are many exceptions to this law that recognize the unique hazards and risks cyclists face. Specifically, Arizona bicycle law spells out several circumstances when cyclists do not need to stay to the right: 

  • While traveling at the same speed as traffic, 
  • The lane is too narrow for both a vehicle and bicycle to travel side-by-side safely, 
  • While preparing to make a left turn, or
  • While passing another bike or vehicle going in the same direction

You can always ride far enough from the curb or road edge to be clear of any grates, rough pavement, potholes, debris, and other hazards, including avoiding parked vehicles. Cyclists also have the right to use any part of a lane for safety reasons. 

Vehicles Should Never Be Operated or Parked in Designated Bike Lanes or Paths

Designated bike paths and bike lanes are for the exclusive use of bicycles. No one can operate, stop, or park a vehicle on bike paths or lanes except in an emergency or to cross the lane or path to access another road or a driveway.

Two Cyclists Can Ride Side-by-Side in Regular Traffic Lanes

While riding in groups, keep in mind Arizona law allows cyclists to ride no more than two side-by-side on regular roads or traffic lanes. On bicycle paths or lanes exclusively for bicycles, riding more than two abreast is allowed.

A Headlight and Red Rear Reflector Are Required for Night Riding

To ride at night in Arizona, the law requires you to have a white headlight visible from at least 500 feet and a red rear reflector that’s visible from 50 to 300 feet. While not required, a red taillight visible from 500 feet away is allowed and helps to improve visibility. 

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) encourages cyclists to add reflective tape to their helmets or wear reflective clothing too.

Some Arizona Cities Have Helmet Laws

Arizona has no state law requiring helmets for bicycle riders, but they are required for bicycle rides under 18 years old in some cities and counties.

Even though they aren’t required by state law, helmets reduce the risk of serious injury for kids and adults alike. A national study by the National SAFE Kids Campaign found just 41% of children 5 to 14 wear a helmet while bicycling, and 35% who use them wear them incorrectly. 

Motorists Need To Give Cyclists Three Feet of Clearance When Passing

Arizona law is clear that bicyclists have the same right to use the road as motorists. Drivers are required to respect this right to share the road when passing or overtaking a bicycle. ARS Section 28-735 is Arizona’s three-foot passing law which requires drivers to maintain a distance of at least three feet from a bicycle when passing. 

Drivers who violate this law can be fined up to $500 if they cause an injury and up to $1,000 if they cause someone else’s death. The fine does not apply if the bicyclist was in a traffic lane and there was a bike path or lane nearby. 

Staying Safe on the Road as a Bicyclist in Arizona

Arizona bicycle laws closely mirror the same laws for motorists, with some special protections and rules that apply to bicyclists. Complying with these laws as a driver or cyclist doesn’t just reduce your risk of an accident; it also ensures you have the right to compensation if you are injured in one.