Do cyclists have to follow the same road rules as drivers in NC? What state law says

These days more non-motor vehicles, such as bicycles, are sharing the road with cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

Since bikes do not need to be registered or require a special license to operate, there might be an assumption that the human-powered vehicle is exempt from the stringent traffic and road guidelines.

But that is not necessarily the case.

According to directives from the NC Department of Transportation, bicycles are considered vehicles. Under state law, that means cyclists have all the rights and responsibilities motorists do.

Here’s a look at what state law in North Carolina says for bicyclists.

Do cyclists have to stop at stop signs in North Carolina?

Since bicyclists are classified as vehicles by state law, cyclists must follow the road rules for stopping at stop signs, stop lights, and intersections when riding in the roadway, according to NCDOT.

“Bicyclists should clearly communicate how they intend to proceed through uncontrolled intersections, traffic signals, and stop signs,” NCDOT states. “This communication begins by approaching the intersection in the appropriate position for their destination.”

Changes made to this general statute in 2016 allow bicyclists to signal their intention to make a right turn by extending their hand and arm horizontally, with the forefinger pointing, from beyond the right side of the bicycle.

Can bicyclists run a red light in North Carolina?

Bicyclists are required to slow down and come to a complete stop at stop signs and traffic devices signaling red, NCDOT states. If bicyclists cannot trigger or trip a traffic signal, they may treat it as a broken signal and stop until the way is clear to proceed. Bicyclists must signal when turning or coming to a stop.

“You can argue all day long that it makes sense for a bicycle to be able to roll through a stop sign or start after stopping at a red light before the light turns green, and I will probably agree with you,” wrote North Carolina bicycle law expert and attorney Ann Groninger. “Unfortunately, that is not the law. If police stop you or you are involved in a collision due to ignoring this law, you will likely be at fault.”

Is it illegal to ride impaired while on a bike?

Impaired bicycling is illegal, according to North Carolina law.

In 2006, the word “bicycle” was removed from the exceptions listed at the end of the state statute. It is now illegal to ride a bicycle in North Carolina if a cyclist is under the influence while on a street, highway, or public venue.

A person is considered impaired if they have “consumed sufficient alcohol that has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more,” or “has consumed any controlled substance,” North Carolina Bike Law Ride Guide states.