FAQs concerning motorist’s rights and duties:

psa4pic2As vulnerable road users, bicyclists are eager for information on their rights and responsibilities. Similarly, motorists want to know when they are in the right or in the wrong. The fundamentals of bicycle law are quite simple, but the details of the law are quite complex. Below are a few answers to commonly asked questions about rights and responsibilities of those traveling on South Carolina roadways.

These are guidelines and general pointers; they do not take the place of legal advice.  If in doubt or with specific questions, do not hesitate to contact Peter Wilborn of Bike Law. He is a full-time bicycle attorney and is always available to discuss bike laws at pwilborn@bikelaw.com or 877-316-4310.

How should I pass a bicyclist?

A driver of a motor vehicle must at all times maintain a safe operating distance between the motor vehicle and a bicycle. The general rule of thumb for passing a bicyclist is to give at least three feet, and be sure to pass with caution and slow down.

Can I throw something at a bicyclist or yell at them to get out of my way if I am in a hurry?

Only if you want to commit a crime that will get you in serious trouble. It is unlawful to harass, taunt, or maliciously throw an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle. A person who violates the provisions of this law is guilty of a crime.

A bicyclist is in front of me on the roadway sticking his left arm out straight or bending their left arm and pointing upward. What does this mean and what should I do?

The bicyclist is signaling their intention to make a turn. Stop behind them and let them turn before proceeding on your way. Always use caution if you don’t understand their signals. They are more vulnerable than you are in your car.

Can I ignore cyclists on the road?

No. South Carolina law identifies cyclists as “vulnerable road users” who accordingly deserve special treatment by drivers. Cars and bikes are not equal in the laws of physics. Automobiles, with their mass and speed, are dangerous to smaller, less protected road users.

Aren't cyclists asking for trouble by riding on the roads?

No. South Carolina—recognizing the importance of cycling as a healthy recreation and transportation—requires and encourages bikes to use the roads. Don’t forget that those cyclists out there could be your relatives, kids, friends, and coworkers, so treat them well.

What should I do if I am in a crash with a bicycle?

Stop your car, call the police and wait for them to arrive. It is more prudent to follow the proper procedure than to make a bad situation worse by speeding away. Hit and run is a crime, and happens all too often in South Carolina. Drivers are usually caught and have to face serious criminal penalties.

What can I do if I see a bicyclist disregarding a traffic signal by running a stop sign or light?

Bicyclists have a duty to respect traffic laws, so if you see a bicycle user violating a sign or signal, you can report them to the police. But remember, only police officers can enforce the law, so do not attempt to take the enforcement of the law into your hands.

Get involved with this campaign! Being a voice for safer cycling helps all of us. Remember that many cyclists have never been instructed on safe cycling principles (which is why this campaign exists). This campaign will be a success because of cyclists, drivers, and law enforcement working together.

Safe Streets Save LivesCheck out the FAQs concerning bicyclists’ rights and duties