Obey traffic signs and signals
Bicyclists should act as drivers of a motor vehicle. This means obeying the rules of the road just as you would when driving a car. Traffic signs and signals are not suggestions; they apply to bicyclists as well. So obey traffic signs and remember—it’s up to us to set a good example.
Ride with traffic
Driving a car the wrong way down the road doesn’t make sense, so why would you do it by bike? While driving or riding the wrong way, you don’t see traffic signs and signals that are important to your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Here’s where the confusion stems from: South Carolina law states that pedestrians should walk against traffic, and many years ago, bikers were taught the same rules. In our experience, riding against traffic is not an issue of willful disregard of the rules; many cyclists truly believe that they are doing the right thing. But now we know better. Cyclists are far safer riding with traffic, and the law requires it.
Ride as near to the right side
Ride as near to the right side of roadway that serves your destination. Generally, bicycles travel slower than cars, so bicyclists should ride as near to the right side of the road as allows them to get where they’re going. This way bicyclists stay safely out of the way of faster moving vehicles. However, certain circumstances do bring exceptions to this rule.
- Because debris can get piled along the edge of roadways, bicyclists will avoid these hazards by riding further into the lane of traffic. In this case, bicyclists will align themselves slightly away from the far right side of the road.
- Riding to the far right also presents a challenge when a bicyclist needs to make a left turn or avoid right-turn-only lanes. So a bicyclist may choose to move into an alternate lane that better serves their destination—but only after making sure that a lane change is safe and after giving appropriate hand signals.
Shoulders are useful to bicyclists traveling on roads that do not have a dedicated bike lane. However, cyclists are not required to ride in a shoulder. Again, debris often collects in a road’s shoulder, and a cyclist will avoid these hazards by riding in the lane of vehicular traffic.
Bicycle lanes are dedicated infrastructure for bicyclists, and they serve as a great tool for making a bicyclist’s safety and presence on the road more obvious. When they are available, bicyclists should ride in them. If there is debris or the bicyclist needs to pass someone also in the bike lane, they are allowed to exit the lane to do so.
It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually unsafe to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, for most cyclists most of the time. Sidewalks and crosswalks are for pedestrians, and riding a bicycle there puts those individuals in danger of being hit and injured. Also, since bicyclists generally travel faster than pedestrians, it is challenging for drivers to predict a bicyclist’s actions as they travel past driveways and other points of entry and exit. Finally, many cars simply do not see bicyclists on a sidewalk as well as they would on the road.
The law of sidewalk riding is not dictated in the state law and thus varies from town to town in South Carolina. Our recommendations may be different for young children and for some roads. For more precise guidance of the laws governing your location, contact the Project Team.
Riding with others
It is permissible in South Carolina for cyclists to ride “two abreast.” Two bikes riding side-by-side are about as wide as a car and are more visible. Riding more than two abreast is not only unsafe, but it is illegal in South Carolina.
Car doors opening in a bike’s path can cause big problems. Motorists, be aware when opening your car door, and cyclists, avoid the door zone by staying more than three feet away from a parked car’s side view mirror.
Bicyclists should be extra attentive and cautious whenever riding through intersections. To safely negotiate intersections, cyclists should check over their shoulder often to identify potential hazards, be attentive of drivers’ blind spots, and make friendly eye contact with others on the road.