We don't stop hiking because we grow old, we grow old because we stop hiking. -- Finis Mitchell

Washington State Bicycle Laws

Since May is National Bike Month I thought I'd take this time to go over some of the laws that pertain to bicycles in the state of Washington.

A bicycle, just like a car, is considered a legal road vehicle. That means that they have the same rights and responsibilities of automobile drivers.

These are from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Here are some laws to be aware of whether you are biking or driving a motor vehicle:

  • Bicycle Helmets - Currently, there is no state law requiring helmet use. However, some cities and counties do require helmets. See Localities Requiring Bicycle Helmets.

  • Riding on the Road - When riding on a roadway, a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver (RCW 46.61.755). Cyclists who violate traffic laws may be ticketed (RCW 46.61.750).

  • Roads Closed to Bicycles - Some designated sections of the state's limited access highway system may be closed to bicycles for safety reasons. See State Highway Sections Closed to Bicycles for more information. In addition, local governments may adopt ordinances banning cycling on specific roads or on sidewalks within business districts. See City, County and Regional Contacts to get more information on a specific area.

  • Children Bicycling - Parents or guardians may not knowingly permit bicycle traffic violations by their ward (RCW 46.61.700).

  • Riding Side by Side - Cyclists may ride side by side, but not more than two abreast (RCW 46.61.770).

  • Riding at Night - For night bicycle riding, a white front light (not a reflector) visible for 500 feet and a red rear reflector are required. A red rear light may be used in addition to the required reflector (RCW 46.61.780).

  • Shoulder vs. Bike Lane - Cyclists may choose to ride on the path, bike lane, shoulder or travel lane as suits their safety needs (RCW 46.61.770).


  1. Not sure when you launched it - but nice redesign man. I like the new header a lot.

  2. Good to know about those closed roads beforehand. In the mid 70's I decided to do a day trip from the U. District down across Mercer Island and out towards the mountains, then back home across the Evergreen Point Bridge. Looked do-able on the map, but I realized when I got near the Bridge that it's closed to pedestrian traffic. Hmm, now I'm wondering if I could have ridden in the traffic lane and avoided that long ride back the way I came? I'm guessing not, it looked like a good way to die. I did not find any part of that route particularly bicycle friendly.