Bicycle Laws in Arizona: How to Safely Share the Road
Even with the Arizona heat, summer is the season of bike riding, the perfect time to remind ourselves that it’s everyone’s responsibility to safely share the road.
Whether you’re riding on two wheels or steering one, brush up on these must-know bicycle laws and safety tips.
The Rules of the Road
Bicyclists share many of the same rules and responsibilities as motorists, such as needing to obey all traffic lights and signs. Before turning or changing lanes, both groups also need to look behind them, signal, and yield to any traffic that is already there. Of course, bicyclists’ signals look different than a vehicle’s. A bicyclist must signal a right turn by either fully extending their right arm or upturning their left arm. Full extension of the left arm indicates a left-hand turn, and extending the left arm down with the palm facing backward means the cyclist is slowing or stopping.
Unlike in many states, bikers in Arizona don’t always need to ride single file. They’re allowed to ride side by side (two people maximum) as long as it remains safe to do so. In fact, whether riding in groups or alone, riders can occupy as much space as they need to stay safe. In normal circumstances, bikers must ride “as close as practicable” to the right side of the road, but they are free to move inwards to steer clear of obstacles such as debris, potholes, rough pavement, pedestrians.
Of course, there are laws that apply strictly to bicyclists, including:
- Every person riding a bicycle must have a regular seat
- One hand must be on the bicycle at all times
- You cannot attach or hold on to another vehicle on the roadway
- Every bicycle must have one brake that will make the wheel skid when applied
Sharing the Road: Tips for Drivers
Know bicyclist laws
Unfortunately, many drivers think (and act) like bicyclists are simply nuisances on the road. Remember, bicyclists have the same rights as any other driver on the road, and treating them any differently could have potentially deadly consequences. In 2020 alone, there were 830 crashes involving cyclists, of which 33 were fatal.
Everyone on the road is allowed to take up as much space as they need—including bicyclists. Don’t attempt to haphazardly pass a biker that may be far into the lane. Instead, wait until you can pass with at least three feet of space between your vehicle and the bicyclist.
The average car weighs about two tons, and road bikes are usually just 20 pounds. While bicyclists and motorists are equal on the road, don’t forget that if you get into an accident with a bicyclist, they’re likely to come out of it much worse than you. Whenever you see a cyclist, especially if you recognize a potentially dangerous situation, slow down and give them extra space.
Tips for Bikers
Helmets may not be required by law in Arizona, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Arizona is, after all, one of the deadliest states for bicyclists according to 2017 data collected by the NHTSA.
Unfortunately, there will always be careless drivers, so make sure you ride a bike as defensively as you would operate a car. Never assume that a car will slow down and watch out for you.
Bikes are much smaller than cars, so you want to make yourself as visible as possible. In addition to always using hand signals, consider wearing bright colors. Between sunset and sunrise, make sure you have a white headlight and a red rear reflector (this is required by law).