Understanding Cyclist Rights and Laws in South Carolina

by | Jun 15, 2023 | Personal Injury

Female-Cyclist-Riding-in-SCBicycle riders enjoy a lot of freedom on South Carolina roadways, as they have many rights. However, they have many responsibilities under South Carolina bicycle laws as well. Before you jump on your bike, it’s important to understand your rights and laws as a cyclist in South Carolina.

South Carolina Bicycle Laws

Cyclists must follow many of the same laws as motor vehicles on South Carolina roadways. These “rules of the road” can be found in South Carolina Code of Laws Title 56. These laws detail some important duties and privileges of bicycle riders in the state.

Rights of Cyclists in South Carolina

Some bicycle laws dictate how motor vehicles must drive near cyclists. Some examples include:

  • SC Code Sec. 56-5-3230: This law states that motor vehicles are responsible for exercising due care to avoid a collision with a bicyclist.
  • SC Code Sec. 56-5-3435: This law states that motor vehicles must maintain a safe operating distance from bicyclists.
  • SC Code Sec. 56-5-3445: This law specifies that motorists may not harass or throw objects at cyclists.

Additionally, cyclists have the same rights as other vehicles on the roadway, including right of way in various circumstances. It’s important for motor vehicles to respect the rights of cyclists. A driver who violates a cyclist’s rights and causes a crash may be held responsible for damages.

Responsibilities of Cyclists in South Carolina

male-cyclist-riding-on-SC-roadwayIn South Carolina, cyclists have the same responsibilities as motor vehicles; however, there are some South Carolina bicycle laws that address riders specifically.

When on a bicycle, riders must:

  • Obey all traffic signs
  • Ride with the flow of traffic
  • Obey all traffic laws
  • Ride as far to the right as possible
  • Ride in a bike lane when possible
  • Avoid roadway obstructions
  • Not ride more than two side-by-side
  • Use lights and reflectors after dark

In addition to these state laws, local ordinances may require cyclists to follow additional regulations.

South Carolina Bicycle Helmet Laws

man-helping-child-buckle-bicycle-helmetThere are no federal laws addressing bicycle helmets for children or adults; however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and many other organizations recommend that everyone should wear helmets and other protective gear.

Many states require children under a certain age to wear helmets. South Carolina is not one of those states. There are no mandates in South Carolina regarding helmets. It is legal in South Carolina to ride a bicycle without a helmet.

South Carolina Bicycle Laws FAQ

Understanding the laws that apply to cyclists in South Carolina is not easy. There are some questions that commonly come up, including the following:

Can I Ride on the Sidewalk?

There is no South Carolina state law prohibiting riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. However, some local laws prohibit sidewalk riding. If cyclists do ride on the sidewalk, they must yield right of way to pedestrians.

What Type of Reflectors and Lights Do I Need to Ride at Night?

Riding a bicycle at night can be dangerous. However, it can be made safer with the use of reflectors and lights. South Carolina laws require you to equip your bike with a white light on the front that can be seen from at least 500 feet away. Your bike must also have a rear light or reflector that can be visible from at least 300 feet away.

In addition to reflectors and lights on your bike, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that you wear reflective clothing when riding at night.

How Many People Can Ride on a Bicycle?

Some bicycles are built for two…or more. It’s important to follow manufacturer recommendations for the number of people a bicycle was designed for. It is illegal in South Carolina to ride a bicycle with more people than it was designed to carry. This is for safety reasons.

Can I Do Tricks on My Bicycle?

Although South Carolina does not specifically prohibit doing tricks on a bicycle, there are some laws that address certain issues. For example, you must have at least one hand on the handlebars of your bicycle while you are riding it. For safety reasons, you should keep both hands on the handlebars unless you are signaling for a turn.

How Do I Indicate That I Need to Turn?

South Carolina laws require cyclists to signal at turns and stops. There are relevant hand signals that should be used in these situations. Failure to use signaling can result in a ticket and significant fines if you are stopped by a police officer.

Are E-Bikes Legal in South Carolina?

Yes, E-bikes with motors under 750 watts are legal and do not require additional regulations. You don’t need insurance, a license plate, or a driver’s license to ride most e-bikes in South Carolina. However, you must still follow the rules of the road as would any other cyclist.

Contact a South Carolina Bicycle Accident Lawyer If You Are Injured

If you or a loved one is injured in a bicycle accident, you should immediately contact a bicycle lawyer. Attorney Venus Poe has worked with countless clients who need help to get back up on their feet. We can help prove fault, establish liability, and get compensation for you.

Call attorney Venus Poe at (864) 963-0310 for a case consultation.

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