Rules of the Road

Rules of the Road: Do bicyclists have to wear a helmet?

Question: Are bicyclists required by law to wear a helmet? Have reflectors on their bike? Use a headlight and taillight at night?

Answer: No, a bicycle helmet is not required in the state. Bicycles are required to have a red rear reflector on their bike and to use a headlight at night. I have included the RCW that covers these rules.

RCW 46.61.780 Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. (1) Every bicycle when in use during the hours of darkness as defined in RCW 46.37.020 shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the state patrol which shall be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector. An LED flashing taillight visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may also be used in addition to the red reflector.

Question: Why do just a few intersections have “Left turn yield on green” signs? It would provide a more efficient flow of traffic and would be a fuel saver if the majority of intersections allowed free left-hand turns on green.

Answer: To give a good answer we would have to go to the traffic engineers. The intersections with signals are all established under the rules from the Model Uniform Traffic Code and traffic studies conducted by the traffic engineers. I would have to think that the intersections that do not have the “left turn on green” signs are deemed either too dangerous or too busy to try to use them. If you have a specific intersection, we could pose that question to the engineers.