The cycling season is upon us, so what better way to herald its arrival than to offer a refresher course on the basics of sharing the road...

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The cycling season is upon us, so what better way to herald its arrival than to offer a refresher course on the basics of sharing the road. Here’s a sampling of what state law has to say about bikes:

• Just like a car, a bicycle is a legal road vehicle, and bicycle riders have the same rights — and the same responsibilities — as drivers. That means cyclists can be ticketed should they violate traffic laws. And bikes always should ride in the same direction as auto traffic, said Bellevue police Officer Michael Chiu.

• Cyclists may ride side by side, but not more than two abreast.

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• At night, bikes must have a white front light visible for 500 feet and a red rear reflector, though a red rear light also is OK.

• The state does not require helmet use, though some cities and counties do, including King County.

• Cyclists may choose to ride on a path, bike lane, shoulder or travel lane as suits their safety needs. That means riding in the center of a lane is fine, though Chiu said cyclists should ride as far to the right as safety permits to enable cars to pass them if they’re not keeping up with traffic.

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At what point, and to what extent, is a cyclist liable for monetary damages to vehicles in a collision that a cyclist causes by ignoring traffic laws?


A cyclist would be just as responsible as a motorist who caused a collision because both are expected to obey the rules of the road, said King County sheriff’s Deputy Travis DeFries.

“Of course, we don’t require them to have insurance and things like that, like they would in a motor vehicle, but we certainly can find them to be at fault, and we can write them a ticket as at fault,” DeFries said.

Should this occur, Chiu said a cyclist’s homeowner or renter insurance could come into play.

“If they don’t have any, that’s a very good reason to get underinsured-motorist coverage or comprehensive,” he said.

There were 34 vehicle-bicycle traffic collisions reported in Bellevue last year, Chiu said, and 36 during 2003. A common collision involves a biker riding along a sidewalk opposite the flow of traffic as a car pulls out of a driveway, with neither person noticing the other.


Are there any plans to educate motor-vehicle drivers (and bicyclists) about the rules of the road and how to safely coexist? My son is taking driver’s training and the state book doesn’t seem to say much of anything about bicyclists on the road.


The state Transportation Department’s Web site ( features a section devoted to bikes. The site includes safety tips, suggestions for recreational rides and commuting routes, information on upcoming projects and how to get involved, and other resources.

Local bike clubs, such as Cascade Bicycle Club, also are a good source for safety tips and classes:

Early warning


A section of Kelly Road Northeast between Northeast 127th Street and Northeast Stossel Creek Way will be closed from 6 a.m. tomorrow to 6 p.m. Sunday for a culvert replacement. Motorists can detour via Big Rock Road, Odell Road, Northeast 139th Street and 322nd Avenue Northeast.


Motorists can expect up to three lanes closed nightly on Interstate 405 in both directions Monday through Thursday between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618