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New NC Bicycle Laws that take effect October 1st

Thanks to our friends at for keeping our community up to date and informed on laws for cyclists.

Some changes that are taking effect on October 1st

  • Cyclists may use full lane…as has been the case for years
  • Vehicles can legally pass on a double solid line (read more for specifics)
  • Vehicles must give 4 feet when passing in a No Passing Zone or it’s considered Reckless Driving

NC Bicycle Laws from NC Active Transportation on Vimeo.

Cyclists may use full lane

This has been the case for many years…

20-146.  Drive on right side of highway; exceptions. (b) Upon all highways any vehicle proceeding at less than the legal maximum speed limit shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for thru traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the highway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn.


R4-11 sign (MUTCD)

A bicyclist may use a full marked lane. “Bicyclists usually ride on the right side of the lane, but are entitled to use the full lane…. Drivers wishing to pass a bicyclist may do so only when there is abundant clearance and no oncoming traffic is in the opposing lane. When passing a bicyclist, always remember the bicyclist is entitled to use of the full lane.”  – North Carolina Driver’s Handbook, p.95.

Non-Motorized Vehicles Exempt from Impeding Traffic

§ 20-141. (h) No person shall operate a motor vehicle on the highway at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law; provided, this provision shall not apply to farm tractors and other motor vehicles operating at reasonable speeds for the type and nature of such vehicles.

Bicyclists are Drivers of Vehicles

§ 20-4.01(49) Vehicle. – …for the purposes of this Chapter bicycles shall be deemed vehicles and every rider of a bicycle upon a highway shall be subject to the provisions of this Chapter applicable to the driver of a vehicle except those which by their nature can have no application.

As drivers of vehicles, bicyclists are allowed to travel on all public roadways except fully controlled access highways (freeways) such as interstates. NCAC 19A.2E.0409 OPERATING NONMOTORIZED VEHICLES: It is unlawful for any person to ride any animal, or to operate a bicycle or horse drawn wagon or any nonmotorized vehicle or moped on any interstate or other fully controlled access highway.

Speed Positioning: Overtaking on Left

§ 20-149.  Overtaking a vehicle. (a) The driver of any such vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at least two feet to the left thereof, and shall not again drive to the right side of the highway until safely clear of such overtaken vehicle. This subsection shall not apply when the overtaking and passing is done pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 20-150.1.

Speed Positioning: Limitations on Overtaking on Right

Bicyclists may not overtake other traffic on the right except when in a separate marked travel lane. § 20-150.1.  When passing on the right is permitted. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions: (1) When the vehicle overtaken is in a lane designated for left turns; (2) Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width which have been marked for two or more lanes of moving vehicles in each direction and are not occupied by parked vehicles; (3) Upon a one-way street, or upon a highway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement when such street or highway is free from obstructions and is of sufficient width and is marked for two or more lanes of moving vehicles which are not occupied by parked vehicles; (4)        When driving in a lane designating a right turn on a red traffic signal light. (1953, c. 679.)

Yield before Moving Laterally

§ 20-146.  (d) (1) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.

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