Arizona tends to take a very common-sense approach to bike laws rather than the more stringent laws of other states. In fact, there are a few things you can do in Arizona that other states are explicit about not allowing except in certain conditions! Still, it’s important to understand the bike laws in Arizona so that you know what you can and cannot do while cycling around the state.
A General View
In Arizona, much like many other states, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. This includes things like stopping for traffic lights and top signs, yielding to pedestrians, signalling turns and lane changes, and to ride in the right-hand land, or as close as possible to this. Unlike other places though, Arizona added the fact that cyclists must ride to the right as close as it was practical to; bike riders can move away from the edge to stay clear of things like debris, potholes, rough pavement, grates, pavement joints, pedestrians, dogs, parked vehicles and other things that block the way. Arizona also dictates that any vehicle in a two-lane road with five or more vehicles behind, must pull off at the first safe pull out, though for bikes, this presumably means riding farther over on the right edge to allow the vehicles to pass.
Finally, riding two abreast is permitted, unlike in other places where you can only do it on bike paths. Still, be sensible and keep an eye around you on traffic. The state law also dictates that bike safety is as important as motorist safety and that cyclists can occupy any part of the lane when warranted by safety (for example, if the side of the road is far too rough to ride on or if there’s something else going on that would make it impossible to ride).
There are a few things that are cyclist specific in terms of laws. These include:
- Every person riding a bike must have a regular seat to sit on. If there are two seats, two riders! (ARS 28-813)
- You can’t attach or hold on to another vehicle on the road (I wonder where this came from, but it’s very widespread!) (ARS 28-814)
- You may ride no more than two side-by-side, except on bike paths (but you can ride two side-by-side). (ARS 28-815)
- You must have at least one hand on the handlebars always (ARS 28-816)
- Every bike must have at least one brake that will make the wheel skid when applied (but not come to a dead stop?) (ARS 28-817)
There are also some specific laws that intersect with the laws that motorists comply to. These include stopping for traffic lights and stop signs (ARS 28-644), yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks and sidewalks (ARS 28-792 and ARS 28-904), and signalling turns. These are lumped under general laws for motorists as well as cyclist.
And that really is about it! See anything missing?
Some Laws That You Don’t Have to Worry About
Oddly enough, Arizona has no laws regarding wearing a bike helmet. It’s a strongly advised safety tip, but it’s not actually found under the laws. There are a few municipal laws that mandate helmet use (Tucson, Sierra Vista and Yuma and Pima counties), but it is not a state law.
Furthermore, there are no laws regarding how your bike should be maintained; instead, it’s advised that all parts should be secure and working properly, the brakes work, and tires are inflated.
There are also no particular laws regarding cycling at night, save for the fact that cyclists have the same rules as motorists. In this case, it means that the bike must have a white headlight and a red rear reflector when cycling after sunset or before sunrise. The white headlight must be visible from at least 500 feet and the red reflector visible from 50 to 300 feet. Otherwise though, it’s recommended that riders wear bright clothing to be as visible as possible. It’s also recommended that books and other items are carried in a carrier or backpack, but it’s not mandated. Arizona also does not restrict mobile phone use in a bike or seemingly in a car either! Arizona also does not prohibit riding on a sidewalk, riding while intoxicated (though you could still be charged with a DUI since bikes have the same duties as cars, even though they are actually vehicles in the eyes of the law). So, there’s quite a lot that you can do lawfully in Arizona that you would not be able to do elsewhere.
Arizona really doesn’t have many laws that can trip up cyclists; most of them are very similar or the same as motorists and those which are different skew towards making riding a little safer and more convenient for the rider. As long as you are using good sense and keep in mind the safety and comfort of your bike and other motorists, you will be fine cycling in Arizona and keeping on the right side of the law.
Want to read some more about the laws and advice Arizona gives to its cyclists?
It’s important to stay on top of the laws if you’re going to ride safely so that you can enjoy your bike for a long time, as well as the many health benefits.