Maryland Laws

Bicycles
 
Helmets
Helmerts are required for operators or passengers of bicycles under the age of 16.  They are, however, strongly recommended for all operators or passengers regardless of age.
 
Bicyclists must observe applicable laws and all traffic control devices, when using any public highway or roadway.  Motorists must remember that bicyclists have a right to travel on many of our roadways and that they need to share the road and be constantly alert to the possible prescence of bicyclists.
 
Rules for Motorists
 
Bicycle Right-of-Way
Bicycles are treated as vehicles in Maryland.  Bicyclists have rights and duties like those of a motor vehicle.  Motorists must yield the right-of-way to bicyclists at intersections when passing and when turning.  Most bicycles do not have turn signals and their operators use hand and arm signals to alert you of their intentions.
 
Following a Bicyclist
As you approach a bicyclist, slow down.  Avoid the use of your horn.  Bicyclists can usually hear an approaching vehicle and loud noises can startle the bicycle operator, causing an accident.
 
Do not follow a bicycle closely.  Bicycles can stop and maneuver quickly and a bicyclist can swerve or change speed to avoid a road hazard.  Young bicyclists, in particular, are more likely to make surprising changes in direction.
 
Passing a Bicyclist
When passing a bicyclist, wait until it is safe and allow adequate clearance (Maryland law is a 3 feet allowance when passing) and return to your lane when you can clearly see the bicyclist in your rear view mirror.  Do not use your horn to alert or alarm the rider.  If you are unable to safely pass, reduce your speed, follow the bicycle and wait for a safe opportunity to pass.
 
A bicycle should be operated as close to the right side of the road as practical and safe.  However, cyclists are expected to use turn lanes.  Merge safely with bicycle traffic when turning.  Do not make right turns across the path of bicycle traffic.  It is common for an experience cyclist to reach speeds of 20-30 miles per hour and be closer than you think.
 
Rules for Bicyclists
 
Safety Tips
The safe operation of a bicycle often requires the operator to be more aware and stay more alert for road conditions than motorists.  A bicyclist is often unobserved by motorists and must constantly scan for surrounding vehicles, pedestrians, hazards, etc.  A few safety tips for bicyclists:
 
        1)  Always wear a proper fitting helmet in good condition, no matter what your age
        2)  Obey all posted signs and signals
        3)  Remember that motor vehicles have "blind spots", such as the right rear corner
        4)  Riding single file on roadways or trails is safer, but you may ride two abreast if not impeding traffic
        5)  Air turbulence caused by fast-moving or large vehicles may cause the rider to lose control or throw debris
        6)  Loose debris, such as sand, gravel, and leaves, can cause the bicycle to slip out from under you.  Ride carefully over these objects and do not brake hard or steer sharply
        7)  Water may create a slippery surface on the roadway or path
        8)  Watch out for potholes, branches, and other objects in your path.  Carefully avoid them if possible, but do not swerve into the path of another vehicle in doing so.
        9)  Passengers should not ride on the handlebars or the back of your seat or stand on the rear wheel axle bolts.  Carry passengers only in a properly secured child carrier seat or properly secured trailer.
        10) When riding past parked vehicles, ride in a straight line at least three feet away from the vehicles and watch for opening doors.
        11) Watch out for vehicles baking or pulling out of driveways, side streets or alleyways, as they may not see you coming down the road.
        12) Wear light colored clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night so motorists will more readily see you.
 
Bicycle Equipment
 
By law, all bicycles must be equipped with:
 
    1)  Brakes that enable the operator to make the braked wheel skid on dry level, clean pavement
    2)  An audible device (bell/horn) that can be heard for at least 100 feet. Sirens/whistles are prohibited
    3)  A white beam headlight, visible at a distance of 500 feet, and a red rear reflector, visible at a distance of 600 feet, if ridden at night or during unfavorable light conditions
    4)  A safety seat, firmly secured to the bicycle, or a trailer must be used if traveling with a small child
    5)  A bicycle basket, rack, or bag must be used in transporting small articles so that both hands may be kept on the handlebars.
 
Source: Maryland Driver's Handbook - http://www.mva.maryland.gov/resources/dl-002b.pdf