The Right to Ride

In many places around the country, cyclists can feel like second-class citizens when they are sharing the road with motor vehicle drivers. This shouldn’t be the case. Cyclists have every bit as much of a right to use most public roadways as cars and trucks do.

Under the motor vehicle codes of all fifty states, bicycles are treated as vehicles. This means that bicycles have an equal right to use public roadways, subject to the specific rules of a state’s vehicle code. Also, under the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, an international treaty that the United States has signed, bicycles have the same legal status and right to use the road as motor vehicles. What is crucial to understand is that laws pertaining to bicycle travel are not creating a right to travel by bicycle. Rather, these laws are merely defining safety rules.

When cyclists are cut-off from public roadways, their very right to get around in the town in which they live is infringed. There is a very good legal argument that freedom of movement is a constitutional right. For cyclists, exercising this freedom requires access to public roadways.

Riding a bike is a healthy and enjoyable activity. For some, it is an only means of transportation. Cyclists have a legal right to use public roadways and to access public spaces safely. Governments should not promote transportation by car while at the same time neglecting to implement safe accommodations for bicycle travel. The right to ride a bicycle is just as strong as the right to drive a car. If you have a comment or would like more information about issue, please contact us!

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