Delaware Bicycle Laws & Rules of the Roadway
Last updated: October 26, 2021
Bike accident injuries are increasingly common in Delaware, especially in the last decade. According to data compiled by the Delaware State Police, there were a total of 107 bicycle accidents in Delaware in 2005. By 2019, that number rose to 148 (including 7 fatalities). The most recent data for 2020 shows that there were 122 bike accidents, and considering Covid-related travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, that number is still fairly high.
While bicycle accidents happen more frequently in New Castle County, fatal accidents tend to be more common in Sussex County. Each year, there are about 50% more bicycle accident deaths at Delaware beaches, i.e., Sussex County than in New Castle County or Kent County. In 2019, there were 4 bike accident deaths in Sussex County compared to 2 in New Castle County and 1 in Kent County.
Delaware Bicycle Accident Prevention Laws
Below are some of the most common Delaware bicycle operation laws which may be at issue in an auto-bicycle accident case:
- bicycle roadway operation laws,
- bicycle left hand turn laws,
- bicycle hand signal laws, and
- bicycle sidewalk and crosswalk operation laws.
- Operating a Bike on a Delaware Roadway – Where Can You Ride?
Under Delaware law, bicycle riders are usually required to ride in the same direction as traffic and as close to the right side of the roadway as possible. See Title 21, Delaware Code Section 4196 Position on roadway, which provides:
(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway except under any of the following circumstances:
(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
(3) When proceeding straight in a right-turn-only lane; or
(4) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand edge of roadway. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a one-way highway with 2 or more marked traffic lanes and a posted speed limit of less than 30 miles per hour may ride as near the left-hand edge of such roadway as practicable.
(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than 2 abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding 2 abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.
(d) Any person operating a bicycle may ride upon a paved shoulder with due regard for any traffic control devices intended to regulate or guide traffic or pedestrians.
Related Bicycle Accident Law Post: Delaware Bicycle Accident Law – Medical Bills & PIP Claims
- Operating a Bike on a Delaware Roadway – Making a Left Hand Turn
Under Delaware law, bicycle riders who want to make a left turn must yield to vehicle traffic proceeding in either direction and must also stay as far to the right as possible until they reach the turn. Title 21, Delaware Code Section 4198 Left turns provides:
(a) A person riding a bicycle intending to turn left shall follow a course described in § 4152 of this title or in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) A person riding a bicycle intending to turn left shall approach the turn as close as practicable to the right edge of the roadway. After proceeding across the intersecting roadway to the far corner of the curb or intersection of the roadway edges the bicyclist shall stop, as much as practicable out of the way of traffic. After stopping, the bicyclist shall yield to any traffic proceeding in either direction along the roadway the bicyclist has been using. After yielding, and complying with any official traffic-control device or police officer regulating traffic on the highway along which the bicyclist intends to proceed, the bicyclist may proceed in the new direction.
(c) Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the Department or local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause official traffic-control devices to be placed and thereby require and direct that a specific course be traveled by turning bicycles, and when such devices are so placed, no person shall turn a bicycle other than as directed and required by such devices.
- Operating a Bike on a Delaware Roadway – Turn & Stop Signals
Bicycle riders are required to give specific hand signals before making left turns, right turns or coming to a stop. Title 21, Delaware Code Section 4198A Turn and stop signals provides:
(a) A person operating a bicycle shall give hand and arm signals as follows:
(1) Left turn. — Left hand and arm extended horizontally and to the left side of the bicycle.
(2) Right turn. — Right hand and arm extended horizontally and to the right side of the bicycle or the left hand and arm extended upward.
(3) Stop or decrease speed. — Left hand and arm extended downward from the left side of the bicycle.
(b) A signal of intention to turn right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the bicycle before turning, and shall be given while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn. A signal by hand and arm need not be given continuously if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle.
4. Operating a Bike on a Delaware Roadway – Bikes on Sidewalks or Crosswalks
Delaware law allows for bicycles to be operated on sidewalks or crosswalks. However, riders must yield to pedestrian traffic and are not allowed to ride on any sidewalk or crosswalk where prohibited by traffic-control devices. Title 21, Delaware Code Section 4198B Bicycles on sidewalks and crosswalks provides:
(a) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.
(b) A person shall not ride a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices.
(c) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or pushing a bicycle across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
Auto Accident Lawyers for Bicycle Accidents in Wilmington, Dover & Newark
Our accident injury lawyers have been handling auto accident cases for over 25 years. We handle bicycle, pedestrian and truck accident cases throughout Delaware. Call for a free consultation. (302) 658-1717
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