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Flagstaff’s Bicycle Attorneys and Arizona’s Bicycle Laws

Woman Riding Mountain Bike

Arizona bicyclists are protected under certain laws, but this is no excuse for not knowing and understanding the laws that bicyclists must obey in order to make the streets safer for everyone.


Flagstaff Bike to Work Week runs through May 20, 2013 to May 24, 2013. If you have been hesitant to bike commute in the past, this is a good time to start. Flagstaff is already known as a bike friendly community and Bike to Work just made biking a little bit easier. According to the Flagstaff Biking Organization, the goal of bike to work week is to “promote bicycling as a safe and attractive means of transportation and recreation Northern Arizona.” [i] In pursing that goal, last year over 150 workplaces and 1300 individuals participated in Bike to Work Week, with hundreds of newcomers enjoying bike commuting for the first time.

With the recession and high gas prices, biking as a means of transportation has increased in Flagstaff and throughout the United States. According to the League of Bicyclist, the number of trips made by bicycle in the U.S. has more than doubled from 1.7 billion to 4 billion from 2001 to 2009.[ii] In Flagstaff, approximately six percent of Flagstaff residents bike to work and school daily. With more bikes on the road, it can only mean more cars versus bike accidents. Generally, Flagstaff reports between seventy to eighty car and bicycle accidents a year.

As a bicyclist, you should know the applicable laws that apply to you when you are riding your bike on the road. Remember, Arizona Traffic Laws govern bicycles on the road and you will be held strictly liable for your actions. Thus, under the concept of strict liability you could be found guilty of violating the law without the State having to prove intent/mental state. Here is a small list of applicable Arizona State laws and city of Flagstaff ordinances governing bicycles.

Arizona Bicycle Laws

A.R.S § 28-101(6) defines bicycle as: a device, including a racing wheelchair, that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride and that has either:
(a) Two tandem wheels, either of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.
(b) Three wheels in contact with the ground, any of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.

A.R.S § 28-756. Method of giving hand and arm signals

A. Except as provided by subsection B, a person shall give all hand and arm signals required by this article from the left side of the vehicle in the following manner, and the signals shall indicate as follows:

  1. Left turn. Hand and arm extended horizontally.
  2. Right turn. Hand and arm extended upward.
  3. Stop or decrease speed. Hand and arm extended downward.

B. A person operating a bicycle may give a right turn signal by extending the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.

A.R.S. § 28-811. Parent and guardian responsibility; applicability of article

A. The parent of a child and the guardian of a ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit the child or ward to violate this chapter.
B. Except as otherwise provided in this article, this chapter applies to a bicycle when it is operated on a highway or on a path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

A.R.S. § 28-812. Applicability of traffic laws to bicycle riders

A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title, except special rules in this article and except provisions of this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title that by their nature can have no application.

A.R.S. § 28-813. Riding on bicycles

A. A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than on or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle.
B. A person shall not use a bicycle to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
A.R.S. § 28-814. Clinging to vehicle
A person riding on a bicycle, coaster, sled or toy vehicle or on roller skates shall not attach the bicycle, coaster, sled, toy vehicle or roller skates or that person to a vehicle on a roadway.

A.R.S. § 28-815. Riding on roadway and bicycle path; bicycle path usage

A. A person riding a bicycle on 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 curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following situations:

  1. If overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. If preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals or surface hazards.
  4. If the lane in which the person is operating the bicycle is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

B. Persons riding bicycles on a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
C. A path or lane that is designated as a bicycle path or lane by state or local authorities is for the exclusive use of bicycles even though other uses are permitted pursuant to subsection D or are otherwise permitted by state or local authorities.
D. A person shall not operate, stop, park or leave standing a vehicle in a path or lane designated as a bicycle path or lane by a state or local authority except in the case of emergency or for crossing the path or lane to gain access to a public or private road or driveway.
E. Subsection D does not prohibit the use of the path or lane by the appropriate local authority.
A.R.S. § 28-816. Carrying article on bicycle
A person shall not carry a package, bundle or article while operating a bicycle if the package, bundle or article prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.

A.R.S. § 28-817. Bicycle equipment

A. A bicycle that is used at nighttime shall have a lamp on the front that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and a red reflector on the rear of a type that is approved by the department and that is visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when the reflector is directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A bicycle may have a lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear in addition to the red reflector.
B. A person shall not operate a bicycle that is equipped with a siren or whistle.
C. A bicycle shall be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
These are the most cited statutes pertaining to bicycles in the Arizona Revised Statutes. However, the legislative branch allows local government to regulate bicycles. Under the City of Flagstaff Ordinances, these are the applicable ordinances that apply to use of bikes within the City of Flagstaff.
Section 9-05-001-0001 Application of Provisions

A. The parent of a child and the guardian of a ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit the child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this Chapter.
B. The regulations of this Chapter in their application to bicycles shall apply when a bicycle is operated upon any roadway, path, or sidewalk subject to those exceptions stated in this Chapter.
C. The regulations of this Chapter shall not apply to exempt vehicles when they are used for the purposes for which they are intended.
Section 9-04-001-0002 Definitions

For the purposes of this Chapter:

A. “Bicycle” means a device, including a racing wheelchair, that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride and that has either:

  1. Two tandem wheels, either of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.
  2. Three wheels in contact with the ground, any of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.

Section 9-05-001-0003 Traffic Laws Apply

Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway is granted all the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Chapter, except as to special regulations in this Chapter and except as to those provisions of this Chapter which by their nature can have no application.

Section 9-05-001-0004 Riding on Bicycles

A. A person riding a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto.
B. No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
C. No person riding upon any bicycle, skateboard or play vehicle shall attach the same or themselves to any vehicle upon a roadway.
D. No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package or article which prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.
E. No person shall operate a bicycle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions and actual and potential hazards then existing, or in excess of the posted speed limit.

Section 9-05-001-0005 Riding on Roadways and Bicycle Lanes

A. A person riding a bicycle on the 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 curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following situations:

  1. If overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. If preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, snow and ice, or surface hazards.
  4. If the lane in which the person is operating the bicycle is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel side by side within the lane.
  5. When proceeding straight, through an area where a right-turn is permitted, in order to avoid conflicts with right-turning vehicles.

B. When parking is allowed along the roadway, then the “right side of the roadway” shall be deemed to be to the left of any parked vehicles or parking lane, including the area occupied by open car doors, or to the right of any parked vehicles or parking lane on the left side of one-way streets.
C. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two (2) abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

Section 9-05-001-0006 Equipment

A. Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet (500′) to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Arizona Department of Transportation, which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet (50′) to three hundred feet (300′) to the rear, when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on motor vehicles. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet (500′) to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
B. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

Section 9-05-001-0007 Riding on Sidewalks

A. Where signs are erected giving notice thereof, no person shall ride a bicycle, skateboard, or play vehicle upon a sidewalk. This prohibition shall also apply to any bicycle, skateboard or play vehicle which is equipped with or assisted by a motor. Signs prohibiting such activity shall be installed at locations as directed by the Office of the Traffic Engineer.
B. A person riding a bicycle, skateboard, or play vehicle upon any public sidewalk shall be subject to the following provisions:

  1. A person riding a bicycle, skateboard, or play vehicle on a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians and exempt vehicles.
  2. Such person shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian or exempt vehicle traveling in the same direction on the sidewalk.
  3. No person shall operate a bicycle on a sidewalk at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions and actual and potential hazards then existing.

C. Penalty. Violation of any of the provisions of 9-05-001-0007 by any person shall be a civil traffic offense punishable by a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) nor more than seventy-five dollars ($75.00) for each offense.

Section 9-05-001-0008 Riding on Paths

A. A person riding a bicycle, skateboard, or play vehicle on a path shall yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians and exempt vehicles.
B. Such person shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian or exempt vehicle traveling in the same direction on the path.
Section 9-05-001-0009 Voluntary Bicycle Registration
The Chief of Police, or his or her designee, is hereby authorized and directed to issue, upon written application, bicycle registration tags. The Chief of Police shall designate and provide tags for the use of the registrant, direct the manner of placing such tags on the bicycles by the registrants, and keep a record of the name of the registrant, the number of the tag, the date of issuance of the tag, and pertinent information about the bicycle. A fee may be charged for registration and the tag.

Section 9-05-001-0010 Bicycle Helmets/Protective Equipment

A. It shall be unlawful for any person under eighteen (18) years of age to operate or ride upon a bicycle on any highway, street, road, sidewalk, bike-way or trail, unless that person wears a protective helmet that is properly fitted and fastened.
B. No parent or guardian of any unemancipated minor under eighteen (18) years of age shall knowingly allow the minor to violate this section.
C. Violation of this section shall constitute a civil traffic offense and shall be punishable by a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) nor more than seventy-five dollars ($75.00) for each offense.
D. The first time a person is charged with a violation of this section the Court may dismiss the charge upon presentation of evidence that the person has purchased or obtained a protective helmet.
E. For purposes of this section “protective bicycle helmet” means a helmet containing a manufacturer’s certification that it meets the standards of either the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
F. Except as authorized by A.R.S. § 28-1599, a violation of this ordinance cannot be used as evidence of negligence or comparative negligence in a subsequent civil or criminal proceeding.

If you or a loved one has been injured while riding a bike by the negligence of another person, call the Law Office of Gonzales and Poirier. We are a plaintiff’s law firm, we are bike riders and we have successfully represented bikers in Flagstaff and throughout the State of Arizona. Remember that this article is not a substitute to the advice and consultation of an attorney. If you have any questions about your case call us at 928-774-5400 for a free consultation.

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The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier provide legal services in Flagstaff, Arizona. If you are in need of a lawyer, please contact our firm today about your case by calling (855) 774-5400. We offer free consultations 24/7, affordable rates, and have payment plans available.
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