Laws Guidebook
Laws Guidebook

This guide is intended to serve as a valuable tool and reference document for education and enforcement of bicycle and pedestrian laws.

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Bicyclists riding on a road

Bicycles are legally defined as vehicles in North Carolina. This section identifies all the North Carolina laws that pertain to bicycles, pedestrians, school zones, and school crossing guards. Also included are NCDOT policies and guidelines related to bicycles, pedestrians, and greenways as well as resources to other important federal policies.

Bicycle & Bikeway Act

With the passage of comprehensive Bicycle and Bikeway Act of 1974, North Carolina established the first state bicycle program in the nation, which quickly became a national model. The legislation granted authority for the North Carolina Bicycle Program (now the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation) to undertake comprehensive bicycle planning and programming.

The term "bikeway" was used in 1973, when this legislation was written, to denote all types of facilities for bicycles. Since that time more specific terminology for the different facility types has replaced the general term "bikeway".

This far-reaching legislation established these provisions:

  • supports the legal definition that a bicycle is a vehicle
  • defines bicycle facilities as a bona fide highway purpose
  • designates the North Carolina Department of Transportation to carry out the provisions of the article
  • assigns specific duties
  • allows for designation of bicycle facilities along and upon the state's public roadways
  • authorizes the department to spend budgeted funds and other funds from federal, state, local, and private sources
  • established the North Carolina Bicycle Committee (2011 legislation repealed G.S. 136.71.13, transferring the responsibilities of the Committee to DBPT)

The Act directs the NCDOT to perform the following duties:

  • assist local governments with the development of bicycle programs and the construction of bicycle facilities
  • develop policies, procedures, and standards for planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, marking, and operating bicycle facilities and provide for the safety of bicyclists and motorists
  • develop demonstration projects and safety training programs
  • develop and construct a state bikeway system.

Railroad Laws for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

  • Whenever a person driving a vehicle (note: a bicycle is considered a vehicle) approaches a railroad crossing he is required to stop and shall not proceed until it is safe to do so. (pg. 35, NC Pedestrian and Bicycle Laws Guidebook; GS20-142.1)
  • Never walk or ride a bike on or near the railroad tracks - it's against the law. (G § 14 280.1)