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Can Cyclists Ride Side by Side?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Good drivers are always on the lookout for cyclists, and good cyclists always follow the rules of the road. But sometimes those rules aren't obvious.

Like when it comes to groups of riders, are cyclists allowed to ride side by side, or two abreast? Does it matter how fast they're going? Or what kind of road they're on? Bicycle laws can vary by state, so let's take a look:

States That Say Yes

Thirty-nine states have laws that specifically allow cyclists to ride side by side. However, in 21 of those states, cyclists can only ride two abreast if they aren't impeding traffic. Specifically, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia require cyclists to bike single file when being passed by a vehicle.

Even if the state you live in allows riding side by side, cyclists should be aware that local and state laws might differ. For instance, some cities or municipalities may prohibit side by side riding.

States That Say No

Some states specifically prohibit riding two abreast, though they may allow some exceptions. In Nebraska, for example, cyclists must remain single file, unless they are on the shoulder. In Hawaii, you must ride single file except if the bicycle lane is wide enough to permit riding side by side and you're not impeding traffic.

In Montana, it's a bit more complicated: you can ride side by side in a single lane, but only if there are at least two lanes running in each direction, and if you are not impeding traffic any more than you would be if you were riding single file.

States That Say Maybe

Finally, eight states don't specifically address side by side cycling. Most of these states generally permit cyclists to share lanes when it is safe, so riding two (or more) abreast may be implicitly allowed. However, some jurisdictions have ordinances that require cyclists to ride as close to the right as is practicable.

Wherever you're cycling, make sure you're aware of state, local, and municipal biking laws before you hit the road. And if you're driving, share the road and be safe around cyclists.

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