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Texting While Biking: Is It Legal?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on October 08, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

By now, you're likely aware that texting while driving is illegal pretty much everywhere. But what about texting while biking?

Bike riders are generally subject to many of the same traffic laws as cars, such as observing traffic signals and not biking while intoxicated.

So is texting while biking legal?

May Be Subject to Local Prohibitions

Although it may be difficult to actually do both at the same time, texting while biking is generally not against the law. Most ordinances and state laws that outlaw texting while driving apply only to motor vehicles. A California law proposed in 2010 would have outlawed texting while biking in that state, but the bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

However, there are certain cities which do have local laws that effectively ban the practice of texting while biking. For example, under the Municipal Code of Chicago, "no person shall operate a bicycle while using a communication device." The fine for violating this code section is up to $50 for the first violation, $75 for a second, and as much as $100 for every subsequent violation.

The city of Flagstaff, Arizona, also recently passed a law prohibiting texting while biking. Flagstaff's law increases the penalty for violating the law from $100 to $250 for a person "involved in a motor vehicle or bicycle crash" while violating the code section.

Distracted Biking May Be Considered Negligence

Even in places where texting while biking may technically be legal, if you are somehow "distracted" by text messaging and involved in a bicycle accident, you may be found negligent for failing to operate your bike in a safe manner.

Even in an accident where another rider or a driver is at fault, texting while biking may make you contributorily negligent and reduce or in some cases bar your recovery.

To learn more about traffic laws for bike riders, head over toFindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Bicycle Laws.

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