Cycling rules in the USA

We’re all happy to see how, in many places across the United States, people are beginning to give up their car addiction and promote cycling, with more city-led investments in bike infrastructure coming to light every day. However, cyclists still have to share the road with drivers pretty much everywhere, and traffic rules usually differ from state to state, so it’s important to get informed before saddling up.

Below we summarised the most important aspects to consider when biking in the US, but keep in mind that our interpretation of the rules does not represent the letter of the law.

Bike requirements in the US

LIGHTS | Between sunset and sunrise, as well as in limited visibility conditions, you must use a white light pointing straight forward and a red one pointing straight back.

REFLECTORS | Your bike must have a red rear reflector and a white front one, as well as pedal reflectors.

BRAKES | Your bike must have at least one functioning brake.

HELMET | The requirement to wear bicycle helmets in the US varies by jurisdiction and by age of the cyclist. Please click here to see the requirements based on your destination.

Cycling rules in the US

There are differences in the cycling laws across the states, so please click here to check the bike laws based on your destination.

There are, however, a few general rules applicable wherever within the USA:

  • In the United States, everyone must drive on the right-hand side of the roadway. Never ride your bike against the traffic flow.
  • You generally use the same space as other drivers and share a lane with them. If a lane is wide enough to share with another vehicle (about 14ft/4m), ride 3ft/1m to the right of traffic. If the lane is not wide enough to share, “take the lane” by riding in the middle.
  • The slowest vehicles on the road should be the furthest to the right. Where you position yourself on the road depends on the location of any parked cars, your speed, and your destination.
  • Always pass on the left.
  • At intersections: when there is a lane used for more than one direction, use the rightmost lane going in the direction you are traveling.
  • When there is a lane that is used for more than one direction, use the rightmost lane going in the direction you are traveling.

Hand signals

You must always use hand signals to communicate your intent to other drivers/riders.

STOPPING | Extend your left arm out to the left, horizontally, and angle your forearm vertically downward.

TURNING RIGHT | Extend the right arm perpendicularly to the body.

TURNING LEFT | Extend the left arm perpendicularly to the body.

For more details on cycling rules and requirements, read here and here.

Donkey Republic rules

  • You must always lock your bike when parking it, be it during your rental period or at the end. You lock your bike by pushing down the lock handle until it beeps. Double check to make sure it stays locked.
  • For extra security, use the chain that comes with every Donkey bike and chain the bike to a fixed object, such as a street lamp post.
  • During your rental period, you can take and park your bike wherever you want. However, at the end of your rental you must return the bike to an available drop-off location. After parking and locking the bike, remember to open the Donkey app and click END RENTAL.
  • Have fun exploring the city on two wheels!