We all are aware that bicyclists in Maine are allowed to share the roads with drivers, and why shouldn't they? Bicycling is not only good for your health but have you seen the price of gas right now? Pedaling is free and has no carbon emissions. But in order to share the road properly, we all need to be aware of what our responsibilities are as drivers and bicyclists.

I've seen both drivers and bicyclists not following the rules of the road, which both are required to do. Just this week I saw an incident where a bicyclist on Forest Avenue in Portland didn't stop for a red light and instead weaved through traffic taking a left turn at the red not realizing traffic coming in the opposite direction had a green light. Luckily, they weren't hurt, but that bicyclist was not following Maine bicycle laws.

On the other hand, I've seen many drivers cutting off bicyclists, not giving them the proper room on the road, and even honking at them when they are riding in front of them which they are legally allowed to do.

So as a fresher, here are some laws that both drivers and bicyclists need to know when sharing Maine's roads from the Maine DOT. First, let's start with the bicyclists.

  • Maine bicycling laws generally give bicyclists the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators. Bicyclists may use public roads, and they must obey traffic laws such as stopping at red lights and stop signs, yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks and yielding to traffic when entering a road from a driveway.
  • Bicyclists must ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Bicyclists are expected to ride on the right as far as is “practicable,” but there is a variety of situations in which a rider may legally take a larger share of the travel lane, including setting up for a left turn, proceeding straight where a right turn is also permitted, passing other vehicles, and to avoid obstacles or other unsafe situations.

As for drivers, here are a few of the laws regarding sharing the road you should know.

  • Motorists must allow at least three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists.
  • Motorists who are passing bicyclists proceeding in the same direction may not make a right turn unless they can do so with reasonable safety.
  • Motorists should not unnecessarily sound a horn. Honking your horn when approaching a bicyclist could startle them and cause a crash. Maine law states "a person may not unnecessarily sound a signaling device or horn".

If we all remember our responsibilities to each other as drivers and bicyclists, we can avoid some road rage and close calls, like the one I saw, on Maine's roads.

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