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Bike Laws

Bike Laws

Bicyclists in Northern Nevada are subject to several state and local laws that are specific for them. Here are the more important ones:

Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS)

  • Same Rights, Same Rules

WHAT IT SAYS: A person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and responsibilities applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except when a provision of the law by its nature clearly does not apply. NRS484B.763

WHAT IT MEANS: You are required to obey all traffic rules  of the road as if you were driving a car including all signs and signals, riding the same direction as traffic (i.e. on the right side of the road with the vehicular traffic flow) and showing appropriate hand signals  to communicate your intention to turn or stop.

  • Turns

WHAT IT SAYS: The operator of a bicycle shall not turn when it is not reasonably safe to do so and must give an appropriate hand signal unless the bicyclist is in a designated turn lane or safety requires a bicyclist to keep both hands on the bicycle. NRS 484B768

WHAT IT MEANS: You must signal your intentions to motorists around you when it is safe to do so.

  • Hand Signals

WHAT IT SAYS: Hand signal for a left turn is the left arm extended. The hand signals for a right turn are a) a right arm extended and b) the left arm extended bent 90 degrees with the forearm extending upward. The hand signal for stopping or slowing is the left hand lowered with the palm facing following traffic. NRS 484B.769, NRS 484B.420

WHAT IT MEANS: Use hand signals to show motorists your intentions for all movements

  • Passengers

WHAT IT SAYS: A person operating a bicycle must sit astride a bicycle seat and no bicycle shall be used to carry more people than for which  the bicycle was designed . NRS 484B.770

WHAT IT MEANS: Carrying a passenger on a bicycle not designed for it is illegal.


  • Keep to the right

WHAT IT SAYS: Bicyclist must ride as far to the right as “practicable”, except when preparing to turn left or when traveling at the same speed as any nearby traffic. A rider must exercise care when passing another vehicle. Persons riding bicycles or electric bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles or electric bicycles. (NRS 484B.270 and NRS 484B.777)

WHAT IT MEANS: You have the right in Nevada to ride two abreast and motorists can only pass if it would be legal to do so for a motor vehicle.

TIP: Riding in the center of the right lane, known as ‘taking the lane”, as motorists are stopping for a red light or proceeding slowly through the intersection when the light changes to green is frequently the safest way to get through a busy intersection. This is a good way to avoid right turning motorists. Use caution to avoid impeding motorists when “taking the lane”.

  • Riding at night

WHAT IT SAYS: When riding at night, bicycles must have a lamp on the front, a red reflector visible from the rear and reflective material visible from the side. NRS 484B.783

WHAT IT MEANS: You must be visible on your bike after dark so that the motorists can see you and share the road.

  • Brakes

WHAT IT SAYS: Every bicycle must have a brake able to make the wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. NRS 484B3783

WHAT IT MEANS: You must have a working device designed to stop you and the bike.

  • Bike Lanes and Paths

WHAT IT SAYS: A motorist must yield the right of way to a bicyclist riding in a bike lane or bike path except:

  • When entering or exiting an alley or driveway;
  • When operating or parking a disabled vehicle;
  • To avoid conflict with other traffic;
  • In the performance of official duties;
  • In compliance with the directions of a police officer; or
  • In an emergency.

NRS 484B.270

WHAT IT MEANS: You have the right of way in a bike lane or on a bike path but look out for right turning motorists and other special situations.

  • Vulnerable Roadway Users

WHAT IT SAYS: If a motorist collides with a bicyclist who is operating his bicycle in a lawful manner, he is subject to the additional penalties associated with reckless driving. NRS 484B.270

WHAT IT MEANS: A motorist may suffer additional penalties if he collides with you but it depends on how you are operating your bicycle. If you are doing everything right and within the law, a motorist could lose his license, pay a big fine or go to jail. If you are not within the law, for example riding on the wrong side of the street,, the motorist may get a traffic ticket or nothing at all.

  • Traffic Light Will Not Change

WHAT IT SAYS: If a bicyclist at a traffic signal, after complying with the requirement to stop, finds that the signal malfunctions and does not change, may proceed through the intersection after waiting through 2 signal cycles and yielding to pedestrians and motorists provided it is reasonably safe to do so.        NRS 484B.307

WHAT IT MEANS: This law is called the “Dead Red Law” and was originally proposed by motorcyclists who also have the problem of failing to trigger the traffic signal. Motorcyclists and bicyclists can ride through a red light after making sure that it is not going to change, yielding to motorists and pedestrians and only when it is safe to do so.

  • Carrying a package

WHAT IT SYS: .No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars. NRS484B.780

WHAT IT MEANS: Bring a backpack if you are likely to be carrying something on this trip. A bike rack and some bungee cords are also an easy way to carry objects on your bike.


In addition to the Nevada Revised Statutes, Reno has some specific laws for sidewalk riding:

  1. It is unlawful for any person to operate a bicycle upon any sidewalk within the central business district or any prohibited-signed roadway.
  2. Any person riding a bicycle on a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing pedestrians. Sec. 6.18.110
  3. Bicycles may be walked subject to all provisions of law applicable to pedestrians. Sec. 6.18.170

WHAT IT MEANS: Do not ride on the sidewalk in downtown Reno. Be courteous to pedestrians. To get the rights of a pedestrian, you must dismount and walk your bike. If you are riding in the crosswalk from curb to curb, you do not have the same rights as a pedestrian in a crosswalk.


In addition to the Nevada Revised Statutes, Sparks has 2 special municipal regulations:

Mandatory side path law

Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders proceeding at a speed less than the normal speed of vehicular traffic shall use such path and not the roadway. Section 10.72.110

Sidewalk Riding

No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district.

No person fifteen years of age or older shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in any district. Section 10.72.130

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  1. […] bike riders must follow local traffic laws in addition to these laws from Washoe County, the city of Reno and Nevada Department of Motor […]

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