Bicycle Laws in Rhode Island ExplainedFamiliarizing yourself with Rhode Island’s bicycle laws is essential if you ride a bicycle in the state. Obeying the law isn’t just about avoiding legal penalties—it’s about staying safe on the road.

It’s worth noting that you could be hurt in a bicycle wreck someone else causes, even if you do everything possible to ride safely. Whether you were obeying the law at the time of the crash could affect your case if you decide to pursue compensation for your injuries.

Bicycle Helmet Laws in Rhode Island

Rhode Island law requires anyone under 16 to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle on any public road, path, or other public right of way in Rhode Island. The law applies to bicycle operators and passengers.

A helmet must meet the following qualifications for a bicycle rider to properly obey this bicycle safety law:

  • A helmet must fit a rider’s head.
  • A helmet must be secured with straps whenever the bicycle is in operation.
  • A helmet must conform to United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards for bicycle helmets. When purchasing a helmet, a bicyclist should check for an indication on the packaging or the helmet confirming that it meets these standards.

Bicycle Accident Claims and Helmet Regulations in Rhode Island

Wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle in Rhode Island is wise, even when the law doesn’t require it. A helmet can offer significant protection in the event of a crash.

In Rhode Island, you can file an insurance claim when someone carelessly or maliciously causes a bicycle wreck that injures you. You may also file a lawsuit if the party responsible for your injuries doesn’t have insurance or their insurer won’t offer a fair settlement.

Filing a claim or lawsuit is a way to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and similar losses after a crash. Under Rhode Island’s comparative negligence statute, your compensation can depend on whether you contributed to your injuries.

For example, maybe an insurer or defendant can show that your carelessness resulted in your injuries being more severe than they otherwise would have been. If so, the compensation you may be entitled to receive could be less than it would have been if another party was entirely responsible for your injuries.

The impact of helmet use on injury claims should technically be minimal. The law states that failure to wear a helmet, even when doing so is a legal requirement, should not “be considered as contributory or comparative negligence.” In addition, a defendant couldn’t introduce the fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet as evidence during a trial.

How Not Wearing a Helmet Affects Your Case After a Bicycle Crash in Rhode Island

The fact that failure to wear a helmet shouldn’t affect your compensation doesn’t necessarily mean a claims adjuster won’t try to bring this fact up during negotiations. If you’re unfamiliar with the law, they may convince you to settle your claim for less than it’s worth by suggesting you’re at least partially to blame for the severity of your injuries. Being aware of an insurance adjuster’s possible use of these tactics during negotiations can help you protect the value of your claim.

However, violating another law could theoretically affect your compensation. Factors such as the specific law you violate and the extent to which this violation plays a role in your injuries will influence whether breaking a safety law limits how much compensation you can receive after a collision.

Additional Bicycle Laws in Rhode Island to Be Aware Of

Bicycle Laws in Rhode Island ExplainedRhode Island bicycle laws serve to keep bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians safe on shared public roads and paths. Additional safety laws to remember when riding a bicycle in Rhode Island include:

  • It is unlawful to ride a bicycle carrying more passengers than the bicycle is designed to carry. This prohibition may not apply when a passenger is six or younger, and they are riding in a rear-mounted carrier or trailer that conforms to all applicable regulations.
  • A bicyclist cannot cling to a vehicle or otherwise attach themselves to any other vehicle on the road. For example, a bicyclist can’t grab the back of a pickup truck so that the vehicle drags them with it.
  • Bicyclists must attempt to ride as close to the right of the road as possible. They must exercise proper care when passing vehicles. Bicyclists cannot ride more than two abreast except on roadways set aside exclusively for bicycles.
  • Bicyclists can’t carry packages, bundles, or other items that may prevent them from using both hands to steer when operating a bicycle.
  • A bicycle must have a front lamp that emits a white light visible from at least 500 feet away at night.
  • A bicycle needs a red rear reflector visible from at least 600 feet when a driver is using their lower beams. A bicycle may also have a rear lamp emitting a red light that a driver can see from at least 500 feet, although this is not a requirement.
  • It is unlawful to sell a bicycle or new bike pedals if the pedals don’t have proper pedal reflectors that can be seen from a distance of at least 200 feet in dark conditions.
  • Bicyclists must indicate turns.
  • Bicycle racing on highways is illegal except during authorized events.
  • Bicyclists may use sidewalks except when traffic signals indicate doing so is unlawful.

Individual towns and counties might also establish bicycle safety regulations. Familiarize yourself with the laws in any area where you ride a bike to avoid penalties and stay safe.

Contact a Providence, Rhode Island, Bicycle Accident Lawyer

The nuances of bicycle laws in Rhode Island can influence every aspect of your case, from the initial claim to the final payout. That’s one of many reasons it’s wise to enlist the help of a legal professional when seeking compensation after a bicycle wreck in Rhode Island.

At Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini, Accident & Injury Lawyers, Ltd., a Providence, Rhode Island, bicycle accident lawyer can pursue compensation on your behalf. With dedicated representation from our bicycle accident lawyers in Providence, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing a qualified attorney is handling your case. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us today at (401) 751-8855 for a free case review.


Written By: Ronald J. Resmini

Last Updated : Thursday, April 25, 2024