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Can Seattle's bicyclists ride at night?

Bicycles are a popular choice for many of Seattle's residents. Not only can they be fun, but they provide good exercise and are cheap to maintain. Bicycles, however, like many pedestrians can be put at risk when other drivers do not pay attention to the roadways. Bikes are smaller and can be easy for distracted drivers to miss. In these situations, bicycle accidents can easily lead to serious injury or death since bikes do not provide the same amount of protection that larger vehicles can.

Washington's bicyclists may wonder what they can do to prevent these types of injuries and accidents. In many cases, unfortunately, bikers are doing everything right and drivers are at fault. However, Washington does have laws concerning bicyclists and their behavior which are aimed at keeping them safe. Not following these rules could lead to legal complications following a bicycle accident.

In particular, section 46.61.775(1) of the Washington code defines what is necessary for bikers to have on their bicycles in order to safely and legally ride at night. Under that section, bikers who are riding in hours of darkness -- one half-hour after sunset to one half-hour before sunrise -- must use a front lamp on their bike. This lamp must emit white light and be visible for at least 500 feet.

On the back of the bike, section 46.61.780(1) required the biker to use a red reflector or flashing light-emitting diode taillight. If using a reflector, it must be seen from 600 feet when in front of a car's low beam headlights. A diode must be visible for 500 feet.

This blog post cannot provide all the rules required by law enforcement in order to keep people safe, therefore it cannot provide specific legal advice about who may be at fault following an accident. However, an attorney could provide more details in particular situations.

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