Do Cyclists Need To Stop For Stop Signs in Phoenix?

If you are one of the many Arizona residents who bicycle to work or for leisure in Phoenix, you know getting around town can be challenging. Over 700 bicycle accidents occurred in Maricopa County in a recent year, representing nearly 70% of all Arizona bike crashes. While the causes of these accidents vary, cyclists failing to follow the rules of the road is one of them.

The requirement to follow traffic laws applies to both motorists and cyclists. However, the laws applicable to each group are not necessarily identical. This can cause confusion on the road, especially when it comes to intersections and traffic signs. One of the most common questions Arizona road users have is whether bicyclists need to obey stop signs.

Bicycles Are Not Considered Vehicles

In some states, bicyclists are bound to the same laws that apply to motor vehicle drivers. Arizona is not one of them. In fact, the state’s definition of a “vehicle” specifically excludes those devices that are powered by human power alone, like bicycles. Because the statutory definition of “motor vehicle” encompasses “vehicles,” a bicycle is not a motor vehicle.

Taken alone, this means that any law that governs drivers of motor vehicles may not apply to bicyclists. Unless an Arizona traffic law specifically encompasses bicycles, bicyclists do not have to follow that law.

Applicability of Arizona Traffic Laws To Bicyclists

Recognizing the potential confusion that could arise if statutes applied to some road users but not others, Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) Section 28-812 makes most traffic laws apply to bicyclists as well. Specifically, the duties that apply to vehicle drivers also apply to bicyclists using the road or an adjoining shoulder.

Therefore, there are three potential situations under which a bicyclist would not have to follow a traffic law:

  • The bicyclist is not riding on a roadway or an adjoining shoulder
  • The law is not one that generally applies to drivers of vehicles
  • By its own terms, the law cannot apply to a bicyclist

The nature of a law can make it inapplicable to cyclists. For example, bicycles do not have windshields. As a result, ARS Section 28-959.01, which prohibits applying materials to windshields, does not affect bicycles.

Bicyclists Must Obey Stop Signs Under Certain Conditions

The Arizona statute requiring drivers to stop for stop signs does apply to both motor vehicles and bicycles in certain situations. Therefore, bicyclists who see a stop sign must obey it if they are riding on the road or an adjoining shoulder. In this case, they would follow the stop sign and related right-of-way rules as if they were a vehicle.

However, bicyclists would not have to obey the stop sign if they were not riding on the road or an adjoining shoulder. For instance, suppose that a bicyclist was traveling along a bicycle-only path that ran adjacent to a nearby road. Since this path is not a roadway or adjoining shoulder, the bicyclist would not have to obey stop signs that are clearly meant to apply to motorists.

Bicycles May Not Be Vehicles, But Cyclists Must Follow the Law

Even though a bicyclist may not be the driver of a vehicle under Arizona law, both motorists and cyclists must generally follow the same rules while on the road. This includes stopping for stop signs that they encounter during their travels. Only when the bicyclist is not using the road or any adjoining shoulder can they safely and legally ignore a stop sign.

Contact the Arizona Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you were injured in a bicycle accident in Phoenix, AZ, and need legal help, contact our Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case review today.

Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers

1221 E Osborn Rd. Suite 201
Phoenix, AZ 85014
(602) 595-5559