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Bicycling provides recreation and exercise, but a collision with a motor vehicle can result in serious injury or disability. According to data from the Alabama Department of Public Safety, bike accidents cause an average of 185 significant injuries and nine fatalities each year.

Before taking to the road on two wheels, brush up on traffic laws for Alabama bike riders.

Helmet use

While everyone should wear a helmet to prevent traumatic brain injury, state law mandates helmet use only for those ages 16 and younger. Helmets should fit tightly but comfortably and have a secure chin strap. Look for models with approval from either the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Prohibited actions

The law does not permit cyclists to carry packages that require removal of both hands from the bike’s handlebars. You may not ride with an extra person on your bike unless it has a designated passenger seat. You may not ride a bike without a permanent seat. The law also prohibits riding a bike that you have attached to another vehicle.

Distracted and drunk driving

The same penalties for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol apply to operating a bike. You can receive DUI charges for drinking and biking. Alabama also prohibits using a mobile device while riding your bike in accordance with the state’s distracted driving laws.

Where to ride

Cyclists may not ride on the sidewalk. They must use a designated bike path wherever a path is available. On roads without a path, ride as far to the right as possible in the same direction as car traffic. If you are riding with a buddy, you can ride side by side, but may not travel with more than two people next to one another.

Whenever possible, avoid riding your bike at night to prevent a serious accident. If you do ride after dark, you must have front lights and rear reflectors to ensure your visibility.