Passing laws: Maine requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance, not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle.
Helmet law: Maine requires the passenger and operator of a bicycle under the age of 16 to wear a helmet.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws are designed to protect the more vulnerable users of the public roads. Maine has not enacted any vulnerable user laws.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public road way. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exist. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In Maine there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws. There will be links at the end of this article to the specific laws in full detail.
- A person under the age of 18 years may not drive a vehicle on a roadway while using a wireless phone;
- An operator of a motor vehicle may be convicted of failure to maintain control of their vehicle if he/she is found to be engaged in activity:
- That is not necessary to the operation of the vehicle;
- That actually impairs or would be reasonable assumed to impair the safe operation of the vehicle; and
- That violates other traffic laws or is engaged in activity while in an accident.
- An operator of a vehicle may not be engaged in texting.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking, Maine law requires bicyclists to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions such as riding in a lane that is too narrow; and
- When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
Sidewalk Riding: There is no law that authorizes or permits bicycles to ride on the sidewalk. Maine does not require a cyclist to use any lane other than the normal vehicle traffic lane. It appears that in Maine you should be able to choose where you ride.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: Obviously, it is never a good idea to drive any vehicle under the influence of alcohol However, in Maine, bicycles are not defined as vehicles. Maine’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bicyclists. However bicycles should not be operated while under the influence.
Stop Sign Laws: In Maine bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and Maine does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links