Passing laws: New Hampshire 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 at 30 mph or less. The motor vehicle must pass with an additional foot of clearance for every 10 mph over 30 mph. For example, a motor vehicle travelling at 50 mph, would have to leave at least 5 feet of space when passing a bicycle
Helmet law: New Hampshire requires that the operator or passenger of a bicycle under 16 years of age be required to wear a helmet.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws, in essence, require the vehicle least at risk to yield to the vehicle most at risk. For example, a motor vehicle would have to yield to a bicycle and a bicycle would have to yield to a pedestrian. New Hampshire does not have any specific vulnerable 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 exists. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In New Hampshire there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws:
- A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to read or send a text message;
- A person shall not be able to nor watch a video broadcast while operating a motor
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking New Hampshire 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; or
- When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
Sidewalk Riding: The general rule in New Hampshire is that you are not permitted to ride on sidewalks.
New Hampshire does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: In New Hampshire, bicycles are defined as vehicles. New Hampshire’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 apply to bicyclists.
Stop Sign Laws: In New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links