Passing laws: South Carolina requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance when passing the bicycle.
Helmet law: There is no state law in South Carolina that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
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. South Carolina does not have any specific vulnerable laws, but those of laws that protect bicyclist.
South Carolina law requires that:
- It is unlawful to harass, taunt, or maliciously throw an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle and a person who commits the above offense is guilty of a misdemeanor and if convicted. The offender must be fined at least $250.00 or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.
- Every driver of a vehicle shall be careful and use due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or bicyclist and shall give audible signals when necessary.
Distracted Driving Laws: South Carolina has no restrictions at this time regarding the use of cell phones in a motor vehicle.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist (Where to Ride): Generally speaking South Carolina law requires bicyclists to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. In addition, South Carolina provides that a bicyclist:
- May, but is not required to, ride on the shoulder of the roadway;
- May ride in a lane other than the right hand lane if only one lane is available that permits the bicyclist to continue on his or her intended route; and
- Must exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
Sidewalk Riding: There is no law in South Carolina that either permits or prohibits the use of a bicycle on a sidewalk. However, there is a law that requires that whenever a bicycle lane is provided adjacent to a roadway, operators of:
- Motor vehicles may not block the lane to oncoming bicycle traffic and shall yield to a bicyclist in the bicycle lane before entering or crossing the lane; and
- Bicycles are required to ride in the bicycle lane except when necessary to pass another person riding a bicycle or to avoid an obstruction in the bicycle lane. However, bicycles may ride on the roadway when there is only an adjacent recreational bicycle path instead of a bicycle lane.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: Obviously, it is never a good idea to drive any vehicle under the influence of alcohol However, in South Carolina bicycles are not defined as motor vehicles. South Carolina’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to motor vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bicyclists. However bicycles should not be operated while under the influence.
Stop Sign Laws: When a bicyclist approaches a traffic control signal, he/she may proceed through the intersection on a steady red light only if the bicyclist:
- Comes to a complete full stop at the intersection for 2 minutes; and
- While exercising due care, treats the traffic control device as a stop sign, and determines it safe to proceed.
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