Passing laws: Vermont requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance. A vehicle may cross the center line if necessary to create safe passing buffer, so long as it is safe to do so.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Vermont that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
Vulnerable User 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. Vermont does not have any specific vulnerable laws, but those of laws that protect bicyclist.
Vermont law requires that:
- A motorist use due care while passing a bicycle, including providing a safe amount of clearance;
- A motorist not, in a careless or imprudent manner, approach, pass, or maintain speed unnecessarily close to a bicyclist; and not throw an object or substance at bicyclist.
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 Vermont there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws:
- It is unlawful for a motor vehicle operator to text while operating the vehicle; and
- No motorist under the age of 18 shall use any electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.
Where to Ride – Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking Vermont law requires the bicyclist 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: Vermont does not have a statute that either prohibits or permits the use of a bicycle on a sidewalk. There is no law that requires a bicyclist to use a sidewalk or bike path.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: In Vermont, bicycles are defined as vehicles. Vermont’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 directly apply to bicyclists.
Stop Sign Laws: In Vermont 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 Vermont does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Door Laws: Vermont requires that no person open their door on the side nearest to moving traffic unless it is safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of traffic. In addition, the door can only be open for the amount of time it takes to load and unload passengers.
Important Resources and Links