New New Hampshire bicycle laws

On May 7, 2008. the New Hampshire General Court (what they call the legislature in The Granite State) passed House Bill 1203, “An Act Relative to Bicycles” which generally improves conditions for cyclists in the state of New Hampshire. The new law will take effect on January 1, 2009. Among the provisions of this new state law:

  • The New Hampshire Department of Transportation will be required to design rumble strips, drain grates, and other road surfaces with bicyclists in mind, although the law has a ridiculous “get out of jail free” card for the DoT by stating that the design standards will be “discretionary” and the DoT “shall not be held liable” for failure to design to these standards.
  • Three foot passing laws are all the rage right now, but New Hampshire’s three foot law has an interesting twist: an additional foot of clearance is required for every 10 mph over 30 mph that the passing vehicle is traveling.
  • New Hampshire added the standard exceptions to the “as far as practicable” rule — you can move away from the curb to avoid hazards, when overtaking another vehicle, when preparing to make a left turn, and to get out of a right turn lane when going straight.
  • Finally, we have what looks like the safety compromise for those Bike Ninjas in our midst: a cyclist must wear at least one item of reflective outwear such as a reflective vest, jacket, or helmet strip while riding at night. No standard is stipulated for what consitutes “reflective.” Technically, my black t-shirts reflect light and meet the definition of “reflective outerwear,” but I don’t think that’s what the lawmakers have in mind.

    Seen on various bike mailing lists today, but thanks to Keefer Madness for the handy dandy direct link to the text of the bill.

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    0 thoughts on “New New Hampshire bicycle laws”

    1. bikesgonewild says:

      …tim & fritz…this is a test post also…last few times i’ve posted, the computer got glitchy…thought it had developed ethical standards…

    2. bikesgonewild says:

      …nope, all is well & if it will accept me, it will accept anybody…

      …just found that i was encouraged in reading about new hampshire’s law changes which seem like a step in the right direction…also the news regarding idaho’s stoplight & stop sign policy for cyclist’s is a positive step, as long as idaho cyclists use it intelligently so that it’s not rescinded…i’d wish that we all might have that opportunity but i find it hard to believe that highly populated areas would ever adopt a similar policy…

      …anyway, education is the one buzzword you don’t hear enough from the political side of things…all the law changes in the world won’t mean much if the general driving population maintains their old habits…

    3. MikeOnBike says:

      The “reflective outerwear” bit might be good advice as a supplement to the normal lights and reflectors. But making it mandatory sets up a legal trap for cyclists.

    4. Ghost Rider says:

      I totally agree with Bikesgonewild’s assessment — there is NOT enough emphasis on actually educating motorists (or bicyclists, for that matter) — so those laws really won’t make much of a difference!

      How about some enforcement of said laws, too — since Florida passed their “three foot rule”, I sure haven’t heard about or seen anyone being pulled over and ticketed for violating it (and I see people violating it all day, every day on my commutes to and from work!).

    5. Siouxgeonz says:

      Let’s hope there’s work being done at the education level, too. The reflective clothing sounds like one of those “somebody’s pet issue” deals that does no harm… but we can only hope that the whole chunk of law isn’t falling into that category. The loophole makes that extremely possible… ’round here, if it’s discretionary, it doesn’t happen. Our fearless governor eviscerated some of our better efforts by changing “will” to “may,” but happily the man has utterly annoyed so many people that his evisceration was overriden 🙂

    6. Siouxgeonz says:

      … oh, and I’ve *always* gotten an error message after posting, tho’ now it seems to give a clue. Something about “april” being invalid – so perhaps a date needs to be reset.

    7. xcskimt (robert) says:

      Good Job New Hampshire.

      Wisconsin has these laws on the books for awhile now. The Idaho laws are interesting. I hope Wisconsin decides to adopt that style of law.

      It would be nice to see on the driver’s license test a few more questions about bike laws.

    8. bikesgonewild says:

      …suggestion…go to san francisco chronicle’s web-site… scroll down to the story titled “who had the green light ?”…or just go to the search box for info on the latest sf cycling death…now, read the letters section !!!…

      …despite encouraging new laws, despite whatever educational programs are in place, read what a cross section of on-line “liberal left coast” people think about the cycling situation…

      …you be the judge as to how people, even “liberal” people judge us…


    9. xcskimt (robert) says:

      I read some of the comments at There was one person with some odd logic (non-logic). This is where education is needed and to have people who normally drive take a bike and feel the greatness of commuting and some of the abuses we take on occassion. Smile and wave. Happy happy Joy Joy

    10. I disagree with the above remark. I think in these tough economic times we need to rethink our old ways of thinking. For more information visit

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