South Carolina Laws on Biking & Walking
The PCC has lobbied for many of these South Carolina laws.
SOUTH CAROLINA BICYCLE LAWS—ARTICLE 27
The fundamentals of bicycle law are simple, but the details are complex. Below are the sections within South Carolina law that impact bicycle users. You will also find answers to commonly asked questions here. If in doubt or with specific questions about South Carolina bicycle laws, don't hesitate to contact Peter Wilborn of Bikelaw. He is a full-time bicycle attorney and available to discuss South Carolina bicycle laws. You can read Peter's review here of how the 2008 reform to the South Carolina bicycle laws changed bicycling in South Carolina.
SECTION 56-5-3410. This section reviews how these laws apply to bicyclists.
The provisions of this article are applicable to bicycles whenever a bicycle is operated upon any highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, subject to those exceptions stated in this article.
SECTION 56-5-3420. This reviews how bicycles should generally be used on a roadway.
A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway must be granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special provisions in this article and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.
SECTION 56-5-3425. This section defines bicycle lanes and how they are intended to be used.
(A) For purposes of this section, “bicycle lane” means a portion of the roadway or a paved lane separated from the roadway that has been designated by striping, pavement markings, and signage for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists.
(B) Whenever a bicycle lane has been provided adjacent to a roadway, operators of:
(1) motor vehicles may not block the bicycle lane to oncoming bicycle traffic and shall yield to a bicyclist in the bicycle lane before entering or crossing the lane; and
(2) 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, bicyclists may ride on the roadway when there is only an adjacent recreational bicycle path available instead of a bicycle lane.
SECTION 56-5-3430. This section reviews where on a roadway a bicyclist should ride.
(A) Except as provided in subsection (B), every bicyclist operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable. A bicyclist may, but is not required to, ride on the shoulder of the roadway in order to comply with the requirements of this subsection.
(B) A bicyclist 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 intended route.
(C) When operating a bicycle upon a roadway, a bicyclist must exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
(D) Bicyclists riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
SECTION 56-5-3435. This states that a car must operate at a safe distance from the bicyclist.
A driver of a motor vehicle must at all times maintain a safe operating distance between the motor vehicle and a bicycle.
SECTION 56-5-3440. This section describes how bicycles should be ridden and used.
A bicyclist propelling a bicycle may not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle. No bicycle may be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
SECTION 56-5-3445. This section, also new, makes the harassing or throwing of an object at person riding bicycle unlawful.
It is unlawful to harass, taunt, or maliciously throw an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.
SECTION 56-5-3450. This prohibits bicyclists from clinging to a car.
A person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle may not attach it or them or himself to a vehicle upon a roadway.
SECTION 56-5-3460. This prohibits the carrying of belongings on a bike.
A bicyclist operating a bicycle may not carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents the rider from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars.
SECTION 56-5-3470. This section describes lights and reflector use on bicycle.
A bicycle when in use at nighttime must be equipped with a lamp on the front which must emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear that must be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of the lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
SECTION 56-5-3480. This section describes the use of hand signals.
(A)(1) A bicyclist shall indicate a right turn by extending the left arm upward, by raising the left arm to the square, or by extending the right arm horizontally to the right.
(2) A bicyclist shall indicate a left turn by extending the left arm horizontally.
(3) A bicyclist shall indicate stopping or decreasing speed by extending the left arm or the right arm downward.
(B) A bicyclist is not required to give signals provided for in subsection (A) continuously if the hand or arm is needed to control the bicycle.
(C) A violation of this section is punishable by a fine of twenty-five dollars.
SECTION 56-5-3490. This section describes the use of a brake on a bike.
A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that will enable the bicyclist to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. A violation of this section is punishable by a fine of twenty-five dollars.
SECTION 56-5-3500. This section further describes the violation of these articles and penalties.
(A) Except as otherwise provided, in the absence of another violation being cited, a violation of this article by the driver of a motor vehicle is subject to a civil fine of up to one hundred dollars unless a bicyclist is injured as a result of the violation.
(B) In the absence of another violation being cited, a person driving a motor vehicle who violates a provision of this article and the violation is the proximate cause of a:
(1) minor injury to a bicyclist, must be assessed a civil fine of up to five hundred dollars; or
(2) great bodily injury, as defined in Section 56-5-2945, to a bicyclist, must be assessed a civil fine of not more than one thousand dollars.
SECTION 56-5-3515. This section makes considerations for authorized police patrol bicycles.
(A) An authorized police patrol bicycle used as a part of a police bicycle patrol may exercise the privileges of an emergency vehicle provided in Section 56-5-760.
(B) An authorized police patrol bicycle may be equipped with a siren or the officer may utilize a whistle in the performance of his duties, or both.
(C) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 56-5-760(C), an authorized police patrol bicycle acting as an emergency vehicle is entitled to the exemptions of an authorized emergency vehicle if it makes use of an audible signal meeting the requirements of Section 56-5-4970 or visual signals meeting the requirements of Section 56-5-4700.
SECTION 56-5-3520 This section defines the rights and duties of e-bikes.
Bicyclists operating bicycles with helper motors, as defined in Section 56-1-10 [below], are subject to all statutory provisions applicable to bicyclists, as provided in Section 56-5-3420.
SECTION 56-1-10 (29) This section defines an e-bike.
Electric-assist bicycles" and "bicycles with helper motors" means low-speed electrically assisted bicycles with two or three wheels, each having fully operable pedals and an electric motor of no more than 750 watts, or one horsepower, and a top motor-powered speed of less than 20 miles an hour when operated by a rider weighing 175 pounds on a paved level surface, that meet the requirements of the Federal Consumer Product Code provided in 16 C.F.R., Part 1512, and that operate in a manner such that the electric motor disengages or ceases to function when their brakes are applied or the rider stops pedaling. Manufacturers and distributors of electric-assist bicycles shall apply a label that is affixed permanently, in a prominent location, to each electric-assist bicycle, indicating its wattage and maximum electrically assisted speed. The owner or user of an electric-assist bicycle shall not remove or tamper with the label. If a user tampers with or modifies an electric-assist bicycle, changing the speed capability, he must replace the label indicating the vehicle's wattage or horsepower. Electric-assist bicycles and bicycles with helper motors are not mopeds.
SOUTH CAROLINA PEDESTRIAN LAWS - ARTICLE 25 and others
SECTION 56-5-390. This section defines a pedestrian.
Any person afoot is a "pedestrian."
SECTION 56-5-510. This section defines a safety zone as for pedestrians.
A "safety zone" is an area or space officially set apart within a roadway for the exclusive use of pedestrians and which is protected or is so marked or indicated by adequate signs as to be plainly visible at all times while set apart as a safety zone.
SECTION 56-5-970. This section defines a Traffic-control signal legend.
Whenever traffic is controlled by traffic-control signals exhibiting different colored lights or colored lighted arrows, successively one at a time or in combination, only the colors, green, red, and yellow, shall be used except for special pedestrian signals carrying a word legend.
SECTION 56-5-1520. This section prescribes reduced speed for vehicles approaching pedestrians.
(F) The driver of a vehicle shall drive, consistent with the requirements of subsection (A), at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, approaching a hillcrest, when traveling upon any narrow bridge, narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.
SECTION 56-5-2735. This section prohibits motor vehicles from blocking a crosswalk for pedestrians.
(A) Notwithstanding the indication of a traffic signal to proceed, no driver shall enter an intersection or a marked crosswalk or drive onto a railroad grade crossing unless there is sufficient space on the other side of the intersection, crosswalk, or railroad grade crossing to accommodate the vehicle the driver is operating without obstructing the passage of other vehicles, pedestrians, or railroad trains.
SECTION 56-5-3110. This section prescribes pedestrian obedience to traffic-control devices and traffic regulations.
(a) A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device specifically applicable to him unless otherwise directed by a police officer.
(b) Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic and pedestrian-control signals as provided in Sections 56-5-970 and 56-5-990.
(c) At all other places pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in this chapter.
SECTION 56-5-3120. This section enables local regulations.
Local authorities may by ordinance require that pedestrians shall strictly comply with the directions of any official traffic-control signal and may by ordinance prohibit pedestrians from crossing any roadway in a business district or any designated highways except in a crosswalk.
SECTION 56-5-3130. This section prescribes the pedestrians' right-of-way in crosswalks.
(a) When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to yield to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
(b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(c) Subsection (a) shall not apply under the conditions stated in subsection (b) of Section 56-5-3150.
(d) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.
SECTION 56-5-3140. This section prescribes how pedestrians shall travel in crosswalks.
Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable, upon the right half of crosswalks.
SECTION 56-5-3150. This section prescribes pedestrian rights outside of crosswalks.
(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
(d) No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices and when authorized to cross diagonally pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.
SECTION 56-5-3160. This section prescribes pedestrian behavior on highways.
(a) Where a sidewalk is provided and its use is practicable, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.
(b) Where a sidewalk is not available any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk only on a shoulder as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.
(c) Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway and, if on a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.
(d) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
SECTION 56-5-3170. This section prohibits pedestrians on freeways.
(A) No person as a pedestrian, unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer, shall occupy any space within the limits of the roadway and shoulder of the main facility of a freeway, except to perform public works or official duties, as a result of an emergency caused by an accident or breakdown of a motor vehicle, or to obtain assistance.
The prohibitions imposed by this subsection on the use of freeways do not apply to service roads alongside the highways.
(B) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days.
SECTION 56-5-3180. This section prohibits hitchhiking.
(a) No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride.
(b) Except when authorized by the provisions of Section 5-27-910, no person shall stand on a highway for the purpose of soliciting employment, business, or contributions from the occupant of any vehicle.
(c) No person may stand on or in proximity to a street or highway for the purpose of soliciting the watching or guarding of any vehicle while parked or about to be parked on a street or highway.
SECTION 56-5-3190. This section prescribes the use of canes for pedestrians.
It is unlawful for any person, unless totally or partially blind or otherwise incapacitated, while on any public street or highway to carry in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red.
SECTION 56-5-3200. This section prescribes vehicle behavior for pedestrians guided by dog or raising cane.
Whenever a pedestrian is crossing or attempting to cross a public street or highway, guided by a guide dog or carrying in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red, the driver of every vehicle approaching the intersection or place where such pedestrian is attempting to cross shall bring his vehicle to a full stop before arriving at such intersection or place of crossing and before proceeding shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring such pedestrian.
SECTION 56-5-3210. This section prescribes penalties for violating Sections 56-5-2720, 56-5-3190, or 56-5-3200.
A person who violates any of the provisions of Sections 56-5-3190, 56-5-3200, or 56-5-2720 is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars or imprisonment for not exceeding ten days.
SECTION 56-5-3220. This section prescribes the effect of failure of incapacitated person to carry walking stick or cane, or to be guided by dog.
Nothing contained in Sections 56-5-3190 and 56-5-3200 shall be construed to deprive any totally or partially blind or otherwise incapacitated person not carrying such a cane or walking stick or not being guided by a dog of the rights and privileges conferred by law upon pedestrians crossing streets or highways, nor shall the failure of such totally or partially blind or otherwise incapacitated person to carry a cane or walking stick or to be guided by a guide dog upon the streets, highways, or sidewalks of this State to be held to constitute or be evidence of contributory negligence.
SECTION 56-5-3230. This section prescribes the duty of drivers to exercise due care to pedestrians (and bicyclists).
Notwithstanding other provisions of any local ordinance, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and shall give an audible signal when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.
SECTION 56-5-3240. This section prohibits driving through safety zones.
No vehicle shall at any time be driven through or within a safety zone.
SECTION 56-5-3250. This section prescribes the right-of-way for pedestrians on sidewalks.
The driver of a vehicle crossing a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and all other traffic on the sidewalk.
SECTION 56-5-3260. This section prescribes the duty of pedestrians to yield to authorized emergency vehicles.
(a) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of an audible signal meeting the requirements of Section 56-5-4970 and visual signals meeting the requirements of Section 56-5-4700, or of a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal only, every pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to the authorized emergency vehicle.
(b) This section shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway nor from the duty to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian.
SECTION 56-5-3270. This section prescribes the duties of pedestrians under influence of alcohol or drugs.
A pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol, or any drug, to a degree which renders himself a hazard shall not walk or be upon a highway except a sidewalk.
SECTION 56-5-3280. This section prescribes pedestrian behavior at bridge and railroad signals.
(a) No pedestrian shall enter or remain upon any bridge or approach thereto beyond the bridge signal, gate or barrier after a bridge operation signal indication has been given.
(b) No pedestrian shall pass through, around, over or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad grade crossing or bridge while such gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed.