District of Columbia - Municipal Regulations




1200 Bicycles and Motorized Bicycles: General Provisions

1201 Safe Operation of Bicycles, and Motorized Bicycles

1202 Mandatory Registration of Bicycles

1203 Bicycle Registration Procedures

1204 Bicycle Safety Equipment

1205 Approval and Sale of Bicycle Safety Equipment

1206 Transporting Bicycles

1207 Sale and Rental of Bicycles

1208 Bicycle Racks

1209 Parking Bicycles on Public Space

1210 Impounding of Bicycles

1211 Operation of Miscellaneous Vehicles

Off-Street Bicycle Parking Requirements


1200.1 This chapter shall apply to all bicycles operated upon all public space in the District of Columbia.

1200.2 No person may own or operate a bicycle in the District except in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

1200.3 Operators of bicycles have the same rights as do operators of other vehicles and in the additional rights granted by this chapter.

1200.4 No operator’s permit shall be required for the operation of a bicycle.

1200.5 No person shall be subject to the loss or suspension of his or her motor vehicle operator’s permit for violation of any regulation under this chapter.

1200.6 No points shall accrue toward the loss of or suspension of a motor vehicle operator’s permit by reason of a violation committed while operating a bicycle or sidewalk bicycle.

1200.7 Each bicycle operated in the District shall be registered as provided by this chapter within fourteen (14) days of its acquisition or of its being brought into the District; Provided, that a non-resident owner who has registered his or her bicycle for the current registration period under the laws of another jurisdiction is exempt from this provision.

1200.8 No person, except for impoundment by the Mayor, shall tamper with any bicycle which has been locked, placed in a rack, or otherwise secured. [MISDEMEANOR: See S1110]

1200.9 No person shall remove from a place of storage, possess, convey, transfer, buy, sell, lend, or rent any bicycle except as provided in this chapter.

1200.10 No motorized bicycle shall be operated upon any public space in the District by any person who is less than sixteen (16) years old.


1201.1 Every person who propels a vehicle by human power or who rides a bicycle on a highway shall have the same duties as any other vehicle operator under this title, except as otherwise expressly provided in this chapter, and except for those duties imposed by this title which, by their nature or wording, can have no reasonable application to a bicycle operator.


  1. A person operating a bicycle shall comply with subsection 2201.1 of this title requiring drivers to be on the right half of the roadway and shall not operate on the left facing traffic coming from the opposite direction except when authorized by that section.

  2. Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this subsection and in subsection 2202.9 of this title, any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall travel as closely as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, or as closely as practicable to the left-hand curb or edge of the roadway when on a one-way street.

  3. Any person operating a bicycle may move away from the positions described in subsection (b) as necessary under any of the following situations:

    1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or other vehicle proceeding in the same direction;

    2. When preparing for a turn;

    3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parking or moving vehicles, vehicle doors that are or may open, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to remain near the curb or edge of the roadway. For purposes of this section, “a substandard width “lane” means a lane or other area on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. Any lane that is eleven 11 feet wide or less shall be presumed be a substandard width lane for purposes of this subsection;

    4. When necessary to comply with lane use restrictions; or

    5. When necessary for the bicyclist’s safety.


  1. A person operating a bicycle may overtake and pass another vehicle only under conditions which permit the movement to be made with safety.

  2. A person operating a bicycle may overtake and pass other vehicles on the left or right side, staying in the same lane as the overtaken vehicle, or changing to a different lane, or riding off the roadway, as necessary to pass with safety.

  3. If a lane is partially occupied by vehicles that are stopped, standing, or parked in that lane, a person operating a bicycle may ride in that or in the next adjacent lane used by vehicles proceedings in the same direction.

1201.4 No person shall operate or ride a bicycle other than upon or astride a regular seat attached to the bicycle.

1201.5 No person shall operate or ride on a bicycle with more persons on it at any one time than the bicycle is equipped to carry.

1201.6 No person shall operate or ride a bicycle while carrying any package, bundle, or article which prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand on the handle bars.

1201.7 Persons riding upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or part of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.

1201.8 No person shall operate a bicycle at a speed in excess of any posted limit or at a speed which is greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.

1201.9 There shall be no prohibition against any person riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk within the District, so long as the rider does not create a hazard; Provided, that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within the Central Business District except on those sidewalks expressly designated by Order of the Mayor, nor shall any person ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk in any area outside of the Central Business District if it is expressly prohibited by Order of the Mayor and appropriate signs to such effect are posted.

1201.10 Any person riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, and shall travel at a speed no greater than the posted speed limit of the adjacent roadway; Provided, that such speed is safe for the conditions then existing on the sidewalk.

1201.11 A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or while crossing a roadway in a crosswalk shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances, except that the bicyclist must yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk or crosswalk.

1201.12 The operator of a bicycle emerging from, or entering an alley, driveway, or building, shall, upon approaching a sidewalk or the sidewalk area extending across any alleyway, yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians approaching on said sidewalk area, and upon entering the roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on said roadway, to the extent necessary to safely enter the flow of traffic.

1201.13 No bicyclist shall suddenly leave a sidewalk and ride into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

1201.14 No person operating a bicycle shall sound any warning device at any intersection so as to interfere with the obedience to the instructions of official traffic control signals or to the directions of police traffic control officers.

1201.15 No person shall operate a bicycle except in obedience to the instructions of official traffic control signals, signs, and other control devices applicable to vehicles, unless otherwise directed by a police officer or other person authorized to direct and control traffic.

1201.16 No person riding upon a bicycle shall attach himself or herself or the device upon which he or she is riding to any vehicle upon a highway, roadway, or in an alley.

1201.17 All provisions of this section shall be equally applicable to the operation and riding of motorized bicycles, except as specifically provided in this chapter; provided, that nothing in this chapter shall be construed as to limit the applicability of Chapters 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7 with respect to the licensing, registration, inspection, or equipment of motorized bicycles or motorcycles.

1201.18 Except as otherwise permitted for a motor vehicle, no person shall operate a motorized bicycle on any sidewalk or any off-street bike path or bicycle route within the District. This prohibition shall apply even though the motorized bicycle is being operated solely by human power.

1201.19 A motorized bicycle may be operated on any part of a roadway designated for the use of bicycles


1202.1 No person shall operate a bicycle in the District unless the bicycle has been validly registered as provided by this chapter and bears a serial number, a valid registration tag, and valid registration plate, as provided by this chapter; or unless it is validly registered in another jurisdiction, when required by applicable law of such jurisdiction, and bears readily visible evidence of being registered.

1202.2 Subsection 1202.1 shall not apply to the operation of a bicycle within fourteen (14) days of its acquisition by its owner; provided, that the operator of the bicycle possesses written proof of the ownership and date of acquisition of the bicycle.

1202.3 Subsection 1202.1 shall not apply to the operation of a bicycle within fourteen (14) days of its being brought into the District except when being operated as a means of transportation from a place of employment on a route which requires the operation of the bicycle both outside and within the District of Columbia.

1202.4 Each bicycle registration under this chapter shall expire upon the destruction, sale, or transfer of the registered bicycle and the original owner thereof shall give notice to the Mayor.

1202.5 The registration of a bicycle may be renewed upon application of the subsequent owner.

1202.6 It shall be a violation of this chapter for any person to operate a bicycle registered under the provisions of this chapter without both a registration tag and a metal registration plate.

1202.7 No person who is not an owner or authorized agent of an owner shall present a bicycle for registration; provided, that a person under eighteen (18) years of age may register a bicycle even though it is technically “owned” by his parent or guardian.

1202.8 No person shall, for the purpose of securing or attempting to secure registration of a bicycle, provide or furnish false or misleading information concerning the bicycle or concerning the ownership of the bicycle.

1202.9 No person shall transfer, remove, deface, or mutilate any valid serial number, valid registration tag, or valid registration plate; or change or alter any valid bicycle registration card.


1203.1 Any person wishing to register a bicycle shall file an application for registration with the Director.

1203.2 Each application for a registration certificate shall be executed by the owner of the bicycle upon a form furnished by the Director and shall contain the following:

  1. The owner’s true and lawful given name, middle name or names, if any, and surname, and his residence address;

  2. A description of the bicycle, including make, color, type, and whether new or used; and

  3. The date of acquisition by applicant, and the name and address of the person from whom the bicycle was acquired.

1203.3 Each application for registration of a new bicycle shall be accompanied by such proof of ownership as the Director may reasonably require.

1203.4 Each application for registration of a bicycle previously registered in the District shall be accompanied by the registration certificate of the previous owner or such other proof of ownership as the Director may reasonably require.

1203.5 Each application for registration of a used bicycle not previously registered in the District shall be accompanied by such proof of ownership as the Director may reasonably require.

1203.6 An application for renewal of a registration may be made during the thirty (30) day period immediately preceding the date of expiration of a registration.

1203.7 One dollar ($1.00) shall be charged, upon filing of the application, to cover the cost of registration.

1203.8 When the Director is satisfied that a bicycle offered for registration is capable of being operated safely in accordance with S1204, the Director shall do the following:

  1. Affix a serial number on the underside of the hanger of a frame bicycle, or otherwise record a description of the bicycle if to affix a number would damage the hanger;

  2. Affix a registration tag for the current bicycle period in a position which renders the tag readily visible;

  3. Affix a registration plate for the current bicycle registration period to the back frame of the bicycle between the seat and the back wheel; and

  4. Issue to the owner a registration card bearing the name and address of the owner; the serial, tag, and plate numbers; a brief description of the bicycle; and such other information as the Director deems necessary.

1203.9 If a registration certificate is lost, stolen, destroyed, mutilated, or illegally detained from the owner; or in case the registrant desires another registration certificate for any reason satisfactory to the Director; the Director shall prepare a duplicate registration certificate upon receipt of an application for the duplicate certificate.

1203.10 Application for a duplicate registration certificate shall be made on a form furnished by the Director.

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