Bike Laws in New Mexico

New Mexico FlagNew Mexico bike laws are fairly loose and for this reason, it’s considered one of the more dangerous states for cyclists. There has been some work to improve this, but much of the safety of the riders rest with the rider rather than with the law or with other drivers. For this reason, it’s even more important usual to know the bike laws in New Mexico so that you can keep yourself and other people safe on the road!

Where Cyclists are Allowed to Ride

The first thing to keep in mind is that in New Mexico, bikes are not considered to be vehicles under the law. Riders on the roads still have to follow the duties and obligations that drivers do, but bikes skate through several laws that affect vehicles such as DUI laws and driving while distracted. We would still heartily recommend that you do not ride your bike while texting, drunk, or on drugs!

New Mexico doesn’t anything too strange or different when it comes to where cyclists are allowed to ride. Bicycles are to stay as far to the right side of the road as possible and make sure to watch out for standing cars or vehicles going the same way. While it is a misdemeanor for drivers to open the door of a vehicle into oncoming traffic, it’s still important for cyclists to keep an eye around themselves.

Where the strangeness happens is that New Mexico does not have any laws around exceptions to this. There is nothing specified about when riders can leave the right-hand side, so cyclists are not protected by the law if they are forced to leave the right-hand side. However, cycling on the interstates and freeways is allowed, assuming there are no alternatives and as long as the community has a population of less than 50,000.

Cyclists are also not allowed to ride more than two abreast except on parts of the roadway that are meant specifically for cyclists and they cannot be ridden in such a way that they become a public hazard. Much of the onus to avoid this is on the cyclist. Like any other place in the United States, it’s illegal to ride while attached to a moving vehicle and cyclists have to keep at least one hand on the handlebars whenever riding.

New Mexico does not have any safe passing laws; everything about that is governed by general traffic laws which mostly just allows for passing to the left at a ‘safe’ distance. However, there is not specific distance. New Mexico does not have a Share the Road license plate program (a lot of states don’t) and no vulnerable road user laws. Finally, much like many other places, New Mexico does not recognize the Idaho Stop laws. This means that if a bike is stopped by a red light, they cannot simply ride through, but have to wait for something else (another car or a pedestrian) to turn the light green.

Finally, New Mexico does not specifically condone or prohibit riding on the sidewalks or on any bike lanes or path other than the normal roadway. This is a general law though; municipal laws can state otherwise and the state will not contravene that.

Riding Safely

Although New Mexico does not have much for riding laws, they are more exhaustive when it comes to safety laws. New Mexico is one of the few states which specifies that riders have to wear a helmet and has one of the longer limits too-riders eighteen years of age or under, both as an operator or a passenger, must wear a helmet. People over the age of eighteen don’t need to wear a helmet, but it’s still a good idea to do it.

Bikes also have to be equipped with the following:

  • A white lamp at the front that can emit a light visible from at least five hundred feet
  • A red reflector on the back that is visible from fifty to three hundred feet. A red lamp can also be used, but the red reflector is the priority
  • New Mexico specifies that riders must have a bell or another audible device
  • Bikes must have brakes which will make the wheels skid on dry, level and clean pavement

And as usual, there can only be the same number of riders as properly fixed seats-usually one rider to a bike.

Electric Bikes in New Mexico

New Mexico does not have any laws in particular around electric bikes. At the moment, electric bikes are treated the same way as regular bikes and so are covered under the same laws. There is no licensing or registration and electric bikes can be ridden everywhere bikes can be ridden.

There is one difference: helmets are required for riders under the age of 14, not 18 for electric bikes. Otherwise, electric bikes do not have any special differences and New Mexico treats them like any old bike.

All in all, New Mexico is pretty sparse when it comes to laws around cyclists and how they are to behave on the road and how cars are to behave around them. It’s important therefore to keep your own wits about you when you ride, use safety equipment, mind the road signs, and generally keep yourself safe while riding. New Mexico may not have the most stringent bike laws, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot govern yourself while riding and provide a good example to other riders. Enjoy your time on the road!