State Laws & City Ordinances

The following statewide bicycle laws are taken from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation website.

Bicycle laws:

Bike lane laws:

Safe Passing Law:


The following bicycle ordinances are taken from the City of Newport Code of Ordinances.

10.72.010. Authority of business establishments to erect stands.

10.72.020. Definitions.

10.72.030. Bicycle license required.

10.72.040. License application—Qualifications of applicant.

10.72.050. License issuance—Term.

10.72.060. License fees.

10.72.070. Transfers—Duties of transferors and transferees.

10.72.080. License plates and registration cards.

10.72.090. Alteration or mutilation of plates, frame number or registration card.

10.72.100. Operation of bicycle.

10.72.110. Bicycle dealers—License required—Fee.

10.72.120. Bicycle rental agencies—License required—Fee.

10.72.130. Restrictions on issuance of dealer and rental agency licenses.

10.72.140. Reports by dealers.

10.72.150. Rentals to minors.

10.72.160. Impoundment and disposition of bicycles.

10.72.170. Clinging to moving vehicles.

10.72.180. Riding on handlebars.

10.72.190. Number of bicycles abreast.

10.72.195. Helmets required.

10.72.200. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.


10.72.010. Authority of business establishments to erect stands.

Business establishments in the city are authorized to place bicycle stands on city sidewalks and public property for the use of the general bicycling public, subject, however, to the requirement that all such bicycle stands must first be approved as to construction and location by the city manager or his or her designated representative, and subject to such other rules which the city manager may find necessary.

10.72.020. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, “bicycle” means every vehicle propelled exclusively by human power upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, except scooters and similar devices.

10.72.030. Bicycle license required.

No person residing in the city for a period of thirty (30) days or more shall ride or use a bicycle without first obtaining from the police division a license therefor as prescribed in this chapter.

10.72.040. License application—Qualifications of applicant.

A designated representative of the chief of police shall inspect each bicycle on specified days of each week between the hours of eight a.m. and four p.m. at the police station. If the bicycle is in good rideable condition and properly equipped as provided for in this chapter, the registration will be accepted.

10.72.050. License issuance—Term.

The police department is authorized to issue to residents of the city, upon written application, bicycle licenses that shall be effective for the duration of the ownership of said bicycle. Such licenses shall entitle the licensee to operate the bicycle for which the license has been issued upon all the public streets of the city.

10.72.060. License fees.

The license fee to be paid for each bicycle registered shall be three dollars.

10.72.070. Transfers—Duties of transferors and transferees.

A person who sells or transfers ownership of a bicycle shall report such sale or transfer by returning to the police division the registration card issued to such person as the license thereof, together with the name of the person to whom the bicycle was sold or transferred and his or her address, and such report shall be made within one week of the date of sale or transfer thereof. The person who made the purchase or the transferee of the bicycle shall apply to the police division for registration thereof within one week of the date of sale or transfer. Any disposition of a bicycle not covered by this section shall in any event be reported to the police division.

10.72.080. License plates and registration cards.

The police division shall provide each year a decal or metal license, together with registration certificate cards, which decals or licenses and cards shall have numerical numbers stamped thereon in numerical order beginning with number one, and shall indicate the year for which they were issued, with letters indicating that they were issued by the city. The license plate shall be suitable for attachment to the lower end of the rear fender, or to the frame at the rear of the bicycle, at a location where it will always be plainly visible. The police division shall attach the license plate to the bicycle or supervise its attachment in such a manner as will prevent its removal. The police division shall also provide and issue a registration card, with numbers corresponding to the numbers on the license plate. The issuance of the registration card and license plate to the licensee shall be after the collection of the registration fee for the license, as provided for in Section 10.72.060. Funds collected by the police division for the several licenses provided for in this chapter shall be returned by the police division as collected and under conditions to be determined by the director of finance, who shall authorize the expenditure of such moneys, at the request of the chief of police, for the purchase of supplies, equipment or other necessities for the operation of the school safety patrols and other safety projects for minors. The license plate shall remain attached to the bicycle during the valid term of such license. The police division shall keep a record of the date of issue of each license, the person to whom issued and the number thereof.

10.72.090. Alteration or mutilation of plates, frame number or registration card.

No person shall wilfully or maliciously remove, destroy, mutilate or alter the number of any bicycle frame licensed pursuant to this chapter. No person shall remove, destroy, mutilate or alter any license plate, seal or registration card during the time such license plate, seal or registration card is operative, provided, however, that nothing in this section shall prohibit the police division from pressing an identification number on the frame of bicycles on which no serial number can be found, or on which such number is illegible for identification purposes. The police division may also press an identification number upon the frame of any bicycle registered, which number shall be the secret number of the police division, if so required, in the administration of this section to prevent bicycle larceny and aid the division in tracing and recovery of stolen bicycles.

10.72.100. Operation of bicycle.

The following rules and regulations shall be observed in the operation of a bicycle on the streets, highways, parkways and public places of the city:


Generally. Every person operating a bicycle shall at all times operate the bicycle with due regard for the safety of other persons and vehicles lawfully upon the streets, highways, parkways and public places, as well as for his or her own safety, and shall at all times and under all conditions yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on the streets, highways, parkways, parks, public places and crosswalks and shall not operate upon any pedestrian paths in the public parks or upon any public school grounds of public playgrounds except when operated on such school grounds or playgrounds during festival parades or other activities sponsored by the department of public recreation or school authorities.


Obedience to Traffic Regulations. Every person operating a bicycle shall comply with all vehicle traffic laws, except where such laws, by their nature, do not apply to bicycles, and with all vehicle traffic signs and signals erected for the regulation of traffic.


Turn Signals. Before turning or changing the direction of any bicycle upon any street, highway, parkway or public place, it shall be the duty of the bicycle rider to give a signal, by the extension of the hand, to indicate the direction he or she intends to proceed.


Towing Persons or Vehicles. No person operating a bicycle shall tow or draw any coaster, sled, person on roller skates or other similar vehicle on a public highway, except as provided in Section 10.72.170(B).


Acrobatic Riding. No person operating a bicycle shall engage in fancy or trick riding without maintaining full control of such bicycle and keeping both hands on the handlebars, except when necessary to give a signal.


Persons thirteen (13) years of age and older are prohibited from operating bicycles on city sidewalks. Bicycle operators thirteen (13) years of age and older shall operate on public roadways, following the direction of traffic, operating on the right side of the road, if practical, and observing the traffic and vehicle laws, proscribed for bicycle operation, as specified in the Rhode Island General Laws. Persons younger than thirteen (13) years of age are permitted to operate on sidewalks, with caution given to pedestrians. Persons of any age are permitted to walk a bicycle on a public sidewalk.


No person may operate a bicycle in any designated skate park area in the city.

10.72.110. Bicycle dealers—License required—Fee.

No person shall carry on the business of buying and selling new and secondhand bicycles without first obtaining a license therefor from the police division. Every applicant shall pay a license fee as set forth in Section 2.120.010 and such license shall be effective for one year. No person engaged in the business of buying and selling new and secondhand bicycles shall also engage in the business of renting bicycles for public hire without first obtaining a license therefor as provided in Section 10.72.120.

10.72.120. Bicycle rental agencies—License required—Fee.

No person shall carry on the business of renting bicycles for public hire without first obtaining a license therefor, in addition to the license fee prescribed for each bicycle, as provided for inSection 10.72.060. The fee for such license shall be as set forth in Section 2.210.010. No fee is required if a bicycle dealer’s license has already been obtained. All bicycles owned by such agency offered for public hire shall be registered in the name of the agency, but a record of the name, address and age of such person hiring a bicycle shall be kept on file for the inspection of the police division.

10.72.130. Restrictions on issuance of dealer and rental agency licenses.

In the matter of the issuance of business licenses for dealers in secondhand bicycles and the conduct and operation of a bicycle rental agency, the chief of police shall be satisfied that the applicants for such licenses are of good character and financially responsible before a license is issued.

10.72.140. Reports by dealers.

A person engaged in the business of buying new or secondhand bicycles shall maintain a record available for inspection by a representative of the police department, giving a list of all purchases, transfers and sales made by such person, as well as the name and address of all persons to whom the bicycles are sold, a description of each bicycle purchased, transferred or sold, and the frame number thereof, and, in the case of a secondhand bicycle bought from an individual or taken in trade from a person buying a new bicycle, or a secondhand bicycle from the dealer’s stock, the number of the license plate thereon, if any.

10.72.150. Rentals to minors.

No person engaged in the business of renting bicycles for hire shall rent a bicycle to a minor under ten years of age. In renting a bicycle to a minor over ten years of age, but not over eighteen (18) years of age, the renting agency shall have on file, for police division inspection, the written consent of the parents or guardian stating that the minor is ten years of age or over and is permitted to rent a bicycle.

10.72.160. Impoundment and disposition of bicycles.

Whenever any bicycle is impounded for a violation of the provisions of this chapter, it shall be surrendered to the parent or guardian of the offender or, in the case of an adult offender, surrendered on Wednesdays of each week between the hours of eight a.m. and four p.m. In the case of the seizure of a bicycle because it has been found in the possession of a person who is not the legal owner thereof and the bicycle is not reclaimed by the owner thereof, it shall be sold at public auction after the expiration of thirty (30) days from the date of seizure. Notice containing a description of the bicycle shall be published in a newspaper circulating in the city, at least one week prior to the date of the sale. The proceeds of the sale shall be remitted to the director of finance. Offenders summoned to Newport municipal court may have their bicycles impounded until after their hearing is concluded.

10.72.170. Clinging to moving vehicles.


No person riding upon a bicycle, motorcycle, coaster, sled, roller skates or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself or herself to any vehicle upon a roadway.


This section shall not prohibit attaching a trailer or semitrailer to a bicycle if such trailer or semitrailer has been designed for such attachment.

10.72.180. Riding on handlebars.

No operator of a motorcycle or bicycle shall, when upon a street, carry any other person upon the handlebars, frame or tank or any such vehicle, nor shall any person so ride upon any such vehicle.

10.72.190. Number of bicycles abreast.

Persons 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. Persons riding two abreast shall not unduly impede traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.

10.72.195. Helmets required.

Any person fifteen (15) years of age or younger shall be required to wear a safety helmet when riding a bicycle on any public street, highway, parkway, or public place in the city. Said helmet shall fit the person’s head, shall be secured to the person’s head by straps while the bicycle is being operated, and shall meet the standards for helmets established by the Snell Memorial Foundation’s 1984 standard for use in bicycling, or subsequent standards, or standards established by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, or subsequent standards.

10.72.200. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.


Every bicycle, when in use at nighttime, shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred (500) feet to the front.


Every bicycle shall be equipped with a red reflector of a type approved by the traffic engineer which shall be visible for six hundred (600) feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred (500) feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.


No person shall sell a new bicycle or a pedal for use on a bicycle that is not equipped with a reflector, of a type approved by the traffic engineer, on each pedal or such bicycle, which reflector is visible from the front and rear of the bicycle during darkness from a distance of two hundred (200) feet, nor shall any person operate a bicycle without such pedals.


A bicycle shall not be equipped with, nor shall any person use upon a bicycle, any siren or whistle.


Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake or brakes which will enable the operator to stop the bicycle within twenty-five (25) feet at a speed of ten miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.


Every bicycle, when in use at nighttime, shall be equipped with a minimum of twenty (20) square inches on each side of the bicycle with white reflective material on the wheels or tires to indicate, as nearly as possible, the continuous circular shape and size of the wheels or tires of each bicycle. All reflective materials used in compliance with this subsection shall be visible during the hours of darkness from five hundred (500) feet when viewed under lawful low beam headlamps under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway, and shall meet the requirements as prescribed by the traffic engineer.

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