Bicycle Safety

Rules of the road.

The University of South Carolina promotes bicycle riding and has earned the League of American Bicyclists’ Bike Friendly University Bronze Level Award. But while cycling is a healthy and cost-effective alternative to driving a car, it comes with the need for increased safety precautions and heightened awareness of ones’ surroundings.

In fact you might not know that bicycles are considered vehicles, which means operators are held to the same traffic laws and regulations as drivers of motor vehicles.

Know the facts
  • All bicycles parked on campus at USC must be registered with Vehicle Management and Parking Services. This can be done at 1501 Pendleton St. or online at
  • Bike owners also have the option to register their bicycles with USC Police. To register, email Sgt. Kenny Adams at, call 803-777-0855 or visit the ‘Register Property’ page.
  •  On campus, parked bicycles must be secured to a bike rack—not a light pole, handrail, parking meter, or street sign. There are many located around campus, which are monitored and maintained by Parking Services.
Know the Law
  • Bicyclists must obey all applicable traffic laws, just the same as operators of any other vehicle.
  • Many municipalities ban cyclists from riding on sidewalks. Check your area to see if sidewalk riding is permitted. This is not allowed in many crowded city areas, including downtown Columbia.
  • If an exclusive bike lane exists, cyclists must travel in this lane unless it is blocked. Cyclists may use the road to pass other cyclists. A recreational bike path does NOT have to be used – cyclists can use the road instead if they prefer (for instance, if the bike path is poorly maintained or clogged with pedestrians).
  • There is a difference between an exclusive bike lane and a recreational bike path. A bike lane is paved, and is usually on the roadway. Recreational bike paths are usually adjacent to the road and may or may not be paved.
  • When there is no designated bicycle lane, cyclists should stay as far to the right of the lane as possible. It is ok for cyclists to ride on the shoulder of the road if there is one.
  • Bicyclists are not permitted to ride more than two abreast (more than two riders side-by-side) unless in a bicycle lane or on a recreational bike path.
  • Unless a bicycle was designed and equipped to carry more than one person, only one rider is allowed.
  • Cyclists should ride to the right third of the lane as long as it is safe to do. Exceptions would be when making a left turn going straight in an intersection that has a right turning lane, in which case the cyclists should remain in the right third of the lane going straight and not enter the right turning lane.
Know Your Rights

Under South Carolina law, bicyclists are protected to ensure they ride safely. There are sanctions including fines or possibly jail time for those who harass or otherwise harm cyclists.

  • Drivers must maintain a safe operating distance from cyclists. Driving too close, whether unintentionally or when done as a form of harassment, is referred to as “buzzing.”
  • It is illegal for drivers to maliciously shout or throw objects at cyclists. This is also a criminal offense, and punishable by a fine of no less than $250 and up to 30 days in jail.
  • Any time a driver makes conditions unsafe for bicyclists or harasses riders, note the tag number and a description of the vehicle and report the incident to law enforcement. Even if an injury did not occur, report the incident.
Safety Tips and Necessities
  • Maintaining visibility is a key part of bicycle safety, especially at night. Bicycles driven at night in South Carolina are required to have a front lamp, illuminating at least 500 feet in front of the vehicle, and a red rear reflector that must be visible 50 to 300 feet in front of the head lamps of a vehicle.
  • Ankle reflectors are easily seen with the movement of peddling feet and further enhance visibility.
  • Although bicycle helmets are not required by law in South Carolina, they are an essential piece of safety gear. In addition to protecting the head, they provide an extra surface on which to place reflective tape and increase visibility.
  • A red rear flashing light and retro-reflective clothing is also recommended to increase visibility.
Transportation Options:

If you are concerned about safe travel because it is late, or you have become too impaired to drive or walk, there are a few transportation alternatives available. Your personal safety is always a priority – if one of these options is not available, call a taxi or a trusted friend!

  • University Transit: Regular campus shuttles operate Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 5:45 pm; the evening shuttle operates 5:30 pm until 12:30 am. Service is available during Fall and Spring semesters when classes are in session.
  • Additionally, an on-call, Late-Night Shuttle through the University is available between 12:30 am and 6:30 am Monday through Friday when classes are in session, and can be reached at 803.777.3351.
  • APO Transportation Van: The Iota Mu Chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity sponsors a van that picks up and drops off members of the Carolina community during late night hours. This is available Sunday through Thursday from 8:00 pm until 12:00 am when classes are in session, and can be reached by calling 803.777.3825 or 803.777.DUCK.
  • When classes are in session from 11:30 pm to 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays, there is a Shuttle (on campus housing) and Carolina Cabs (off campus housing) available to transport you to and from the 5 Points area. The drop off/pick up point is across from The Five Points Fountain on Saluda Ave.

To view the full brochure developed for the University Community, click here.