Single-file law in Rye, NH

Rye, NH has passed a law requiring cyclists, runners and walkers to travel on the road single-file – similar to laws in Newcastle and Newington.  The law was passed at a Board of Selectmen meeting on April 9, and states:

Bicycle Regulations
Any person propelling a bicycle on any public highway shall ride single file and shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as safely practicable.

Foot-based travel regulations were dealt with separately, and that law states:

Walking, Jogging, Running Regulations
Any person running, jogging, or walking on any public highway, shall run, jog, or walk single file and shall do so as near to the left side of the roadway as safely practicable.

This law was proposed at a Board of Selectman meeting on March 26 (see Section VII. NEW BUSINESS).  It is modeled after the current ordinance (unsearchable .PDF – relevant  info is in Article 4 at bottom of the first page) in Newington, NH, which simply states “NO PERSON operating a bicycle in the Town of Newington shall ride two or more abreast.”

To inform cyclists and visitors to Rye of the new law, the board of selectmen put up a sign at the police station that reads “Cyclists single file.  Road are for riding not chatting”.

This law is certainly disappointing – especially considering how friendly the Seacoast is to Bike To Work Week, and other active endeavors.  Even worse than the fact that the law exists is the way that the Board of Selectmen chose to inform cyclists of the law.  Saying that the “road is for riding, not chatting” is insulting and condescending.

It seems that the town of Rye considers roads to be used for driving, and nothing else.

Also, this law seemingly came out of nowhere – nothing was cited in the March 26 meeting minutes when Selectman Joseph Mills supported a single-file ordinance for Rye.

This is a very bad step for those of us who enjoy an active lifestyle – joggers, walkers, cyclists, anyone who may be using a road not in a car – and makes the town of Rye and Board of Selectmen look ignorant.

I encourage everyone reading this who is a Rye resident to contact the board of selectmen and let them know who you feel about this new ordinance (phone 603-964-5523 xt. 10, email

I called the selectmen’s office at the number above.  The assistant I spoke to said that they’ve been getting a lot of negative comments for the law and the sign – she is compiling all input from emails and phone calls, so please let them know!

Article on Seacoast Online.

Also, this great photo from Gus’ Bike Shop Facebook page:

Thomson has some thoughts.

7 thoughts on “Single-file law in Rye, NH”

  1. Does that mean if you are in a paceline you break the law if you peel off the front?

    I guess rolling paceline training rides are out of the question too.

    1. Rye Police Chief spoke with Jeff Latimer and told him that he understands the concept of a paceline and does not consider that riding two abreast.

  2. I think when people call, email or write they have to let the town know that most cyclists are also motorists. We understand road use from both user perspectives. The sign and law seem to place greater responsibility on cyclists when there is not more education nor enforcement of driving safely around cyclists or the laws providing safety to cyclists from motorists, respectively.

  3. Rye’s cycle no more than one abreast ordinance cannot be applied to State Highways such as Rt. 1A. NH RSA 265:144 continues to apply to bicycle operation on those state highway which allow bicycle use.

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