Most people are familiar with the traffic laws for motor vehicles. However, most people are not aware that bicycles are also defined as vehicles under the traffic code and governed by the same set of rules that are common to all vehicles.
According to Ohio law R.C. 4511.01(G), bicycle refers to every device, other than a tricycle designed solely for use as a play vehicle by a child, propelled solely by human power upon which any person may ride having two tandem wheels, or one wheel in the front and two wheels in the rear, or two wheels in the front and one wheel in the rear, any of which is more than fourteen inches in diameter.
In addition, there is also a small set of laws that are specific to bicycles. Together, these form the rules of the road. Understanding Ohio bicycle laws is the first step you can take in avoiding an accident. The next step you can take is contacting a skilled bicycle accident lawyer that can represent you, in the event that you get into a bicycle accident.
Sharing Roadways With Cars
Title 45 of the Ohio Revised Code contains the state laws governing the operation of vehicles on Ohio roadways. A bicycle is permitted to be ridden on roadways, but cyclists are required to obey all traffic rules applicable to vehicles. This includes obeying all traffic signals and control devices. Bicycles cannot be ridden on freeways.
Some people think it is safer to ride on the left side of the road in order that they can see oncoming traffic.
While this may be fine for pedestrians, is not only illegal for cyclists, it is dangerous.
The law requires cyclists to follow the same laws on the roadway as motor vehicles. This includes riding on the right half of the road. Further, bicyclists are required to ride as near to the right side of the roadway as possible.
Ohio law not only limits the maximum speed that vehicles can travel on roadways, it also provides that vehicles cannot be operated at an unreasonably slow speed. While cyclists are required to adhere to speed limits, cyclists and motorists are simply not able to operate speeds of motor vehicles.
However, the law provides that the capabilities of the vehicle and the operator should be taken into account in determining whether the speed was unreasonable. As such, cyclists generally are not held to the same standard as motor vehicles as far as maintaining a minimum speed goes.
Passing Others and the Three-Feet Rule
Cyclists, particularly in heavy, slow-moving traffic, often pass slow or stopped traffic on the right. This is not only dangerous, it is illegal. Ohio bicycle laws require that when overtaking another vehicle on the roadway, the operator shall pass to the left of the vehicle and return to the right side of the road after it is safe.
This same rule applies to bicycles on the road. Motor vehicles must be cautious when passing bicycles. Ohio law provides that when a motor vehicle overtakes or passes a bicycle, it must do so at a distance of at least three feet.
According to R.C. 4511.55 no more than two cyclists may ride side by side. If a lane is too narrow to safely travel side by side, single file rules must be followed.
Turn and Stop Signals
In order to signal a left hand turn a person is supposed to extend their left hand and arm horizontally, according to R.C. 4511.40(A)(1). To signal a right hand turn an individual should extend their left hand and arm upward, or they can extend their right hand and arm horizontally.
In order to signal a stop, or that they are slowing down, a bicyclist can extend their arm downward.
By signaling properly and observing Ohio bicycle laws, an individual can ensure that they are not endangering others. If you want to know more about bicycle laws and bicycle safety in Ohio, contact a knowledgeable bicycle accident attorney.