Bicycling is becoming much more than a children’s activity.
In fact, between 2000 and 2010, the number of children riding bicycles declined by more than 20 percent, while the number of adults riding has continued to increase. Thousands of people use bicycles for exercise, fun and as their everyday transportation.
As Columbus makes more investments in alternative transportation, such as through the Dragonfly Trail System or the plans to implement a bike share program, drivers and bicyclists will be seeing each other a lot more often.
To ease the friction as much as possible, it is important for both drivers and bicyclists to familiarize themselves with the laws about cycling on the roads. Here is a rundown of the most important rules to remember:
1. Bicycles are vehicles, and generally allowed on any road other than highways.
This means state roads, city streets and any other area where cars are also traveling. Bikes are usually not allowed on highways, and cities can specifically ask that bicycle traffic (or any type of traffic) be restricted on certain roads. Cyclists don’t have to be in a bike lane, and don’t have to ride on the shoulder.
2. A cyclist needs to ride as far to the right side as practicable, except when turning, avoiding hazards or riding the same speed as traffic.
Cyclists should generally ride as far to the right as they can to allow faster traffic to safely pass, but sometimes this isn’t practicable. If the right lane becomes a turn lane, is full of trash or other hazards, or if the cyclists is making a left turn, they may take as much space as needed to safely travel.
3. Drivers must leave at least 3 feet while passing a cyclist.
Drivers can certainly pass a cyclist, but they must leave at least 3 feet between their car and the bike while doing so. Signs reminding drivers of this are posted throughout the city.
4. It is illegal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk.
It is illegal to ride a bicycle on a pedestrian sidewalk. Columbus police have written tickets to cyclists riding on sidewalks instead of on the road or a trail.
5. Bikes need to have lights, or at least reflectors.
Bikes are required by law to be visible at night. Ideally, this means a light on both the front and the back of the bicycle, as well as reflectors.
6. Cyclists need to signal turns just like everybody else.
Even though bicycles (usually) don’t have turn signals, cyclists are required to indicate turns just like everyone else on the road. A turn can be indicated by using hand signals.
7. Cyclists are not allowed to ride more than two-abreast, except on a trail.
It is illegal for bicyclists to ride in groups that stretch horizontally across the road and block traffic. If there is a group riding, the individuals need to move into a single file line to allow traffic to pass.
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE