One of our main goals at Sandusky Bay Cycles is to educate people when it comes to bike safety and basic bike maintenance and repairs. We have compiled some information that is sure to be useful on your journey. Start exploring some common topics and enjoy the ride.
There are specific laws for both cyclists and drivers. Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions and how they pertain to the ORC and Ohio law (Courtesy of Bike Cleveland):
Common Laws for Cyclists
Cyclists May Use Full Lane ORC §4511.55(A) & (C) (A) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles and exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. (C) This section does not require a person operating a bicycle to ride at the edge of the roadway when it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so. Conditions that may require riding away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary to avoid fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, surface hazards, or if it otherwise is unsafe or impracticable to do so, including if the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. Please always ride with the flow of traffic! (ORC §4511.25)
Dead Red at Signalized Intersections ORC §4511.132 Brief version: “…the signals are otherwise malfunctioning, including the failure of a vehicle detector to detect the vehicle” This simply means if the intersection is the type that only changes when a vehicle is present, and it does not detect you and your bike, that you MAY proceed through on red AFTER completely stopping and checking for safety. Full version: (A) The driver of a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley who approaches an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals shall do all of the following if the signal facing the driver exhibits no colored lights or colored lighted arrows, exhibits a combination of such lights or arrows that fails to clearly indicate the assignment of right-of-way, or, if the vehicle is a bicycle, the signals are otherwise malfunctioning due to the failure of a vehicle detector to detect the presence of the bicycle: (1) Stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none, stop before entering the intersection; (2) Yield the right-of-way to all vehicles, streetcars, or trackless trolleys in the intersection or approaching on an intersecting road, if the vehicles, streetcars, or trackless trolleys will constitute an immediate hazard during the time the driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways; (3) Exercise ordinary care while proceeding through the intersection.
Front and Rear Lights at Night ORC 4511.56 (A) Every bicycle when in use at the times specified in section 4513.03 of the Revised Code, shall be equipped with the following: (1) A lamp mounted on the front of either the bicycle or the operator that shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and three hundred feet to the sides. A generator-powered lamp that emits light only when the bicycle is moving may be used to meet this requirement. (2) A red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from all distances from one hundred feet to six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle; (3) A lamp emitting either flashing or steady red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear shall be used in addition to the red reflector. If the red lamp performs as a reflector in that it is visible as specified in division (A)(2) of this section, the red lamp may serve as the reflector and a separate reflector is not required.
Hand Signals ORC § 4511.39 …in the case of a person operating a bicycle, the signal shall be made not less than one time but is not required to be continuous. A bicycle operator is not required to make a signal if the bicycle is in a designated turn lane, and a signal shall not be given when the operator’s hands are needed for the safe operation of the bicycle.
Lisence Points ORC §4511.52 …a bicycle operator who violates any section of the Revised Code described in division (A) of this section that is applicable to bicycles may be issued a ticket, citation, or summons by a law enforcement officer for the violation in the same manner as the operator of a motor vehicle would be cited for the same violation. A person who commits any such violation while operating a bicycle shall not have any points assessed against the person’s driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, temporary instruction permit, or probationary license under section 4510.036 of the Revised Code. This does not apply if the cyclist is riding under the influence! (DUI).
Common Laws for Drivers
3 Feet or Greater When Passing Bicycles (ORC) §4511.27 (A) The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles or trackless trolleys proceeding in the same direction: (1) The operator of a vehicle … shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle or trackless trolley. When a motor vehicle or trackless trolley overtakes and passes a bicycle, three feet or greater is considered a safe passing distance. A double yellow line CAN be crossed to accomplish this if conditions are safe to do so. http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4511.31 explains this.
Interactions with Bike Lanes ORC 4511.713 Use of bicycle paths. (A) No person shall operate a motor vehicle, snowmobile, or all-purpose vehicle upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, when an appropriate sign giving notice of such use is posted on the path. Read more about how to interact with bike lanes HERE.
Bicycles are Legal Road Vehicles ORC §4511.55(A) & (C) (A) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles and exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. (C) This section does not require a person operating a bicycle to ride at the edge of the roadway when it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so. Conditions that may require riding away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary to avoid fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, surface hazards, or if it otherwise is unsafe or impracticable to do so, including if the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
Dooring Cyclists: Ohio ORC §4511.70 (C) states, in part, that …no person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. Try the Dutch Reach.
Cycling Law: Find It in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC)
Statutes in the ORC trump local ordinances that are fundamentally inconsistent.
Bicycle traffic IS traffic! A bike is defined as a vehicle and people on bicycles have an absolute legal right to ride on the road (except divided, controlled/limited access freeways) ORC §§ 4511.051(A)(2), 4511.07(A)(8), & 4511.01(YY). Cyclists also can’t be confined to marked bicycle lanes.
“Dead red” exception law allows cyclist to fully stop at a red light, then enter the intersection if red light malfunctions/won’t trip to green ORC § 4511.132(A)(1)(2)(3) ; cyclist still will NOT have the right of way if they proceed
Yield to pedestrians on sidewalks ORC § 4511.441; many municipalities, such as Cleveland, have an ordinance requiring an audible signal from a cyclist passing a pedestrian § 473.09(c)
Bike lights (front white, red rear + red rear reflector) must be used from sunset to sunrise and/or visibility less than 1000 feet ahead ORC § 4511.56 ; most e-bikes come equipped with a white front and red back light
Ride in direction of road traffic ORC § 4511.25
Ride two abreast ORC § 4511.55(B) BUT some local ordinances, i.e. Hunting Valley, Solon and Moreland Hills prohibit it; these ordinances are likely invalid as they conflict with the ORC
Ride as near to right side of roadway as “practicable” (not “possible”) UNLESS it is unsafe due to hazards/if a motor vehicle can’t safely pass cyclist ORC § 4511.55(A) & (C)
Use state-mandated hand signals ORC § 4511.40(A)(1)(2)(3)(B) which don’t have to be held continuously ORC § 4511.39(A), aren’t necessary in turn lanes, and don’t have to be used if will interfere with safe operation of bicycle e.g., if a cyclist feels it is unsafe to take a hand off handlebars.
Cyclists can’t be confined to sidewalk riding ORC § 4511.711(A)
Cyclists can’t be required to wear protective bicycle helmets under Ohio law, but some local authorities (cities) require them, especially for minors. Given that head injuries cause ¾ of cyclist fatalities, however, they are worth considering and most bike shops have a great selection of bike helmets in stock. We also donate helmets to those in need. Through a local chapter called Put a Lid On It we were able to donate over 100 helmets in the past two years.
Always look inside your helmet for cracks or other damage to help prevent serious injury.