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Old 10-05-04, 04:58 PM   #1
Bacterozoid
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General Biking Laws? (And stop signs)

Was just curious on some general laws bicyclists must follow...I've seen some posts here on individual ones, but missed any cumulative lists.

One safety issue I'm also curious about is stop signs. If I'm coming up to a busy intersection or one that I cannot see both ways, I'll stop. Safety first. However, there are several crossings in which I have the stop sign, but as I get near, I see no cars coming. Am I the only person here who'll coast through without stopping (taking caution though). It just tries my patience to stop at every sign when it's clear that nobody is on their way through...have to regain that momentum all over again. I actually did this once right in front of a a law officer of some sort...didn't get ticketed. Which makes me wonder how many law enforcement officers actually care. (Unless there is a wreck).

I used to be really bad with signs, putting myself in some very dangerous situations. However, I've learned my lesson (not the hard way, fortunately), and always obey what would be a normal traffic law when other vehicles are present.

Also, do states individualize laws any? I live in Indiana if that's relevant.
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Old 10-05-04, 05:20 PM   #2
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In Mass a bicycle is a vehicle and is expected to follow all of the rules that cars would follow. That means signalling turns and stopping, braking for stop lights, pedestrians in a crosswalk, and signs. I am not sure about areas that have designated bike lanes since there are none in my area. So in general I follow the rules of the road.

Law enforcement officers that I have encountered seem to have the public's general attitude, a bicycle is a toy, unless someone does something outlandish or dangerous they are not worth the time to bother with. There are many more cars to contend with and the potential for mayhem with a car is much higher.
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Old 10-05-04, 05:30 PM   #3
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Every state has their own set of traffic laws. In addition, many cities have bicycling related ordinances. However, the traffic laws are generally similar across the US. Basically, you are required to obey all traffic signs and right of way rules as if you were a motorist. This means you are required to come to a full stop at all stop signs, obey traffic lights etc. You also are probably required to ride 'as far to the right as practicable'.

Localities vary as to whether you can ride on sidewalks, interstate highways, and other limited access roads. It's best to check the codes for your state. Indiana probably has their laws online. You might try a search for 'bicycle' to get statutes applying to cyclists.

In some areas police do not strictly enforce traffic laws with cyclists. In others they do. Sometimes it depends on the policeman and what else he may be doing. A cop responding to another call will probably not be looking for traffic violations for example.
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Old 10-05-04, 06:23 PM   #4
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Rules for bicyclists

Bicycles are legal vehicles in Kentucky. They have all the rights and
responsibilities of a vehicle. This is true for adults and children who ride
bicycles.

Bicycle helmets are strongly recommended. In a bicycle fall or crash, the
biggest danger is hitting your head on the ground. A helmet could save your life.
Ride your bicycle on the right side of the road and travel in the same direction
as other traffic in the right side of your lane.
You might need to move into the roadway to avoid trash or debris, to pass
another vehicle or to make a left turn. When you move away from the curb, use
extra caution and look behind you first to make sure the road is clear of other
vehicles.
When riding next to parked cars, watch for drivers who may open a door or pull
the car out in front of you.
Obey all traffic signals and signs. Stop at stop signs and lights just as you
would if you were in a motor vehicle.
Use hand signals to let others know what you plan to do, especially motor
vehicles.

Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Give an audible warning (bell, horn, or
voice) before passing pedestrians on the left, especially on a shared-use path.
Don't park a bicycle so that it is in the way of pedestrians or other bicyclists.
At night, a bike must have a white light visible from the front and a red
reflector or light visible from the rear. Reflector tape may be used for added
visibility. Wear light-colored clothing.
Ride in single file; some roads are very narrow with a lot of farm traffic.
Wear bright clothing.
Sidewalk bicycle riding is not recommended for adult cyclists.
Riding on shared-use path or marked bike lane next to the roadway is recommended
for children and novice cyclists.
Never bicycle on "limited-access" highways, such as parts of New Circle Road,
the interstates or a parkway.
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Old 10-05-04, 06:28 PM   #5
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Stop signs and no one? Slowdown .1kph and run it. I hardly ever encounter stop signs so it isn't really a problem unless I bike in the residential area, which really sucks.
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Old 10-05-04, 06:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by operator
Stop signs and no one? Slowdown .1kph and run it. I hardly ever encounter stop signs so it isn't really a problem unless I bike in the residential area, which really sucks.

I agree. I'll always run a stop sign if no one is around. And I'll always stop when I see someone.
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Old 10-05-04, 06:45 PM   #7
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Every cyclist wrestles with this issue eventually. Some always stop, no matter what. Most probably do what you do, even though the law says STOP. My view is that a STOP sign should be treated as a YIELD sign by cyclists. After all, the important thing about traffic control at intersections is that there is an orderly system of vehicles yielding to each other. The actual STOP is superfluous. Accidents happen because vehicles fail to YIELD, not because they fail to STOP. The reason we have STOP signs (in my opinion) is that forcing vehicles to stop creates a more natural and orderly YIELD sequence. For instance, if you stopped before another vehicle, then you know you should go before that vehicle. No ambiguity. If vehicles just roll through slowly enough, you can have the same orderly situation, but as speeds increase it becomes unworkable. It would be hard to tell whose turn it was. Cyclists travel slowly enough (creating more reaction time) and have such superior visibility over most other vehicles that the rolling YIELD just makes sense. If gas was $50 per gallon you would probably see congress entertaining a bill to convert STOP signs to YIELD signs all over the country!
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Old 10-05-04, 07:27 PM   #8
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In Quebec the special laws for bikes are:
bikes with wheels 20" or less are allowed on sidewalks
ride as near to the right as practicable, except on one-way street you may ride as near to the left as practicable
if there is a bike path next to a road you must use it and not the road (however I do not consider a multi-use path is a bike path, but I have never had to take this point of view to court)
Reflectors required on spokes and pedals
I think there are provisions about children must be accompnied by an adult on roads with speed limit above 50 km/hr, but I am not sure of that one.

Last edited by AndrewP; 10-05-04 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 10-05-04, 07:37 PM   #9
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This is from the Indiana Bike Laws:

9-21-11-2. Rights and duties of person riding bicycle.--A
person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all of the rights and
duties under this article that are applicable to a person who
drives a vehicle, except the following:

(1) Special regulations of this article

(2) Those provisions of this article that by their nature have
no application.

Translation, you must stop. Just because one police officer does not ticket you does not mean the next one will not.
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Old 10-05-04, 09:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacterozoid
Was just curious on some general laws bicyclists must follow...I've seen some posts here on individual ones, but missed any cumulative lists.

One safety issue I'm also curious about is stop signs. If I'm coming up to a busy intersection or one that I cannot see both ways, I'll stop. Safety first. However, there are several crossings in which I have the stop sign, but as I get near, I see no cars coming. Am I the only person here who'll coast through without stopping (taking caution though). It just tries my patience to stop at every sign when it's clear that nobody is on their way through...have to regain that momentum all over again. I actually did this once right in front of a a law officer of some sort...didn't get ticketed. Which makes me wonder how many law enforcement officers actually care. (Unless there is a wreck).
The answer to that one seems to be none. However, I'd guess the officer in this case felt as though you were complying with the 'spirit' of the law on stop signs (i.e. giving way to all the traffic on the cross-road, of which there was none), and felt that a ticket in that situation was a waste of time. I often do that myself, however, I wouldn't advise repeating that stunt when it's busy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacterozoid
I live in Indiana if that's relevant.
Yes they do. However, I wouldn't be asking others what the law in your area says, when a quick google search of Indiana+"road rules"+bicycles would probably allow you to simply read it yourself.
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Old 10-06-04, 01:20 AM   #11
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'stop signs stop no one'! I rarely ever even see a car let alone a bike stop at a stop sign if there is no traffic coming. They slow down but never stop, and the rule is that you must come to a halt. I say just slow down a bit, but do look out for cops, over hear there pretty tough!
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Old 10-06-04, 08:03 AM   #12
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Everyone drives like a maniac here, so even if I don't come to a full stop, I at least slow down enough so that I can look to see who's coming. There are certain streets I always stop at because I know there's a good likelihood someone will come speeding down the street, even if they have a stop sign.
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Old 10-06-04, 09:34 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacterozoid
...there are several crossings in which I have the stop sign, but as I get near, I see no cars coming. Am I the only person here who'll coast through without stopping (taking caution though)....
I have been "pulled over" for this... in spite of the fact that there was no cross traffic, as you state. A stop sign still means stop!

Yeah it is a PITA and ruins your pace... I managed to talk myself out of the ticket... the cop was cool about it... he said: "the first one I let go, the second one kinda caused a double take, but when you blew the third one, I had to stop you... "

He gave me a warning.
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Old 10-06-04, 10:05 AM   #14
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Here, there is ONE cop that will pull over anyone for not coming to a complete stop at at a stop sign. I've seen him pull over a group of 8 year olds who slowed down at the stop sign, but there wasn't anyone coming so they kept going right thru. This cop comes out of the parking lot, where he was parked, with lights flashing, pulled over these kids.

I didn't stay long enough to see if they got tickets, but that is just insane to me. If there isn't anyone nearing the intersection, I say GO.
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Old 10-06-04, 10:37 AM   #15
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Quote:
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If there isn't anyone nearing the intersection, I say GO.

A while back, before I started riding bicycles again... I rode a motorcycle... on a bike it is quite easy to do a track stand at a stop... this can somewhat be done on a motorcycle too... I asked a cop who was training motorcyclists in a safety class what constituted a stop. His reply, " the foot has to touch the ground."

So in spite of the fact that we can track stand for several minutes... some cops will just go crazy with this...
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Old 10-06-04, 10:38 AM   #16
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The university police here at tamu will pull you over for anything and everything. I know many people that have gotten tickets for minor traffic violations (myself included) on a bicycle. I stop at all signs on campus, but treat most stop signs off campus as yield signs.
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Old 10-06-04, 10:46 AM   #17
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in portland or you only need to slow down for the sign as long as the interection is clear.
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Old 10-06-04, 11:25 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacterozoid
One safety issue I'm also curious about is stop signs. If I'm coming up to a busy intersection or one that I cannot see both ways, I'll stop. Safety first. However, there are several crossings in which I have the stop sign, but as I get near, I see no cars coming. Am I the only person here who'll coast through without stopping (taking caution though). It just tries my patience to stop at every sign when it's clear that nobody is on their way through...have to regain that momentum all over again. I actually did this once right in front of a a law officer of some sort...didn't get ticketed. Which makes me wonder how many law enforcement officers actually care. (Unless there is a wreck).

.

Some stop, and apparently most don't. It varies with me also. The one thing I find laughable is the reasoning cyclists use for not stopping. The exact same reasoning can also be used by car drivers. Isn't the inconvenience of stopping and starting again at a stop sign about the same as car drivers have for waiting to get around a cyclist?
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Old 10-06-04, 01:27 PM   #19
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Idaho and Montana allow bicycles to treat stop signs as yields (and right turns on red) I believe. As it should be.
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Old 10-06-04, 01:57 PM   #20
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I stop at stop signs. It gives me a chance to scan more effectively for traffic. I feel that this is particularly true at night when there may be unlighted cyclists or pedestrians approaching the intersection. I have had near misses from cyclists running stop sighns, so I feel my concerns are more than theoretical.

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Old 10-06-04, 02:43 PM   #21
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Bicyclest not obaying the law will cause new laws to be made that might be worst and/or more restrictive than current laws
be an adult and obay the laws or dont complain when you get busted
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Old 10-06-04, 03:03 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
A while back, before I started riding bicycles again... I rode a motorcycle... on a bike it is quite easy to do a track stand at a stop... this can somewhat be done on a motorcycle too... I asked a cop who was training motorcyclists in a safety class what constituted a stop. His reply, " the foot has to touch the ground."

So in spite of the fact that we can track stand for several minutes... some cops will just go crazy with this...
You think so? I can't see it, myself. I can't imagine that they would be bothered when you're so clearly stopped.

In one of the last centuries I rode in, about 50 bikers got stopped together for failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. I think the officer pulled the first few over and was more than a little overwhelmed when they kept coming.
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Old 10-06-04, 09:16 PM   #23
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The solution to some of these cop at stop sign dilemmas is actually incredibly simple. If you're going to slow down anyway to check for on-coming traffic, why not take a second or two to look for cops?
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Old 10-06-04, 09:25 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TechJD
Bicyclest not obaying the law will cause new laws to be made that might be worst and/or more restrictive than current laws
be an adult and obay the laws or dont complain when you get busted
I'll be sure to obay the laws.
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Old 10-07-04, 02:08 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
The solution to some of these cop at stop sign dilemmas is actually incredibly simple. If you're going to slow down anyway to check for on-coming traffic, why not take a second or two to look for cops?
Sometimes they like to hide.
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