Yes. In General, Cyclists Can Ride Side by Side in St. Louis City Unless Blocking the Normal and Reasonable Movement of Traffic.
A question that I am asked a lot as a local St. Louis expert in cycling law is whether cyclists can legally ride down the road in a group rather than single file. The answer is that YOU MUST RIDE SINGLE FILE IF YOU ARE IMPEDING TRAFFIC. The only definition for impeding in Missouri state statutes relates to slow moving traffic. It does not specifically refer to cyclists but is nevertheless applicable. Impeding amounts to “blocking the normal and reasonable movement of traffic”, except when “reduced speed is necessary”. See below for more specifics on these laws.
There are multiple levels of laws that apply to a cyclist on the road. State statutes govern cycling throughout the state… on all roads at all times. In addition, there may be stricter or looser municipal ordinances that govern our local cities. State law trumps city ordinances that conflict.
Under State Law you Must Ride Single File on Your Bike if you are Impeding Traffic.
Under Missouri State Statute § 307.190, bicyclists may ride abreast (side by side) only when not impeding traffic, in other words, bicyclists must ride single file if impeding traffic. With that said, cyclists are not required to “pull over” and let traffic pass if they are riding single file. Cyclists that “pull over” are doing so to be polite, not because state law requires them to do so. They must also ride as far to the right as is safe under the circumstances.
St. Louis City Ordinance Allows Two Cyclists to Ride Side by Side
Under City law, you can legally ride side by side with no limitation about impeding traffic. HOWEVER, state law still applies so if you are impeding traffic by riding side by side (called abreast) then you must ride single file. There is a specific St. Louis City Ordinance regarding where you can legally ride your bike in the City of St. Louis. This must be read in conjunction with the state statute because you cannot violate either state or city law. Here is the full text of the St. Louis City Ordinance on where you can ride your bike:
17.36.050 Where ridden.
A. Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
B. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
C. Riding on Sidewalks.
1. No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk except in an area zoned residential.
2. No person (15) or more years of age shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk, unless that sidewalk is established and signed as a bike path.
3. Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.
(Ord. 57831 § 1 (part), 1979: 1960 C. § 837.050.)
I am a bicycle accident attorney and I get involved from the very beginning to thoroughly investigate the causes of my clients’ accidents in order to demonstrate fault in a court of law or to ensure criminal charges are filed. I am passionate about what I do because I have felt what it is like to be run off the road. I know the laws that relate to cyclists specifically and I am involved in updating them to help cyclists get a leg up in criminal prosecutions against dangerous unsafe drivers. As soon as you call me, I work carefully with witnesses, accident reconstructionists and medical experts to prove the full amount of damages suffered by victims. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident in Missouri, contact my St. Louis Bicycle Law Office today. You can talk to me for free immediately about what to do. -Michelle
St. Louis City Ordinance Bans People 15 years and older From Riding on Sidewalks Unless they Are Designated Bike Paths.
The problem is that in St. Louis City bikes are often seen as a slow obstacle on the road that is not meant to be on the road. Motorists yell to “get on the sidewalk”. But the law in St. Louis City is that unless you are 14 or under, you are breaking the law if you ride on a sidewalk that does not have signs designating it as a bike path. Yes, you read that right. Your 15 year old who rides his bike on the sidewalk to school is breaking the law unless it has signs that it is a bike path! The St. Louis City Ordinance above clearly states “No person (15) or more years of age shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk, unless that sidewalk is established and signed as a bike path.” In addition, it is general state law that bikes cannot be on the sidewalks in any business districts. Unfortunately, both motorists and cyclists do not know the law as the City lacks a sufficient bike law educational process.
In addition, for those avid bike enthusiasts, many newly constructed bike paths limit “high speed bicycling”, leaving a speedy bike commuter or athlete in a difficult position confronting uneducated traffic on the road. This creates a situation where angry impatient and miseducated motorists try to squeeze by in the same lane as bikes who are often riding 20+ miles an hour and who are forced to legally use the roads to cross town.
HOW DO I KNOW IF A CYCLIST IS IMPEDING TRAFFIC???
Impeding Traffic is defined in a separate Missouri MOTORIST statute which applies to bikes… as bikes have all the rights and duties of motor vehicles per § 307.188 of the Missouri State Statutes. The key language according to cycling lawyer Michelle Funkenbusch is that you must ride single file on all roads of Missouri if you are blocking the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed on your bike is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law. Therefore, it is very possible a cylist is riding legally if they are riding side by side in the rain for their own safety to block traffic from squeezing them in a lane or to be more visible as a group.
Here is the full text of the Impeding statute, Missouri State Statute § 304.011:
Slow speed, regulation of–agricultural implements, slower speeds, when, special permits required–penalties
1. No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law. Peace officers may enforce the provisions of this section by directions to drivers, and in the event of apparent willful disobedience to this provision and refusal to comply with direction of an officer in accordance herewith, the continued slow operation by a driver is a misdemeanor.
2. No vehicle shall be operated at a speed of less than forty miles per hour on any highway which is part of the interstate system of highways, unless:
(1) A slower speed is required for the safe operation of the vehicle because of weather or other special conditions; or
(2) Agricultural implements, self-propelled hay-hauling equipment, implements of husbandry and vehicles transporting such vehicles or equipment may be operated occasionally on interstate highways for short distances at a speed of less than forty miles per hour if such vehicle or equipment is operated pursuant to a special permit issued by the chief engineer of the state department of transportation pursuant to section 304.200 and the regulations established pursuant to such section.
3. Any person who violates subsection 2 of this section is guilty of a class C misdemeanor.
DON’T: Hire a lawyer who never rides a bike and let a marketing service draft his web page about bicycle accidents!
DO: Hire a St. Louis bicycle accident lawyer who actually rides the streets and is in the trenches with you advocating for the rights of cyclists.
For a free initial consultation with a lawyer about your bicycle accident, contact our law firm.
Copyright August 11, 2014 Law Office of Michelle M. Funkenbusch.