As a Missouri expert in bicycle law, here are the top five misconceptions about the law as it relates to cyclists. How many did you get right? -Michelle
#1 Under the law, bikes are too slow to be on the road.
Under Section 307.191, Missouri state law says that you CAN operate your bike at LOWER than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic on a street or highway, or you may operate on the shoulder. This allows but does not require bikes to ride on the shoulder. In other words, those who suggest bikes cannot be on the road because they can’t maintain a minimum speed limit are flat out wrong. Bikes cannot however be on the INTERSTATE in Missouri.
#2 Cyclists break the law when they ride side by side on the road.
ANSWER: FALSE, UNLESS “IMPEDING TRAFFIC”.
Under Section 307.190, bicyclists may ride abreast (side by side) only when not impeding traffic., i.e. they must ride single file if impeding traffic. They must also ride as far to the right as is safe. The problem is that motorists then think they can squeeze by in the same lane and barely miss hitting cyclists. If the lane is too narrow to safely share between a bicycle and a motor vehicle, the bicycle may move towards the center of the lane so as to discourage motor vehicles from dangerously squeezing past in the same narrow lane. If you see a bicyclist riding in the middle of the lane in this way, be patient and view the road from the perspective of the cyclist as he or she may be following the law. Slow and wait behind the bicyclist until it is safe to move into the next lane to pass. Often there is debris in the shoulder of the road or a bike lane ends where there is no shoulder, requiring the cyclist to enter the lane of traffic.
#3 Cyclists should ride on sidewalks instead of roads when they are in a business district with nice wide sidewalks.
Under Section 300.347 of the Missouri State statutes, it is against the law to ride your bike on a sidewalk in a business district. Cyclists are required to share the road with cars and allow pedestrians to use the sidewalks.
#4 Cyclists don’t have to follow any rules on the road as they are not motor vehicles.
Under 307.188, cyclists have all the rights and DUTIES applicable to motor vehicles. This means cyclists are required to obey traffic control devices.
#5 Missouri drivers must use the “highest degree of care” while driving next to cyclists.
The standard of care to operate a motor vehicle is one of the greatest in Missouri. If a driver of a motor vehicle hits a cyclist, the driver can have both criminal charges and a civil case against him or her. In the civil case for money damages, the driver’s attorney will have to show the driver used the HIGHEST degree of care in operating his or her vehicle. This means you must take more care in driving than is required of a brain surgeon operating on your head, an engineer building a bridge or a day care worker watching your child. You must take more care in driving than doing anything else in life. Slowing down on known cycling routes is MANDATORY to use the highest degree of care. You cannot drive the speed limit if you cannot see around corners and over hills to avoid slow moving vehicles, like cyclists. While bicyclists are also required to operate their bikes in a safe manner, as motor vehicles can weigh from 3000(cars) to 80,000 (tractor-trailers)pounds, what amounts to the highest degree of care can vary. If you know it takes you 100 feet to stop at the speed you are going, you may be required to drive slower to meet the highest degree of care standard.
Below is a list of all the laws that pertain to cyclists. Please take a moment to review them!
Missouri State Statutes Regarding Bicycles – July 2005
300.347. Riding bicycle on sidewalks, limitations – motorized bicycles prohibited.
(1) No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district;
(2) 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;
(3) No person shall ride a motorized bicycle upon a sidewalk.
300.350. Riding bicycles, sleds, roller skates, by attaching to another vehicle, prohibited.
No person riding upon any bicycle, motorized bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself to any vehicle upon a roadway.
300.330. Bicycle lane regulations
The driver of a motor vehicle shall not drive within any sidewalk area except as a permanent or temporary driveway. A designated bicycle lane shall not be obstructed by a parked or standing motor vehicle or other stationary object. A motor vehicle may be driven in a designated bicycle lane only for the purpose of a lawful maneuver to cross the lane or to provide for safe travel. In making an otherwise lawful maneuver that requires traveling in or crossing a designated bicycle lane, the driver of a motor vehicle shall yield to any bicycle in the lane. As used in this section, the term “designated bicycle lane” shall mean a portion of the roadway or highway that has been designated by the governing body having jurisdiction over such roadway or highway by striping with signing or striping with pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicycles.
300.411 and 304.678 Overtake bicycles at a safe distance
(1) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, as defined in section 300.010, RSMo, shall leave a safe distance, when passing the bicycle, and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
(2) Any person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of an infraction unless an accident is involved in which case it shall be a class C misdemeanor.
307.180. Bicycle and motorized bicycle, defined. As used in sections 307.180 to 307.193:
(1) The word bicycle shall mean every vehicle propelled solely by human power upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, or two parallel wheels and one or two forward or rear wheels, all of which are more than fourteen inches in diameter, except scooters and similar devices;
(2) The term motorized bicycle shall mean any two or three-wheeled device having an automatic transmission and a motor with a cylinder capacity of not more than fifty cubic centimeters, which produces less than three gross brake horsepower, and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than thirty miles per hour on level ground. A motorized bicycle shall be considered a motor vehicle for purposes of any homeowners- or renters- insurance policy.
307.183. Brakes required.
Every bicycle and motorized bicycle shall be equipped with a brake or brakes which will enable its driver to stop the bicycle or motorized bicycle within twenty-five feet from a speed of ten
miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.
307.185 Lights and reflectors, when required – standards to be met.
Every bicycle and motorized bicycle when in use on a street or highway during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with the following:
(1) A front-facing lamp on the front or carried by the rider which shall emit a white light visible at night under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway at five hundred feet;
(2) A rear-facing red reflector, at least two square inches in reflective surface area, or a rear-facing red lamp, on the rear which shall be visible at night under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway when viewed by a vehicle driver under the lower beams of vehicle head-lights at six hundred feet;
(3) Reflective material and/or lights visible from the front and the rear on any moving part of the bicyclists, pedals, crank arms, shoes or lower leg, visible from the front and the rear at night under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway when viewed by a vehicle driver under the lawful lower beams of vehicle headlights at two hundred feet; and
(4) Reflective material and/or lights visible on each side of the bicycle or bicyclist visible at night under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway when viewed by a vehicle driver under the lawful lower beams of vehicle headlights at three hundred feet. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to motorized bicycles which comply with National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration regulations relating to reflectors on motorized bicycles.
307.188. Rights and duties of bicycle and motorized bicycle riders. Every person riding a bicycle or motorized bicycle upon a street or highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle as provided by chapter 304, RSMo, except as to special regulations in sections 307.180 to 307.193 and except as to those provisions of chapter 304, RSMo, which by their nature can have no application.
307.190. Riding to right, required for bicycles and motorized bicycles.
Every person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as safe, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction, except when making a left turn, when avoiding hazardous conditions, when the lane is too narrow to share with another vehicle or when on a one-way street. Bicyclists may ride abreast when not impeding other vehicles.
307.191. Shoulder riding, allowed but not required for bicyclist operators
(1) A person operating a bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway may operate as described in section 307.190, or may operate on the shoulder adjacent to the roadway.
(2) A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder adjacent to a roadway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.
(3) For purposes of this section and section 307.190, “roadway”, means that portion of a street or highway ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.
307.192. Bicyclists may signal right turn with right arm
The operator of a bicycle shall signal as required in section 304.019, RSMo, except that a signal by the hand and arm need not be given continuously if the hand is needed to control or operate the bicycle. An operator of a bicycle intending to turn the bicycle to the right shall signal as indicated in section 304.019, RSMo, or by extending such operator’s right arm in a horizontal position so that the same may be seen in front and in rear of the vehicle.
307.193. Penalty for violation.
Any person seventeen years of age or older who violates any provision of sections 307.180 to 307.193 is guilty of an infraction and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than five dollars nor more than twenty-five dollars. Such an infraction does not constitute a crime and conviction shall not give rise to any disability or legal disadvantage based on conviction of a criminal offense. If any person under seventeen years of age violates any provision of sections 307.180 to 307.193 in the presence of a peace officer possessing the duty and power of arrest for violation of the general criminal laws of the state or for violation of ordinances of counties or municipalities of the state, said officer may impound the bicycle or motorized bicycle involved for a period not to exceed five days upon issuance of a receipt to the child riding it or to its owner.
© 2011 The Law Offices of Michelle M. Funkenbusch, LLC. All Rights Reserved. These materials may not be reproduced in any way without the written permission of The Law Offices of Michelle M. Funkenbusch, LLC. This blog is designed to provide general information on the topic provided and is posted with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering any legal or professional services. Although this post and the blog is prepared by a lawyer, it should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. If legal advice is required, the services of The Law Offices of Michelle M. Funkenbusch should be sought privately.