As a Missouri expert in bicycle law, here are the top five misconceptions about the law as it relates to cyclists and or the rights of bicyclists on the road:
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 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 driving, you may be required to drive slower to meet the highest degree of care standard.
If you know someone who has been hit while riding their bicycle, please have them contact Michelle M. Funkenbusch at 314-338-3500. She is a passionate advocate for cyclists, is an Ironman triathlete, and welcomes new cases involving the protection of cyclists’ rights on the road.
Avoid potential problems if you have been in a bicycle accident, contact Michelle today at 314-799-6602!
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