Hoosiers and visitors to our state eagerly break out the bicycles every spring. Sharing the road is stressful for both cyclists and drivers, especially if they don’t fully understand what rules apply to cars, what rules apply to bikes, and what rules apply to both. In Indiana, some of those rules might surprise you. Here are some of the finer points of Indiana’s bike laws that cyclists and drivers should be aware of to keep everyone safe.
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1. Red Lights
It might annoy people waiting in their vehicles, but the truth is that under Indiana state law a bicyclist is allowed to run a red light–but only if it’s been red for longer than two minutes. The same rule applies to motorcycles and mopeds, because they might not be heavy enough to trigger the light to change colors. However, the bike does have to stop at the red light for at least two minutes. At stop signs, cyclists of all varieties are always required to come to a full and complete stop and wait their turn before going.
2. Passengers and Packages
Though it was fun when you were a kid in your neighborhood, it’s illegal to ride someone double on your bike. Everyone riding the bike must have their own attached seat, and the driver can’t be carrying any packages on the handlebars that prevent them from using both hands to steer. And, of course, you should be using both hands at all times, meaning no texting, eating, or selfies while the bike is in motion. Distracted driving concerns exist for cyclists as well as cars.
3. Signs and Signals
Indiana cyclists are responsible for equipping their bike with lights so they can be seen. At night, the bike must have one white light in front and one red light in back that can both be seen from 500 feet away. Bikes are no longer required to have a bell, but a new law does prohibit attaching a siren or a whistle while on a bike, or using one while on a bike. Cyclists are also legally required to signal their turns using traditional arm signals that have been long defined across the US—left arm fully extended for a left hand turn, or raised at a 90-degree angle for a right turn.
4. Sharing Lanes
Though more and more Indiana streets now have bike lanes, the majority do not, especially in rural areas. In cases where a cyclist is on the road—which they always have the right to be, even when there is a sidewalk—it’s recommended they keep to the right third of the right lane. That way oncoming motorists can still see the cyclist, but they aren’t totally obstructing traffic. Still, cyclists are allowed to ride in the center of the lane if they want to. It is important to know that when you are riding in a bike lane, no more than two cyclists may ride next to each other at the same time, unless you are on a trail or path for bikes only.
On July 1, 2019, Indiana’s safe passing law went into effect, which means motorists are legally required to give bikes 3 feet of clearance while passing. If it is safe for the motorist to cross a double yellow line and pass a cyclist, that is allowed by law. The same bill also established three different classes of electric bicycles under Indiana law, and defined that these vehicles are treated the same as bicycles.
Greater public education about these bike laws will help reduce both the number of cycling injuries and the frustrations and fears of drivers and cyclists alike. If you or a loved one was injured in a bike accident because these laws or others were not understood, the attorneys at CFCLB in Indianapolis want to help you get what you need to move forward in life with peace of mind. From fighting for you in court to helping you plan for every new challenge you may face, we’re your advocates. Contact us today for a free consultation.