Legal-Ease: Sharing the road with bicyclists

As the weather gets warmer, more and more people start to spend time outside enjoying the nice weather. This means more people are taking walks with pets and loved ones.

More people are riding bikes through their neighborhoods and along the street. This is especially true in rural areas, where there are no sidewalks to ride bikes.

Ohio law requires that everyone on the road, regardless of their mode of transportation, must follow the signals, signs and pavement markings that direct traffic (unless you are otherwise instructed by a police officer).

Ohio law defines vehicles as almost every device used for the transportation of people and property. This means in the definition of vehicles all the following are included: cars, trucks, vans, buses, bicycles, motorized bicycles and electric bicycles (“e-bikes”). However, this does not include motorized wheelchairs or low-speed micromobility devices, such as electric scooters and skateboards.

Further, the posted speed limits are the legal maximum speed at which a vehicle can travel. This maximum speed applies and cannot legally be exceeded even when passing other vehicles on the road, such as bicyclists.

In Ohio, people are allowed to ride bikes in the streets. But it’s very important to keep in mind that local authorities may also regulate the operation of bicycles. So, you should always check with your local authorities to see if they require registration/licensing for bicycles. Even though local authorities may regulate the operation of bicycles, Ohio law does not let local authorities prohibit bicycle operation on streets.

Ohio law states vehicles must be driven on the right half of the roadway. Since bicyclists are defined as a vehicle, this means bicyclists should ride on the right half of the roadway. Riding with traffic instead of against it allows bicyclists to see all traffic signs and signals while driving, which is a logical reason why bicyclists should travel on the right half of the roadway since they are legally obligated to obey all traffic signals.

Except for the freeways, bicyclists are generally allowed wherever cars and other motor vehicles are. Ohio law specifically prohibits bicyclists and pedestrians from being allowed on a freeway.

Further, when more than one bicyclist is riding in the street, Ohio law allows that two bicyclists can ride side-by-side within a single travel lane. Keep in mind the best practice for people biking in a roadway is that the bicyclists should ride as close to the right side of the roadway as practicable. The exception to this would be if there are hazards on the right side of the road or if the lane is narrow. If either of those exceptions apply, then the bicyclists should then ride in the middle of the lane.

It is important that even as the weather warms up, people still follow the laws even when riding bikes on the roadways to keep themselves and others safe.

Nichole Y. Shafer is an Ohio-licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LTD in Putnam County. She limits her practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. She can be reached at [email protected] or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.