As we enter the summer months, we’re all riding our bicycles again. It’s great exercise, fun and environmentally friendly. However, it can also be dangerous.
So, it’s time to highlight some tips and laws in Missouri for safe cycling.
- Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk within a business district is prohibited.
- When riding a bicycle elsewhere on a sidewalk, the rider shall yield right-of-way to any pedestrian and give an audible signal before passing any pedestrian,
- The laws require a brake that will stop the bicycle within 24 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry level pavement.
- Bicycle riders on a street or highway have all the rights and are subject to all the traffic laws applying to drivers of motorized vehicles, including obeying all traffic signals and signs.
- Use common hand signals whenever you plan to turn, slow or stop.
- Ride as near to the right side of the roadway as is safe.
When riding at night, these additional requirements apply:
- A white light mounted on the front of the bicycle visible at 500 feet.
- A rear facing red reflector of at least two square inches or a red lamp visible at 600 feet.
- Reflective materials and/or lights visible from the front and rear of any part of the bicycle’s pedals, or the bicyclist’s shoes, which can be seen at 200 feet.
- Reflective materials and/or lights on each side of the bicycle visible at 300 feet.
There are cash penalties for violations of these regulations. In some cases, your bicycle can be impounded.
Wear a Helmet!
Although Missouri does not have a state law requiring the use of bicycle helmets, it is incredibly unsafe to avoid wearing one. In 2011, between 70-80% of all fatal bicycle crashes involved head injuries (according to the latest collective data available), and studies show bicycle helmets are 85-88% effective in reducing total head and brain injuries.
St. Louis County Ordinance 602.600 requires all bicyclists under the age of 17 to wear helmets when riding a bicycle (see the Ordinance below). Some St. Louis County municipalities have enacted its own laws requiring the use of bicycle helmets for underage riders (under 17). These counties include the following:
- Bellefontaine Neighbors
- Creve Coeur
- Webster Groves
The following St. Louis County municipalities require bicycle helmets for individuals of all ages:
- Black Jack
- Calverton Park
- Creve Couer
- Grantwood Village
- Sycamore Hills
- Town & Country
- Velda City
- Velda Village Hills
(St. Charles County requires all bicycle riders less than 16 years old to wear a helmet.)
Of all Missouri traffic crashes in 2011, 5% involved a bicycle. Of all those crashes, one person was killed and that’s one too many. An additional 581 were injured, and some very seriously. Every 15.1 hours in Missouri a person was killed or injured, and the vast majority of crashes happened in urban areas during this time of the year (April – October).
Motorists Should “Share the Road” with Bicyclists
Still, many drivers of trucks, cars and other motor vehicles are not minding that advice. That’s where serious accidents can happen and that’s where I can help.
If you or a family member has been injured in a bicycle crash involving an irresponsible driver, give me a call. Together we can work to keep our streets safe so motorists and cyclists can ride together.
Enjoy the ride, but be safe.
*Statistics from 2011 Missouri State Highway Patrol Statistical Analysis Center