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Do Cyclists Need To Stop for Stop Signs?

Published on Apr 28, 2023 at 4:59 pm in Bicycle Accident.

Do Cyclists Need To Stop for Stop Signs?

A rite of passage for bicyclists is when they are finally able to venture beyond their driveway or neighborhood cul-de-sac and onto lightly trafficked residential streets and busier roadways. Moving from riding a bike in the relative safety of a dead-end street in a subdivision in Louisville, for example, into the downtown area or the other major thoroughfares, comes with a lot of risks to riders. One of the primary dangers is the potential of getting hit by an automobile.

Riding city streets is dangerous for bicyclists. One of the primary reasons why that’s the case is because drivers and cyclists alike aren’t clear as to the rules of the road that they must follow. One of those details riders and other motorists they share the road with fail to apprise themselves of is whether cyclists need to stop for stop signs. Read on to learn that answer once and for all, as this knowledge may be key to preventing you from becoming involved in a crash.

How Kentucky Law Classifies Bicyclists

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS 189.010), and local regulations here in Louisville classify bicyclists as motor vehicles, just like other cars, even though bikes are only operable under muscle power.

Notable Kentucky Laws That Apply to Bicyclists

Per the Kentucky Administrative Regulations (601 KAR 14:020), bicycles are subject to some unique restrictions compared to other automobiles. Those limitations placed upon Kentucky bicyclists include:

  • Riders should use a highway lane designated for exclusive use by bicyclists when possible
  • Cyclists can ride their bikes on highway shoulders
  • Riders can ride two bikes abreast in a single lane

Additionally, KRS 189.287 requires that Kentucky bikers:

  • Maintain at least one hand on the bike’s handlebars at any given time
  • Do not carry more individuals than the bicycle was designed for
  • Install and use a headlight when traveling by bicycle at night or in other poor lighting conditions
  • Have and utilize a flashing or static red light or reflector installed on the rear portion of the bike when there’s decreased visibility due to overcast skies, darkness at night, or anytime when traveling by bicycle on a shoulder or highway

As for the latter point, state law authorizes the use of technological alternatives to standard bells, reflectors, and lights when they exist.

What Obligations Do Kentucky Bike Riders Have When Approaching Stop Signs?

Despite bikes being classified as motor vehicles by our state, decisions about whether a rider has to bring their bicycle to a halt at a stop sign are decided locally.

For example, the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government has its own regulation regarding whether cyclists must stop for stop signs. According to Section 70.03 (C) of the jurisdiction’s traffic code, bike riders must come to a full stop at all traffic control devices, including red lights or stop signs, as any other automobile would have to.

Other Regulations Louisville Bike Riders Must Abide By

In addition to stopping at red lights or stop signs, the local Louisville code also requires bike riders to initiate turns from the correct lane and pass on the left. There is one exception to the latter rule, though. City officials prefer for cyclists to remain in designated bicycle lanes to pass others, even if that means ultimately passing those vehicles from the right in those instances.

Another requirement the City of Louisville has in place that bicyclists must follow is signaling their intention to turn by sporadically using lights or hand gestures during the final 50 feet before initiating a turn.

City officials also expect bike riders to keep to the rightmost portion of the lane, except when street width, potential hazards, or parked vehicles make doing so impossible.

Louisville bike riding laws also make it illegal for bicyclists over age 11 to utilize a sidewalk when traveling on a bicycle.

Practices Drivers Should Follow To Keep Bicyclists Safe

There are steps automobile drivers can follow to do their best to avoid crashing into bicyclists, whether at intersections controlled by traffic signals or signs, or any other time when sharing the road with them. Tips the Kentucky Department of Tourism, a state agency, advises motorists to follow include:

  • Being observant by constantly scanning the road for potential bikers (especially when making turns)
  • Erring on the side of caution and giving bike riders the right of way whenever possible
  • Avoiding threatening or otherwise engaging in road rage around bicyclists
  • Being mindful of how one’s operation of their vehicle will impact the responsiveness of a bicyclist (like suddenly pulling in front of them to make a turn)
  • Avoiding opening one’s door after having parallel parked until after they’ve checked to make sure no bicyclist is fast approaching that could be doored
  • Utilizing a horn to notify bicyclists of their potentially risky behaviors or impending hazards that could cause them to get hurt or have a crash

KYTC also lists a best practice for motorists to treat bikes as slow-moving motor vehicles by making sure that they’ve been cleared before passing them. They also advise drivers to avoid tailgating bikes, especially as they approach potential road hazards such as potholes, intersections, speed bumps, construction zones, and other obstacles that may require them to decrease their speed to navigate them.

State transportation officials point out that all drivers should follow the 3-foot rule when navigating Kentucky roads alongside bicyclists. As part of this rule, drivers should:

  • Leave this distance between them and a bicycle that they’re trailing so as not to unnecessarily crash into the cyclist in a rear-end crash
  • Not pull in front of a bicyclist that they’re passing unless they’re able to do so at least this far ahead of the rider

As for the latter point, KYTC suggests that a driver pulling ahead of a cyclist with less than a 3-foot distance could cause them to lose control over their bicycle, resulting in a catastrophic bike accident.

Your Rights if You’ve Been Injured in Louisville While Riding Your Bike

Many cities across Kentucky have implemented measures to enhance bicyclists’ safety over the past few years. While many of them have curbed accident rates, a lot of progress still needs to be made.

Our state’s criminal law system allows motorists who engage in reckless driving to be held criminally responsible for their actions. That doesn’t do much to help you if you incur significant monetary losses after being hurt in an accident, though. That’s where our civil legal system figures into the mix.

A bicycle accident lawyer in Louisville at Thomas Law Offices can advocate for you to receive just compensation so you can cover your newfound medical bills and financially make ends meet in light of your lost wages. Contact our law firm to get your free case evaluation on one of our personal injury attorneys’ schedules so that you can begin to hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions.

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At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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