In 2012, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office responded to numerous driving complaints involving bicyclists, especially packs of bikers in the western and eastern parts of the county.
“Bad behavior has come from both sides: bikers riding as if they are exempt from traffic laws and motorists creating dangerous situations for riders,” Sheriff Mark Bowen stated in a news release.
According to Bowen, bicycle laws cover all bicyclists on any Indiana roadway or path designated for bicycles. In general, bikers have the same duties and rights as the general motoring public. This includes obeying all traffic laws, including stopping at intersections controlled by lights and signs, yielding to pedestrians, signaling turns and traveling with the flow of traffic.
“Just as a motorist can be stopped and warned or ticketed for disobeying a traffic law, the same can be done for a person riding a bike,” Bowen stated in the release.
When riding in a group or pack, state statute says bicyclists may not ride more than two abreast unless the path or roadway is set aside for the exclusive use of bicyclists. Bike courtesy is for riders to single-up or allow motorists to pass as soon as practical. Large packs of bikers should help facilitate vehicles moving around the group rather than holding up traffic. Motorists should exercise patience and wait until passing can be done safely.
“Please remember that bicyclists are much more vulnerable than drivers and are often harder to see,” Bowen stated.
While Indiana does not have a bicycle helmet law, bikers should always ride wearing a helmet, according to Bowen.
State law does dictates:
- If a bike is ridden between the hours of 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, the bike must have a white light in front and a red light to the rear. The lights must be visible for a distance of at least 500 feet. For safety, use of lights on bikes during the day as well as reflective or retro-reflective clothing and devices are encouraged.
- Bikers must be seated on a permanent seat and not carry anyone who is not seated upon a firmly attached and regular seat. Unless a bike is built to carry more than one person, only one person may ride on the bike at any one time. Carrying of packages and other items that keep a biker from riding with both hands on the handlebars is prohibited.
- Parents and guardians are responsible for their children and may not knowingly permit a child to violate Indiana bicycle laws. Make sure children understand and obey bike rules.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Bicycle Team is available to present a free child bike safety program for schools, churches, clubs and other organizations. Adult programs can be arranged as well. The Bike Team is also available for demonstrations and special patrols. Contact the sheriff’s office at 773-1872 for more information.