Bike-use rules clear hurdles

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By Karen Kennedy

Before you pedal away from your house today, there are some new bicycle laws you should know about.

After months of delays due to disagreements on the particulars of the new rules, a satisfactory version was unanimously approved at the Nov. 4 city council meeting and is effective immediately.

Some of the policies are new and some are carried over from the previous rules.

But whether you’re walking, biking or driving in Carmel, here’s what the law now says:

Bicyclists:

  • Must yield the right-of-way to any person they approach from behind and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing.
  • Emerging from alleys or driveways must yield the right-of-way to both pedestrians and motor vehicles.
  • No more than two bicyclists may ride abreast on any multi-use path, and groups of cyclists may not stop traffic on a city street to cross against a traffic signal.
  • Must not exceed a speed limit of 20 mph on the Monon Trail, nor exceed a speed limit of 15 mph on the Monon between 111th and 136 streets.
  • May not pass motor vehicles on a roadway.

Dog Walkers/Pedestrians:

  • Dog walkers must continuously restrain their dogs with a leash no longer than 6 feet. (The previous ordinance prohibited retractable leashes; the new one does not.)

Drivers:

  • Of a motor vehicle must exercise “due care” to avoid colliding with a cyclist and sound a warning horn beep.
  • May not open a car door on a city street without looking, or leave a car door open on the street unattended.
  • Who are making a right turn which takes them through a bike lane must yield to bikes in the lane.
  • May not turn right in front of a bicyclist (whether on a roadway or when crossing a multi-use path) and drivers must yield the right-of-way to oncoming cyclists when turning left.

While some of the particulars of these policies seem like common sense, the ordinance’s sponsor, Councilor Ron Carter said, “It still has to be spelled out. It’s common sense that you can’t rob a bank, but we still have laws that say it’s illegal.”

The ordinance does not address the issue of pedestrian right-of-way where multi-use paths cross city streets, because that is a matter of state law.

“Citizens must remember that city ordinances can never trump state law,” said Councilor Luci Snyder. “In other states, pedestrians always have the right-of-way; that is not the case here. Indiana state law grants motor vehicles the right-of-way. Stopping and waving on bikes and pedestrians, while polite, is actually against the law and can cause accidents.”

Any person or business cited for violations of these rules is subject to a fine of $100 plus costs for the first offense and not less than $200 for the second and all subsequent offenses.

For a copy of the ordinance click here


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