by M. Alison Reed, JD
As temperatures and gas prices climb, many Indiana residents are taking to the road on their bicycles. Comprised of trails, parks, and the open road, the League of American Bicyclists considers Indiana the 24th most bicycle-friendly state. While bicycling can be great exercise and an enjoyable activity for people of all ages, accidents do happen. Luckily, Indiana law protects bicyclists the same way they protect drivers of motor vehicles. (IC 9-21-11-2) To help you avoid a bicycle accident, here is a list of Indiana Bicycle Regulations that you should know before hitting the road:
Follow the Rules: Bicyclists are required to follow all traffic laws applicable to motor vehicles. Failure to comply can even result in a traffic citation. (IC 9-21-11-2)
Where do I put my stuff?: If your bike has a cargo hold, like a basket or saddle bag, you may transport items inside. You cannot, however, carry any package or item on your bike that requires you to take both hands off the handlebars. (IC 9-21-11-7)
One seat, One Rider: Your bike can only transport the number of people for which it was designed. One seat equals one rider—no passengers on the handlebars. (IC 9-21-11-4)
White Light, Red Light: It’s important to see and be seen. From one half hour after sunset until one half hour before sunrise, the front of your bike must be affixed with a light that allows the road to be visible for 500 feet in front of you. This light must be white. During that same timeframe, the rear of your bike must have a reflector or light visible from a distance of 500 feet. This light/reflector must be red. (IC 9-21-11-9)
Can you hear me now?: This one may surprise you. Bicyclists are required to have a bell or audible device attached to their bike and the sound has to be able to be heard from 100 feet away. But, keep in mind, the device cannot be a whistle or siren. (IC 9-21-11-8)
Your Duty to Care: Motor vehicle drivers and bicyclists alike owe what’s called a duty of care to both pedestrians and other motorists/bicyclists. What this means is motor vehicle drivers are required to watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists, and exercise care to avoid collisions. Bicyclists are required to do the same for motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians. (IC 9-21-8-37)
Now that we know the rules, let’s check out what the Indiana State Police say about staying safe (https://www.in.gov/isp/2969.htm):
- Wear a properly fitted helmet every time you ride
- Check your bicycle for safety. Use the ABC quick check:
- Air – check your tire’s air pressure,
- Brakes – check brakes to make sure they work,
- Chain – make sure it is tight and oiled
- Learn and follow the rules of the road; among the most important is always ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Be seen by other road users. Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials on your body or equipment at night.
- Stay alert
Bicycling is a summertime rite of passage, but it can be dangerous. No matter how closely we follow the rules and adhere to safety precautions, bicycle accidents do happen—and the resulting injuries can be catastrophic and expensive. If the actions of a negligent motorist or a defect with your bike have resulted in an injury for you or a loved one, you have rights. Contact Goodin Abernathy, LLP to explore your options.