Police reports from the last two weeks included at least three instance of cyclists riding on road at night without the proper safety lighting. While all of the noted stops eventually led to arrests for outstanding warrants or possession of controlled substances, Denison Police Lt. Mike Eppler said all cyclists can keep themselves safe and out of potential legal trouble if they follow a few applicable laws.
Police are offering up some friendly reminders about the laws that pertain to cyclists after several recent encounters with riders who lacked the proper safety equipment.
Here are three things to know about cycling laws.
1. Bikes and motor vehicle laws are similar
“The same rules of the road apply for bicycles, just like they do for vehicles,” Lt. Mike Eppler said. “You have to have a headlight and tail light that’s operational at night. And you have to stop at all red lights and stop signs.”
The Denison Police lieutenant said cyclists must also follow all posted speed limits and remain on the right side of the road, but bikes aren’t allowed on every paved surface.
2. City ordinances can affect rules from city to city
“In downtown Denison, or the business district, we have an ordinance against riding on the sidewalks. So, you can’t do it there,” Eppler said. “But we tell kids that when they’re riding their bikes in the neighborhood, to ride on the sidewalk, if at all possible, or somewhere off the road.”
Eppler said cyclists are also required to signal as they travel and change direction, so that other travelers know where cyclists intend to travel.
“If you’re going to turn left, put your hand straight out and if you’re going to make a right turn, bend at the elbow and put your arm at a 90-degree angle,” Eppler said. “And if you’re going to stop, put your arm down at a 90-degree angle.”
3. Helmets are not required, but are helpful
While cyclists are not required by law to wear helmets or other protective gear, Eppler said doing so can significantly improve their safety and visibility.
“They should always be wearing a helmet,” Eppler said. “And reflective clothing is very important, especially after dark. Make yourself seen.”
Eppler said it’s also a good idea to take care of any outstanding warrants and to stay away from drugs, no matter the chosen method of travel.
Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.