Reviewing and Modifying Laws Affecting Bicyclists

Many of the traffic laws that are in place were written in a time when the automobile dominated all areas of transportation planning, design, and enforcement. These laws and regulations may overlook important bicyclist issues or be in need of an update or correction. For instance, communities may need to update their laws and regulations concerning bicyclists to be consistent with changes to their comprehensive transportation plan or road/development laws. Before undergoing an enforcement campaign or program, agencies should be aware of the laws affecting bicyclists in their locality and how these affect the enforcement activities.

Local agencies responsible for bicyclist safety can work in cooperation with law enforcement departments, the city attorney, and others to review local ordinances and state bicycle laws and compare them with the current version of the Uniform Vehicle Code and Model Traffic Ordinance. The web site for the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances may be useful in this task. Cities should focus on regulations that are dangerous (e.g., mandatory side path laws), seem to unnecessarily restrict bicyclist traffic, or appear out of date when compared to the national models. A report can be developed recommending changes to local ordinances and State traffic laws and local agencies can work to see the changes implemented.