Posted in News on May 2, 2017
Whether you are a cyclist, a pedestrian or a driver, it is important to be familiar with the rules of the road. When everyone using the road is aware of the laws and abides by them, it creates a safer transportation experience. Stay up to date on Montana’s biking laws to prevent injury and liability during your commute.
Montana State Laws for Cyclists
As long as a cyclist is lawfully riding their bicycle, they have the right-of-way. There can be absolutely no interference with a cyclist in a designated bicycle lane. As of 2015, cyclists can travel in the driving lane as well. Cyclists in driving lanes must adhere to all motor vehicle traffic laws such as turn indications and stops to be considered “lawful.” If cyclists fail to follow traffic laws and it leads to a collision, they may be at fault.
Bicyclists are allowed on sidewalks and crosswalks, but must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. If a cyclist is preparing to pass a pedestrian, they must have adequate space to do so and give an audible signal before passing. While riding on the sidewalk, a cyclist has all the same rights as a pedestrian.
Montana law clearly states that safe conditions must be present for a motor vehicle to pass a cyclist. If passing would endanger the cyclist in any way, it is considered unlawful. Cyclists must follow all Montana motor vehicle laws regarding passing when riding in a driving lane.
Bike lanes are reserved for bicycles only. Motor vehicles cannot drive or park in a bike lane as this could become hazardous for cyclists. If the driver of a motor vehicle must cross over a bike lane while turning or switching lanes, they must follow the right-of-way laws concerning cyclists in bike lanes.
Currently, there are no state laws requiring cyclists to wear helmets while riding. Some cities have passed regulations regarding helmets for children under a certain age, so check with your local ordinances for city-specific laws. It is highly recommended to wear a helmet for your safety, especially when riding in high-traffic areas.
A forward-facing white bike or helmet lamp must be used during darker hours of the day, including dawn, dusk and nighttime. This light must have a visible distance of at least 500 feet. A red light must be placed in the rear with the same visible distance. The sides of the bike should be equipped with reflective material to increase visibility. These regulations exist for the safety of the cyclist.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Motorist-Cyclist Accident
If you are in a motorist-cyclist collision, you must first determine who is at fault. In most cases, the driver of the motor vehicle will be at fault as cyclists usually have the right of way. If the cyclist was not abiding by the law, however, the cyclist could be liable.
It is wise to first seek settlement by filing a claim with the liable party’s insurance company. If the insurance company does not adequately compensate the injured party, a personal injury claim should be filed. The claim must be filed within three years of the incident and could cover costs for loss of wages and future earnings, property damage, medical costs and other losses.
Familiarizing yourself with the laws can help you safely pilot your way on Montana’s roads and avoid liability in the case of a collision. Use caution when turning or switching lanes and wear the recommended safety gear to prevent injury, legal consequences, and harm to other drivers or cyclists on the road.