It is important to remember that roads are not just for cars and trucks, and that they are meant to be shared with pedestrians and bicyclists as well. To that end the Montana Department of Transportation has started the Share the Road initiative that aims to educate and remind residents that roads are meant to be used equally by pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists.

The issue is important because of the relative disparity in weight between a car or truck and a bicyclist or a pedestrian in the event of a collision or car accident. Bicyclists and pedestrians will likely suffer massive amounts of damage in the event of an impact with a travelling automobile. The potential for loss of life is also greatly increased in these types of car crashes.

The initiative is geared to highlight awareness that every person who operates a bicycle on Montana roadways is granted all of the rights of a driver operating a car or truck on the road. This also means that just like automobile drivers, bicyclists riding on Montana roadways shall also be subject to all of the duties applicable to the drivers of motor vehicles.

Bicyclists should be aware that if they are traveling at a speed that is lower than the surrounding traffic that they must confine themselves to the right side of the road unless they are in the process of passing another vehicle or preparing to take a left turn. They may also avoid traveling on the right side of the road in order to avoid an unsafe roadway condition or a hazardous situation.

When traveling in groups, bicyclists must ride in single file unless they are traveling on a shoulder or parking lane or passing another cyclist. Additionally, cyclists don’t have to ride in single file if they are on a road that has a minimum of two lanes in each direction of travel and the bicyclists are not constraining normal traffic flow. For all who use the road, being vigilant and considerate of others may be the most important element of maintaining safety and avoiding accidents and serious injuries on Montana roads.

Source: Montana Department of Transportation, “Share the Road,” Accessed Jan. 26, 2015