A cyclist in Amador County, CA had a frightening encounter recently, when a truck bumped them while they were out for a ride. Fortunately, the cyclist only sustained minor injuries and was able to walk away, but the truck driver didn’t even stop, so the cyclist isn’t sure if the accident was intentional or the result of a distracted driver.
After watching a video of the incident, John Poimiroo from the American River Bike Patrol urged all drivers to keep their distance. In California, it is the law that drivers must leave at least three feet of space when passing cyclists on the road. This law is designed to keep both cyclists and drivers safe and to create a greater sense of awareness while driving.
Every state has different rules and regulations, and Oklahoma is no exception. The three-foot law also applies to Oklahoma drivers and is just one of the state’s many important cycling laws. Whether you’re a serious cyclist or just a casual rider, it’s important to stay up to date on the Bicycle Laws in Oklahoma to make sure you’re cycling safely and legally.
Before you Ride
Biking is a great way to get around and can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to remember that being safe on the road starts with being prepared. Make sure you have the proper gear and equipment before you ride and always obey the laws. Oklahoma law requires all cyclists to have certain gear and equipment, so let’s take a look at what you need before you hit the road.
Equipment Required by Law:
- Brakes – you must have at least one brake that can make the wheels of your bike skid on dry, level, clean pavement while being applied with normal hand force. Make sure you check your brakes regularly and replace any worn parts so you can stay safe on the roads.
- Lights – a bicyclist must have both a white headlight and a red tail light. The headlight should be visible from 500 feet away, while the taillight should be visible from 300 feet away.
While most states have laws about helmets- usually requiring those under the age of 18 to wear a helmet, Oklahoma does not require one. This, however, does not make riding without a helmet any less dangerous. Norman is the only city that requires helmets for anyone seventeen and younger, wearing a helmet is highly recommended for everyone else. Look for a helmet with a sticker indicating that it meets safety standards set by either the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
How to Communicate with Drivers by Hand Signaling
Hand signals alert motorists to your intentions, and can be used to safely share the road. Section 11-606 of Title 47 states that all signals should be given from the left side. This may sound confusing at first, but since bicycles lanes are to the right side of moving traffic, you should signal towards the left side- regardless of whether the signal is with your right or left hand.
Here are some hand signals for cyclists to be aware of:
- The Left Hand Signal: Make a 90 degree angle with your left arm, and keep your arm pointed left for a few seconds. This lets cars know that you’re about to turn left.
- The Right Hand Signal: Raise your right arm out and up at a 90 degree angle, with your elbow bent, then keep your arm in this position until you’ve made your turn. This lets cars know you’ll be turning right.
- The Braking Signal: Clasp your right and left hands together, then pump your hands outwards in the direction of your brakes. This lets cars know you’ll be stopping.
- The Slowing Signal: Make a 45 degree angle with your left arm, and keep your arm pointed downward for a few seconds. This lets cars know that you’ll be slowing down.
Traffic Laws to Protect Cyclists
Right hooks occur when a motorist driving alongside a cyclist suddenly turns right, cutting off the cyclist. This can be extremely dangerous and often results in cyclists being injured or killed. To protect yourself as a cyclist, it is important to always be aware of your surroundings and stay alert for any potential right hook turns. It is also important to remember that motorists must yield to you as a cyclist if you are proceeding in a straight line.
When a motorist opens the door of their car without looking, they can put cyclists in danger. This is called “dooring” and it can cause severe injuries for cyclists. When a driver opens the door into the path of a cyclist, the cyclist is often unable to stop in time and may be thrown from their bike. To prevent dooring, cyclists should be aware of their surroundings, ride defensively, and stay as far away as possible from parked cars.
According to Oklahoma State Statute 47-11-605, cyclists are not allowed to ride on sidewalks that are located in business districts or where signs prohibit their use. Because of pedestrians, generally, riding on the sidewalk is more dangerous than on the bike lane. Children learning how to ride a bike should stick to the sidewalk until they’re able to keep up with other bikers.
Remember that Local Laws Vary
It is important to be aware of the laws that affect you while riding. When it comes to cycling in Oklahoma, local laws can vary greatly from city to city. For example, the state does not prohibit or expressly allow sidewalk riding. However, many cities ban it in business districts and put up signs prohibiting cycling on sidewalks. In Edmond, cyclists can go through a red light if it has stayed red for at least two minutes. This is known as the Idaho stop. On the other hand, Oklahoma City has a mandatory bike lane law, while Tulsa does not. Oklahoma also does not mandate the use of helmets, except for Norman which requires minors to wear a helmet.
It is important to understand the local laws of wherever you are riding in order to stay safe. Bicycle laws can be confusing, so familiarize yourself with them before you hit the road. Make sure you research your local laws to ensure that you are following all regulations and staying safe while cycling.
If you want to know more about the laws that affect cyclists in Oklahoma, there are some great resources available. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has a wealth of information about cycling laws on its website. You can also check with your local government for more information.
Contact us or call us at 918-359-6600 today for a free consultation.