The laws governing bicycles continue to be developed as bicycle advocates continue to develop the laws that can accommodate people who use bikes. The advocates have continued to fight hard for the rights of cyclists and are pushing for better laws for their members.
Generally, the laws can be divided into three:
• Those that revolve around helmets
• Those that address vulnerability of road users
• And those that protects cyclists
It should be remembered that all state bike laws are meant to minimize the risks and reduce conflicts between bikes, cars and traffic.
Laws Related To Helmets
The laws on helmets require that any person riding a bicycle must wear helmets. All these laws are directed to persons less than 18 years. Helmets laws can be enforced on the parent or a person on the bicycle.
The use of helmets is recommended for safer bicycling. However, countries that have a greater bicycle use have relaxed on helmets laws because they believe that the laws tend to limit the use of bicycles.
In the U.S, over 21 states including the District of Columbia have laws that require any person under the age of 18 years to wear helmets.
Following an increase in the percentage of road fatalities, vulnerable road user laws have been enacted to increase protection for bicyclist. The states have chosen to protect vulnerable road users in the following ways:
• Imposing harsher penalties for violating the existing laws and which impacts heavily on other road users
• Creating laws that prohibit certain actions directed at a given set of road users.
In cases where the majority of road users have been injured and killed owing to negligence, there are laws that have been crafted to increase the fines and civil liability. The laws are designed to increase the cost of unsafe practices that impacts negatively on the cyclists.
Distracted Driving Laws
These are laws meant to reduce distractions that can lead to accidents. The laws prohibit any activity that can divert the attention of the cyclists. These laws are primarily as a response to the ever increasing use of mobile devices. The laws outlaw texting, or receiving and making phone calls while cycling. The laws require that one must be aware of the surrounding thus the use of mobile devices may make it difficult for one to be aware of the surrounding.
Riding Under the Influence
These laws are referred to as BUI laws. They provide penalties for bicyclists found riding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unlike the DUI laws, the Bui laws provide less severe penalties and may not affect the rider’s license. The laws are meant to protect the cyclists because alcohol intoxicated cyclists are likely to get severe injuries or even get killed when they get involved in accidents than cyclists that are sober.
All said, it is important to note that bike laws are designed to protect the bicyclists and at the same time protect other pedestrians who may be injured by careless cycling.