Originally Posted Spring 2008
Revised Fall 2008, Sharbono
Area of Life:
The area of life that I chose to study is riding a bike in the city. Everyone has seen a bike rider along the road at one point while driving and most likely has not thought much about it. Most people learn to ride a bike at an early age and then leave it in the dust when they get a driver’s license. After the age of getting a drivers license riding a bike becomes a recreational activity for most people. Bike riding is a relaxing experience and can be a form of exercise. Bike riding offers opportunities to experience activities in the community. Some people ride for leisure and also for exercise, either solo or in a group. There are benefits and risks both associated with bike riding. The risk of riding a bike on any road is getting in an accident with a vehicle or crashing because of poor or dangerous road conditions. Depending on the individual, the benefits of bike riding can outweigh the risks.
There are many juridic controls that one faces when riding a bike in the city, the main control is laws. The laws governing bike riding in a city fall under the state of Montana bicycle laws. Below I list the laws for riding a bike on city streets in Montana.12
61-8-602: Traffic laws applicable to bicycles This law says that every person riding a bicycle has the same rights and has to obey the same laws as any other vehicle.
61-8-32: Right-of-way for bicycles This law says that no vehicle can interfere with a bicyclist as long as they are following the laws and the motorist cannot pass a bicyclist unless it can be done safely.
61-8-605: Riding on roadways This law says that bicyclists must ride on the right side of the road if they are slower than the flow of traffic. The exceptions to this are when a bicyclist is passing another vehicle, making a left turn, or when the right side of the road is unsafe. If the bicyclist is riding on a one-way highway with two or more lanes, they can ride on the left side of the roadway. Bicyclists should ride in single file unless they are on bicycle specific paths or roadways, passing another bicycle, or riding on a paved shoulder or parking lane.
The laws listed above make riding a bike seem the same as operating a motor vehicle. A bicycle is not powered by a motor but is still subjected to the same regulations as motorized vehicles. Vehicles always have a designated area for travel but bicycles are not always granted that right.
Many people are unaware of the laws that are in place to control people who ride bicycles. This is because the laws that apply to these people are not enforced very strictly and there are not enough of these people traveling in this manner. There are no fliers, posters, or signs posted anywhere in the public domain to inform the common person of the laws and regulations that are put in place. If someone is really interested in the laws of riding bicycles, they should search for the laws that apply to them in a certain area or state. One common method used to find the laws in any state is to search on the internet because there are reliable sources and also other useful safety information.
For the average bicyclist, the laws that are in place can seem very burdensome. For some people, the laws actually detract from the act itself, causing a lowering of enjoyment and other affects. From the stand point of the bicyclist, there is a problem with the laws because the drivers of vehicles do not know and/or follow the laws pertaining to bicyclists. The controls that are put upon the bicycle riding people are not equal because the bicyclist has to ride on the road with the vehicles. The laws are a burden by forcing the cyclist on the road with large and fast moving vehicles and forcing them to act like a vehicle.
There are ways to escape the laws of riding in the city. One way to do so is to take rides out of the city limits, but the laws technically still apply because the law is state law and applies to any roadway. Another possibility is to ride on bike specific trails and paths. For the risk taker, the laws could go by the way side and you could simply do as you please and ride free. This could and probably will have dire consequences due to the traffic on the road with you. A large organized group of riders could help lift the burden of the laws by increasing your presence on the road as a vehicle since the law views you as one already. The community could set certain streets with specific or permanent times when those streets are shut down to vehicles and only open to cyclists and pedestrians. There could also be changes to the road ways in which cyclists have their own lane everywhere and not just a narrow paved shoulder that is only sometimes paved.