Friday, October 31, 2014
According to City of Athens Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan –yes, the city has a comprehensive plan for improving the safety and quality of bicycling and walking in the city – Athens already has a lot to be proud of. Of all communities nationwide of similar size, Athens has the second highest number of pedestrian commuters and the 11th highest number of bicycle commuters.
One factor necessary for safe streets is an informed public. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians should all be aware of the law as it applies to bicycling on city streets and county roads. The short version could be summed up as “bikes belong.” The long version is available at the Ohio Department of Transportation Web site.
Here are a few key state laws overseeing bicycle traffic, along with the relevant section of the Ohio Revised Code for the complete text:
· Bicycles are vehicles under Ohio state law (4511.01 G)
· No local regulation shall prohibit the use of bicycles on any public street or highway except as provided in section 4511.051 of the Revised Code (4511.07 A8)
· Bicycle operators must signal turns, stop at stop signs and obey traffic laws (4511.39 A)
· Bicycle operators on roadways must follow Ohio traffic laws; bicycle operators should ride as far to the right of the lane “as practicable” (4511.55 A)
· Bicycle operators may ride two abreast in a single lane (4511.55 B)
· Bicycle operators may use the full lane if it is not safe or practicable (think of narrow lanes, sewer grates and open car doors) to ride to the far right (4511.55 C)
· Riding on sidewalks is banned in many Ohio cities, including on certain sidewalks in Athens (Athens City Code of Ordinances 7.03.39)
In addition, the Ohio House Transportation Committee approved House Bill 145 on May 27, which would require motorists to pass bicyclists at least three feet to the left (proposed 4511.27 A1). It is now up to the discretion of the speaker of the house to bring the bill to a full house vote. If you want to contact your state representative about this, you can do so at www.votervoice.net/BikeLeague/campaigns/36268/respond.
You can find the bicycle and pedestrian plan as well as other useful links at bikeandwalkathens.blogspot.com. Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians should all follow the law at all times; safety is a two-way street.