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Navigating Indiana’s Bicycle Laws: Your Rights and Responsibilities

Navigating Indiana’s Bicycle Laws: Your Rights and Responsibilities


As it gets warmer outside, many Hoosiers will return to the roads to utilize one of their favorite warm-weather activities. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just starting out, understanding Indiana’s bicycle laws is crucial for your safety and those around you. While bicycles aren’t categorized as vehicles in Indiana, cyclists enjoy most of the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. This can confuse and sometimes frustrate drivers, especially if you get stuck behind a slower-moving cyclist. Understanding your legal rights and duties as both a rider and a driver can ultimately save lives and create a better overall bicycle riding culture in Indiana.

Where and How a Bicyclist Must Ride
When riding slower than the speed of ordinary traffic, cyclists must stay in the right-hand lane or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway. Cyclists may also utilize bicycle lanes when available but, importantly, are not required to ride in the bicycle lanes. Whether you may ride on sidewalks is subject to local ordinances. Cyclists should not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of the roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Cyclists are required to slow down and come to a complete stop at stop signs and traffic devices signaling red. However, after stopping at a steady red traffic signal and waiting for 2 minutes, exercising due care may treat the red traffic signal as a stop sign and proceed once safe. This is known as a “Dead Red.” Bicyclists must also signal when turning or coming to a stop.

Overtaking Etiquette
Both cyclists and motor vehicle drivers have responsibilities when overtaking. Cyclists must pass standing or slow-moving vehicles with care, while drivers must provide at least three feet of clearance when passing cyclists.

Nighttime Equipment Requirements
To ensure visibility, bicycles must be equipped with front white lights and rear red lamps or reflectors when riding at night. Additionally, every bicycle must have brakes capable of skidding on dry, level, and clean pavement.

Indiana law prohibits cyclists from using sirens or whistles, riding without a permanent seat, carrying excessive passengers or cargo, clinging to motor vehicles, or carrying items that prevent them from keeping both hands on the handlebars. Indiana’s DUI laws also apply to cyclists, emphasizing the dangers of operating a bicycle under the influence of alcohol.

Motor Vehicle Dooring
While Indiana lacks specific dooring laws, motorists are advised to check for cyclists before opening vehicle doors to prevent accidents.

Understanding your legal rights is paramount in the unfortunate event of a bicycle crash. Whether seeking compensation for injuries or defending against liability claims, consulting with a McNeely Law attorney, familiarizing yourself with Indiana’s bicycle laws, and advocating for safe cycling practices, you can help create a safer environment for cyclists and motorists. So, before you hop on your bike for your next adventure, take the time to review and understand your rights and responsibilities on the road. Safe cycling!

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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