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Are Bicyclists Required to Ride In the Bike Lane In Kentucky?

bicycle lane law

What you’ll learn reading this article:

  • There are many state and local rules regarding riding bikes in Kentucky.
  • Motorists and cyclists alike should be aware of bike lane rules and exceptions.
  • After a bike lane accident, a Kentucky bike accident lawyer can help you understand the relevant laws and evaluate your legal options.

Any Kentucky cyclist has probably heard someone yell, “Get in the bike lane!” Of course, there’s not a bike lane along every road and some bike lanes end abruptly.

Are you breaking the law if you ride in the main traffic lane? What happens if a car hits you when you weren’t using the bike lane?

Kentucky encourages staying in bike lanes, but that doesn’t mean cyclists must use them 100% of the time. Let’s clear up the confusion about bike lanes and review the circumstances when cyclists do and don’t have to use them.

Kentucky Laws For Bikes and Bike Lanes

The state of Kentucky defines a bicycle as operating on human “muscular power,” yet a bicycle is still considered a vehicle. Bicyclists are expected to obey traffic laws, markings, and signs.

The state legislature has set forth a list of statewide bike rules. This means whether you’re in Louisville, Lexington, or any city in between, certain bicycle rules apply universally whenever you ride.

State rules include the following:

  • Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other motorists on the road.
  • Bicyclists are expected to travel safely without putting themselves or others in danger.
  • Bicycles should have proper lights, seats, reflectors, and brakes.
  • Riders should use hand signals to indicate turns.

In addition, Kentucky has specific rules about using bike lanes, including:

  • When a bike lane is available, a bicyclist must use it unless they can travel at the same speed as traffic in the main lane of travel.
  • No more than two bicyclists are permitted to ride side-by-side in bike lanes.
  • When bike lanes are unavailable, a bicyclist should ride as far as possible along the right side of the right lane unless they are turning or unsafe conditions exist.

Many people don’t realize that in some circumstances, bicyclists are allowed to leave bike lanes and travel in the main lane with other traffic. Bicyclists may exit bike lanes when:

  • Making left turns
  • Avoiding debris and hazards in the lane
  • Avoiding doors and parked cars
  • Avoiding conflicts with right-turning vehicles
  • On a one-way street with two or more lanes
  • Passing slower vehicles

In addition to all of the rules listed above, most cities have enacted their own rules about how bicyclists should operate within city limits. For example, the city of Louisville forbids bicycles from riding on downtown sidewalks and requires anyone under 18 to wear a helmet while riding in a city park.

Bicyclists should familiarize themselves with both state and local bicycle rules before heading out for a ride. Other motorists should also remember that bicyclists are allowed to share the roads and it’s never okay to harm a cyclist whether they’re following the rules or not.

Dangerous Situations Involving Kentucky Bike Lanes

Here at McCoy & Sparks, we see plenty of situations where bicyclists and motorists have conflicts over bike lane use. Often, each person points the finger at the other in terms of liability for an accident. Sometimes, it comes down to a simple misunderstanding of the law.

Many people still don’t realize that Kentucky has a new 3 Feet for Passing Rule, which means motorists and other cyclists must give 3 full feet of space when passing or overtaking a cyclist. A driver may even cross a double-yellow line when necessary to allow all 3 feet of space.

But too often, motorists still pass cyclists too closely and cause collisions. For example, a big truck with large side-view mirrors might ride too closely alongside a cyclist and clip them with the mirror, knocking them down and causing severe injuries. In a situation like this, it’s irrelevant whether the cyclist was riding in a bike lane or not.

After a bike vs. car accident, it takes extensive legal knowledge to sort through the circumstances of the crash and determine liability. You could be entitled to significant accident compensation from someone who hurt you.

Contact a Kentucky bike accident lawyer who has experience dealing with bicycle cases like yours. A talented lawyer will help you put the blame where it belongs and seek the compensation you need to move forward with your life.

Trust McCoy & Sparks – Premier Personal Injury Attorneys in Central Kentucky

Recognized as one of Central Kentucky’s best law firms for over a decade and counting, McCoy & Sparks works to help people in trouble, representing thousands of clients in Central Kentucky with a focus on providing premium service and delivering superior results.

Regardless of the type of case, our goal is to develop a strategy that best serves your personal needs, then draws upon our courtroom skills to help you reach the greatest possible result. We start by getting to know you. Next, we will explain all of your options, giving you the pros and cons of each choice so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions. You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Make the right call to 1-844-4KY-WINS for a risk-free consultation with one of our attorneys today.