Utah Bicycle Laws

Utah State law has a thorough code for cyclists which establishes proper bicycle operations for keeping the roadways safe. According to Utah Law, bicycles are considered moving vehicles and are therefore subject to Utah traffic laws governing vehicles (with a few exceptions that are highlighted below). While you may already be familiar with traffic laws from driving motor vehicles, translating those skills to cycling can be tricky; understanding bicycle laws will help you avoid an accident.

Know the Laws

“Bicycle” Defined

  1. A “bicycle” is defined as a wheeled vehicle propelled by human power; by feet or hands acting upon pedals or cranks. It also contains a seat or saddle, designed to be used on the ground for the use of the operator. Wheels must be greater than 14 inches in diameter to be considered a bicycle.   “Bicycle” also includes an electric-assisted bicycle, but not scooters and similar devices.
  2. “Electric-assisted bicycle” means a moped powered solely by the electric motor, has fully operable pedals on permanently affixed cranks, and weighs less than 75 pounds  (41-6a-102).

General Rule: Bicycles Subject to Vehicle Laws

  1. A bicycle is considered a vehicle, and with a few exceptions, a cyclist has the same rights and obligations as the operator of any other vehicle (§1102).  This includes obeying traffic signals (§305), stop and yield signs (§902), and all other official traffic control devices (§208).

Direction of Traffic

  1. A bicycle must ride with the flow or direction of traffic, the same as other automobiles (§1105).

 Shoulder/Bicycle Lane Travel

  1. If the bicycle is traveling slower than the flow of traffic, a cyclist must ride as close to the right-hand edge of the roadway as is practical, except in cases of:
  2. Passing another bicycle or vehicle;
  3. Preparing to make a left turn;
  4. Riding straight through an intersection just to the left of vehicles turning right; or
  5. Necessarily avoiding unsafe conditions along the right-hand edge of the road such as fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, other bicycles, or pedestrians
  6. If a useable pathway alongside the road is available, a traffic-control device may direct bicyclers to use it and not the road (§1105).

 No More than 2 Bicycles Wide

  1. No more than two cyclists may ride side by side. While doing so, they may not impede the normal flow of traffic.  If traffic is impeded, single file rules must be followed (§1105.3).

3-foot Rule / Rules for Motorists Passing Cyclists:

  1. “Motorists may not pass within 3 feet of a moving bicycle (Sec. 706.5);
  2. When passing a cyclist, a driver is allowed to cross the center line, if necessary, to provide adequate space and distance to the cyclist, provided the pass can be made safely (e.g., such a pass may not be made within 100 feet of an intersection or when approaching a curve in the road that obstructs the motorist’s view) (Sec. 701).”

Sidewalk Riding

  1. A cyclist may not ride on a sidewalk, path, or trail, or across a crosswalk when prohibited by city or county ordinances (in some cities, only certain streets/areas are prohibited).  Many cities along the Wasatch Front have ordinances in place which prohibit bicycle riding on sidewalks.  If riding on the sidewalk is allowed, the cyclist must yield to pedestrians; no cyclist can overtake or pass a pedestrian without first giving an audible signal.  They cannot ride in a careless manner that may cause them to collide with a pedestrian, another bicycle, or a vehicle (§1106).

 Intersection Procedures

  1. Remember: a bicycle has the same rights and obligations as any vehicle at an intersection.  The following rules apply to motorists and cyclists alike:
    1. If there is no traffic light (or the traffic light is not working), any driver/cyclist approaching the intersection white line must yield the right-of-way to other drivers/cyclists already at the intersection, no matter the direction from which they are coming.
    2. If two vehicles arrive simultaneously at an intersection, and there is no traffic light signal, the vehicle on the left must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.
    3. If the roadway does not continue through the intersection, the vehicle must yield the right-of-way to the intersecting highway.
    4. A vehicle on a road that is not paved yields the right-of-way to the vehicle on a paved road.
    5. A vehicle must stop, when directed by a traffic light or stop sign, before the designated white stop line (unless otherwise directed by a police officer).
    6. When approaching a stop sign, a vehicle must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at an adjacent crosswalk.
    7. A bicycle may ride straight through an intersection on the left side of a right-hand turning lane.
    8. A left-turning vehicle at an intersection yields the right-of-way to oncoming traffic (§901/902/1105).

 Left Turns

  1. a)   If a left turn is necessary, a cyclist has two options:
    1. Use the left-hand turn lane designated for vehicles; or
    2. Stay on the right-hand side of the roadway, ride through the intersection to the opposite side, stop, and wait for light to change.  Then, going in a new direction, cross the street with the flow of traffic (§801/1108).

Stop Lights/Signs and Non-responsive Signals

  1. Cyclists must obey all traffic lights, stop and yield signs, and must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at an adjacent crosswalk (Sec. 305/902);
  2. If a cyclist age 16 or older comes to a complete stop at a red light, and the traffic signal does not detect his/her presence after waiting for 90 seconds or more, the cyclist may cautiously proceed through the intersection, as long as no other vehicles or pedestrians with the right-of-way are in or near the intersection (Sec. 305).  (Note: This law was recently added by the Utah legislature for a “testing period,” and will expire on July 1, 2014, unless the legislature extends the law.)”

 Hand Signals

  1. Cyclists must give proper hand signals to turn right, turn left, change lanes, or stop.
  2. The hand signal must be executed at least two seconds before the maneuver, but the cyclist does not need to maintain a continuous signal if his/her hand is needed for safety purposes.
  3. The proper hand signals are:
    1. Left turn—left hand and arm extended horizontally;
    2. Right turn—left hand and arm extended upward or right hand and arm extended horizontally;
    3. Stop or decrease speed—left hand and arm extended downward (§804);
  4. Once stopped in a designated turn lane, cyclists are not required to signal again before turning (§1109).

Passing on the Right

  1. “Cyclists are allowed to utilize the shoulder of the roadway in order to pass a vehicle on the right – provided that the move can be made with safety.”

 Crosswalks

  1. Although commonly misunderstood, walking your bicycle through a crosswalk is not required by law.  However, walking a bicycle through a crosswalk may be a safe way to cross the street.  The law states that a cyclist may not ride at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions, while paying attention to any potential hazards (§1106.4).

 Bicycle Racing Prohibited

  1. Never race bicycles on roads unless authorized by state or county officials (§1111).

 Both Hands on Handlebars

  1. All cyclists must have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.  In addition, a cyclist is not permitted to carry packages, packs, bundles, or any other article that prevents him/her from keeping both hands on the handle bars (§1112).

 Number of persons allowed on bicycle

  1. A bicycle may only carry the number of persons for which it is designed.  Single-rider bicycles are not permitted to carry more than one person (§1103).

 Bicycles and Moving Vehicles

  1. A cyclist may never be attached to a moving motorized vehicle (§1104).

 Parking Bicycles

  1. A person may park his/her bicycle on a sidewalk as long as it is not prohibited by a traffic-control device and does not impede normal flow of pedestrian traffic.
  2. A person may park his/her bicycle in the roadway anywhere parking is allowed as long as it is parked within 12 inches of the curb and does not block any other legally parked vehicles (§1107/1402).

Reflectors and Lights

  1. Bicycles are required to be equipped with a white headlight, a red taillight or reflector, and side reflectors, all visible from 500 feet.  Lights must be turned on a half hour after sunset and kept on until a half hour before sunrise (§1114/1603).

Whistles and Sirens

  1. Bicycles may not be equipped with a whistle or a siren (§1113).
  1. Bicycles must have proper, functioning brakes.  The brakes must have the capacity to stop the bicycle within 25 feet traveling at a speed of 10 miles per hour (§1113).
[1] This law can be found under Title 41, Chapter 6a, Section 102 of the Utah Code Each of of the laws cited in this chapter can be found under Title 41, Chapter 6a, thus, only the references are provided.  If you would like to read the laws in their entirety, visit the official website of the Utah State Legislature: http://le.utah.gov/UtahCode/section.jsp?code=41-6a

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