Bicycle Safety & Laws
Bicycling is an increasingly popular activity in Utah for people of all ages. Children ride bikes for fun or to get to school; competitive cyclists ride Utah’s canyons; and more and more people are using bicycling as a form of transportation. All of this means that bicycles and cars are continuously interacting on Utah’s roadways. The Highway Safety Office works to encourage cyclists and drivers to Share the Road, show each other respect and follow the rules of the road.
Youth Bicycle Education and Safety Training (BEST) Program – Bike Utah
The Youth BEST is a 5-hour, on-bike program that teaches students how to safely and confidently get around by bicycle. The program is administered at schools and is targeted students in the 5th to 7th grade range. The course takes place for one-hour over the course of five consecutive days.
Utah Cycling Laws
This list is a plain-language summary of the laws that apply to bicyclists and is provided for general information only. The actual wording of these laws, and additional laws, may be found in the referenced sections Title 41, Chapter 6a of the Utah Code, available online .
The following paragraphs point out those laws specifically addressing the needs and responsibilities of bicyclists.
• “Bicycle” means a wheeled vehicle propelled by human power by feet or hands acting upon pedals or cranks, with a seat for the operator, and wheels 14 inches or greater in diameter. Bicycle includes an electric assisted bicycle (41-6a-102). (updated)
• Your bicycle is considered a vehicle and you have the same rights and are subject to the same provisions as the operator of any other vehicle (41-6a-1102). This includes obeying traffic signals (41-6a-305), stop and yield signs (41-6a-902), and all other official traffic control devices (41-6a-208).
• Ride in the same direction as traffic (41-6a-1105).
• Ride as far to the right as practicable except when:
– Passing another bike or vehicle;
– Preparing to turn left;
– Going straight through an intersection past a right-turn-only lane;
– Avoiding unsafe conditions on the right-hand edge of the roadway; or
– Traveling in a lane too narrow to safely ride side-by-side with another vehicle. (41-6a-1105).
• Ride no more than two abreast and then only if you would not impede traffic (41-6a-1105).
• In some instances where an off-roadway bike path has been provided, you may be directed by an official traffic control device to use the path rather than the roadway (41-6a-1105).
• To make a left turn, you have two options as a bicyclist:
– Use the left turn lane or two-way left turn lane in the same manner required of motor vehicles (41-6a-801); or
– Staying on the right side of the roadway, ride through the intersecting roadway to the far corner and stop. After it is safe and legal to do so, cross going in the new direction, continuing to travel on the right side of the roadway (41-6a-1108).
• Always signal your intention to turn right or left, change lanes, or stop at least three seconds before doing so (41-6a-804). You do not have to maintain a continuous signal if you need your hand to control the bike. Once stopped in a designated turn lane you are not required to signal again before turning (41-6a-1109).
• The acceptable hand signals are:
– Left turn – left hand and arm extended horizontally;
– Right turn – left hand and arm extended upward or right hand and arm extended horizontally; and
– Stop or decrease speed – left hand and arm extended downward (41-6a-804).
• A bicyclist 16 years and older facing a red signal or red arrow may cautiously enter an intersection as long as they have come to a complete stop, waited 90 seconds or more, and no other vehicle or pedestrian is entitled to have the right-of-way (41-6a-305). (New)
• A bicyclist may pass other vehicles on the right by driving off the roadway (41-6a-705). (New)
• Always yield to pedestrians and give an audible signal when overtaking them. Use care and safe speeds to avoid collisions. Never ride where bicycles are prohibited (41-6a-1106).
• Never carry more people on your bike than it was designed and equipped to handle; though, as an adult, you may carry a child securely attached to you in a back pack or sling (41-6a-1103).
• While cycling, never attach yourself or your bike to any vehicles moving on the highway (41-6a-1104).
• Never race bicycles on the highway except in events approved by state or local authorities (41-6a-1111).
• Do not carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents using both hands to control your bike. You must have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times (41-6a-1112).
• You are required to have a white headlight, red taillight or reflector, and side reflectors, all visible for at least 500 feet any time you ride earlier than a half hour before sunrise, later than a half hour after sunset, or whenever it is otherwise difficult to make out vehicles 1000 feet away. The lights may be on the bicycle or the bike rider (41-6a-1114).(updated)
You must have brakes capable of stopping you within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement (41-6a-1113).
• You cannot have a siren or whistle on your bike (41-6a-1113).
• You may park your bike on a sidewalk along a roadway anywhere it is not expressly prohibited or where it would impede pedestrian or traffic movement. You may also park your bike on the roadway anywhere parking is allowed as long as you are parked within 12 inches of the curb or edge of roadway (41-6a-1402) and your bike does not block any legally parked motor vehicles. Your bike does not have to be parallel to the curb, but may be parked at any angle to the curb (41-6a-1107).
• A peace officer may at any time upon reasonable cause to believe that your bicycle is unsafe or not equipped as required by law, or that its equipment is not in proper adjustment or repair, require you to stop and submit the bicycle to an inspection and a test as appropriate (41-6a-1110).
The following paragraphs point out a few laws specifically addressing motorists’ responsibilities around bicyclists.
• Motorists may not attempt to distract a bicyclist for the purpose of causing injury or force a bicyclist off the roadway (41-6a-706.5). (new)
• Motorists may cross the centerline (41-6a-701) or the center two-way left turn lane (41-6a-710) to pass a bicycle if it can be done safely.(new)
Head injury is the most common serious injury from bicycle-motor vehicle crashes. Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85% (New England Journal of Medicine). A statewide helmet observational survey conducted in Utah in 2007 showed that 23% of elementary school-age bicyclists, 14% of secondary school-age bicyclists, and 58% of adult bicyclists wear bicycle helmets. Download the Bicycle Helmet Use in Utah, 2008 fact sheet and the Bicycle Helmet Use in Utah, 1994-2003 report.
Bicycle crashes cost victims and communities millions of dollars annually. In Utah in 2005, costs to treat bicyclists injured in crashes with motor vehicles at emergency departments and admitted to the hospital exceeded $6.8 million.
For more information
Utah Highway Safety Office