While I was on my evening walk recently, I encountered 19 bicyclists in the short time it took me to walk two miles. Biking is a wonderful way to have fun outside and get a daily dose of exercise. While communities have started to expand bike lanes and dedicated biking trails, Hoosiers are starting to consider cycling as a statewide topic of discussion. This year, I voted in favor of a new law creating the Indiana Bicycle Trail Task Force.
The task force will be made up of a group of experts and enthusiasts that will study and offer recommendations to the General Assembly on ways to increase bicycle safety on trails and roadways. The task force is also looking at ways to expand and interconnect Indiana’s various existing bike trails, as a safer option than riding on roadways. An integrated network of trails will improve Indiana’s quality of place, attracting new residents and tourists, as well as encouraging healthy habits.
With the increased popularity in bicycling, more and more cyclists are sharing the road with motor vehicles and pedestrians, which has led to an increase in accidents and injuries. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in the U.S. there were 817 cyclists killed from crashes with motor vehicles in 2015. This is the highest number of cyclist deaths since 1995. Together, we can all do our part to reduce these numbers.
Both local and visiting cyclists like to enjoy Southwest Indiana’s many winding, picturesque backcountry roads. While lightly traveled, these roads are often narrow, with blind corners, limited signage and few lane markings. As cycling increases in popularity, especially during summer months, it’s important that cyclists, motorists and pedestrians are mindful of Indiana’s bicycle laws. They were put in place to keep everyone safe.
Indiana’s bicycling laws require cyclists to follow nearly all of the same traffic rules as motorists, such as stopping at stop signs and stoplights. State laws require cyclists to move with the flow of traffic and specifies two bikes only can ride side-by-side at a time. Just as vehicles must signal turns, everyone riding must use the proper hand and arm signals to indicate when they are changing lanes or turning. The proper signals can be found in the Indiana Driver’s Manual, a very helpful resource available at BMV license branches and online.
Always remember, bicycles (and pedestrians) are banned from interstates. In most situations, treat a cyclist just as you would a motor vehicle. However, cyclists are far more vulnerable to serious injury or death. Motorists should always err on the side of caution and give cyclists plenty of room, while on the other hand, cyclists must follow the rules of the road, and be extra aware of their surroundings and weather conditions.
There are other not so well-known laws. Just as it is illegal to text and drive while operating a motor vehicle, it is illegal to do so on a bike. When riding before sunrise and after sunset, a bicycle must be equipped with a white light or red light or reflector that can be seen 500 feet in front and behind. Bicycle brakes must make the tires skid on dry, clean, level pavement. Cycling is not an alternative to finding a designated driver. They must follow the same law when it comes to operating under the influence of alcohol. The legal blood alcohol level for a person riding a bike is the standard .08.
I highly encourage you to get out and enjoy this low-impact, cardio recreation, but be safe and alert while cycling.
As always, please contact me with questions or input at 317-232-9833 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate hearing from you in order to better represent our district. Stay up-to-date with the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at www.in.gov/h75.
State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75,
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.
A high-resolution photo of Bacon can be downloaded by clicking here