NORTHWEST ARKASNAS (KNWA/KFTA) – In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Answer’ report, KNWA’s Katelynn Zoellner looked into biking rules of the road in Arkansas.
Northwest Arkansas has become a hot spot for cycling and even more people are on the road right now due to a bike boom during the coronavirus pandemic.
“When you practice caution and you follow the rules, everyone is better off,” said Bianca Montoya, Director of Communications and Marketing for BikeNWA.
Rules of the road
Bicycle as Vehicle: Bicycles are not considered vehicles under Arkansas state law. However, cyclists have all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to drivers of motor vehicles.
Helmets: Arkansas state law does not require the use of a helmet. Note: Cyclists 14 or younger are required to wear helmets on paved and off-road trails in Bentonville.
Where to ride: Cyclists must ride on the right side of the roadway.
Bike lights: All bikes must be equipped with a front white light and a rear red light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet. A red reflector may be used in lieu of a rear light.
Signaling: Cyclists must indicate their intention to turn left, turn right, stop, or slow down by using the appropriate hand signals, unless it is unsafe to do so.
Passing a cyclist: Motorists wishing to pass a cyclist proceeding in the same direction on a roadway must do so at a distance of not less than three (3) feet.
Bells: Arkansas state law does not require that bikes be equipped with bells. Note: Some cities, such as Fayetteville, do require bells.
Riding on sidewalks: Arkansas state law does not prohibit riding a bike on the sidewalk. However, if you choose to do so, please be considerate of pedestrians. Note: Some cities, such as Bentonville, prohibit riding on the sidewalk. In Fayetteville, you may ride on the sidewalk unless the sidewalk abuts a building.
“Idaho Stops”: People on bikes in Arkansas can begin treating stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs. Act 650, which the governor signed into law in April 2019. The new law requires bicycle riders to slow down when approaching a stop sign, but they don’t have to stop unless it’s necessary. Cyclists must yield to any pedestrians who might be at the intersection. In regards to red lights, the cyclist must come to a complete stop, but may proceed through the intersection once traffic is clear.
Mandatory use of bike lanes: Arkansas does not restrict cyclists to the use of bike paths.
Brakes: Arkansas does not require that bicycles be equipped with brakes. Note: Some cities, such as Fayetteville, require brakes.
Dismounting at crosswalks: Arkansas state law only protects pedestrians in crosswalks. Though bicycles are not considered vehicles in Arkansas, cyclists nevertheless must abide by all of the laws that apply to drivers of motor vehicles; since motorists are not allowed to cross at crosswalks, neither can cyclists. Therefore, in order to avail oneself of the legal protections that adhere to pedestrians, a cyclist must dismount (i.e. become a pedestrian) and walk his/her bike across the crosswalk.
Montoya said following these rules will help ensure the safety of you and others.
“Even if you don’t know the laws and you don’t know all the different ordinances, when you respect things and you yield and are aware of all of your surroundings, you can’t go wrong,” she said.
If there is something in your community that you want to know more about, we want to look into it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at KZoellner@KNWA.com.