Montana Bike Laws: What You Need to Know
With spring right around the corner, more and more bicyclists will begin to appear on Montana streets and highways. No matter if you are one of these bicyclists, a pedestrian, or regularly drive a vehicle, it’s important to know the laws governing bicycles and their riders in Montana. This guide will help you learn these rules inside and out so you can remain safe whenever you hit the road.
Bicycle Laws in Montana
One of the first facts every Montana commuter should know about bicycles is that according to the law they are considered to be vehicles like any other car, truck, or bus. As such, all relevant vehicle laws apply to bicycles on the road and they should act and be treated just like another vehicle. Below are the most important laws every Montana bicyclist and motorist should be familiar with:
While there are no state-wide laws requiring bicyclists to wear helmets whenever they ride, it is strongly suggested you do so whenever you get on a bike. Not only will helmets protect your head and, more importantly, your brain in the event of a crash, some Montana cities have passed ordinances requiring helmets for children whom ride bicycles. Bicycle helmets might be cumbersome and have an awkward appearance, but they are far better than suffering a lifelong brain injury.
Similar to any other vehicle traveling on a Montana street, road, or highway, a bicycle has the right-of-way while it is in operation. While bicyclists are encouraged to ride on the far right side of the road, they are legally allowed to travel anywhere between the lanes. Due to the lower speeds of bicycle travel, motorists are allowed to pass a bicyclist as they would a slow-moving car or truck. They are even allowed to cross the double lines but only to pass a bicycle and if the opposing lane is completely clear of oncoming traffic. The only stipulation is that the bicycle is traveling at less than half the posted speed limit.
Sidewalks and Crosswalks
Bicycles have the right-of-way on all Montana sidewalks and crosswalks as long as they do no interfere with any pedestrians. If encountering a pedestrian in a crosswalk or on a sidewalk bicyclists should yield the right-of-way. And if they plan to pass a pedestrian, they should do so from the left and be sure to give an audible signal beforehand. According to Montana law, a bicyclist is considered to be a pedestrian while riding on a sidewalk or through a crosswalk.
Bicycle Lanes in Montana
Though they may be few and far between, bicycle lanes are a great way to protect Montana bicyclists from the dangers of traffic. Montana law expressly prohibits vehicles from traveling or parking in bicycle lanes. The only time motor vehicles may cross into a bicycle lane is to switch lanes or to make a turn. In doing so, motorists should remember to provide any bicyclists the right-of-way in order to prevent any collisions.
Safely Passing a Bicyclist
Montana motorists are allowed to pass a bicycle on the road only if they do so in a way that does not jeopardize the safety of the bicyclist. Likewise, a bicyclist must follow all relevant Montana traffic laws when passing a motor vehicle. Putting another person’s life at risk for the sake of a shortcut or to shave a few minutes off a commute is wrong no matter if you are driving a car or riding a bicycle.
One the best ways a bicyclist can ensure they are protected while out riding is to have the proper lights and reflectors on their bicycle. The regulations Montana has put in place for bicycles are reflectors on each side of a bike, a white light on the front, either on the handle bars on the helmet, and a red light installed on the rear. These lights should be able to be seen at 500 feet or more to ensure they are seen. Such regulations have been put in place to prevent bicyclists from being struck while riding at dusk, during a storm, or in the dark.
Electric Bikes on Montana Roads
According to Montana law, an electric bike is any two-wheeled vehicle with a motor which does not have an output greater than 500 watts and is not capable of traveling at speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. Such a motor may also not have the ability to shift gears or deploy a clutch. Electric bikes can be used on the same surfaces which regular bicycles are allowed. While Montana does not require registration or even licenses for electric bikes, anyone under the age of 18 will be fined if they do not wear a helmet.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
If you are a bicyclist who has been injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle, you need experienced legal assistance to help you get the recovery you deserve. The attorneys with The Advocates have the expertise you need to receive maximum compensation for the injuries and losses you have suffered at the hands of an irresponsible motorist. For over 25 years, The Advocates have helped bicycle accident victims from all over the western United States file and litigate thousands of successful injury claims. Your case deserves more than just an ordinary lawyer. You deserve an Advocate!