May 26, 2017

Cycle Safely Around the City

by Mark Kitrick, Kitrick, Lewis, & Harris, Co., LPA

Q. What is the new 3-foot rule under Ohio law?
A. As of March 2017, Ohio motorists must pass with no less than 3 feet between their vehicles and bicycles (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.27). A violation is a minor misdemeanor that can result in a $150 fine. Ohio is the 28th state requiring a specific safe passing distance. The evolution to safe road sharing between cars and bikes has a long way to go with many car drivers still unsympathetic to cyclists also using the roadway. This bill is intended to make drivers more aware of cyclists who share the roads, thus making an ever increasing bicycling community safer.

A common crash occurs when someone accidentally opens a car door into a cyclist’s path. This is called “dooring.” This new law should help reduce such dangerous incidents. Also under the new law, any vehicle can proceed through an intersection after stopping and yielding the right-of-way if a detector in the pavement does not trigger the traffic signal from red to green.

Q. Is there a map of bicycle paths for central Ohio?
A. The City of Columbus maintains a website showing a variety of maps and routes. It also sets out the Share the Road safety campaign, and allows anyone to understand the rules of the road.

Q. Do people have to wear helmets when riding a bike?
A. The law does not require adults to wear head protection. However, in Columbus, anyone under 18 must wear a helmet (See Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2173.02 (B)(1)). Some of the worst injuries involve those not wearing protective gear. Additionally, the law requires that cyclists use a white light on the front along with a red light and reflector on the bike’s rear when riding between sunset and sunrise or when the weather demands lighting.

Q. Where are the most dangerous crash locations in central Ohio?
a. The five worst areas are North High Street. & Lane Avenue, then North High Street & 15th Avenue, Neil Avenue & Ninth Avenue, Maxtown Road & McCorkle Boulevard (Westerville) and North High Street & Fifth Avenue. MORPC maintains an excellent website breaking down central Ohio crashes in detail.

Understanding Ohio Law

Columbus attorney Mark Kitrick provides an overview of Ohio bicycle laws. Click here to watch a short video.