Location: Kansas

Kansas Bicycle Safety Law Proposal

JusticeAlan Apel, a League Cycling Instructor (LCI) certified by the League of American Bicyclists, is preparing a proposal for updating Kansas statutes related to bicycling (see the current cycling laws here), and he’s looking for some input from the bicycling community.

Here are his proposed statutes:

A number of states have revised or added protection for cyclists in recent years. I would like to suggest some or all the following put into state law here in Kansas.

Safe Operating Distance: A driver of a motor vehicle must at all times maintain a safe operating distance between the motor vehicle and a bicycle. The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall give an appropriate signal, shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.

The operator of a motor vehicle when overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet (3’) and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.

Anti-Harassment of Cyclists: It is unlawful to harass, taunt, or maliciously throw an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

Clearer signaling for cyclists:

    1. A bicyclist shall indicate a right turn by extending the left arm upward, by raising the left arm to the square, or by extending the right arm horizontally to the right.
    2. A bicyclist shall indicate a left turn by extending the left arm horizontally.
    3. A bicyclist shall indicate stopping or decreasing speed by extending the left arm or the right arm downward.
  1. A bicyclist is not required to give signals provided for in subsection (A) continuously if the hand or arm is needed to control the bicycle.

Clarification of lane positioning:

  1. Except as provided in subsection (B), every bicyclist operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable. A bicyclist may, but is not required to, ride on the shoulder of the roadway in order to comply with the requirements of this subsection.
  2. A bicyclist may ride in a lane other than the right-hand lane if only one lane is available that permits the bicyclist to continue on his intended route.
  3. When operating a bicycle upon a roadway, a bicyclist must exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
  4. Bicyclists riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

Elimination of the mandatory sidepath law and clarification of right-of-way in bike lanes

  1. For purposes of this section, ‘bicycle lane’ means a portion of the roadway or a paved lane separated from the roadway that has been designated by striping, pavement markings, and signage for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists.
  2. Whenever a bicycle lane has been provided adjacent to a roadway, operators of:
    1. motor vehicles may not block the bicycle lane to oncoming bicycle traffic and shall yield to a bicyclist in the bicycle lane before entering or crossing the lane; and
    2. bicycles are required to ride in the bicycle lane except when necessary to pass another person riding a bicycle or to avoid an obstruction in the bicycle lane. However, bicyclists may ride on the roadway when there is only an adjacent recreational bicycle path available instead of a bicycle lane.

Imposition of more severe penalties for motor vehicles that violate provisions pertaining to bicycles:

  1. Except as otherwise provided, in the absence of another violation being cited, a violation of this article by the driver of a motor vehicle is subject to a civil fine of up to one hundred dollars unless a bicyclist is injured as a result of the violation.
  2. In the absence of another violation being cited, a person driving a motor vehicle who violates a provision of this article and the violation is the proximate cause of a:
    1. minor injury to a bicyclist, must be assessed a civil fine of up to five hundred dollars; or
    2. great bodily injury, to a bicyclist, must be assessed a civil fine of not more than one thousand dollars.

Definition of a bicycle: A bicycle is a device propelled solely by pedals, operated by one or more persons, and having two or more wheels, except childrens’ tricycles.” (This revision ensures that adult bicycles using more than two-wheels are covered by the statutes.)

Any comments or suggestions?

Feel free to share your thoughts here, or contact Alan via his LCI page.

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web’s premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

7 responses to “Kansas Bicycle Safety Law Proposal”

  1. jdmitch says:

    Alan,

    I like it. One suggestion though, if you can find the most recent driver’s license examination form. The Kansas Driving Handbook ( http://www.ksrevenue.org/dmvdlhandbook.htm )actually states: “When passing a bicyclist use extreme caution and pass four feet to the left of the bicyclist.” Page 24, Bicycles. I know this because I was surprised that the answer was not 3′ when I recently renewed my license. Since the handbook already states 4’… I’d say that’s what should be in the legislation proposal.

  2. jdmitch says:

    PS – it would also be nice to get the Idaho Bike Stop Law worked in ( http://urbanvelo.org/bicycle-rolling-stop-animation-idaho-stop-law/ )

  3. b says:

    Alan,

    I am a new cyclist in KS, so I made it a point to read and study the current KS statutes and pamphlets. I am really glad to see someone has taken the initiative to put together a proposal, so kudos to you!

    First, under the ‘Safe Operating Distance’ section, I think the second paragraph is clearer than the first and could soley be used. I was surprised to see the 4′ spacing in the ‘Safe Cycling for Bicyclists of All Ages’ brochure (in .pdf form) that is published by the KS Bureau of Traffic Safety, but not listed in the KS Statutes. So I am glad to see you are including it in a proposed law. I don’t understand why it is in the KS Driving Handbook if it isn’t a statute.

    Second, what do you think of adding a statement regarding if there is a need to ride on the sidewalk, the cyclist must yield to pedestrians?

    Third, penalties should include the cost of repairs to the bicycle if the motorist is found a fault. Have other states been successful in a misdemeanor penalty for violations of bicycling statutes?

    Fourth and last…I agree with jdmitch, I like the rolling stop law.

  4. Dan Payne says:

    Your proposed statutes are awsome! I especially like the sentence that states that “bicyclists may ride on the roadway when there is only an adjacent recreational bicycle path”. Bike paths that are adjacent to a roadway are one of the most dangerous places to ride, and yet current Kansas law dictates that we are legally required to ride there instead of on the roadway. I also like that your statutes have penalties for violations. With current Kansas law it’s pretty much open season on hitting pedestrians or bicyclists. Your proposed statutes would go a long way towards making drivers responsible for their actions. I commend you for all your work and for trying to make Kansas a safer place to ride.

  5. Elaine says:

    I too would like Kansas to adopt the Idaho Biek Stop Law. Many cyclists already do this, so why not make it legal. That way, motorists won’t be so upset if they happen to see a cyclist go past a stop sign without stopping. That seems to be the main complaint I hear from motorists pertaining to obeying the law.

    It would be nice also if cyclists could legally go through on a red light in certain situations. For example, early in the morning when there is no car to trigger the light change. I find it irrating if I have to get off my bike, walk over to push a button, then walk back to get into position to cross the road. Either that or the city needs to install sensors that can tell if a bicycle is there.

  6. b says:

    Now that Columbia, MO has passed an ordinance regarding road rage against cyclists, I think Kansas should have some stricter consequenses for cycling incidents, other than just fines.

  7. Deb says:

    Another problem we have in Wichita is that the bike path around Exploration Place apparently falls into some “black hole” as far as responsibility. My husband and I were riding through there Memorial Day Weekend and were nearly hit by a CAR coming down an adjacent sidewalk. Turned out that a car show was being set up in Exploration Place’s parking lot and they decided to use the bike path as well. No signs, barricades – nothing to warn the pedestrians or cyclists. Apparently, it’s all legal, too! Since Exploration Place is county property, the City isn’t responsible for the bike path/use thereof, so Exploration Place is off the hook for getting permits and, therefore, requirement to put up signs or barricades. Just think – a cyclist or runner could be cruising down the path by the river – a car coming down the sidewalk hits and kills – and no laws were broken!

    We might need a State law for this. I don’t know – I’m lost. But this is just plain WRONG!