With so many open highways and such beautiful scenery, Montana can be paradise for bicycle enthusiasts. It is common to see packs of bicyclists lining the roads during the warmer months of the year.
With more bikes on the road, however, motorists and bicyclists both should brush up on the bike laws Montana has on the books. Below is a list of the most important Montana bike laws every commuter should know.
Right of Way
Not too long ago, in 2015, Montana traffic laws were changed so that bicyclists could legally ride in the driving lane. The state legislature also amended the law to allow motorists to pass such bicyclists by crossing the double yellow lane, but only if the bicyclist was traveling at less than half of the speed limit. These changes have made Montana roads safer for both motorists and bicyclists.
Bicyclists are expected to follow the very same traffic laws as motorists, such as honoring stop signs and traffic lights, using hand turn signals, and obeying the speed limit. Before hitting the road, bicycles should also be properly equipped with brakes that are in working order, reflectors, a headlight, and a red tail light or reflector.
Sidewalks and Bike Lanes
Where permitted, Montana law allows bicycles to be operated on sidewalks, but they must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians they encounter. Bicyclists should also call out to any pedestrian they intend to overtake or pass. This will help prevent any unecessary collisions.
Bike lanes, too, are another way the Montana Department of Transportation works to protect bicyclists. These lanes are reserved solely for bicyclists and should not be used by automobiles or pedestrians.
While the state of Montana doesn’t have mandatory laws requiring bicyclists to wear helmets, its largest city does. Section 24-605 of Billings’ city code mandates that anyone under the age of 16 who rides a bicycle must wear a helmet. In addition, the law requires the parent or legal guardian to allow their child to ride a bicycle without a helmet. Anyone caught violating these regulations could be charged with a misdemeanor or have their bicycle impounded.
Miscellaneous Bicycle Laws
There are several other notable bicycle laws Montanans should, at the very least, be aware of.
- You should never cling to the back of another vehicle on Montana roads
- Bicyclists should ride with both hands on the handlebars and should not carry an item
- Bicycle racing should only be done in areas approved ahead of time
By knowing and following the laws explained above, you should be ready to safely start your own great Montana bike adventure.