Trail Laws and Safety Information
For your own safety:
- Ride Predictably. Ride in a straight line and do not weave in and out between parked cars. The more predictable you are, the more drivers will respect you.
- Establish Eye Contact with Drivers. Seeing a driver is not enough.
Be sure drivers see you.
- Look for Drivers in Parked Cars. They may open their doors right into your path, so be ready for a car door to open or the car to move out into traffic.
- Be Visible. Wear brightly colored clothing. At night, use reflective materials and lights. Ride where traffic can see you.
When should you ride in a lane like a car?
- When you are going the speed of traffic
- Making a left turn, you can move left and do so just like a car.
- On roads where the lanes are too narrow to safely share to avoid being sideswiped.
- When the surface near the right edge is hazardous (e.g., covered with gravel or parked cars or full of pot- holes)
Be courteous to drivers. Help them learn that bicyclists are responsible and respectful users of the roadway. Give them the right of way when it makes sense.
The basics of Montana’s law involving bicyclists
“Every person operating a bicycle shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle…”
- Stop at stop signs and red lights.
- Comply with all traffic signs.
- Ride with the flow of traffic.
- Use lights at night.
- Yield the right-of-way when entering the roadway.
- Yield to pedestrians at marked or unmarked crosswalks.
NOTE: These laws apply when you are riding in bike lanes and in regular traffic lanes.
Cyclists can also be ticketed for breaking traffic laws.
The rights of cyclists are equal with other vehicle drivers. You have both the right to use the road responsibly and legal protection in court. A motorist is required by law to yield right-of-way to a bicyclist just as he or she would to another motorist.
Wear a helmet.
For more information about helmets, see this page from Motosport.com.
Signal all turns:
- left hand and arm held straight out for a left turn.
right hand and arm held straight out, or left arm out and bent upright at the elbow for a right turn.
- Making Left Turns. You have three legal options for making a left turn. You can:
1.Turn like a car would, in the left traffic lane: look behind for traffic, signal your intentions, move left when clear, and then make your left turn.
2. Ride straight across the intersection, stop on the right side, turn your bike to the left, wait for traffic to clear or for the light to change, and then ride across to the left.
3. Get off and walk your bike across in the crosswalk just like a pedestrian.
Rules for riding side-by-side. In most situations, it is illegal to ride any other way except single-file. If you are riding on a striped shoulder or in a parking lane, you may ride two abreast.
You can pass other cyclists on the left when safe.
Rules for riding together: On a road with four or more lanes, you can ride two abreast in the right lane if you can do so without impeding traffic any more than you would by riding single file.
1. Pass cars on the right. Passing cars on the right is illegal, except when the car in front of you is turning left. If there is an accident, it is the fault of the person doing the passing.
2. Ride on sidewalks in business districts.
More helpful tips on riding safely and lawfully are available here, from the League of American Bicyclists.
Always remember to:
1. Lock your bike.
2. Register your bike. Cyclists who live in Billings or ride regularly within the city limits are encouraged to register their bikes. You can download a form here or you can get one at the local bike shops and send it in to the Crime Prevention Office downtown. For more information on registering your bike please contact the Crime Prevention Office at 247-8950.
3. Lights at night. It is required by law that you have a headlight and a rear reflector when riding at night. Lights at night help you see hazards on the road, AND help motorists see you!!
Register Your Bike With the Bike Index
Bike Index is a new open source bike registry app where you can register your bike nationwide.
If you already have a bike, you can register your bike yourself by selecting the ADD YOUR BIKE icon on the Index’s home page.
Several of our local bike shops are working with Bike Index, so you may also be able to register your bike when you buy it.
Please encourage the bike shops and the Billings PD to work with Bike Index so we can all be protected!