How to share the road with cyclists

Posted at 4:55 PM, Sep 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-18 16:55:29-04

Thursday's fatal bicycle crash has spurred a debate on our Facebook page about whether cyclists should be riding on the road.

Matthew Billings, a 33-year-old Canton man, died after a crash involving a pick-up truck on a rural Brecksville road.

Billings was riding with a group of seven other cyclists, witnesses told, and five of them were involved in the crash. Billings died on the scene and the other four were hospitalized.

It's important to note that this investigation is ongoing. Brecksville Police will determine fault in the crash — if any.

But whatever your personal opinion on whether bikes should be on the road, it's important to know what the law requires of you, whether you're on four wheels or two.


Ohio law specifically allows for bicycles to be on streets, as long as they:

  • Stay as far to the right as is safe and reasonable (the Ohio Department of Transportation advises that bikes ride at least 3 feet from the curb or parked cars)
  • Follow traffic laws
  • Ride no more than two bicycles wide

The law also outlines specific instances where it is unsafe or unreasonable to hug the right side of the road:

  • When there are objects (like parked cars) or surface hazards (cyclists encounter glass, gravel, debris or potholes in shoulders—and even bike lanes) on the right side
  • If the lane is too narrow for a car to safely pass a bicycle without traveling into another lane of traffic

FULL TEXT: ORC 4511.55

The Ohio Department of Transportation also has a handy guide for bicyclistson following the rules of the road and riding safely.

Basically, bikes should follow the same laws as cars, and cars should treat them as vehicles. 


The Ohio Bicycle Federation has published a guide for motorists for sharing the road with bikes too, which outlines some basic ways to follow the law and treat bicycles as cars:

  • Maintain three feet of distance from bikes when passing
  • Do not cut off a bicycle by turning right in front of it. If you are crossing a bicycle lane to turn right, yield to the bike
  • Yield to oncoming cyclists on left turns — as you would a car
  • Check for bicycles before opening a drivers' side door when you're parked on the street



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