With so many bicycles on Idaho’s roads today, it’s easy to forget just what the rules are when automobiles share lanes with bikes. Where a bicycle rides depends on how fast the bicyclist is traveling. If the bicyclist is moving at the same speed as traffic then they can ride anywhere they like inside of the lane. But if they’re traveling slower than surrounding traffic then, according to Idaho law, they should ride in the following areas:
- To the right of the road
- As close to the outer lane line as possible
- In a bike lane, if available
Most cities in Idaho do not allow bicyclists to ride on sidewalks, so you should check your city’s ordinances before attempting to do so. If a bicyclist does encounter a pedestrian on a sidewalk, they should yield and give an audible signal as they approach, and the same should be done in crosswalks, as well. When passing a bicyclist riding on the road, motorists should use always use extreme caution. Remember that bicycles don’t offer the same crash protections, like seat belts and air bags, as automobiles do.
Idaho Helmet Laws
Similar to most other states, Idaho requires all bike riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while riding. If an underage bike rider is caught riding without a helmet the rider’s parent or guardian would be considered liable and could face stiff financial penalties or the bike could even be impounded.
Bicyclists should also ensure their bikes have proper headlamps and reflectors before hitting the road. Anyone who rides at night should use a white headlamp for the sake of safety. Brakes should also be in operating order, and the handlebars should be set lower than the bicyclist’s shoulders.
The ‘Idaho Stop’ and Other Unique Bike Laws
Bicyclists in Idaho are not required to come to a full stop at a stop sign if there is no other traffic in the vicinity. This is called an ‘Idaho Stop’ by locals and effectively reduces stop signs to little more than yield signs. Bicyclists, too, are not required to fully honor stop lights if there is no other traffic around. Once they see the road is clear, bicyclists can roll through a red light, treating it as if it were little more than a stop sign.
The following is a list of additional Idaho bicycle laws you should be aware of:
- Bicycles should be ridden with two hands at all times except when using hand signals
- You should never ride a bicycle after drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Hitching a ride on a car or truck is not only illegal, it is extremely dangerous
- You should avoid wearing headphones while riding a bike
Bicycle Signals in Idaho
While hand signal use is not required by law in Idaho, every bicyclist should know how to use them before riding. The three most important signals are left turn, right turn, and stopping/slowing down. With so many drivers distracted by their iPhones these days, it’s wise for bicyclists to get in the habit of using hand signals whenever they make turns or slow down.
Safety is the best policy when it comes to riding bikes in Idaho. Remember that bicycle laws are meant to protect you from injury or worse. For further information, visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.