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Missouri Bicycle Laws Overview

Bicycling is a popular way to travel, commute, exercise, and pass the time in Kansas City. Missouri’s temperate weather conditions almost year-round and beautiful natural scenery makes biking a rewarding and fun way to get around on both rural and urban streets. Unfortunately, many bicyclists do not know what they can and cannot do on their bicycles. Lack of understanding the law has led to preventable arrests, accidents, and catastrophic injuries. Here’s a brief overview of Missouri’s’ bicycle laws to help spread awareness of the rules and hopefully, minimize bicycle accidents in Kansas City.

Helmet Laws in Missouri

Although the state of Missouri is silent on bicycle helmet laws, different counties have enacted their own statutes. Depending on what county you are bicycling in and your age, you may or may not legally have to wear a helmet. Several jurisdictions mandate helmet use for riders under the age of 17, while others enforce helmet use for all riders. Columbia and St. Charles counties have jurisdictions that require helmets for those under the age of 16. Visit your jurisdiction’s website to find out specific helmet rules in your region.

Rules of Operation

Like most states, Missouri enforces bicycle rules of operation for the safety of the bicyclist, pedestrians, and drivers. In MO, a bicyclist cannot ride on the sidewalk within a business district. When riding on a sidewalk in other areas, a bicyclist must yield right of way to all pedestrians. Before passing any pedestrians on the sidewalk, a bicyclist must give an audible signal such as a bike horn, bell, or verbal signal.

It’s a common misconception in Missouri that bicyclists do not share the same rights to the roadways as motorists. Many drivers believe bicycles are too slow to be on the road and are a nuisance. Section 307.191 of Missouri Law states that bicycles can operate on roadways at speeds lower than the posted limit on a street or highway. Bicycles do not have to ride on the shoulder of a road, although they can do so. The only roadways bicyclists cannot legally ride upon are interstates.

While on roadways, bicyclists must abide by the same roadway rules as motor vehicles. This includes biking on the correct side of the road, in the same direction as traffic, as well as stopping at all traffic lights and stop signs. They must obey all the same duties and standards of care as other motorists, including using hand signals to show changes of directions, slowing down, and stopping. Bicycles are legally allowed to ride two or more abreast (side by side) as long as they do not impede traffic.

Bicycle Equipment

Under Missouri law, bicycles have to have certain pieces of equipment to be road worthy. A bicycle must have a brake that can allow the operator to stop the bike within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour. Bicycles ridden after dark must have a white light on the front of the bicycle (visible at 500 feet), a rear-facing red reflector or red lamp (visible at 600 feet), reflective material or lights visible from the bike’s pedals or bicyclist’s shoes/lower legs (visible at 200 feet), and reflective material or lights on each side of the bicycle (visible at 300 feet). Equipment rules aim to improve the safety of bicyclists and prevent harmful accidents.

Penalties for violating bicycle laws in Missouri include fees of $5 to $25 for riders 17 years of age and older. For lawbreakers under the age of 17, a law enforcement officer can impound the bicycle for a maximum of five days. Bicyclists should abide by all Missouri laws for their own safety and to avoid catastrophic and fatal injury from vehicle collisions.