Some rules regarding Utah bicycle laws may be no-brainers while other rules or the lack of may surprise the average rider.
Common sense laws
There are some Utah bicycle laws that would be easy to avoid breaking as long as a person has just a small sliver of common sense. These no-brainer laws include:
• Utah Code section 41-6a-1106(3) which prohibits a person on a bicycle from being careless and crashing into a pedestrian, another bicyclist, or vehicle. In other words, don’t run into people.
• Section 41-6a-1101- “The parent of guardian of a child may not authorize or knowingly permit the child to violate [Utah bicycle laws]”. That is to say, parents are not above the law.
• Section 41-6a-1104 states that anyone on a non-motorized vehicle such as a bike, moped, skateboard, sled, etc. should never attach their ride to a vehicle on a highway. A person’s fear of dying a horrible, painful death should prevent them from ever trying to break this law.
• Section 41-6a-113(2) – Every bicycle must have brakes. Although unknown to many as a law of the state, most riders are more than likely hopeful that they would be able to stop their bicycle effectively when needed.
• Although this should be common sense in regards to safety, some riders may not be aware that according to section 41-6a-1114 having reflectors and a headlight at night is a law. Make sure you can see where you’re going and that vehicles can see you.
Surprising Utah bicycle laws
While the above laws should be obvious for each bicyclist, there are numerous other Utah bicycle laws that the majority of bike owners are probably unaware of, such as:
• Utah Code section 41-6a-112(2) which says “A person operating a bicycle or moped shall keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.” A smooth looking trick that is learned and perfected in grade school, riding a bike with no hands is technically illegal.
• Section 41-6a-112(1) prohibits a bicyclist from carrying a “package, bundle, or article which prevents the use of both hands in the control and operation of the bicycle” Fortunately they make those little bicycle baskets for transporting things via two wheels with ease.
• Another section limiting what can be carried on a bike, 41-6a-1103(1) states “a bicycle or moped may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped for.” No more letting your buddy ride on your bike pegs.
• Although riding on pegs is not permitted, section 41-6a-1103(2) allows adults to carry a child in a backpack or sling, like that is any safer.
• The 4th Amendment protects citizens from undue searches, but what about random bike inspections? According to section 41-6a-1110 of the Utah Code, “at any time” an officer feels necessary, they may stop a bicyclist and inspect a bike to make sure it is safe and legal.
• 41-6a-1102 – One bonus law in favor of bicyclists: Riders on non-motorized devices such as bicycles will not face the same penalties as those who drive vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Cheers to no DUI charge for riding a bicycle drunk! (Public intoxication charges are another story however.)
A needed law
While Utah is not lacking on its abundance of bicycle laws, there is one area that many residents feel should be regulated, but isn’t. Currently only 22 states in the nation have statewide laws requiring either all persons or minors under a certain age to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Other states have cities within those states with local ordinances requiring helmets for some riders within their city limits. Neither Utah as a whole nor any city in the beehive state has a law requiring helmets. Even young rider and those being carried in a backpack or sling by an adult rider are not required to have something protecting their head in case of a fall. Someday hopefully this law will be added to the list of common sense bicycle laws.
Bicycle rider’s handbook
As with driving a motor vehicle, riding a bicycle comes with a variety of different laws. Perhaps a handbook should be supplied upon the purchase of any two-wheeled non-motorized vehicle. Until then, bicyclist as encouraged to become familiar with all Utah bicycle laws.