Ratings -- Local Bicycle Traffic Ordinances

by Fred Oswald, PE, LCI #947
Last revised 24 Jan 2010

This article describes and gives ratings for local bicycle traffic ordinances (bicycle laws) in 75 NE Ohio communities.  Many communities have ordinances that mandate dangerous practices, discourage safe driving or otherwise discriminate against lawful cyclists.  These ordinances violate the Ohio Revised Code requirement for uniform traffic law.  A companion article describes Model Laws that encourage safe cycling (promote "bicycle safety") and prevent crashes.

Share the Road sign

We find it sadly ironic that many of the worst ordinances are called
"SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES"

Imagine if the people who write motor vehicle laws were non drivers.  Now imagine that some of the police who enforce the laws also did not know how to drive.  What's more, imagine that road engineers who design roads were ignorant of how cars are driven.  Does this sound insane?  This is exactly the situation that faces people who drive bicycles.  It is time for cyclists to teach society about bicycle driving.

This article is a resource for reform of local ordinances that mandate or encourage dangerous practices and discriminate against cyclists.  The two most common forms of such laws are (1) the mandatory-side-path rule, which requires operating bicycles on either "bike paths" or sidewalks; and (2) the as far right as practicable rule, which encourages unsafe lane position.  Both of these are dangerous, discriminatory and completely unnecessary.

*** Index ***



Bicycle traffic laws in the Ohio Revised Code were revised and improved significantly by House Bill 389, the "Better Ohio Bicycling Bill".  The most significant reform was a provision promising uniform laws for bicycle operators.  The following provisionsin the Ohio Revised Code make many local ordinances invalid.  These bad ordinances must be repealed.

Bad laws (shown below in red) are contrary to safety and invalid under state law.  The safe and efficient way to operate a bicycle is to act as the competent driver of a vehicle operating under the standard traffic rules.  This is called "Vehicular Cycling" and is described in Effective Cycling by John Forester, MIT Press, 1993.  Experienced cyclists who operate this way have a crash rate 75-80% lower than the population at large.  Standard traffic rules promote safe and efficient cycling.  The problem is non-standard "special" rules for bicycle operators.

Bad laws create many problems:  (1) They make the roadways less safe for everyone.  (2) They discriminate against the best and safest cyclists many of whom who use bicycles for transportation.  (3) They encourage the dangerous mistakes of novices.  (4) They mandate known unsafe practices that may expose the community to liability for collisions.  (5) They are a breach of the duty of the government to protect its citizens, thus they undermine the legitimacy of the government.  (6) They would aid the defense of a negligent driver who injures a cyclist riding on the street.  Government officials who understand these problems will be eager to fix them.

We may be able to show and educational presentation, such as Bicycle Traffic Law and Safety Issues (3 Mb Powerpoint file), show parts of the Effective Cycling video, hand out copies of Ohio Bicycling Street Smarts and this article.

Sometimes, government officials want to "do something for bicycles."  The Dilemmas of Bicycle Planning is an excellent article for government officials and planners.  Anyone considering the "Bicycle Friendly Communities" program should first read Guidelines for a 'Cyclist Friendly Community' by this author.

Whenever their duties involve bicycling issues, traffic engineers, as a matter of professional competence, must know Vehicular Cycling (or employ qualified consultants) since their work impacts cyclists.  A passing score in a "Smart Cycling" class will help demonstrate qualification.  Any Professional Engineer must abide by the "Code of Ethics for Engineers and Surveyors".  In Ohio, the Ohio Administrative Code 4733-35-03(B) states The Engineer or Surveyor shall undertake to perform assignments only when he and/or his consulting support are qualified by training and experience in the specific technical fields involved.  For current information on cycling courses, check the Smart Cycling Schedule

There is a lot of cycling advocacy information on the web.  Three sites we suggest are the Ohio Bicycle Federation Cyclist Friendly Communities Award, the Bicycling Life website and the North Carolina Coalition for Bicycle Driving.

Other resources include cycling articles by Fred Oswald.  Also, see Legal Defense of Cyclists and Bicycle "Right to the Road" Cases for ideas on how to fight legal harassment. For more information, please see How to Help.



NE Ohio Local Ordinances


The list below surveys local bicycle traffic ordinances from NE Ohio communities.  Information shown here is from published "Codified Ordinances" as found in the local library or published on the Web.  If ordinances have been recently changed, the information may be out of date.  Please notify the author of any updates, additions or corrections.  Dates for many ordinances are shown (in parenthesis).

Brook Park, Ohio enacted most of the Model Local Laws.  The Ohio Bicycle Federation presented a "Good Cycling Laws Award" to the City in 2003.  For details, see below.

Bad ordinances (or portions) are shown in red.  These conflict with the uniform traffic laws of Ohio (the Ohio Revised Code or ORC) and form a "crazy quilt" of inconsistent local rules for bicycle drivers.  Good language is shown in green.  Ratings are based on the degree that local ordinances mandate dangerous practices, are discriminatory, inconsistent with state law or include nuisance rules.

The State of Ohio currently has the "far right" rule but modified to reduce confusion.  Ohio does not have the "mandatory-side-path rule".  Ohio defines bicycles as vehicles.  This gives cyclists an inherent right to use the roads.

Key to Ratings

The bicycle traffic law ratings below are based on a common "grading system", where A=excellent, B=good, C=poor, D=very poor, F=unacceptable.  This is not like school grades where half of the students are, by definition, below average.  Rules inconsistent with the best practices for bicycle driving constitute a serious failure of the duty of the government.  The basic ratings are shown below.

A Completely consistent with ORC as revised in 2006
C-minus  Completely consistent with pre-2006 ORC
D-plus Consistent with pre-2006 ORC except requires children up to age 10 to ride on sidewalk
D Consistent with pre-2006 ORC except requires adults to ride on path
F Requires adults to ride on sidewalk

These ratings may be modified up or down by other factors.  Positive factors include: exempting cyclist from any "traffic calming" restriction; and NO mandatory bicycle registration.  Negative factors include children's sidewalk rule for older than age 10, helmet rule that applies to non-residents (violates uniformity).  More serious negative factors include helmet rule without negligence exclusion, requiring cyclists to walk through intersections (violates uniformity), requiring riding "far right as possible" (unsafe lane position & violates uniformity).

"Sidewalk laws" are sometimes justified as an attempt to protect children.  Very young children should not ride on the street just as they should not be allowed to cross streets until they understand how to do it safely.  This must be determined by their parents.  However, sidewalk cycling along a busy street is not safe at any age.  On the other hand, well-informed parents can safely guide their four year old children on quiet streets, children of age 7-8 can be taught to ride safely by themselves on two-lane residential streets and ten year olds can be taught to ride on moderately-busy, 4-lane roads.


** Amherst <B plus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except requirements to (1) keep two hands on the handle grips and (2) to use bike racks in the business district.  The concern is availability of secure bicycle parking and avoiding "wheel bender" bike racks.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/amherst.htm.  (Complete to December 31, 2008)


** Ashtabula <B plus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except (1) a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips; and (2) a license requirement that is worded to imply it may apply to non-residents of the city.  See http://www.cityofashtabula.com/codifiedordinances.pdf.  (Complete to November 1, 2006)


** Aurora <A minus> Consistent with current Ohio Law except a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips.  See http://conwaygreene.com/Aurora.htm.  (Complete to July 5, 2009)


** Avon <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.  See http://www.amlegal.com/library/oh/avon.shtml.  (Current through February 23, 2009)

Avon is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

474.06 RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available,
except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district.  At no time shall a person under the age of 11 years operate a bicycle on a street.
474.07 SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street. Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.

There are also minor inconsistencies between Avon ordinances and the ORC, including requiring use of a bell and requiring "both hands upon the handle grips."


** Avon Lake <C plus>.  See www.amlegal.com/library/oh/avonlake.shtml.  (Current through December 31, 2008)

Avon Lake made several changes in response to the 2006 update to the Ohio Revised Code but failed to repeal one invalid ordinance:
474.08  KEEPING TO RIGHT
Every person operating a bicycle shall keep to the right-hand curb upon all streets, highways and other public ways in the City.


** Bay Village <D minus>.  See www.conwaygreene.com/bayvillage.htm.  (Revised to August 1, 2009)

Bay Village has not updated its ordinances in response to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

377.06  RIDING ON STREETS
It shall be legal to ride a bicycle or tricycle upon a street or public way, subject to the following:
(a) Every person operating a bicycle or tricycle upon a roadway shall ride within three feet of the right edge of the roadway when practicable, obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles and exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
(b) Persons riding bicycles or tricycles upon a roadway shall ride single file in a single lane, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles or tricycles.  (Ord. 84-88. Passed 9-4-84.)
(c) Wherever a designated path for bicycles and tricycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle and tricycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street. At no time shall a bicyclist or tricyclist under the age of seven operate a bicycle or tricycle on a street.
(d) No person shall ride a bicycle or tricycle on the pavement or berm of major streets that are posted as prohibiting bicycle riding. Those posted streets shall be designated by the Mayor or Director of Public Safety.

Note:  Important transportation streets that are posted "no-bikes", include Clague, Columbia, and Dover Center Roads.  This is a partial "sidewalk law" in disguise!
377.07  RIDING ON BICYCLE PATHS OR SIDEWALKS
It shall be legal to ride a bicycle or tricycle upon a sidewalk or public way, or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles and/or tricycles, subject to the following:
(a) Wherever a designated path for bicycles and tricycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle and tricycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(e) No person shall ride a bicycle or tricycle across or through an intersection when approaching an intersection on a sidewalk.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle or tricycle across or through the intersection.


The section below has not been updated in response to HB 389, which clarified requirements for safety devices by emphasing those that provide real safety benefits.  In addition, the skidding wheel language is irresponsible and impossible to meet for the front brake of most bicycles.
377.12  LIGHTS AND REFLECTOR; BELL AND BRAKES.
(c) Every bicycle and tricycle shall be equipped with an adequate brake which will enable the operator to make the brake wheel skid on dry, level pavement.


** Beachwood <D plus>  Children are confined to dangerous facilities by 474.06.  The second sentence in 474.06 is good except it should apply to everyone.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/beachwood.htm (September 8, 2009)

In addition to the problems shown below, we are concerned that the city has a helmet ordinance ( 474.02(g)) for persons under age 16.  This ordinance lacks a negligence exclusion and it mentions an obsolete standard.  (The current standard is CPSC.)

Beachwood is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:


474.06   RIDING ON SIDEWALKS
No person under the age of eleven years, unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, shall operate a bicycle on the roadways within the city, provided sidewalks are available.  Persons eleven years and older may operate a bicycle upon the roadways, but shall be governed by the same provisions of this Traffic Code relative to right of way as other vehicles.


** Bedford <D>   See www.conwaygreene.com/bedford.htm.  (Complete to November 16, 2008)

Bedford is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.05 SIGNAL DEVICE ON BICYCLE.
(a) No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.
373.08 RECKLESS OPERATION; CONTROL, COURSE AND SPEED.
(4) Without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the required hand and arm signals, or as provided in Section 373.02(d);
373.13 AGE.
(a) At no time shall a person under the age of eleven years (11 yrs.) operate a bicycle on any street within the Municipality.

Other problems in the Bedford ordinances:
Helmet ordinance for childred under age 14 with no negligence waiver.  Obsolete helmet standards (ANSI/Snell).  Provision for imponding bicycles.  Requirement for bell on bicycle was not removed.  Requirement for both hands was not removed.  Requirement to give hand signals before turning not compliant with ORC.


** Bedford Heights <D minus>
See www.conwaygreene.com/bedhts.htm.  (Complete to January 1, 2009)
Bedford Hts. made several changes in response to the 2006 update to the Ohio Revised Code but failed to repeal invalid ordinances.

Bedford Hts. is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.08 RECKLESS OPERATION; CONTROL, COURSE AND SPEED.
(a) No person shall operate a bicycle:
(4) Without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the required hand and arm signals, or as provided in Section 373.02(d);
373.11 SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.
373.14 SUSPENSION OF RIDING PRIVILEGES; IMPOUNDING OF BICYCLES BY COURT.
In addition to other penalties, a court may prohibit any person who violates or fails to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter relating to bicycles from riding a bicycle for a period not to exceed three months.  In addition, any person violating or failing to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter relating to bicycles may be punished by having his bicycle impounded for a period not exceeding thirty days.


** Bentleyville <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.  (Checked at library 1/02.  Bentleyville ordinances were not found online.)

Invalid Ordinances include:
474.07  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a)  Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c)  No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection when crossing a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.
474.06  RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk on or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district.   At no time shall a person under the age of eleven years operate a bicycle on a street.


** Berea <B minus> .  See www.conwaygreene.com/berea.htm.  (Complete to March 15, 2009)

Berea is not fully in compliance with Ohio Law.  Fortunately, the problems are not serious.
Invalid Ordinances include:

773.04 RIDING BICYCLES AND MOTORCYCLES ABREAST.
(a) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall ride in a single file in a single lane in the same direction as the motor vehicle traffic, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles or motorcycles.
773.08 RECKLESS OPERATION; CONTROL, COURSE AND SPEED.
(a) No person shall operate a bicycle:
(4) Without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the required hand and arm signals, or as provided in Section 773.02(d);

Other problems in Berea ordinances:
Helmet ordinance for children under age 12 with no negligence waiver.  Obsolete helmet standards (ANSI/Snell).  Bicycle registration provision written such that it appears to apply to non-residents.


** Bratenahl <B plus>Consistent with current Ohio Law except Helmet ordinance for children under age 17 with no negligence waiver and written to imply it applies to non-residents and with obsolete helmet standards (ANSI/Snell).  Requirement to keep both hands on handle grips.  We are glad to note that Bratenahl does not require bicycle registration.  See http://conwaygreene.com/bratenahl.htm. (Complete to May 19, 2009)


** Brecksville <D> (checked at library 12/01. Ordinances not found online.)

Invalid Ordinance
373.07  RIDING BICYCLE ON RIGHT SIDE OF ROADWAY; OBEDIENCE TO TRAFFIC RULES; PASSING
... Where a walking or bicycle path has been provided adjacent to any road or highway, all pedestrians, equestrians and bicyclists shall use said path.


** Broadview Heights <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.  See http://www.amlegal.com/library/oh/broadviewhts.shtml.  (current through October 20, 2008)

Broadview Heights is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

474.06  RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk on or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district.  At no time shall a person under the age of 11 years operate a bicycle on a street.
474.07  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a)  Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c)  No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection when crossing a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.
(i) No person shall engage in trick riding or operate a bicycle without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the hand signals required herein.


** Brooklyn <D>  See http://conwaygreene.com/Brooklyn.htm.  (Complete to April 14, 2008)

Brooklyn is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinance.
Invalid Ordinance

373.16   RIDING ON SIDEWALKS
(a) No person thirteen years of age or under shall ride a bicycle except on a sidewalk.

The section below is a minor problem. There is no exception to the signal requirement where the bicycle is in a turn-only lane or if the hands are needed for controlling the bicycle.
373.17   HAND AND ARM SIGNALS
(a) Before turning or altering the course of a bicycle, the operator make sure that movement can be made in safety and shall give a signal by the extension of the hand and arm ...

We are also troubled by a helmet provision (fortunately with a negligence waiver), for requirements to lock bicycles, for bicycle licenses, to keep both hands on handle grips, to use bicycle racks and the authority for police to impound bicycles.


** Brook Park <A minus>  Essentially consistent with current Ohio Law.  The city adopted most of our proposed Model Local Laws in 2003.  Brook Park was a model for the 2006 Ohio law reforms.  See www.amlegal.com/library/oh/brookpark.shtml  (January 3, 2008)

Essentially consistent with current Ohio Law.  The city adopted most of our proposed Model Local Laws in 2003.  Brook Park was a model for the 2006 Ohio law reforms.

Brook Park has one provision that conflicts with the Ohio Revised Code.
373.13   LIGHTS AND REFLECTORS ON BICYCLES; BRAKES.
(c) Every bicycle shall be equipped with an adequate brake when used on a street or highway, which will enable the operator to make the brake wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

The skidding wheel brake requirement above is nearly impossible to meet for the front wheel.  It is unsafe to make this test.  Traffic laws should not suggest irresponsible children's tricks such as deliberately skidding the rear wheel.  The Uniform Vehicle Code has a much better brake metric:
UVC 12-706 Brake required
Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake or brakes which will enable its driver to stop the bicycle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.


** Brunswick <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep two hands on the handle grips and some ambiguous language about yielding to "vehicular traffic upon the roadway as lawfully required."
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/brunswick.htm.  (Complete to September 1, 2009)


** Chagrin Falls <D>  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/Chagrin.htm.  (Complete to July 1, 2009)

Chagrin Falls is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

473.04  OBEDIENCE TO TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES
(b) Persons riding bicycles upon a street shall ride in single file only and not abreast, except on paths or parts of streets set aside for exclusive use of bicycles.
(c) Wherever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
373.08 TRICK RIDING.
No person shall engage in trick riding or operate a bicycle without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the hand signals required herein.
We are also concerned about a provision authorizing impounding bicycles.


** Cleveland <C>  Consistent with pre 2006 Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep "both hands upon the handle grips."
See http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/clevelandcodes/cco_part4_473.html (Complete to June 30, 2009)

Cleveland has not updated its ordinances to conform to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with current Ohio Law; however the deficiencies are not serious.


** Cleveland Heights <B>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except as noted below.  Unfortunately, the city failed to use our Model Local Laws See http://www.conwaygreene.com/ClevelandHts.htm  (Complete to March 31, 2009)

Problems include: (1) a requirement to use bike racks if available.  (The concern is secure and convenient parking and the problems of "wheel bender" bike racks.)  (2) requiring a bicycle license, even for residents of another city provided the other city has registration, contrary to Ohio Law.  Worse, (3) the city claims the authority to impound non-registered bicycles.  This invites police harassment.  (4) Contrary to the ORC the city prohibits operating "without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the required hand and arm signals".  The ORC prohibits carrying a package which prevents having at least one hand on the handlebars.


** Cleveland Metroparks <A minus>   Generally consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands upon the handle grips.  See http://conwaygreene.com/Clemetroparks.htm.  (No revision date listed. Checked Nov. 2009.)


** Cuyahoga Heights <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.  See http://www.amlegal.com/library/oh/cuyahogahts.shtml (Complete to June 30, 2009)

Cuyahoga Heights not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

444.06 RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
(d) A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district. At no time shall a person under the age of 11 years operate a bicycle on a street.
444.07 SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street. Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.

(i) No person shall engage in trick riding or operate a bicycle without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the hand signals required herein.


** Eastlake <A minus>   Generally consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands upon the handle grips.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/eastlake.htm (Complete to July 14, 2009)


** Elyria <C plus>    www.amlegal.com/library/oh/elyria.shtml  (Current through January 31, 2008). 

Elyria is not fully in compliance with Ohio Law.  Fortunately, the problems are not serious.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.08 RECKLESS OPERATION; CONTROL, COURSE AND SPEED.
No person shall operate a bicycle:
(d) Without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the required hand and arm signals;
373.11 OPERATION ON JOHN F. KENNEDY MEMORIAL PARKWAY.
Operators of bicycles shall not ride or operate their bicycles within the right of way of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Parkway, being a controlled-access highway, except in emergency situations and at intersections and pedestrian crossings.

Note: This parkway is not a "Freeway" hence, the above is inconsistent with Ohio Law.
ORC 4511.07(A)(9) allows local authorities to require bicycle licenses only for residents of the community. It is better to make licensing voluntary.
373.12 LICENSE AND REGISTRATION REQUIRED.
No person shall ride or use a bicycle upon any public street in the City unless the same is licensed and registered as hereinafter provided.
373.21 IMPOUNDING OF BICYCLES WITHOUT TAGS OR SERIAL NUMBERS.
If any bicycle is found within the limits of the City, without a license identification tag, as above set forth, or with a mutilated or altered serial or no serial number stamped on the frame of the bicycle it shall be prima-facie evidence that the bicycle is being operated without proper registration and shall be impounded, as hereinafter set forth.

373.25 BICYCLE ROUTES
There are hereby established in and for the City specific bicycle routes throughout the City, as follows: ...

[Some of the routes involve sidewalks.  Sidewalks are known to be dangerous and unsuitable as bicycle facilities unless used with extreme care and low speed.]


** Euclid <D minus>  See www.amlegal.com/euclid_oh/  (June 19, 2006, checked Nov 2009)

Euclid has not updated its ordinances in response to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include

In addition to failing to update ordinances to comply with changes to the ORC effective Sept. 206, Euclid ordinances have the following serious defects.
371.08  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a)  Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c)  No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.


** Fairview Park <D minus>  See www.fairviewpark.org/files/government/D-TRAFFIC.pdf  (2009 replacement)

Fairview Park has not updated its ordinances in response to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.08 RIDING REGULATIONS
(b) Whenever a designated path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(d) At no time shall a bicyclist under the age of twelve years operate a bicycle on a street.

In addition to the serious problems described above, the city (1) has a license requirement that is worded to imply it applies to non-residents of the city; (2) It requires having "both hands upon the handle bars"; (3) it requires a brake that can "make the brake wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement."  This skidding wheel brake requirement above is impossible to meet for the front wheel.  It is unsafe to make this test.  (4) An ordinance authorizes impounding bicycles.


** Gates Mills <F minus> Among the worst we have seen.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/GatesMills.htm.  (Complete to June 30, 2009).

Gates Mills is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The village has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

374.06 RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district.  At no time shall a person under the age of 11 years operate a bicycle on a street.
374.07 SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.
374.10 BICYCLES PROHIBITED ON COLVIN ROAD.
No person shall ride or use a bicycle on Colvin Road.

In addition to the problems noted above, the city failed to add a paragraph in response to ORC 4511.55(C) (below):
This section does not require a person operating a bicycle to ride at the edge of the roadway when it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so.  Conditions that may require riding away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary to avoid fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, surface hazards, or if it otherwise is unsafe or impracticable to do so, including if the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
Other problems in Gates Mills: the village requires using "both hands upon the handle grips;" the ordinance regarding bicycle licensed is written to imply licenses are required of non-residents of the village and it reserves the right to impound bicycles.


** Glenwillow <A minus> Consistent with current Ohio Law except a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/glenwillow.htm.  (Complete to October 1, 2008)


** Highland Heights <D>  See www.conwaygreene.com/Hlandhts.htm (February 4, 2008)

Highland Heights is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.06  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS
(a) Wherever a designated usable path for bicycles or tricycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle or tricycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
373.09 AGE MINIMUM FOR RIDING IN STREET.
(a) No bicyclist or bicyclist [SIC] under the age of eleven years shall operate a bicycle or tricycle on a street.
(b) No person under the age of eleven years shall ride a bicycle or tricycle across or through any intersection.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle or tricycle across or through the intersection.


** Highland Hills <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handlebars.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/highlandhills.htm.  (Complete to December 1, 2008


** Hunting Valley <D minus> 
See www.conwaygreene.com/HuntingValley.htm (May 1, 2008)

Hunting Valley has not updated its ordinances in response to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

341.02 RIDING BICYCLES ON STREETS.
(a) No person under the age of eleven years shall operate a bicycle on a street.

Note: the following, while not a bad idea, is not consistent with the ORC.
(b) Ever [SIC] person operating a bicycle upon a roadway from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, and at any other time when there are unfavorable atmospheric conditions or when there is not sufficient natural light to render discernible persons, vehicles and substantial objects on the street at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead, shall wear reflective clothing or a reflective device of sufficient size and reflective capacity to be seen at a distance of not less than 500 feet to the person's front and rear, when illuminated by two standard automobile headlights operating at the lawful lower beam setting.
442.03  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES
(a) Wherever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.


** Independence <B>  Generally consistent with current Ohio Law except for (1) a requirement to keep both hands upon the handle grips.  (2) Lacks paragraph consistent with ORC 4511.55(C) that modifies the requirement to ride "as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable."  (3) The city failed to adopt ORC provisions that define where hand signals signals are not required.  However, we are pleased to note that bicycle registration is not required.
See http://conwaygreene.com/independence.htm.  (Complete to January 22, 2009)


** Kirtland <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.  See http://www.amlegal.com/library/oh/kirtland.shtml.  (Statutory updates through 12-8-2008)

Kirtland is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The village has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

474.06 RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
(A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district. At no time shall a person under the age of 11 years operate a bicycle on a street.
474.07 SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
((a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street. Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.

(i) No person shall engage in trick riding or operate a bicycle without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the hand signals required herein.


** Lakewood <B plus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except as noted below.  The city adopted most of our Model Local Laws See www.conwaygreene.com/lakewood.htm (Complete to June 18, 2007).  Lakewood ordinances were revised Sept. 2007.  This rating is based on the revised ordinances.

Lakewood has a helmet ordinance that might be interpreted to apply to non-residents of the city.  It is unreasonable to expect non-residents to be aware of this ordinance or to comply with dozens of potentially different and inconsistent requirements.  In addition, Ohio Law requires signage at all entrances to the city before this ordinance has a chance of validity.  There is also the concern that it may be fundamentally inconsistent with Ohio law which does not require helmet use.  Fortunately, there is a good negligence waiver.

Lakewood also has mandatory bicycle registration for city residents.  While this is allowed under the ORC, we strongly recommend registration be voluntary.


** Lorain <A minus>  Consistent with the new Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handlebars.  We are also concerned about required bicycle licensing.
See www.conwaygreene.com/Lorain.htm  (April 1, 2008)


** Lyndhurst <D>    See http://www.conwaygreene.com/lyndhurst.htm (Complete to May 1, 2009)

Lyndhurst is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

474.05 OPERATION ON STREETS AND INTERSECTIONS; AGE LIMITATIONS.
(a) No person under the age of 11 years shall operate a bicycle or tricycle on a street or highway.
(b) No person under the age of 11 years shall ride a bicycle or tricycle across or through any intersection. Intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle or tricycle across or through the same.

474.07  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS
(b) Persons riding bicycles or tricycles upon a street shall ride in single file only and not abreast except on paths or parts of streets set aside for exclusive use of bicycles or tricycles.
(c) Wherever a designated usable path for bicycles or tricycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle or tricycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.

In addition to the more serious problems noted above, Lyndhurst has a requirement to keep both hands on the handlegrips and the city claims the right to impound bicycles.


** Macedonia <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/macedonia.htm. (Complete to January 8, 2009)


** Maple Heights <D minus>  See www.amlegal.com/library/oh/mapleheights.shtml (current through August 19, 2009)

Maple Heights is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

(474.07  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES
(a) Wherever a designated usable path for bicycles or tricycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle or tricycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.


** Mayfield Heights <D minus> 
See www.amlegal.com/library/oh/mayfieldhts.shtml (current through January 31, 2009)

Mayfield Heights has not updated its ordinances in response to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.05 OPERATION ON STREETS AND THROUGH INTERSECTIONS
(a) At no time shall a bicyclist or tricyclist under the age of eleven operate a bicycle on a street.
(b) No person under the age of eleven shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection.  Such an intersection shall be crossed by walking the bicycle or tricycle across or through the intersection.
373.07  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS
(b) Persons riding bicycles or tricycles upon a street shall ride in single file only and not abreast, except on paths or parts of streets set aside for exclusive use of bicycles or tricycles.
(c) Wherever a designated usable path for bicycles or tricycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle or tricycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.


** Mayfield Village <D minus>.  See www.conwaygreene.com/Mayfield.htm  (Complete to October 1, 2008)

Mayfield Village has not updated its ordinances in response to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.05 REGULATIONS FOR YOUNG RIDERS.
(a) No person under the age of eleven years shall operate a bicycle, tricycle or unicycle on a street, highway or boulevard which has sidewalks.
(b) No person under the age of eleven shall ride a bicycle, tricycle or unicycle across or through any intersection. Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle, tricycle or unicycle across or through the intersection.

373.07  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS
(b) Persons riding bicycles, tricycles or unicycles upon a street shall ride in single file only and not abreast except on trails or parts of streets set aside for the use of bicycles, tricycles or unicycles.
(c) Wherever a designated usable trail for bicycles, tricycles or unicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle, tricycle or unicycle riders shall use such trail and shall not use the street.

In addition to the serious deficiencies noted above, the city (1) requires "a a brake which will enable the operator to make the brake wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement." (2) "both hands upon the handle grips"; (3) Police may impound bicycles.


** Medina <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except a requirement to keep both hands upon the handle grips.  We are also concerned about language for impounding bicycles.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/medina.htm.  (Complete to May 26, 2009)


** Mentor <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law. except a requirement to keep both hands upon the handle grips. We are also concerned about language for impounding bicycles.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/mentor.htm. (Complete to October 1, 2009)
While not considered for the rating, Mentor has a dangerous sidewalk-sidepath passing in front of the high school on Center St.


** Mentor-on-the-Lake <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.
See http://www.amlegal.com/library/oh/mentoronthelake.shtml.  (complete to December 31, 2008)

Mentor-on-the-Lake is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The village has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

474.06 RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS. A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district. At no time shall a person under the age of 11 years operate a bicycle on a street.
474.07 SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street. Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.

(i) No person shall engage in trick riding or operate a bicycle without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the hand signals required herein.

We are also concerned about a provision for "suspension of riding privileges" and requiring a bicycle license (written to imply it may apply to non-residents of the city).


** Middleburg Heights <C>  Consistent with pre 2006 Ohio Law
Note: An ordinance requiring children under age 14 to ride on a sidewalk was repealed April 24, 2001. (2002 replacement checked at library Nov 09.  Ordinances are not online.)


** Moreland Hills <B>  Generally consistent with current Ohio Law except as shown below.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/morelandhills.htm.  (Complete to January 4, 2009)

Invalid Ordinance
373.04 RIDING BICYCLES AND MOTORCYCLES ABREAST.
Persons riding bicycles or motorcycles upon a roadway shall ride single file, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles or motorcycles.

In addition, there is a requirement to keep two hands on the handle grips.


** NASA Glenn Research Center <A> 
Glenn Research Center has its traffic regulations in Chapter 19 of the See Safety Manual: Vehicle & Pedestrian Safety The traffic rules are completely consistent with the ORC. There are no discrimninatory bicycle-specific rules of any kind.


** North Olmsted <D> 
See http://egovlink.com/public_documents300/northolmsted/published_documents/Council/Codified/D-TRAFFIC.pdf
(Complete to September 15, 2008)
This rating is based on changes approved 9/18/02 and on 7/2/03.  Previous rating was "F minus"
This author gave a presentation to Council 3/24/03 that seemed to be well-received.  We need city residents to remind Council that riding on a sidepath is almost as dangerous as the sidewalk and that sidewalks are not safe for children.

North Olmsted has only partially updated its ordinances in response to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.15 RIDING ON STREETS, BICYCLE PATHS OR SIDEWALKS.
It shall be legal to ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk, street or public way, or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles subject to the following:

(c) Wherever a designated path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(d) Any person operating a bicycle may ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available and not congested with pedestrian traffic.  ...  At no time shall a bicyclist under the age of eight (8) operate a bicycle on a residential street.  At no time shall a bicyclist under the age of twelve (12) operate a bicycle on a street that is not a residential street.
(g) No person, when riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, shall ride the bicycle across or through an intersection when crossing a through street. Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.


** North Randall <C>   Consistent with pre 2006 Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep two hands on the handlebars.  (Checked at library 10/01.  Not found online.)


** North Ridgeville <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/northridgeville.htm.  (Complete to October 1, 2009)

North Ridgeville has not updated its ordinances in response to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

472.01 LICENSE AND REGISTRATION REQUIRED.
No person shall ride or use a bicycle upon any public street, sidewalk, public path or bicycle path in the City unless the same is licensed and registered as hereinafter provided.
472.10 IMPOUNDING OF BICYCLES WITHOUT LICENSE TAGS OR SERIAL NUMBERS.
If any bicycle is found within the limits of the City without a license identification tag, as provided for in this chapter, or with a mutilated or altered serial number or with no serial number stamped on the frame of the bicycle, it shall be prima-facie evidence that the bicycle is being operated without proper registration and shall be impounded, as set forth in this chapter.
472.12 DUTY OF POLICE OFFICERS RE VIOLATIONS.
It shall be the duty of any police officer of the City, whenever he or she finds any operator or owner of any bicycle violating any of the provisions of this chapter, to impound the same and order the violator to appear in the Mayor's Court to answer to the charge, or, in lieu thereof, the police officer may bring the violator to the office of the Chief of Police to be dealt with according to law. The officer may issue a notice upon the violator to appear before the Mayor's Court to answer to the charge in lieu of either of these provisions.

474.06  RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS; SHOPPING CENTERS.
(a) A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district. At no time shall a person under the age of eleven years operate a bicycle on a street.
474.07  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street. Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.


** North Royalton <A minus >  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep two hands on the handlebars.
See www.amlegal.com/library/oh/northroyalton.shtml  (Replacement current through 12-2-08)


** Oakwood <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/Oakwood.htm  (Complete to August 3, 2009)


** Oberlin <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/oberlin.htm.  (Complete to March 16, 2009)


** Olmsted Falls <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/olmstedfalls.htm.  (Complete to April 28, 2009)

Olmsted Falls is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The village has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

474.04 MINIMUM AGE OF BICYCLE OPERATOR.
No person who has not yet attained the age of eleven years shall operate a bicycle upon the roadway portion of any street of the Municipality if a sidewalk is available parallel thereto except as otherwise provided or required in Section 474.06. ...

474.06  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS.
(e) Bicycles shall be operated on the right side of roadways as near the curb, berm or shoulder as possible.
(f) Persons riding bicycles upon roadways shall ride in single file only and not abreast, except on paths or parts of streets set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
(g) No person operating a bicycle on any roadway shall carry any package, bundle or article in a manner which necessitates taking either hand from the handle bars.
(h) Wherever a designated, usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
474.066  RIDING BICYCLE UPON SIDEWALKS.
A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available
, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district.  At no time shall a person under the age of eleven years operate a bicycle upon a street.

In addition to the more serious problems above, the village has only partially adopted ORC provisions for hand signals including where signals are not required.  However, we are pleased to note that the bicycle registration program is voluntary.


** Orange <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/orange.htm.  (Complete to November 13, 2008).

Orange is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The village has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.08  BICYCLE RIDING REGULATIONS.
(a) A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk where signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district.  At no time shall a person under the age of eleven years operate a bicycle upon a street.
(b) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use a street.
(d)  No person shall ride a bicycle across or thorough an intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking a bicycle across or through the intersection.
(j)  No person shall engage in trick riding or operate a bicycle without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the hand signals required herein or as provided in Section 373.02(d).

In addition to the problems noted above, we are concerned that the village has a helmet ordinance ( 373.12) for persons under age 16.  This ordinance lacks a negligence exclusion and it mentions an obsolete standard.  (The current standard is CPSC.)


** Painesville <F minus>  www.amlegal.com/library/oh/painesville.shtml.  (Complete to June 1, 2009)

Painesville is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

344.06 RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district. At no time shall a person under the age of 11 years operate a bicycle on a street.
344.07 SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street. Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.

(i) No person shall engage in trick riding or operate a bicycle without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the hand signals required herein.
344.075 RECKLESS OPERATION; CONTROL, COURSE AND SPEED.
(a) No person shall operate a bicycle:
(4) Without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the required hand and arm signals, or as provided in Section 373.02(d);

In addition to the serious problems noted above, we are concerned that the city has a license requirement that is worded to imply it applies to non-residents of the city.


** Parma <C>  www.amlegal.com/library/oh/parma.shtml  (June 30, 2008)
Parma failed to respond to the 2006 update to the Ohio Revised Code. However, it is generally consistent with pre 2006 Ohio Law.
Except § 373.02 is written in a way that implies standing to pedal is disallowed.


** Parma Hts <C>  Consistent with pre 2006 Ohio Law..  (1992 replacement. Checked at library 10/01. Not found online.)


** Pepper Pike <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.
See http://www.conwaygreene.com/PepperPike.htm (Complete to January 1, 2009)

Pepper Pike has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

474.06 RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available,
except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district.  At no time shall a person under the age of eleven years operate a bicycle on a street.
> 474.07 SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.
Other problems include (1) a requirement to ride single file; (2) a helmet ordinance, which references an obsolete helmet specification.  (The current is CPSC.) (3) a requirement to use "both hands upon the handle grips" (4) a requirement to wear reflective clothing, which is non-uniform and beyond the requirements of the ORC.  The helmet ordinance lacks a negligence waiver.


** Richmond Heights <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/richmondhts.htm.  (Complete to May 11, 2009)


** Rocky River <D>  See http://www.rrcity.com/ordframe.html.  (Updated June 25, 2009)

Rocky River has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.10 RIDING REGULATIONS
(b) Wherever a designated path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(d) At no time shall a bicyclist under the age of eight (8) years operate a bicycle on a street.

In addition to the more serious problem noted above, there are requirements to (1) use "both hands upon the handle grips"; (2) A bicycle shall be parked in a designated bicycle parking area when they are provided. (3) Authority for police to impound bicycles.


** Seven Hills <A minus>   Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/SevenHills.htm.  (Complete through May 11, 2009)
We are glad to see that bicycle registration is voluntary: "The owner of a bicycle may make application for registration of such bicycle ..." (Emphasis added)


** Shaker Hts. <D minus>   See http://conwaygreene.com/lpshakerhts/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&2.0 (Complete to April 12, 2009)

Shaker Hts. has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

The brake requirement below is irresponsible.  It is generally impossible (and extremely dangerous to try) to skid the front wheel of a bicycle as suggested here.  This requirement is also inconsistent with state law.
1173.07 MOTORCYCLE AND MOTORIZED BICYCLE BRAKES; SIDE REFLECTORS. (a) Every bicycle, motorized bicycle and motorcycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheel or wheels skid on dry, level and clean pavement.
(a) No person under the age of fourteen (14) years shall operate a bicycle on the roadways within the city, provided sidewalks are available.  Persons fourteen (14) years and older may operate a bicycle upon the roadways, but shall be governed by the same provisions of this Traffic Code relative to right of way as other vehicles. ...
(c) No person under the age of fourteen (14) years shall ride a bicycle or motorized bicycle, upon any public or private property used by the public for the purpose of vehicular travel or parking.


The helmet ordinance below is one of the worst we have yet seen.  It completely lacks a negligence waiver and it applies to adults, not just children.  Note that the corresponding rule for motorcycle riders 1173.02(f) covers only those under age 18 and it ends with The provisions of this subsection or a violation thereof shall not be used in the trial of any civil action.  In addition, it cites obsolete helmet standards (ANSI/SNELL) rather than the current standard (CPSC).
381.07 BICYCLE SAFETY.
(a) No person over the age of five years shall operate a bicycle within the City unless such person is wearing a protective helmet on his/her head, with the chin strap fastened under the chin.  Such helmet shall be fitted to the size of the operator and shall meet or exceed the standards set by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) or SNELL (Snell Memorial Foundation).

We are also troubled by requirements to lock bicycles, for bicycle licenses (even for non-residents), to keep "both hands on handle grips" and the authority for police to impound bicycles.


** Solon <C plus>  Mostly consistent pre-2006 with Ohio Law with some improvements and some mistakes.  Rating is based on changes of May 11, 2002.  The prior rating was <F minus>
See www.solonohio.org/ordinance.htm.  (current through June 30, 3009)

Solon has not updated its ordinances in response to HB 389 of 2006.  It is not in compliance with Ohio Law.
Invalid Ordinances include:

Provision below is poorly written -- could be interpreted to outlaw standing to pedal.
474.02  RIDING UPON SEATS; CARRYING PACKAGES; MOTORCYCLE HANDLE BARS; HELMETS AND GLASSES.
(c) A person shall ride upon a bicycle or motorcycle only while sitting astride the seat, facing forward, with one leg on each side of the bicycle or motorcycle.

The "far right rule" is a bad law, hence the added exceptions in (a) below were an improvement on pre-2006 state law.  Unfortunately, it was not well written and is inconsistent with the current ORC.  For example, a cyclist who is not turning right should not ride in ANY PART of a right-turn-only lane.
474.04  RIDING ON RIGHT SIDE OF ROADWAY; RIDING ABREAST.
(a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway, with the flow of traffic, as practicable, obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles and exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.  Exceptions to riding at the right edge of the road involve the following situations; overtaking in the same direction; preparing for a left turn; when necessary to avoid conditions; substandard width lanes; and when riding in the right turn only lane.
(b) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall ride in single file in the following places:
(1) In business districts of the City;
(2) On through streets; and
(3) At other places where properly signed, or upon the order of a police officer,

Note: In addition to the IMPORTANT safety equipment (headlight, rear reflector and rear light), Solon requires a useless front reflector, wheel reflectors and a bell.  But then Solon added more nuisance requirements, contrary to state law.  Ohio law requires rear reflector visible 100-600 feet.  Zero feet is technically impossible.  The strobe light requirements are excessive and contrary to state law, which simply specifies a headlight and rear light.  Where are studies showing the safety and effectiveness of a strobe light?  Indeed, a bright strobe at the front may distract other drivers.
474.05  LIGHTS, SIGNAL DEVICES, BRAKES ON BICYCLES.
(a) Every bicycle, when in use at the times specified in Section 438.02, shall be equipped with the following:
(1) A lamp on the front that shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front, and a strobe light visible to oncoming traffic;
(2) A red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Ohio Director of Public Safety that shall be visible from all distances from 0 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle;
(3) A lamp emitting a red blinking or strobe light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear shall be used in addition to the red reflector;

474.06  RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
A person may ride a bicycle upon the sidewalk, rather than on the roadway; except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk where signs have been erected prohibiting such activity.   At no time shall a person under the age of eight years operate a bicycle on a street, unless accompanied by an individual over the age of eighteen.

Comment:  The provisions above are a considerable improvement over earlier regulations.  However, it is still an unnecessary and discriminatory rule.  Groups of children age 7-8 have been properly trained to ride safely on residential streets.  Knowledgeable parents can train a six year old for such easy streets.
We are also troubled by a provision requiring "both hands upon the handle grips."


** South Euclid <C minus>  www.amlegal.com/library/oh/southeuclid.shtml  (current through May 11, 2009)
South Euclid made several changes in response to the 2006 update to the Ohio Revised Code but failed to repeal invalid ordinances shown below.  In addition, we are concerned that the city has a helmet ordinance ( 373.02(h)) for persons under age 14.  This ordinance lacks a negligence exclusion and it is written to imply it could apply to non-residents of the city.

South Euclid is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

373.04 RIDING BICYCLES AND MOTORCYCLES ABREAST
. Persons riding bicycles or motorcycles upon a roadway shall ride in single file in business districts in the City, on through streets and other places upon order of any police officer, ...
373.08 RECKLESS OPERATION; CONTROL, COURSE AND SPEED.
(d) Without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the required hand and arm signals, or as provided in Section 373.02(d);

Subsection (d) below should be clarified to ensure that it applies only to persons riding on sidewalks.  Even then, it is excessive.
373.19 RIDING ON SIDEWALKS.
(d) No person shall ride a bicycle across an intersection with a through street. Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across the through street.
We are also troubled by a licensing provision, especially since it is written to imply it could apply to non-residents of the city and by a provision to impound bicycles.


** Strongsville <D minus>  .  See www.conwaygreene.com/strongsville.htm.  (Complete to December 31, 2008).
A little progress, but more needed.  At its meeting on 19 Jan 2010, Strongsville City Council repealed two dangerious provisions in their ordinances that required (1) adults to operate bicycles on sidewalks and (2) required riding on sidepaths.  Unfortunately, they did not repeal other provisions (listed below) that are also contrary to safety and to Ohio Law.  With the changes, Strongsville's rating improves slightly from F-minus to D-minus.  (see Ord. 2010-006, p. 31 of pdf file in link above.)

Strongsville is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.
Invalid Ordinances include:

474.06  RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of the Chief of Police or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district.   At no time shall a person under the age of eleven years operate a bicycle upon a street.
474.07  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a)  Whenever a person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk or street, such person shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before attempting to overtake and pass a pedestrian or another bicycle. This audible signal must be given only by bell or other warning device capable of giving an audible signal and shall be given at such a distance and in such a manner as not to startle the person being overtaken and passed.
(b)  No person shall ride a bicycle across or thorough an intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking a bicycle across or through the intersection.

Other problems in the Strongsville ordinances:
Helmet ordinance for childred under age 12 with no negligence waiver.  Obsolete helmet standards (ANSI/Snell).  A provision for impounding bicycles.  Two hands required.  Bicycle registration not optional.


** Twinsburg <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/twinsburg.htm (Complete to March 24, 2009).


** University Heights <D minus>  www.amlegal.com/library/oh/universityhts.shtml.  (complete to December 31, 2008)

University Heights is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The city has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

444.06 OPERATION GENERALLY.
(c) Riding on Sidewalks; Crossing Through Streets.
(2) No person fourteen years or more shall ride a bicycle or motorcycle upon any sidewalk in any district.  Persons under the age of fourteen years shall ride their bicycles upon a sidewalk rather than the roadway.
444.07 SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.
(i) No person shall engage in trick riding or operate a bicycle without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the hand signals required herein.
444.075 RECKLESS OPERATION; CONTROL, COURSE AND SPEED.
(d) Without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the required hand and arm signals, or as provided in Section 444.02(d);
444.13 RESTRICTIONS UPON USE OF STREETS.
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to determine and designate those heavily traveled streets upon which the use of the roadway by bicycles and motor scooters shall be prohibited and shall erect appropriate signs giving notice thereof.

We are also troubled by a provision to impound bicycles and by a licensing provision, although it applies only to residents of the city.


** Village of Valley View <F minus>  Among the worst we have seen.  See http://www.amlegal.com/library/oh/valleyview.shtml.  (complete to January 6, 2009)

Valley View is not in compliance with Ohio Law.  The village has only partly adopted changes from House Bill 389 of 2006.  It has not repealed the most serious non-compliant ordinances.
Invalid Ordinances include:

474.06  RIDING BICYCLES UPON SIDEWALKS.
A person operating a bicycle shall ride upon the sidewalk rather than the roadway when sidewalks are available, except that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk upon or along which signs have been erected by authority of Council or other duly designated local authority prohibiting such bicycle riding, or within a business district.  At no time shall a person under the age of 11 years operate a bicycle on a street.
474.07  SAFE RIDING REGULATIONS FOR BICYCLES.
(a) Whenever a designated usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street.
(c) No person shall ride a bicycle across or through any intersection involving a through street.  Such intersections are to be crossed by walking the bicycle across or through the intersection.
(i) No person shall engage in trick riding or operate a bicycle without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the hand signals required herein.


** Walton Hills <A minus>  See http://www.amlegal.com/library/oh/waltonhills.shtml.  current through September 15, 2009
Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips, some ambiguous language about yielding to "vehicular traffic upon the roadway as lawfully required", by authority to impound bicycles and a requirement to park in "areas designated for the purpose".  The concern is availability of secure bicycle parking and avoiding "wheel bender" bike racks.


** Warrensville Heights <A minus>  Consistent with pre 2006 Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips and a provision to impound bicycles.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/Warrensville.htm.  (Complete to January 1, 2009)


** Westlake <D>  With one major exception and two smaller problems, Westlake's ordinances are now generally consistent with the 2006 revisions to Ohio Law.  See www.cityofwestlake.org/pdfs/CodifiedOrdinances/DTraf.pdf  (Revised 4/07.)  The previous rating was D-.

Westlake made several changes to correct violations of the Ohio Revised Code requirement for uniform traffic law.  Unfortunately, one serious problem was missed in 373.09 (plus other minor errors). We hope this was only a clerical error that will be soon corrected. Once corrected, the rating will improve to B+

373.09 RIDING REGULATIONS.
It shall be legal to ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk, street or public way, or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, except State, Federal or County highways, where sidewalks are available, ...


Sub-section (c) below is inconsistent with ORC 4511.56(B), which no longer requires a bell.
373.09(c) Whenever a person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, street, roadway or any pedestrian way, such person shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before attempting to overtake and pass a pedestrian or another bicycle.  This audible signal must be given only by a bell or other warning device capable of giving an audible signal and shall be given at such a distance and in such a manner as not to startle any person being overtaken and passed.

The requirement to use a bike rack is unnecessary micromanagement.  Many such racks are "wheel benders" that can damage a good bike.
373.13 PARKING.
(a) A bicycle shall be parked in a designated bicycle parking area when they are provided. ...


We are also concerned by a provision to impound bicycles.  This is an example of the "toy bicycle syndrome."

Westlake has several new regulations concerning new bike lanes that opened on Apr. 1, 2007.  The regulations are generally reasonable.  Unfortunately, the stripes on the road are traffic control devices that conflict with current regulations and with rules for turning drivers (both motor vehicle and bike).


** Wickliffe <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for requirements to keep both hands on the handle grips and a bicycle license.  The license is required for residents and those who work in the city.  The last is contrary to the ORC.  See www.conwaygreene.com/Wickliffe.htm.  (Complete to January 25, 2009)


** Willowick <A minus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for requirements to keep both hands on the handle grips.  We are pleased to note that the bicycle registration program is voluntary.
See http://www.amlegal.com/library/oh/willowick.shtml.  (complete to March 31, 2009)


** Willoughby <B plus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips.  Also, Willoughby expects non-residents who cycle in the city to obtain a bicycle license unless their home community has a reciprocal agreement with the city.  This is unworkable and contrary to the ORC.
See www.conwaygreene.com/willoughby.htm.  (Complete to May 4, 2009)


** Woodmere <B plus>  Consistent with current Ohio Law. except for a requirement to keep both hands on the handle grips and a requirement to give hand signals before turning that lacks the exemptions in the ORC.  See http://www.conwaygreene.com/woodmere.htm.  (Complete to January 20, 2009)



** Nuisance Laws
There are several unnecessary equipment rules that make little contribution to safety.  Instead, they distract attention from what is really needed -- good brakes, conspicuous clothing, and, in low-light conditions, a front headlight and a bright rear reflector.  A rear light and helmet are very useful too.  The other requirements below (from the pre-2006 version of the Ohio Revised Code) are nuisances.  If you analyze the traffic situations where reflectors might prevent a collision, you will find that front and side reflectors have little value.  You are most likely to see them in non-collision situations.  Since everyone has a voice, a bell or buzzer is not necessary.

The problem laws in the Ohio Revised Code described below were deleted by House Bill 389, the "Better Ohio Bicycling Bill".  However, many local ordinances have yet to be brought into compliance.

4511.56 (A) Every bicycle when in use at the times specified in section 4513.03 of the Revised Code, shall be equipped with the following:
(4) An essentially colorless reflector on the front of a type approved by the director;
(5) Either with tires with retroreflective sidewalls or with an essentially colorless or amber reflector mounted on the spokes of the front wheel and an essentially colorless or red reflector mounted on the spokes of the rear wheel. Each reflector shall be visible on each side of the wheel from a distance of six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. Retroreflective tires or reflectors shall be of a type approved by the director.
(B) No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

(Note: "CSPC Approved" bike reflectors are much dimmer than SAE auto reflectors, which are unlikely to be "approved by the director".)

The problem with the provision below is there are situations where giving a turn signal can interfere with safe operation, such as when hands are needed for steering or to operate brakes.
4511.39  When required, a signal of intention to turn or move right or left shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle or trackless trolley before turning.

Some local ordinances require keeping two hands on the handlebars except when signaling for a turn.  This is another unnecessary, nuisance law.  The Ohio Rev. Code, 4511.53 is more reasonable: "No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars."

Some people object to helmet laws on libertarian grounds.  A helmet will not prevent an accident, but it is good, cheap insurance to prevent brain injury.  It can be your "last line of defense".  (The first is not causing a crash yourself; the second is avoiding potential accident situations; the third is escaping from an accident, the fourth is avoiding getting hurt after an accident has occurred.)

This author does not consider helmet laws to be a "nuisance", although local helmet laws are inconsistent with the concept of uniform traffic laws, they distract attention from avoiding accidents and there is some evidence that helmet laws discourage cycling.  If there is a "helmet law" it must include a strong negligence waiver.

If the city offers a registration program (to assist police in returning lost or stolen bicycles to the owner), such program must be voluntary.


** A Bit of History
The Uniform Vehicle Code is a set of rules established by the National Committee for Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances (NCUTLO).  The UVC is used by state legislatures across the U.S. in developing their own traffic codes.  Many states (but not Ohio) have adopted the UVC "Rules of the Road" chapter in its entirety as their traffic law. 

The UVC adopted both the "as far right as practicable" rule (11-1205a) and the "mandatory-side-path rule" (11-1205c) in 1944.  After experienced cyclists pointed out the dangers of these laws and the liability problems they can cause, the "mandatory sidepath rule" was removed from the UVC in 1976.  Most states have since removed it from their traffic laws.  Likewise, after warnings from cyclists, NCUTLO added exceptions to the "far right" rule, in 1979.  These exceptions cover (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.  (2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.  (3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge.  For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.  The UVC is being amended to add a fourth exception.  This involves the conflicts that occur between right-turning traffic and cyclists riding too close to the right edge of the road.

Cycling advocates including Chuck Smith of the Ohio Bicycle Federation have been able to get some other reforms in the UVC, including adding to the "Slow vehicle rule" (11-301(b)),  The intent of this subsection is to facilitate the overtaking of slowly moving vehicles by faster moving vehicles.  We are working on further reforms.

The UVC does not yet recognize that it is unsafe to ride on the extreme right under several other situations, including:  (5) When a cyclist at the edge of the road would not be adequately visible to motorists; (6) When stopped at a traffic light where motorists may be tempted to "hook" around the cyclist in order to turn right on red.  (Instead, a cyclist should move left to allow turning motorists to pass on the right.); (7) At a blind curve or hill where passing may not be safe; (8) When crossing oblique railroad tracks or similar "slot" obstructions; (9) If there is any other safety hazard that requires riding further left.

This "as far right as practicable" rule is frequently misunderstood.  Effective Cycling describes a case from California some years ago where a cyclist was ticketed and convicted for riding a straight line just outside the "door zone" of parked cars rather than weaving in and out of gaps between the parked cars (which occupied about 1/3 of the parking spaces).  In this case, "practice+able" was interpreted in an absurd and dangerous way by police and a judge ignorant of safe bicycle operation.  A much better rule that protects the rights of both cyclists and motorists is that cyclists must not unnecessarily impede lawful motor traffic.


** Accident Studies
"Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections" by Alan Wachtel and Diana Lewiston published in the ITE Journal, Sept/Oct 1994 (from the Institute of Transportation Engineers).
"The average cyclist in this study incurs a risk on the sidewalk 1.8 times as great as on the roadway. The risk on the sidewalk is higher than on the roadway for both age groups, for both sexes, and for wrong-way travel. The greatest risk found in this study is 5.3 times the average risk for bicyclists over 18 traveling against traffic on the sidewalk."

"Wrong-way sidewalk travel is 4.5 times as dangerous as right-way sidewalk travel. Moreover, sidewalk bicycling promotes wrong-way travel: 315 of 971 sidewalk bicyclists (32 percent) rode against the direction of traffic, compared to only 108 of 2,005 roadway bicyclists (5 percent)."

"Even right-way sidewalk bicyclists can cross driveways and enter intersections at high speed, and they may enter from an unexpected position and direction for instance, on the right side of overtaking right-turning traffic. Sidewalk bicyclists are also more likely to be obscured at intersections by parked cars, buildings, fences, and shrubbery; their stopping distance is much greater than a pedestrian's, and they have less maneuverability."

Adult Bicyclists in the United States: Characteristics and Riding Experience in 1996, by William Moritz, Transportation Research Record 1636.  (Bicycle and Pedestrian Research 1998), p. 1, 1998.
Moritz surveyed about 2000 adult US cyclists--LAB members-- and calculated a "Facility Relative Danger Index" for each type of facility.  The RDI is the fraction of crashes for a particular facility divided by the fraction of kilometers ridden on that facility type; if crashes occurred in proportion to distance traveled, the RDI would be 1.0

The facility type "Other (most often sidewalk)" had an RDI of 16.34, by far the highest. Multi-use trails RDI was 1.39. On-street bike lanes RDI was 0.41.  Minor roads/streets without specific bicycle facilities had RDI 0.94. Major roads/streets w/o bike facilities had RDI 0.66.


** Liability for Sidewalk Laws
If a community requires operating bicycles in an unsafe manner the community may be liable for injuries or fatalities to cyclists riding in the prescribed manner.  Often such cases are settled quietly, out of court.  We need more such accounts, especially documented stories that we can cite.

In 1983, Gainesville Florida settled out of court with a cyclist injured on a poorly-maintained sidewalk on NW 38th Avenue that had been marked with "bike route" signs.  The signs were removed after the settlement.

The American Law Reports, 2nd Series provides accounts about municipal liability for injury from defects or obstructions on sidewalks.  One case cited is Hill v. Reaves, 224 Ala 205, 139 So 263 (1932).  "It is ... well settled that the proper place for the operation of all vehicles designed for speed or draft is in the speedway of the street, and not upon the sidewalk, which is set apart for the use of pedestrians, vehicles for cripples, invalids, and baby buggies, propelled by a pedestrian; that a bicycle is a 'vehicle' designed for speed, and its proper place is upon the highway or street proper."

In a web article in "The Ralston Interface" Bob Soetebier gives this brief report:  "The city of Austin, Texas lost $4.5 million dollars from one single bicycle path-injury lawsuit!"

John Allen's article "Bicycle sidepaths:  crash risks and liability exposure" gives links for several studies showing elevated risk for sidewalk/sidepath cycling ranging from two to ten times as high as the street.  The article also mentions the potential liability for improper bicycle facilities.

A fatal accident illustrates the hazard to pedestrians from sidewalk cyclists.  On May 19, 2003 in Amelia, OH (near Cincinnati) 22 year old cyclist Gary Hamblin Jr. collided with 54 year old pedestrian Bill Abrams.  Abrams fell, striking his head and died shortly afterwards.  Fortunately, the city has no "sidewalk laws" or any other unsafe bicycle traffic ordinances.  Thus, the city should have no liability from this accident.


** Guides & Standards
Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, Amer. Assoc. of State Highway Transportation Officials, 1999.
"In residential areas, sidewalk riding by young children is common. With lower bicycle speeds and lower cross street auto speeds, potential conflicts are somewhat lessened, but still exist. Nevertheless, this type of sidewalk bicycle use is accepted..." [p. 20]
"...Sidewalks are typically designed for pedestrian speeds and maneuverability and are not safe for higher speed bicycle use. Conflicts are common between pedestrians traveling at low speeds (exiting stores, parked cars, etc.) and bicyclists, as are conflicts with fixed objects (e.g., parking meters, utility poles, sign posts, bus benches, trees, fire hydrants, mail boxes, etc.) Walkers, joggers, skateboarders and roller skaters can, and often do, change their speed and direction almost instantaneously, leaving bicyclists insufficient reaction time to avoid collisions."
"Similarly, pedestrians often have difficulty predicting the direction an oncoming bicyclist will take. At intersections, motorists are often not looking for bicyclists (who are traveling at higher speeds than pedestrians) entering the crosswalk area, particularly when motorists are making a turn. Sight distance is often impaired..." [p.58]
Excerpt from Policy and Procedure for Bicycle Projects, Ohio-DOT, 1988, "BICYCLES ON SIDEWALK TYPE BIKE PATH"
Sidewalk or sidewalk-type bike paths immediately adjacent to streets and highways will not be approved by ODOT for the following reasons:
  1. Bicyclists using a bike path may mistakenly believe that they have the right of way at intersections and driveways, and cross without looking.
  2. Stopped or parked motor vehicles at driveways often block the path.
  3. Physical barriers placed between motor vehicle lanes and immediately adjacent bicycle paths are a hazard to bicyclists and motorists and also complicate maintenance of the bicycle paths.
  4. Bicyclists legitimately using a roadway near a path may be subjected to harassment by motorists who mistakenly believe that bicyclists are required to use the path.
  5. If the adjacent bicycle path also serves as a pedestrian sidewalk, bicyclists may pose a hazard to pedestrians.
  6. Curb cuts are inconsistently available; bicyclists jumping sidewalk curbs risk losing control.
Wide curb-lanes, bike routes, or barrier-free bike lanes are generally the best way to accommodate bicycle traffic along highway corridors.
 

The quotation below was taken from Selecting Roadway Design Treatments to Accommodate Bicycles, US Dept. of Transportation Publication No. FHWA-RD-92-073.  In turn, the US DOT was quoting the Bicycle Master Plan, Oregon Department of Transportation, Salem, OR, May 1988.

"Sidewalks are generally inappropriate for use by adults because they put the adult bicyclist in conflict with motorists using driveways, and with pedestrians, utility poles and signposts.  Also, the cyclist is generally not visible or noticed by the motorist so that the cyclist suddenly emerges at intersections, surprising the motorist and creating a hazardous condition."

From the Traffic Safety Toolbox published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (1993)

"Sidewalk bike paths.  From the late 1970s through the mid-1980s a number of communities signed some sidewalks or built new paths for bicyclists parallel to roadways.  Several states even passed laws forcing bicyclists to use such facilities if they existed.  Bicycle/car crashes increased dramatically in some corridors, especially at driveways, intersections, on bridges, and other locations.  Sidewalk or paths parallel to a roadway force bicyclists to ride against traffic half of the time.  In either direction, motorists are often surprised by the presence of cyclists [on sidepaths], since [motorists] are neither conditioned nor capable of searching these locations for traffic moving at 8-15 mph.  Many pedestrians were also hurt, or complained that it was no longer comfortable to walk.  Also, many motorists became less considerate of bicyclists who continued to use the often safer roadway sections.--in no case should a bicyclist be forced to use the sidewalk pathway.  Never sign a sidewalk or parallel path as a bikeway, since many motorists who see these signs will assume that those bicyclists riding on the roadway section are not permitted to be there."

From the Traffic Control Devices Handbook published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Problems with Parallel Separated Paths
It is frequently assumed that a separated parallel pathway along an arterial street or highway will provide a superior facility for bicyclists than the provision of on-street accommodations.  While a parallel path may be aesthetically appealing, and may serve pedestrians well, the use of sidewalks or parallel separated paths for bicycle accommodation creates the following problems:

These paths will operate as sidewalks, and will be used in both directions, despite signing to the contrary.  Bicyclists coming from the right will not be noticed by drivers emerging from or entering cross streets and driveways.  See Figure 13 for diagrams that show these potential conflicts.
  Travel in the direction opposite the flow of traffic is particularly hazardous during hours of darkness, because bicyclists may be blinded by oncoming motor vehicle headlamps.

At intersections, drivers will not be looking for bicyclists, who will be traveling much faster than pedestrians, to enter the crosswalk area.

At approaches to intersections, parked vehicles interfere with the visibility of bicyclists to road users.  Also, at driveways sight distances on sidewalks and sidepaths are often impaired by buildings, property fences, vegetation, and other obstructions.

Stopped cross street motor vehicle traffic or vehicles exiting side streets or driveways may block the sidepath or sidewalk.

These paths are typically not safe for higher-speed use.  Due to the speed differential, conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians are common.  Fixed objects such as parking meters, utility poles, sign posts, bus shelters and benches, trees, hydrants, and cross-sloped sidewalk ramps also pose a hazard to bicyclists.

The development of extremely wide sidewalks or sidepaths does not necessarily add to the safety of bicycle travel, as wide sidewalks and paths will encourage higher speed bicycle use, magnifying the potential for conflicts at intersections and driveways, and conflicts with pedestrians and fixed objects.

Many bicyclists will use the roadway instead of the sidewalk or sidepath because they have found the highway to be safer, more convenient, or better maintained.  Bicyclists using the roadway are often subjected to harassment by motorists, who feel that in all cases bicyclists should be on the sidepath or sidewalk instead.

There is the potential on sidewalks for bicyclists to accidentally ride off the curb, possibly causing a fall or collision with traffic on the roadway.  While pathways may reduce the possibility of such collisions by using the recommended 1.5 m (5 ft) separation between the path and the roadway, such pathways will still be vulnerable to most of the other problems listed here.

Experience has shown that the use of STOP or YIELD signs on sidewalks and pathways to reduce conflicts at driveways and cross streets has little or no benefit.  Bicyclists will not comply with unreasonable restrictions on their right of way, especially if the adjacent roadway has no such limitations.  This may also breed disrespect for other traffic control devices that are far more important for traffic safety.


** "Model" Bicycle Laws

Rather than just asking communities to repeal bad laws, we provide model bicycle ordinances to adopt.  Improvements to the Uniform Vehicle Code have been discussed on cycling discussion lists on the Web.  These discussions involve some of the world's most experienced cyclists.  The Model version of the UVC will be useful in efforts to reform state and local laws.  The author is currently involved with a committee in another law reform project.  The goal is to develop model state laws and then to rate the laws of all 50 states and the Uniform Vehicle Code against this model.  You can see the work of this committee at Preliminary results of law-reform committee.

Model Local Laws:  We emphasize that local laws must not conflict with the state traffic code.  You can see a package of model local bicycle ordinances from this link.

Characteristics of the Ideal Law: [1]

Proper Enforcement
Correct enforcement of traffic law is as important as having good laws.  This means the police must be properly trained in bicycle operation and they must understand bicycle laws.  Misinformed police occasionally make errors of commission (by harassing lawful cyclists for riding in ways that they think are dangerous) and they often make errors of omission (by ignoring illegal practices that lead to accidents.)

Dangerous and illegal practices that police must stop through education and enforcement include: (1) Riding without lights in the dark; (2) Riding on the wrong side of the road; (3) Failure to stop for traffic signals; (4) Motorist assault, intimidation and harassment.

Although riding on sidewalks is generally not illegal, police must discourage this bad practice by all but the youngest children, unless it is done at very slow speeds.  They must particularly discourage sidewalk riding in the opposite direction as traffic on the adjacent roadway and sidewalk riding in commercial areas where crossing busy driveways is especially hazardous.

When police enforce stop signs, they must do so fairly and not single out cyclists while ignoring similar infractions by motorists.  It is less serious for a cyclist to "roll" a stop sign than a motorist because the cyclist creates much less hazard to society.  Remember, the essential duty at a stop sign is yielding to traffic that has the right of way.  One more concern for police:  If the vehicle detectors in the city do not work for cyclists, the city has broken its social contract.  How then can the city expect to enforce against all but the most egregious traffic light offenses by cyclists?



** Success Stories
Places where sidewalk laws or other dangerous rules have been repealed.

Major improvements to Ohio's Bicycling laws became effective on September 21, 2006 thanks to the work of the Ohio Bicycle Federation.  You can read the bill as passed by the 126th Ohio General Assembly at www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=126_HB_389.

The Uniform Vehicle Code (see above) removed its mandatory-use-of-sidepath ordinance in 1976.  Most states have since removed their versions of this restriction.  The UVC now includes several exemptions to the "far right" language (but still has not removed the confusing language).  State laws (like Ohio's) with these restrictions, in addition to being dangerous, are over twenty years out of date.

In Vandalia, Ohio (near Dayton), Chuck Smith of the Ohio Bicycle Coalition convinced his community to repeal two bad ordinances: (1) a mandatory sidepath law, which required riding on bikepaths and (2) a requirement to dismount and walk bicycles across all intersections.  He established a Bicycle Advisory Committee to advise the City Engineer.  The Committee has become as much a part of the city structure as the Zoning Appeals Board and the Parks and Recreation Board.  Accomplishments include: (1) Replacing 17 dangerous straight bar drainage grates , (2) Adjusting the sensitivity on vehicle detectors so they detect bicycles, (3) Adding secure bicycle parking at City Hall, Justice Center and Recreation Center.

In 2004, the Ohio Bicycle Federation awarded the first Cyclist Friendly Communities Award to Vandalia, Ohio.  In addition, the Dayton Cycling Club presented a "Service to Cyclists Award" to the Vandalia City Engineer.  Safe and equitable laws are an important part of being Cyclist Friendly.  The second CFC award was presented to NASA Glenn Research Center.

In Middleburg Hts. OH, a mandatory sidewalk law for children under age 14 was repealed in April 2001.  It took 10 months and several meetings with the safety committee but the repeal ordinance passed 7-0.  The committee chairman was concerned about young children in the street but he accepted my suggestion that it is parents' duty to teach their children and to determine when they are ready to use the street.  Our next job is teaching children and especially parents about safe bicycle practices.

Solon, Ohio repealed several very dangerous bicycle laws in 2002.  This may have been partly in response to this article.


Councilman Colonna
accepting OBF award

Brook Park, Ohio enacted most of the Model Local Laws (Mar 2003).  Brook Park now has some of the best bicycle driving ordinances in the state.  The Ohio Bicycle Federation presented a "Good Cycling Laws" award to the city in April 2003.  City residents Ron & Cathy McCutcheon started the process by telling Councilman Danny Colonna about the problem and then by providing copies of this article to members of council.

Councilman Colonna then worked with with the mayor and other members of Council to adopt the Model Laws.

North Olmsted, Ohio repealed a sidewalk law except for children and now requires only those operating on sidewalks to walk through intersections. However, they still mandate riding on sidepaths and require children to ride on dangerous sidewalks.

Several communities revised ordinances to bring most of them into compliance with the Ohio Revised Code as of 2006. (However, many still have ordinances that are clearly invalid under Ohio law.

The account below is from the North Carolina Coalition for Bicycle Driving
Cary [N. Carolina] legalized cycling on sidewalks by adults in 1999, and prepared to build an asphalt sidewalk as a bicycle path during an important road widening project (Davis Drive) instead of the wide (14') outside lanes recommended by NCDOT.  Cary's mandatory laws would require all cyclists to use the asphalt sidewalks, which have been shown to be the most dangerous facilities for cyclists, instead of the roadway.  Cyclists from the North Carolina Bicycle Club (and now members of the North Carolina Coalition for Bicycle Driving) lobbied for the discriminatory laws to be repealed.  Members of the Cary Town Council, town staff, and the chief of police were very thoughtful and responsive to cyclists' concerns and spent significant time discussing the matter.  After about a year, however, the only proposed change to the ordinance was to change the wording in ways that would still require all cyclists to use the asphalt sidepath and not the street.  The cyclists then sent the following letter* to the Town Manager, head of the Engineering department and the Chief of police shortly before the ordinance was to be amended.  The objectionable sections of the ordinance were subsequently repealed.  Also, thanks to the efforts of Cary Town Council members, 14' outside lanes were added back to the plans for Davis Drive.
* You can see the letter on the web site shown above.


Acknowledgements:
Thanks to the following who helped with this project by looking up local ordinances and sending them to the author:  Tom Jenkins, Mark Kilkenny, Dave Krebs, Jay Oswald, Bob Perry, Jeff Schiffman, Dick Stack, Dale Stalnaker, Ed Stewart  (Apologies to anyone missed.)  Ron & Cathy McCutcheon distributed this article to the Brook Park Council thus initiating the significant reforms there.  Cleveland Bikes has began sending letters to local governments in the area asking for improved local ordinances.


Footnote

[1] From the book The Moon, Resources, Future Development and Colonization, David G. Schrunk, Burton L. Sharpe, Bonnie L. Cooper and Madhu Thangavelu, New York: Wiley, 1999.


© Copyright 1999-2009 Fred Oswald.  Non Commercial distribution authorized.
Check for updates at www.clevelandbikes.org and http://bikelaws.org/cb/

Direct any comments, suggestions or additional info. to Fred Oswald
13677 Old Pleasant Valley Rd, Middleburg Hts, OH 44130.
The author is a Professional Engineer in Ohio and a certified "League Cycling Instructor".
For additional information about cycling in traffic, see the author's web site.

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The principle behind Effective Cycling:

"Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as operators of vehicles."