This is the fourth in a series of articles that will increase your familiarity with your rights as a bicyclist and what they mean when you’re on the road.
Note: Anything in the 300s is a Missouri Model Vehicle Code, meaning that cities can decide to adopt it or not and change it or not. Anything that has a 304 and 307 is a state statute. Anything with a 14- means it’s a Columbia City Ordinance. I’ve summed up the wording of the laws so that you’ll have some time left over after watching Jeremy Powers videos and reading this blog to do your actual job today.
In the last post, I started with the bike laws I call “The Gimmies.” At this point you should know the definition of a bicycle, that you have to have it licensed in Columbia, that skitching is a big no-no. Let’s move on to the scofflaw section.
That’s right, folks. It’s time to talk about “moving violations,” and I can feel the collective cringe right now. We’re all a bunch of sanctimonious bastards when it comes to how we should be treated by cars, but we aren’t always so awesome ourselves. And that’s not a royal “we” either. I’ve done my share of rolls through a four-way and then looked incredulous when a car honked at me for doing it. For shame.
Here’s the hard truth. We have rights and we have duties when it comes to using public roads. State statute 307.188 and Columbia ordinance 14-501 spell it out for us: Every person riding a bicycle or motorized bicycle upon a street or highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.
That means we all have to adhere to 304.271/14-502 Observance of Traffic-Control Devices, which is summarized by saying the driver of any vehicle, and we already established that bicycles are vehicles, shall obey any official traffic control device unless directed by an officer.
In a very specific situation, bicyclists and motorcyclists get a pass on this. In 2009 Missouri passed a Dead Red law, which basically gives us what they call an “affirmative defense” when it comes to malfunctioning traffic lights that have detection signals. It is statute 304.285 and spells out when it can be used:
- The motorcycle or bicycle has been brought to a complete stop;
- The traffic control signal continues to show a red light for an unreasonable time;
- The traffic control is apparently malfunctioning or, if programmed or engineered to change to a green light only after detecting the approach of a motor vehicle, the signal has apparently failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle; and
- No motor vehicle or person is approaching on the street or highway to be crossed or entered or is so far away from the intersection that it does not constitute an immediate hazard.
Other than that, it’s stop and drop, NOT roll. However, it’s been established that track standing can count as a stop. It doesn’t have to be a ten-minute bike-polo pissing contest, but Christian offers some good advice for success.
Anyway, there should be at least a decent effort to stop all forward motion.
So what’s our penalty for violating these laws? Besides the scorn of nearly every car driver out there, even though they are a bunch of scofflaws themselves, 307.193 says that, upon conviction, a fine of no less than five dollars nor more than twenty-five dollars shall be imposed. If you’re a kid under eighteen, the cops can confiscate your bike for up to five days for violations. Harsh!
It’s more than just forking out the money, though. There are times I would gladly play $25 not to have to stop at that frickin’ four-way on New Haven while riding into a headwind. It’s more about being a good citizen of the world. We all have rights, we all have duties, and because we’re not perfect, we’re all scofflaws at some time or another.
Overtaking, Harassment, and Bad Conduct: We’re Still Talking Bike Laws, Not Tuesday Night Worlds