November 26, 2022

By Michael Vestweber

As a newer bicyclist on the streets of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, I have done my best to know the bicycling rules and gestures to ensure myself, and my fellow riders, a safe and fulfilling ride in our growing community.

I took a “Confident City Cycling” course put on by Bike Walk KC on a Saturday morning this past year and learned and relearned many of the bicycling rules and gestures that need to be made to ensure a safe ride. I was a bit surprised by a couple of those rules.

Did you know that it is against Missouri ordinance 300-347 “Riding Bicycles on Sidewalks, limitations”, to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk within a business district? A business district is defined in the law. Look it up. If it is not a business district and a bicyclist is riding on the sidewalk, such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signals before overtaking and passing such pedestrians.

How about this one? If a rider proceeds to a red-light signal and stops and the red light stays on for an unreasonable amount of time, the cyclist can proceed forward through the red- light signal, if he has checked the crossing for on -coming traffic, and feels that going forward does not constitute an immediate hazard.

Yes, a bicyclist has every right to ride on the street just like a motor vehicle. Just as my instructor said in the “Confident City Cycling” class, you as a cyclist are entitled to “take the lane” when you feel that it is safe. Missouri ordinance 307.190 states that any person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic, shall ride as close to the right side of the roadway as safe, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. Bicyclist’s may ride abreast after “taking the lane”, when not impeding other vehicles.

Here is the one that all motorists need to remember. According to Missouri Ordinance 307.188 “Rights and Duties of Bicycles and Motorized Bicycle Riders”, the motorists must treat cyclists with the same regard as they would any other vehicle; bicyclists have the same rights under traffic laws as do other motor vehicles. Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws in the same way as motor vehicles, with very limited exceptions.

Missouri ordinance 304.012 “Highest Degree of Care” sums up what we are trying to do as a community on our streets and roads as a bicyclist or motor vehicle operator. The ordinance states that the driver of a vehicle must drive in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person whether it be a bicyclist, pedestrian or any other motorist.

Are some of these rules or ordinances new to you, as a bicyclist or as an operator of a motor vehicle? I hope not, as I am sure that these rules are only a refresher for many. Sharing the streets to move around our city is crucial to ensure safe and livable streets.

Michael Vestweber, a Lee’s Summit resident and member of the Livable Streets Advisory Board, a mayor appointed, volunteer board whose goals include working to make our community and our streets more “livable,” safe and accessible for all of our citizens.