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Tulsa: Roads are for bikes too

Tulsa: Roads are for bikes too

With a few exceptions, Oklahoma law gives bicycles as much right to use public roads as cars, on the condition that bikes shouldn't "impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic."

The law, however, doesn't define "normal and reasonable" flow of traffic.

To clarify that provision, Tulsa attorney and bicycle enthusiast Malcolm McCollam points to a case in Ohio, where the state Supreme Court reviewed a statute almost identical to Oklahoma's.

In that case, a cyclist received a citation for going too slow on a public road, but the court overturned the conviction, saying it was tantamount to banning bicycles from most streets.

"Instead," McCollum explains, "the court decided that you have to ask if the bicycle is going a reasonable speed for a bicycle."

State law specifically bans bicycles from turnpikes. And the Oklahoma Department of Transportation or local authorities can ban them from other "restricted access" highways, such as interstates and freeways— but to do so, they must post signs on the roadway.

Otherwise, bicycles can legally go anywhere cars can, says McCollum, race director for Tulsa Tough, a three-day cycling festival that begins Friday.

"But to me, 'can they' and 'should they' are two different questions," he says. "Some common sense has to apply."

If a bicycle is moving significantly slower than the rest of traffic, Oklahoma law requires it to ride "as close as is safe" to the right-hand curb, allowing cars to pass more easily.

State laws for cyclists

Cyclists may ride two abreast within the same lane, but must not take up more than one lane of a multilane road.

Cyclists must obey all traffic lights and road signs, including stop signs and yield signs.

Except where the speed limit is under 25, a bicycle after dark must be equipped with a red light in back and a white light in front, both visible from at least 1,000 feet. And they must be actual lights, not reflectors.

In Tulsa, cyclists may ride on sidewalks in residential areas, but not in business districts.

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