(BPT) – Arkansas has become a great destination and place to live for people who love to ride bicycles.
Regional investments in biking infrastructure and the increased desire for a healthy lifestyle due to the COVID-19 pandemic have driven a surge in riding bikes. With the convergence of bicycles on the road, safety is of the utmost importance.
Nearly three in four (74 percent) of surveyed Arkansans say bicycles can be both functional and recreational, according to an Atomik Research survey of 1,005 Arkansans from June 26-29, 2020.
Many bike riders and motorists are unaware of the new rules regarding riding bicycles in Arkansas. Seventy-six percent of Arkansans did not know that a cyclist could yield/slow down at a stop sign if there is no oncoming traffic, according to the survey. Eighty-one percent of Arkansans did not know a bicyclist could stop and then go at a red traffic light if there is no oncoming traffic.
So, let’s dive into those new rules so you won’t be caught unaware when riding a bicycle in Arkansas.
Riding up to a Stop Sign
Arkansas legislation states that people riding bicycles can treat a stop sign like a yield sign if there is no oncoming traffic.
For example, let’s say you’re pedaling along through a neighborhood and reach an intersection where you have a stop sign. You’ll need to look to your left, right and ahead to check for traffic, just like you normally would. The difference here is that if there are no other vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians, you can simply slow down, like a yield, and then proceed through the intersection without stopping.
However, if there are any other vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians present, you will need to stop at the intersection and proceed when it is your turn to do so.
Riding up to a Red Traffic Light
Arkansas legislation states that people riding bicycles can treat a red light like a stop sign when there is no oncoming traffic.
For example, let’s say you’re riding your bicycle on a main city street and come to a red traffic light. You’ll need to stop and look left, right and ahead of you. If there are no other vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians at the intersection, you may proceed ahead without waiting for the light to turn green.
However, if there are any other vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians present, you will need to wait at the intersection until the light is green, signaling it is your turn to go.
The Law & the Good Roads are Safe Roads Campaign
These two rules were signed into law in 2019. Good Roads are Safe Roads is an effort of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation and is funded through grants from the Walton Family Foundation. The campaign aims to educate motorists and people commuting by bicycle about the new law.
“This new law helps keep people riding their bikes safe by allowing them to make their way through intersections more quickly,” said Joe Quinn, executive director of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation, which oversees the Good Roads are Safe Roads campaign. “The legislation also helps keep traffic moving on our streets, something that benefits all of us as our state’s population grows and more motorists and cyclists join us on the roads.”
The Good Roads are Safe Roads campaign focuses on four key messages: upsurge in bicycle usage in Arkansas, safety, law and economic growth.
“We are really focusing in on these points because they all work together; more people riding bikes has led to a need for more safety awareness as well as a better understanding of the rules of the road,” Quinn said. “More people riding bikes in well-integrated biking communities also leads to economic growth, something that should be important to everyone.”