Driving and cycling have often been at odds in Utah. Motorists can feel entitled to the roadway since they are bigger, faster, and in the case of a duel, a car will win every time. Unfortunately for motorists who may think this way, it is the cyclist’s legal right to be on the road. Cyclists have all the same rights and obligations on the road as vehicles (Utah State Code 41-6a-1102).  A bicycle accident lawyer can help you know and understand these rights and obligations as they apply to you.

To better understand this regularly misunderstood relationship between cars and bikes on the road, a list of 10 very important cycling laws have been laid out. Please read them carefully.

Definition of “Bicycle”

The Utah State Code states that a “bicycle” is any device that is propelled by human power upon which a person may ride. It must have two tandem wheels; scooters and similar devices are excluded (41-6a-102).

Ride With Traffic, not Against

Being considered a vehicle, a bicycle must ride with the flow or direction of traffic (41-6a-1105). This is helpful to cars who may not be expecting an oncoming “vehicle” in their lane. It also allows for an easier flow of traffic, which enables smoother lane changes and passing opportunities.

Must Obey All Traffic Laws

Again, being considered a “vehicle,” bicycles have all the rights and obligations as does a vehicle. This includes obeying traffic signals (41-6a-305), stop and yield signs (41-6a-902), and all other official traffic control devices (41-6a-208).


Crosswalks make part of the obligation to obey all traffic laws, which in this case, means the legal obligation to yield to pedestrians. While being legally sanctioned to ride within a crosswalk—yes, the myth of having to walk your bike through the crosswalk is just that, a myth (it is however a very good idea)—bikes must ride at the same speed as the “flow of traffic.” This simply means that a bike must ride at the same speed as pedestrians walk across the street, and must do it non-recklessly and with caution (41-6a-1106.4). If a pedestrian is in an adjacent crosswalk, the cyclist must yield the right-of-way to that person (41-6a-305/902/208).

No Racing, Unless Otherwise Permitted

Utah State Code 41-6a-1111 says that cyclists may not race their bikes in the road unless authorized by state or county officials. This law is to keep bicycle accidents to a minimum. It is often the case that when cyclists race, they pay less attention to other cars, pedestrians, and traffic laws. When this happens, accidents are sure to follow. If you wish to race, participate in specific bike events that allow racing.

Never Ride More Than Two Wide

Cyclists are frequently forced to share the roads with cars. If riding in the streets, cyclists are required to ride no more than two wide, if they can do so without impeding the flow of traffic. If traffic is impeded, then single file rules apply (41-6a-1105.3).

Motorists Must Manage Three Feet or More to Pass

Utah State Code 41-6a-706.5 says that a motorist cannot pass a cyclist within three feet. If three feet of distance between the car and the bike is unavailable due to safety reasons, the motorist cannot pass the bike.

Sidewalk Riding

A bicyclist may not ride on a sidewalk, path, or trail, or across a crosswalk where prohibited by city or county ordinances (e.g. Salt Lake City). They must yield to pedestrians; no bicyclist can overtake or pass a pedestrian without first giving an audible signal. They cannot ride in a negligent manner that may cause them to collide with a pedestrian, another bicycle, or a vehicle (41-6a-1106). What this law really means to say is that a bicycle, at least in Salt Lake City with its “city” ordinance, is prohibited from riding on the sidewalk. This means that by default, the cyclists must ride in the streets. Every driver should be aware of this law. They should also be aware that there is a difference between city and state laws and ordinances. This law specifically states that each city or county may have its own ordinances that will be upheld in court. Every motorist and cyclist should read this law as a call to action, a call to know your city’s ordinances.

Reflectors and Lights

Bikes are required to be equipped with a white headlight, a red taillight or reflector, and side reflectors, all visible from 500 feet. Lights must be on a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise (41-6a-1114/1603).

Turning Left at an Intersection

If a left turn is necessary, a cyclist has two options: one, use the left-hand turn lane designated for vehicles; or two, staying on the right hand side of the roadway, ride through the intersection to the opposite side, stop, and wait for light to change, going in a new direction, cross the street with flow of traffic (41-6a-801/1108).


Motorists and cyclists can in fact enjoy commuting together, that is, if all rights and obligations are adhered to by both parties. Each party has an obligation to the other. A part of that obligation is being cognizant of the rights of the other, and respecting those rights.  Let these laws be a call to action, a call to better understand and respect every individual on the road.

The Christensen Law Firm seeks to aid those who have been injured due to another’s careless actions.  Please call us today at 1-80-506-0800 if you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury in a bicycle accident.