Law and Disorder

Spring. Finally: Time to review bicycle laws in Dayton

 By A.J. Wagner

It is time to pull the bike off the hooks in the garage, inflate the tires, check the chains, test the gears and the spokes and get out on the road. Last year, while I was riding leisurely down the street, a driver passed me and screamed, “Get on the sidewalk!” It is time for bikers and drivers alike to review the rules of biking. Last spring, I went over the requirements of the State of Ohio. This year, I will get specific to Dayton but, remember, each village or city may have its own rules for bicycling.

Dayton’s rules are found under Title VII, Chapter 74 of the city’s Code of Ordinances. Dayton’s bicycle rules apply to every person riding a bicycle on the highways, bikeways, park roads or other public property within the city where bicycles are permitted.

If it’s dark, you must have a working light on the bike that shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a red reflector on the rear that shall be visible 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle and a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear. You must also have working brakes.

A bell, audible for 100 feet, is a must. Sirens or whistles are prohibited.

Ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except where compliance with vehicular law requires another position.

Make sure you do not ride on a roadway more than two abreast in a single lane except on bikeways or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

Do not cling or attach one’s self or bicycle to any other vehicle.

Always ride on a bicycle while sitting astride the seat, facing forward with one leg on each side of the bicycle.

Thou shalt not tow or draw any coaster, sled, person on roller skates or skateboards, toy vehicle or similar device or objects. This division shall not prohibit something designed for such attachment.

Keep at least one hand on the handlebars.

Each rider must have his or her own, firmly attached, seat.

Do not ride on sidewalks unless it is part of a properly designated bike path.

These rules don’t apply to a child under 11 with a 20-inch or smaller wheeled bike.

When crossing a street, pedestrian rules apply though you may ride the bike across.

Follow traffic rules at an intersection and ring the bell to let pedestrians know you are approaching from behind.

No person shall park a bicycle on a sidewalk so as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrians or other traffic. A bicycle may be parked on the roadway at any angle to the curb or edge of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed. A bicycle may be parked on a roadway abreast of another bicycle near the side of a roadway where parking is allowed except in any metered parking zone. A person shall not park a bicycle on a roadway in such a manner as to obstruct the movement of a legally parked motor vehicle. In all other respects, bicycles parked anywhere on a highway shall conform to the provisions of this title regulating parking of vehicles.

No person shall operate a bicycle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing. Also, obey the speed limit.

No person under the age of 13 shall operate a bicycle or ride as a passenger on a bicycle equipped with a passenger seat on bikeways, streets, highways or other public property, unless such person is wearing a protective bicycle helmet on his or her head, with the chin strap fastened under the chin. Such bicycle helmet shall be fitted to the size of the operator and shall meet or exceed the standards set by the American National Standards Institute or Snell Memorial Foundation for helmets manufactured prior to March 1999 and shall meet or exceed the standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Institute after said date. Whoever violates this section shall be fined not more than $25; provided, however, that nothing herein prevents a police officer from only issuing a warning for a first offense.

There are more rules, but these are the main ones. Remember that in other cities and villages the rules may differ. So, check the home rules if you plan on riding.

Dayton has increased the numbers of bike lanes, but if you are an avid rider you will still find yourself riding in the streets at some point. Don’t weave in and out of parked cars, keep your eyes on the road and have fun.

Disclaimer: The content herein is for entertainment and information only. Do not use this as a legal consultation. Every situation has different nuances that can affect the outcome and laws change without notice. If you’re in a situation that calls for legal advice, get a lawyer. You represent yourself at your own risk. The author, the Dayton City Paper and its affiliates shall have no liability stemming from your use of the information contained herein. 

A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or at

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A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or at

2 Responses to “Law and Disorder” Subscribe

  1. David April 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    Is there a clearance rule for motorists passing cyclists here? In other places I’ve lived, it was 4 and 6 feet.

  2. David April 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Also, it seems worth emphasizing, since a lot of drivers AND bikers around here seem to think bikes should be on the sidewalk around here, this seems a good opportunity to remind everyone that sidewalk riding is much, much more dangerous than street riding. More here:

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