Kansas is a little peculiar in its treatment of cyclists and bikes. On one hand, cyclists enjoy the same rights and duties as vehicles; on the other hand, it’s not considered a vehicle for the purposes of things like stop lights, safety gear, and riding under the influence. This means that if you’re used to riding in Kansas, there won’t necessarily be any surprises; however, if you are not and you are coming in from other states, there may be some odd blind spots in cases of the law. What should you know about bike laws in Kansas?
Riding With Traffic
Kansas treats cyclists like many other states. Bikes are expected to ride as near to the right side of the road as is practical, barring things like unsafe conditions, other bikes, pedestrians, and animals. The other times’ bikes can deviate from the right side of the road is if the rider is passing another bike or vehicle or getting ready to turn left at an intersection, or into a private road or driveway. Bikes can also ride on the left side of the roadway if the bike is being ridden on a one-way highway with at least two marked lanes.
Kansas does require the use of bike paths whenever they are provided beside the road; it is mandated to do so by law, rather than suggested like many other states have. However, Kansas does not have any law that forbids or allows the riding of bikes on sidewalks (leaving this up to municipalities, so make sure to check that before you ride). Bikes may also be forbidden from riding on interstate highways or freeways, usually for their own safety.
Kansas also observes the Idaho stop. This means that if a steady red light ‘fails to change to a green light within a reasonable period of time because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the bicycle’, the cyclist has the right to go through the red light. This is done to keep traffic moving, though Kansas also notes that riders have the yield the right of way to pedestrians or any vehicles moving in such a way that it becomes a hazard. Kansas is one of the few states to have enacted this law, with the idea being that it moves traffic along in cases when the sensor doesn’t ‘trip’ because the weight of the bike is too light.
Kansas also has dooring laws, meaning that people cannot open their vehicle doors on the same side as moving traffic unless it’s safe to do so. This helps to protect cyclists as well as drivers.
Finally, drivers are legally obliged to observe the three feet passing rule, meaning that a driver passing a cyclist has to leave at least three feet of space between the car and the bike. This helps to protect cyclists from accidents. When riding on the road, cyclists aren’t allowed to ride more than two abreast
Safety While Riding
- Kansas observes some of the same safety laws as other states, while not having others. These include the following:
- The bike must be used with the properly attached and permanent seat
- A bike cannot be used to carry more people than there are properly attached seats and it is illegal to attach yourself to a car while riding a bike
- Bikes have to be equipped with a white light lamp visible from a distance of five hundred feet and a red reflector on the rear visible from one to six hundred feet. Pedals also have to be equipped with reflectors in order to be legal
- Brakes have to be able to make the bike skid on dry, level, clean pavement
- It is perfectly legal to ride in Kansas without wearing a helmet, even for children. It’s not advisable, but it’s legal.
- It’s illegal to carry a package in such a way that it is impossible to keep at least one hand on the handlebars while riding
- It is not really illegal to ride while under the influence; however, a cyclist can still be charged with a DUI because riders are subject to the same duties as vehicles. This would be up to whoever pulled the cyclist over
- This also goes for riding while texting or on the phone. Technically, it’s not set out as being illegal; however, since bikes have the same duties and obligations as vehicles (where it is illegal), some municipalities can and will make the argument that it is just as illegal to ride and text as it is to drive and text.
It’s also very important to ride in a way that is predictable and to ride defensively, keeping an eye out for cars and other traffic, as well as pedestrians and cyclists. This is particularly important as there is no guarantee that anyone is wearing a helmet!
Electric Bike Laws in Kansas
In Kansas, an electric bike is defined as ‘a two-wheeled device with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750w that has a maximum speed on a paved level surface of 20mph’. Kansas also doesn’t require any licensing or registration and electric bikes have to be ridden as far right as possible (like regular bikes). They cannot be ridden on interstates or county highways, but they are allowed on bike paths. And unlike regular bikes, riders under the age of eighteen must wear a helmet when they ride.
Kansas doesn’t really have many laws that cyclists have to keep track of. It’s most important to remember where you are allowed to ride, and the Idaho stop law, of which Kansas is one of the few states that has it. (And drivers may forget too, so it’s important to know your rights and obligations). Kansas is more lax when it comes to wearing safety equipment, but we would still recommend it as it may save your life.
Enjoy your ride and stay safe (and legal!) while riding in Kansas.