Missouri fully recognizes the importance of streets and the role they play in the public life. As a result, bikes and vehicles are held highly accountable for following the rules and staying safe around pedestrians. This means that if you’re biking in Missouri, it’s important to know the bike laws! What should you know about bike laws in Missouri?
Where Can You Ride on the Road?
It’s always important to be aware of where you can ride your bike when you are out and about. Missouri isn’t different from any other states when it comes to expectations of where to ride. For the most part, the expectation is that cyclists will stay on the right side of the road, as far over as is safe, keeping in mind things like gutters, debris, and shoulders. However, the law does allow cyclists to move to the middle or left of the road when needed:
- When making a left turn
- When there is a right turn lane only and the cyclist is going straight
- When the lane is too narrow to share
- When avoiding hazards
- Missouri does not force cyclists to stay in bike lanes or bike paths where they are provided. However, it is illegal to ride two abreast when it might impede traffic
- Shoulder riding is allowed, but not required
You’ll note that this is all vague in terms of when you can and cannot ride to the right, so we would advise that you ride far to the right whenever you can for your own safety when riding with traffic.
Cyclists also have the same rights and responsibilities as cars and trucks, meaning that you have to ride with traffic, obey the traffic signals, and keep an eye around yourself for danger.
Missouri also does not have a minimum safe distance law between cars and bikes; 300.411 and 304.678 only state that a motor vehicle should leave a safe distance between themselves and cyclists.
Missouri driver guides also stipulate tips for motorists as well, including giving plenty of room, not underestimating cyclist speed, and checking for oncoming cyclists before opening the car door. It’s also important to realize that cyclists are more likely to turn into the middle or left part of the lane to avoid debris on their side, so Missouri really tries to educate drivers on the rights of cyclists to keep everyone safe.
Municipal law cannot contradict state law, but it can be used to fill in gaps. These could include things like sidewalk riding, wearing helmets, or safety gear that a bike has to have above and beyond what the state sets out. It’s important to understand municipal law wherever you intend to cycle.
Cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk, except in a business district. However, cyclists must yield to pedestrians and give a signal when passing. Motorized bikes are not allowed on sidewalks. Missouri does observe the Idaho Stop, meaning that if the red light doesn’t change for a stopped cyclist after a reasonable amount of time, it is legal to run the red light if there is no approaching traffic that would impede it. Missouri is one of the few states to observe this and it’s a way to keep traffic moving when otherwise the light sensors wouldn’t detect it. Bikes are often too light for the motion sensor of traffic lights to pick up.
Bikes may be treated as vehicles; however, they are not subject to DUI laws, meaning that you could ride while intoxicated. We just wouldn’t suggest it as doing that greatly increases the chances of an accident occurring. Texting is not legal unless the rider is over the age of twenty-one (not sure why that is!)
Safety Gear While Riding
Bikes must be equipped with a number of basic safety gear in order to be legal to ride. Brakes have to be able to stop the bike within twenty-five feet from a speed of ten miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement. Missouri law also stipulates some standards when it comes to lights and reflectors. They must be in use from one-half hour after sunset to one half-hour before sunrise. The front-facing lamp has to emit a white light that is visible from five hundred feet and a rear-facing lamp visible from six hundred feet (no stipulation on color). There also must be reflective material or lights visible from the front and rear of the cyclist, crank arms, shoes or lower leg, visible from the front and the rear, visible at two hundred feet and reflective material or lights visible from each side of the bicycle from three hundred feet. That’s a lot of law around lights and reflective materials!
The bike has to be equipped completely when it comes to safety, but Missouri has no stipulation in regard to riders wearing a helmet. It is completely legal for any rider to go without a helmet, no matter the age. However, we would still recommend you wear one as they save lives.
Missouri does recognize electric bikes under law and the state is a little more generous with them as well. Electric bikes are defined as two or three-wheeled devices with an automatic transmission, a motor of less than 750W and able to move at a maximum speed of 30mp/h on level ground. Missouri doesn’t require licensing, registration or insurance; however, for insurance purposes, Missouri does consider electric bikes as motor vehicles.
Unlike regular bikes, helmets are required for all electric bike riders, regardless of age. Like bikes, electric bikes can be ridden on roadways where the posted speed limit is less than the traveling speed of the bike (implying that you cannot ride it on roads where the speed limit is higher than 30mp/h, so be careful of that). Electric bikes must be ridden as far to the right as practical.
Missouri has many laws that try to make bicycling as safe as possible while still allowing people the freedom to do what they want to do on their bikes. While things like helmets and DUIs are basically optional, we would strongly advise that you ride sober and protected.
You should also make sure to check on municipal laws as there can be extra bylaws on top of the state law that are meant to work in harmony. Be careful and thoughtful when on the road and you can enjoy riding in Missouri for as long as you like. Have fun!