Passing laws: Kentucky does not have specific laws that addresses the issue of a motor vehicle passing a bicycle. Absent a specific law, general traffic rules will apply, thereby requiring a motor vehicle that passes a bicycle to leave a safe distance and to not return to the right side of the road until it has safely passed the bicycle.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Kentucky that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public road way. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exists. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
Kentucky has passed several laws to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws. There will be links at the end of this article to the specific laws in full detail.
- No person shall, while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion on the traveled portion of a roadway, write, send, or read text-based communication using a personal communication device to manually communicate with any person using text-based communication; and
- Any person under the age of eighteen (18) who has been issued an instruction permit, intermediate license, or operator’s license shall not operate a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or moped that is in motion on the traveled portion of a roadway while using a personal communication device.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking Kentucky law requires the bicyclist to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below.
Sidewalk Riding: There is no specific law in Kentucky that either allows or prohibits a bicycle from travelling on a sidewalk. However, Kentucky does have a law that states in a lane is marked exclusively for bicycles, then a cyclist must use that lane whenever feasible.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: In Kentucky, the law specifically prohibits someone from operating a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or other drug that may impair the cyclist ability to safely ride. In fact a police officer is required to rigidly enforce this law.
If the blood alcohol level is below .05, the person is presumed not to be intoxicated. If the level is higher than .05 and lower than .08 then there is no presumption, but other evidence may be used to show the rider is impaired. If the level is .08 or higher than there is a presumption the cyclist is intoxicated.
Stop Sign Laws: Generally, in Kentucky bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links
Most laws regarding the operation of bicycles in the state of Kentucky are found in the Kentucky Administrative Code (KAR), available here.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Share the Road pamphlet, this gives a good overview of the bicycle laws in Kentucky, click here.
City of Louisville Rules of the Road: click here.
City of Lexington Safety & Laws: click here.