Passing laws: Montana requires that a motor vehicle shall not interfere with the movement of a person who is lawfully riding a bicycle or overtake or pass a bicycle unless it can do so safely without endangering the person riding the bicycle.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Montana that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws, in essence, require the vehicle least at risk to yield to the vehicle most at risk. For example, a motor vehicle would have to yield to a bicycle and a bicycle would have to yield to a pedestrian. Montana does not have any specific vulnerable laws.
Distracted Driving Laws: Montana currently has no laws that prohibit the use of devices associated with distracted driving. However, Montana does include distracted driving in its traffic education curriculum.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking Montana 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:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions such as riding in a lane that is too narrow; and
- When upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes, in which case a bicyclist may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.
Sidewalk Riding: The general rule in Montana is that you are permitted to ride on sidewalks. However, there are certain rules and exceptions that must be followed. So you may ride on a sidewalk subject to the following:
- You must yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian;
- You are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk or crosswalk where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices; and
- You have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same It is important to note that Montana does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane. So if there is a sidewalk, the choice or road or sidewalk is yours to make.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: Obviously, it is never a good idea to drive any vehicle under the influence of alcohol. However, in Montana bicycles are not defined as vehicles. Montana’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bicyclists. However bicycles should not be operated while under the influence of alcohol.
Stop Sign Laws: In Montana 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 Montana does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links