Passing laws: Oklahoma requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance, not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Oklahoma 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: Oklahoma does not specifically have any vulnerable user laws but provides the following penalties for anybody that violates the 3 foot passing law:
- If the violation results in a collision causing serious physical injury to another person, the person shall be subject to a fine of not more than $500; and
- If the violation results in a collision causing death to another person, the person shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1000 in addition to any other penalties prescribed by law.
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.
In Oklahoma there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws:
- A person who holds a learner’s permit or intermediate Class D license shall not drive a vehicle on a roadway while using a wireless phone, and if such person does so, their license can be cancelled; and
- A commercial motor vehicle operator may never use hand-held mobile phone or engage in texting while driving, to write, read or send a text based message.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking, Oklahoma law requires bicyclists 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;
- When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized; or
- 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: Oklahoma does not have a law that either prohibits or allows bicycles on sidewalks. It is important to note that Oklahoma does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane. However, within Oklahoma State Parks, when there is a usable path that has been provided for bicycles, bicyclists must use such path and cannot use the roadway.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: Oklahoma’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to motor vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bicyclists. However bicycles should not be operated while under the influence.
Stop Sign Laws: Generally, in Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links