Arkansas has several projects in place focusing on taking care of bicycle riders that traverse its highways. One such project is the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Program, which focuses on improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructures within the state to enable children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bike to school.
In addition to the safety routes program, Arkansas takes various initiatives to maintain a secure environment for cyclists on public roads by enforcing laws and suggesting precautionary measures to lessen and prevent bicycle crashes.
While bicycles are not classified as motor vehicle, it still have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers riding motor vehicles on a highway, as mentioned under the A.C.A. 27-49-111 of Arkansas law. However, there are specific provisions of the law that do not apply to bicycles and other non-motorized modes of transportation, including electric vehicles and animals.
Although these laws related to bicycles help mitigate the risks of accidents, they cannot completely eliminate them. In 2020, the USDOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a total of six pedalcyclist deaths in the Arkansas, accounting for a 0.20 pedalcyclist fatality rate per 100,000 population. A 50-percent increase from the previous year’s statistics was also noted, as there were only three total fatalities across Arkansas due to pedalcycles in 2019.
Visibility issues, distracted driving, and inattentive driving are some of the most common causes of bicycle crashes throughout the state. Individuals involved in bike accidents may suffer from a range of injuries, including severe road rash, fractures, spleen ruptures, dislocations, and pelvic and genitourinary traumas.
This article serves as a guide for bicycle riders across The Natural State. It also aims to help accident victims fight for their rights and assist them in seeking legal actions to obtain compensation for their injuries, losses, and damages.
Roadway Laws for Bicycles in Arkansas
Through the Arkansas traffic rules, cyclists are allowed to use their bikes on any highway, street, or public road within the state. However, Arkansas restricts bikers on cycling along controlled-access highways and freeways with high-speed traffic to safeguard them from road hazards and accidents.
Although Arkansas does not have comprehensive statewide bicycle laws specifically for riding bicycles on sidewalks, there are still certain cities implementing local ordinances that may directly or indirectly limit the use of sidewalks. These cities include Hot Springs, Little Rock, Maumelle, and North Little Rock. The extent of these regulations varies among local jurisdictions, with some focusing on business districts and others extending throughout the entire city.
In addition, local governments encourages those who ride their bicycles on sidewalks to follow safe practices, such as slowing down at driveways and street crossings, yielding to pedestrians, and walking their bikes on crowded sidewalks in downtown areas.
Obeying these rules provides cyclists and other road users with a safe and secure road environment.
Arkansas Bicycle Traffic Laws
To protect themselves while cycling, Arkansan riders must comply with several bike traffic rules. These regulations include the following:
Cyclists must use the right side of the road in the same direction as the traffic when riding their bicycles.
Cyclists must treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights as stop signs if no other traffic is present.
Cyclists are allowed to dismount from their bicycles to use the crosswalk. However, before passing a pedestrian in a crosswalk, they must still yield and give an audible signal.
Cyclists must use standard hand signs to signal when turning into another road direction.
Cyclists must know that riding their bikes while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is prohibited.
In addition to bicycle riders, the state mandates motor vehicle users to do their part in keeping the streets in Arkansas cyclist-friendly by maintaining a minimum distance of three feet when passing a bicycle on the road.
Bicycle Safety Gear and Equipment Law in Arkansas
Arkansas has specific bicycle safety gear and equipment requirements to add protection for cyclists and other road users throughout the state. These requirements include:
Cyclists are not required to wear helmets when riding in Arkansas. However, they must know that local municipalities may have their own rules and regulations regarding helmet usage. For example, in Bentonville, riders under 14 are required to wear helmets when riding a bicycle.
Lights and reflectors
As per A.C.A. 27-36-220, cyclists are required to install a white headlight on the front of their bicycles and a red tail light on the back when riding at night. These lights must be visible from at least 500 feet away.
While there are no specific laws about bicycle brakes in the state, some of its local cities, such as Little Rock and Fayetteville, require bicycles to have brakes that can skid on dry and level pavement.
Bell equipment is also not required in the state. However, cyclists in Fayetteville and Little Rock must equip their bikes with bells or other sound devices that alert pedestrians of their presence to ensure their safety on pathways or sidewalks.
These regulations promotes responsible cycling practices in Arkansas, ultimately reducing the risk of accidents and enhancing the overall cycling experience in the state.
Arkansas Bicycle Speed Limit Law
Bicycles are subject to the same speed limits as motor vehicles in Arkansas. As a result, bike riders must follow the posted speed limits and exercise caution when sharing the road with other vehicles and pedestrians.
Bikers on the road typically do not surpass 30mph, nonetheless, it is crucial for them to maintain awareness of the surrounding traffic conditions and adjust their riding speed accordingly.
As mentioned on A.C.A. 27-51-212, bicycles should not exceed the 25 mph when riding bicycles in school zones in Arkansas.
Cyclists must prioritize responsible riding practices in Arkansas to reduce the number of crashes and contribute to the overall harmony and security of the road environment.
Is Arkansas a No-Fault State for Bike Accidents?
No, Arkansas operates under an "at-fault" system for bike accidents rather than a "no-fault" system. This means victims can hold the person responsible for causing the accident for their medical costs, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering resulting from the bicycle crash. However, the state follows modified comparative negligence, which only allows plaintiffs to seek compensation from defendants if their fault in the accident is less than 50%. If the plaintiff's fault is determined to be 50% or more, they cannot recover any compensation for their bicycle-related losses.
How Much Can Someone Sue for a Bicycle Accident in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, bicycle accident victims should carefully assess the extent of their losses, injuries, and damages to determine the potential amount they can seek in settlements.
There are no statutory limits for plaintiffs suffering economic damages, such as medical bills, travel expenses, repair costs, and lost wages caused by bike accidents. However, the amount awarded them cannot exceed the financial losses they incurred.
Furthermore, victims may also be eligible to seek compensation for non-economic losses, including pain and suffering, loss of companionship, humiliation, loss of quality of life, and emotional distress.
What Is Arkansas’ Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents?
As mandated by A.C.A. 16-56-105, individuals who have suffered losses, damages, and injuries in bicycle accidents have a three-year window from the date of the injury to file their claims.
However, if the victim was under 21 at the time of the accident, they can file a lawsuit within three years after their 21st birthday. In cases where a minor has tragically lost their life due to a bicycle crash, their families can initiate legal proceedings immediately.
It is important to note that failure to meet the statute of limitations for bike accidents in Arkansas results in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case, which will deny them from obtaining compensation.
Legal Resources for Arkansas Bicycle Accident Victims
Toward Zero Deaths is an organization promoting road safety throughout Arkansas. It aims to reduce the annual number of roadway fatalities and create safer environments for all road users throughout the state, including cyclists. The organization created the Arkansas Strategic Highway Safety Plan to help riders identify safety areas throughout the state. This safety plan also offers various forms of assistance to cyclists, such as education, enforcement, engineering, enrollment, and emergency services.
The Arkansas Traffic Rules for Cyclists serves as a helpful guide for bicycle riders in the state, providing clear instructions on safely riding on the road while following the rules established by local government. Additionally, this resource covers important aspects of bicycle laws, including helmet safety requirements, proper techniques for changing lanes, recommended speed limits, and the importance of obeying traffic signals.
Arkansas Bicycle Guide serves as a practical resource for adult bicyclists and parents of young riders throughout the state, helping them understand safe and legal practices for navigating Arkansas roads, streets, and highways. This guide was prepared and published by the Arkansas State Police, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.
The Arkansas Trails Council advocates for the development of state trails, including those for biking, hiking, horseback riding, water activities, off-road vehicles, and multi-purpose usage. The council ensures to make these trails accessible to individuals and groups seeking recreational, exercise, wildlife observation, and historical activities. The Arkansas Trails Council also provides a platform for members of the trails community to engage in discussions and serves as a proactive supporter of trails advocacy within the state.
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