Bikes and The Law

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3 Foot Passing Law

“The operator of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle shall pass to the left at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. When a motor vehicle overtakes and passes a bicycle, three feet or greater is considered a safe passing distance.”

This page serves as a resource where you can find some common laws, best practices, and legal contacts when the worst happens and you're involved in an incident. We are lucky here to have two passionate and experienced lawyers as supporters who not only work hard on a daily basis to advocate on the behalf of cyclists, but are riders themselves and understand the reality of what life is like on two wheels.

We also have downloadable resources; our Crash Card if things go wrong on a ride, and the Laws That Apply to cyclists and motorists to share with friends and co-workers. These are also available in printed card form by contacting us, or at most events we attend.


Fast Links:

|| Common Laws for Cyclists ||

|| Common Laws for Drivers ||

|| Crashes Happen: What To Do ||

|| A Deeper Look At These Topics ||

|| Details and Rules on E-Bikes ||


Common Laws for Cyclists

Cyclists May Use Full Lane ORC §4511.55(A) & (C) (A) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles and exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. (C) This section does not require a person operating a bicycle to ride at the edge of the roadway when it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so. Conditions that may require riding away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary to avoid fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, surface hazards, or if it otherwise is unsafe or impracticable to do so, including if the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. Please always ride with the flow of traffic! (ORC §4511.25)

Dead Red at Signalized Intersections ORC §4511.132  Brief version: "...the signals are otherwise malfunctioning, including the failure of a vehicle detector to detect the vehicle" This simply means if the intersection is the type that only changes when a vehicle is present, and it does not detect you and your bike, that you MAY proceed through on red AFTER completely stopping and checking for safety. Full version: (A) The driver of a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley who approaches an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals shall do all of the following if the signal facing the driver exhibits no colored lights or colored lighted arrows, exhibits a combination of such lights or arrows that fails to clearly indicate the assignment of right-of-way, or, if the vehicle is a bicycle, the signals are otherwise malfunctioning due to the failure of a vehicle detector to detect the presence of the bicycle: (1) Stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none, stop before entering the intersection; (2) Yield the right-of-way to all vehicles, streetcars, or trackless trolleys in the intersection or approaching on an intersecting road, if the vehicles, streetcars, or trackless trolleys will constitute an immediate hazard during the time the driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways; (3) Exercise ordinary care while proceeding through the intersection.

Front and Rear Lights at Night ORC 4511.56 (A) Every bicycle when in use at the times specified in section 4513.03 of the Revised Code, shall be equipped with the following: (1) A lamp mounted on the front of either the bicycle or the operator that shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and three hundred feet to the sides. A generator-powered lamp that emits light only when the bicycle is moving may be used to meet this requirement. (2) A red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from all distances from one hundred feet to six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle; (3) A lamp emitting either flashing or steady red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear shall be used in addition to the red reflector. If the red lamp performs as a reflector in that it is visible as specified in division (A)(2) of this section, the red lamp may serve as the reflector and a separate reflector is not required.

Hand Signals ORC § 4511.39 the case of a person operating a bicycle, the signal shall be made not less than one time but is not required to be continuous. A bicycle operator is not required to make a signal if the bicycle is in a designated turn lane, and a signal shall not be given when the operator's hands are needed for the safe operation of the bicycle.

Licence Points ORC §4511.52 ...a bicycle operator who violates any section of the Revised Code described in division (A) of this section that is applicable to bicycles may be issued a ticket, citation, or summons by a law enforcement officer for the violation in the same manner as the operator of a motor vehicle would be cited for the same violation. A person who commits any such violation while operating a bicycle shall not have any points assessed against the person's driver's license, commercial driver's license, temporary instruction permit, or probationary license under section 4510.036 of the Revised Code. This does not apply if  the cyclist is riding under the influence! (DUI)


Common Laws for Drivers

3 Feet or Greater When Passing Bicycles (ORC) §4511.27 (A) The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles or trackless trolleys proceeding in the same direction: (1) The operator of a vehicle ... shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle or trackless trolley. When a motor vehicle or trackless trolley overtakes and passes a bicycle, three feet or greater is considered a safe passing distance. A double yellow line CAN be crossed to accomplish this if conditions are safe to do so. explains this.

Interactions with Bike Lanes ORC 4511.713 Use of bicycle paths. (A) No person shall operate a motor vehicle, snowmobile, or all-purpose vehicle upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, when an appropriate sign giving notice of such use is posted on the path. Read more about how to interact with bike lanes HERE.

Bicycles are Legal Road Vehicles ORC §4511.55(A) & (C) (A) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles and exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.  (C) This section does not require a person operating a bicycle to ride at the edge of the roadway when it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so. Conditions that may require riding away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary to avoid fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, surface hazards, or if it otherwise is unsafe or impracticable to do so, including if the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

Dooring Cyclists: Ohio ORC §4511.70 (C) states, in part, that person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. Try the Dutch Reach.


Crashes Happen: What To Do

First, let's get acquainted with our two supporting attorneys that specialize in cycling laws.

Ken Knabe

Ken is Greater Cleveland’s Bike Attorney.

Knabe Law Firm is Northeast Ohio’s only law firm specifically geared to serving injured cyclists and pedestrians. Ken consistently supports and sponsors the bike community AND is an avid cyclist who protects, and specializes in representing, cyclists injured by unsafe drivers. Since he’s subject to the same conditions when riding, Ken takes it personally when a fellow cyclist is injured by an unsafe driver! He supports the bike community through membership in, and corporate sponsorship of Bike Cleveland in addition to co-authoring the Bikes & the Law section.

Ken does all he can to promote cycling safety by serving on Vision Zero Cleveland’s Maintenance and Fleet Vehicle Sub-Committee since its inception in 2018. Vision Zero is a strategy designed to reduce to zero the number of traffic fatalities and severe injuries on our roads, for all users. He serves on the boards of the Ohio Bicycle Federation and the Ohio to Erie Trail and wrote the book on Bike Law: "Cycling Rights: Bicycles, E-Bikes and Micro-Mobility Devices". You can pick up a copy of “Cycling Rights” at All profits go to Bike Cleveland.

Ken is a former CATA President, a highest "A" Rated personal injury lawyer and Top 50 2022 Cleveland Super Lawyer with extensive trial experience and numerous publications on Ohio bike injury law. KLF is one of only two firms in Ohio to achieve Silver Designation by the League of American Bicyclists.

Ken’s appearances include WCPN Ideastream, WKYC Channel 3,, Lakewood Observer, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Public Library and Cleveland Law Library. His law office is at 14222 Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio. Ken can be reached at 216-228-7200.

Steve Magas

Steve Magas, Ohio’s Bike Lawyer, is an avid cyclist and an Ohio trial lawyer with 35+ years of trial experience in state and federal courts throughout Ohio. He has been working on “bike” cases and bike law issues since the early 1980s and has handled more than 400 bike crash cases. Today, 90+% of Steve’s case load consists of “Bike Cases” - representing cyclists injured, or the families of those killed, in “bike” crashes throughout the State of Ohio. Steve jokes that from 9-5 he represents cyclists and from 5-9 he is a cycling advocate. Steve is a long time board member of the Ohio Bicycle Federation, where he focuses on analyzing and drafting law like the “Three Foot Law” and the “Better Bicycling Bill” of 2006. He also works with local cycling organizations, like Bike Cleveland, Yay Bikes in Columbus, TAB in Toledo, Queen City Bikes in Cincinnati and others throughout the state. On a national level Steve has published a regular column on Bike Law in “Bike USA” as well as “Bike Midwest” and “Bike Ohio.” Steve is a co-author of “Bicycling & The Law” and a contributing author to “Bicycle Accident Reconstruction & Litigation.” Currently, Steve teaches Bike Law to attorneys and judged in his “BIKE LAW 101” Continuing Legal Education classes. Steve recently signed a contract with ODOT & Toole Design to participate as a legal consultant on a project to review and analyze all of Ohio’s bicycle & pedestrian laws.

Steve Magas handles bike cases throughout the State of Ohio… from Cleveland to Cincinnati- Youngstown to Portsmouth - Bellefontaine to Marietta. Steve’s popular blog can be read at - Steve always provides a free consultation as to any potential bike case and can be reached via email at or by phone at 513-484-BIKE [2453]. Steve brings his principal tenets - “EXPERIENCE - INTEGRITY - EXCELLENCE - JUSTICE” to every case.

Bike Crash: Protect your Rights!

As cyclists, we have all thought about getting hit by a car while riding.  Most bike accidents occur when drivers do not see you due to inattention, poor eyesight, distracted driving, or driving under the influence. As too many riders already know, getting hit by a car while riding your bike is no joke. A cyclist always loses in a crash with a three- to four-thousand-pound vehicle. If you are hit, the following eleven tips will help you to pick up the pieces and protect your rights.

(1) Don’t Panic

Sailing over the hood of a car or finding yourself pinned underneath one are equally terrifying events.  Your brain is flooding your body with adrenaline.  Your mind is racing a mile a minute. Do not panic.  Take note of your surroundings. Do you have a strong physical barrier between you and oncoming cars?  Make sure you are out of the way of moving traffic.  Get someplace safe and triage your injuries.

(2) Call 911

If you are injured, you will likely need immediate medical care.  Paramedics are trained to evaluate acute injuries.  Let the professionals check you out.  Often, injured victims cannot immediately report the extent of their injuries, due to adrenaline or shock.  Take the ambulance to the ER if you need it.

(3) Always Call the Police

Call the police to document and map out the collision scenario, take measurements, photos and witness statements to ensure that you will be able to establish a liability case against the negligent motorist.  If you are a victim of a hit-and-run and have Uninsured Motorist coverage, you need independent corroborative evidence, ideally from a witness.  Make sure you or the police have identified witnesses and secured their contact information before leaving the scene, if possible.  Try to record the license plate number, color and model of the hit-and-run vehicle.

It is helpful if you, or someone else takes photos of the scene before it is cleaned up.  Hand off your phone to a Good Samaritan and enter this witness information in your phone.  Always insist that a police report be made.  You will regret later if you do not!  The police should record the driver’s name, address, and insurance information.

(4) Preserve Your Damaged Bike

Your bike just went from trusted transportation source to potentially critical piece of evidence.  Preserve it in its collision condition to avoid an eventual argument that you tainted the very evidence required to support your claim. Collect your cracked helmet, torn bike clothes and bent rims for evidence.  You will probably notice scuffs on your bike shoes and damage to your bike computer.  Photograph it and preserve it, not only for property damage compensation but to corroborate your physical injuries.

(5) Get the Medical Treatment You Need

We never tell injured victims to get medical care if they do not need it.  We do, however, tell our clients that they had better get the treatment they need, or insurance adjusters and lawyers will argue that they simply were not hurt. Unless you have medical records and reports to back up your claimed injuries, settlement negotiations will not be fruitful.  Do not delay in getting the care you need.  Do not miss your physical therapy or doctors’ appointments. Comply fully with the course of treatment prescribed by your medical providers.  You need to help your medical team for it to most effectively help you heal.

(6) Keep Track of Your Medical Expenses / Lost Wages

Remember when having health insurance meant the doctor would see you for a $10 co-pay? Modern insurance has grown complicated. Keep good records of each of your out-of-pocket expenses, including medications and medical devices, to ensure that you do not pay for care that you received due to someone else’s negligence.

If you miss work because of your injuries, reach out to your employer to calculate the wages that you lost.  Work a commission or sales job?  Use historical figures to help bolster your argument for expected earnings.

(7) Pain Journal / Chart of Lost Enjoyment

A daily journal describing your pain level and loss of activities will help establish your loss of enjoyment.  We include everything from scheduled road races or triathlons, gym records, and softball league schedules to demonstrate how injuries impact our clients’ lives.

(8) What is Subrogation?

In this context, subrogation means the right to be paid back by the negligent party for expenses incurred to help the non-negligent, injured party. Think of it like this: your health insurance policy likely gives your insurer the right to be reimbursed for the care you received due to your bike crash injuries.  Theoretically, you could compromise your future health insurance coverage if you do not assist your insurer in its quest for reimbursement out of any settlement that you receive. Be extra careful if you receive governmental health care benefits. The government’s right to reimbursement is protected by state and / or federal law.

(9) Dealing with the Negligent Motorist’s Insurance Company

Insurance adjusters are trained to get as much information from you as possible, and to use that information against you.  They will try to get you to provide a recorded statement and blanket medical authorizations for them to dig into your private health history.  Do not fall for it.  Past medical records for treatment that bears no relation to the parts of your body that are injured in the collision simply are not relevant to the case.  Do not give a recorded statement until you have spoken to an experienced bike injury attorney.

(10) Do I need a Lawyer?

Yes, if your accident is serious.  Hiring an experienced injury bicycle lawyer will facilitate this complicated process and usually result in 4-5 times more compensation.  Attorneys handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.  That means you do not pay the attorney directly to handle your case.  Rather, the attorney takes a fee of any eventual settlement or award that you receive.  The standard fee is 33 1/3 % of the gross recovery if no lawsuit is filed.  If a lawsuit is filed, it is 40% of the gross recovery.  Attorneys generally front the expenses for the case, but are then paid back out of the settlement (exclusive of the fee).

Attorneys should not take cases unless they feel they can add value to a cyclist’s claim.  Most of the time, it makes best sense for injured cyclists to hire an aggressive bike trial lawyer to work their case. Sometimes, in very minor cases, it may not.

Pick a bike lawyer with whom you are comfortable and who will actually represent you all the way to trial, if necessary.  Many lawyers push you off to a junior associate or paralegal after the first meeting.  Hire a lawyer who (1) will personally handle your case and (2) who is not afraid to try it to a jury.

(11) Signing on the Dotted Line

Insurance companies demand global releases of liability in exchange for settlements.  That means you get one shot at the apple.  Once you settle, you will not be able to come back and ask for more money, even if you require future medical treatment, miss more work, and/or continue to experience pain and suffering from a collision.  Be very careful about accepting a settlement before you are absolutely certain that its terms benefit you.  One more reason to hire an experienced bicycle injury lawyer!

A Deeper Look At These Topics

CYCLIST RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES: What Ohio Cyclists Need To Know To Ride Their Bicycles Legally

By: Greater Cleveland’s Bike Attorney Kenneth J. Knabe of Knabe Law Firm Co., LPA

Road bicycles and e-bikes are enjoying great popularity. With the green revolution in alternate transportation, the proliferation of bike lane access, and the social and fitness benefits, bicycling is increasingly popular in the Greater Cleveland area.

Ohio bicycle law requires cyclists and other drivers to share public roads by following legal parameters. Knowing your legal rights and responsibilities is vital for riding safety and enjoyment and preventing bike accidents or crashes.

Cycling Law: Find It in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC)

Statutes in the ORC trump local ordinances that are fundamentally inconsistent.

Bicycle traffic IS traffic! A bike is defined as a vehicle and people on bicycles have an absolute legal right to ride on the road (except divided, controlled/limited access freeways) ORC §§ 4511.051(A)(2), 4511.07(A)(8), & 4511.01(YY). Cyclists also can't be confined to marked bicycle lanes.

CYCLISTS must obey all traffic rules that apply to vehicles ORC §§ 4501.01(A) & 4511.01(A):

  • Stop at traffic-control signals e.g., red lights and stop signs ORC §   4511.12(A) &  4511.43
  • "Dead red" exception law allows cyclist to fully stop at a red light, then enter the intersection if red light malfunctions/won’t trip to green ORC § 4511.132(A)(1)(2)(3) ; cyclist still will NOT have the right of way if they proceed
  • Yield to pedestrians on sidewalks ORC § 4511.441; many municipalities, such as Cleveland, have an ordinance requiring an audible signal from a cyclist passing a pedestrian § 473.09(c)
  • Bike lights (front white, red rear + red rear reflector) must be used from sunset to sunrise and/or visibility less than 1000 feet ahead ORC § 4511.56 ; most e-bikes come equipped with a white front and red back light
  • Ride in direction of road traffic ORC § 4511.25
  • Ride two abreast ORC § 4511.55(B) BUT some local ordinances, i.e. Hunting Valley, Solon and Moreland Hills prohibit it; these ordinances are likely invalid as they conflict with the ORC
  • Ride as near to right side of roadway as "practicable" (not "possible") UNLESS it is unsafe due to hazards/if a motor vehicle can’t safely pass cyclist ORC § 4511.55(A) & (C)
  • Use state-mandated hand signals ORC § 4511.40(A)(1)(2)(3)(B) which don’t have to be held continuously ORC § 4511.39(A), aren’t necessary in turn lanes, and don’t have to be used if will interfere with safe operation of bicycle e.g., if a cyclist feels it is unsafe to take a hand off handlebars

L-R: Left turn, “old school” right turn, “modern” right turn

CYCLISTS can’t be confined to sidewalk riding ORC § 4511.711(A)

CYCLISTS can’t be confined to all purpose trails in the Metroparks or elsewhere ORC §§ 4511.07(A)(8) & 4511.711(A)

CYCLISTS can’t be required to wear protective bicycle helmets under Ohio law, but some local authorities (cities) require them, especially for minors. Given that head injuries cause ¾ of cyclist fatalities, however, they are worth considering and most bike shops have a great selection of bike helmets in stock. Learn concussion symptoms, in the event of a bike crash. Concussions are brain injuries that can become serious and should be addressed medically as soon as possible after a crash. Always look inside your helmet for cracks or other damage to corroborate any head injury, e.g.,

GOOD NEWS: Cyclists who follow traffic laws are in fewer crashes!

Ken Knabe, Greater Cleveland’s Bike Attorney: Helping injured cyclists from the ground, up! 14222 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107 * 216-228-7200

DRIVER RESPONSIBILITIES: How To Drive Safely Around Cyclists

By: Greater Cleveland’s Bike Attorney Kenneth J. Knabe of Knabe Law Firm Co., LPA

Bikes are vehicles and entitled to ride on most public roads just like cars, ORC § 4501.01(A)(K) The following speaks to what drivers should know and do around cyclists for responsible driving.

The best tool for avoiding a crash with a cyclist or a pedestrian or a car or a fixed object is awareness of your surroundings. Keep your eyes on the road, look for what is up ahead, consider and look for bikes and pedestrians, adjust for sun glare  and don’t get distracted!

Distracted driving occurs if you are late or in a hurry,  you dropped something on the floor,  you are taking an important phone call while driving, you are worried big time about something else, you use text-based communication for that reservation, you are searching for better music, you are lost or unsure where you are going, etc. Not only are these excuses likely violations of Ohio law that defines driving distracted an anything unnecessary to actual driving, ORC § 4511.991 they are dangerous and could be deadly in a distracted driving crash.

Being in the present moment and staying focused prevent distracted driving—awareness of your surroundings is KEY! Remember, you are driving a 2000-pound machine with numerous safety devices while a cyclist and a pedestrian have almost no protection. Who stands to lose the most? Obviously, the cyclist and pedestrian but it will also cost the driver in terms of civil and/or criminal and moral responsibility.

What are Ohio Laws for Motorists Sharing the Road with Cyclists?

Ohio's minimum safe passing distance

In 2017 Ohio's Three Feet Safe Passing law, ORC § 4511.27(A)(1) went into effect. When passing cyclists, drivers are required to be at least three feet away. In Cleveland this distance becomes a minimum of six feet, for a commercial motor vehicle/truck/unit/bus passing cyclists, Cleveland Ordinance § 431.03(b) Why? Because a cyclist needs room to move over to avoid road hazards, by the way, and you as a driver need the extra clearance. The faster you are driving, the more room you should give cyclists in traffic!

Crossing over a double yellow line to pass cyclists

A driver is legally allowed to safely cross a double yellow line to pass slower bikes, ORC § 4511.31(A)(B)(1)(2)(3) subject to these precautions:

  • The cyclist is traveling at less than half the posted speed limit
  • The motorists shall not exceed the speed limit while making the pass, and
  • There is sufficient clear sight distance for the driver to make the pass safely

Three Feet Safe Passing Distance and Legal Passing on a Double Yellow

Types of Bike Crashes We See in Our Bike Law Practice, and How Drivers Can Avoid Causing Them!

A right hook #1 occurs when a driver, failing to look behind them, turns right into an oncoming cyclist. The driver may think the cyclist is much farther back than where they last saw the cyclist, vs. where the cyclist actually is on the road.

Drivers should take care when passing cyclists and be sure not to turn right in front of them, either. This is called a right hook #2 and happens when a driver fails to gauge a cyclist’s speed and abruptly cuts a cyclist off, usually resulting in serious injury to the vulnerable cyclist and just a minor scratch on the driver’s car. With e-bikes on the road, what looks like a slow cyclist can really end up surprising a driver regarding the speed the e-bike can move—a class 3 e-bike can go 28 mph or even higher.

Left turns can also be problematic because a driver may not look for oncoming cyclists, or the cyclist is hidden behind a row of vehicles and, if the driver is not paying attention, comes into view when it’s too late.

Rear-enders are devastating to cyclists hit by a two-thousand-pound vehicle and often result in very serious injury. Drivers should pay attention to all the road in front of them, especially off to the right where cyclists normally ride. Even if a cyclist is riding on the berm, the cyclist could easily move back onto the road and into the path of the driver who is not watching or not aware that this could happen.

Distracted Driving and the Law

Driving while distracted is dangerous enough to be known as “the new drunk driving”!

Distracted driving includes non-hands-free texting and, as mentioned earlier, any activity not necessary to operating a vehicle, ORC § 4511.991 Ohio is moving toward making distracted driving a primary offense, i.e., allowing a police officer to cite a motorist who is distracted yet not committing any other traffic offense. Some cities, including Lakewood, have already written this into law, Lakewood Ordinance § 331.345

The most current legislation is Ohio House Bill 283 introduced in 2021. The stronger of the two distracted driving bills before our Ohio General Assembly, hopes are high that it will be enacted later this year and we will at long last see a distracted driving law cover a primary traffic offense.

What are Safety Benefits of Defensive Driving?

All types of drivers can benefit from driving defensively! One drives defensively by continually identifying what's going on around your vehicle, including what other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are doing, what's going on up ahead, even areas where street repair might be needed so you can skirt around these hazards.

New habits should be developed behind the wheel. As a defensive driver you continually adjust to maximize visibility and space, giving you extra time to react, and often, to avoid a crash. Adding safe driving practices includes three key defensive driving habits:

  • Looking Ahead: “Look up” higher than you normally do, while driving to the point down the road where your vehicle will be eight to twelve seconds in the future, to identify the most hazards
  • Keeping Head & Eyes Moving: Turn your sense of sight into “radar” continuously moving left and right as you proceed down the road, “scanning” for anything that could pose the risk of a crash and giving you plenty of time to react; especially important in urban environments, parking lots, places where pedestrians and/or cyclists might be
  • No Tailgating–Maintain Safe Following Distance: Ohio is in the top 10 in the U.S. for tailgating violations!

How Can a Motorist Avoid "Dooring" a Cyclist?

Dooring happens when a driver opens the door of their parked motor vehicle right into an oncoming cyclist, without looking to make sure the coast is clear of bike traffic.

Ohio law states that “No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic”, ORC § 4511.70(C) and as we know, bikes are traffic.

Dooring Hazard

A technique known as the Dutch Reach can make all the difference in protecting passing cyclists from injury, and yourself from a lawsuit.

We tend to open our driver's side doors with our left hand but opening them with our right hand is so much safer. It causes the body to pivot, providing an automatic view of the blind spot and who/what might be coming along the road from behind. Give it a try, then make it a habit!

Beware the sun glare!

Early fall is especially dangerous for cyclists because drivers can be blinded by the setting sun. Drivers should be aware of sun glare and wear eye protection (sunglasses) to increase visibility. A driver should never drive blind, even for a few seconds. Pull over and get your eyes adjusted so you can see what’s ahead.

Ken Knabe, Greater Cleveland’s Bike Attorney: Serves and protects injured cyclists from the ground, up!

14222 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107 * 216-228-7200

Details & Rules for E-Bikes

E-Bikes – What Are They And Where Can You Ride Them?!

A Visit to Electric Pete’s in Seville, Ohio

By: Greater Cleveland’s Bike Attorney Kenneth J. Knabe of Knabe Law Firm Co., LPA

On October 21, 2022, I headed down to Electric Pete’s in Seville to see and ride the three different classifications of e-bikes, which are road legal in Ohio (except on closed access highways) just like the traditional muscle powered bike. Ohio Rev. Code §4511.01(TTT)(UUU)(VVV); §4511.051(A)(2); §4511.07(A)(8); §4511.01(YY)

Owner Pete showed me Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 e-bikes and explained the variances between them.

First let’s talk e-bike 101. An e-bike has a battery and an electric motor under 750 watts. Ohio Rev. Code §4511.01(SSS)(TTT)(UUU)(VVV) The class designation of the bike is required under Ohio law and is usually at the bottom of the seat tube. The battery is usually in the down tube (see below);  the motor is usually between the down tube and the seat tube or in the hub (see below):

A Class 1 e-bike has pedal assist motor only, with a maximum speed of 20 miles an hour. What does that mean? The motor only activates when pedaling and stops at 20mph. The bike comes with a motor display. In the next photo the battery is off, which allows you to ride it just like a muscle powered bike with gears just like a road bike:

The next speed or assist is “eco”, which is the first level of motor assist with pedaling:

Following “eco” are “tour”, “sport”, and “turbo” speeds but again, the max you’re going to ride pedal assisted is 20 mph. You can ride over 20 mph, but on your own power.

Next is the “wild card”, a Class 2 bicycle which is technically throttle powered only  up to 20 miles an hour.  Let’s talk “throttle”, shall we? There are three different types: full, half and thumb:

As with a Class 1, you can ride a Class 2 with the throttle off and ride on your own power. You can also ride the motor in several throttle speed settings like Class 1. Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes may be used on the network of All Purpose Trails and mountain bike trails, but must travel safely and with respect to other trail users. Pete also showed me a mountain e-bike, which are only Class 1, and for better handling, the motor is not in the hub.

The League of American Bicyclists Club insurance does not cover a Class 2 e-bike. To my knowledge, all local bike clubs in the Greater Cleveland area ban a Class 2 from Club rides because of this lack of coverage (due to the throttle assist which does not require pedaling and is viewed as diminishing control and feels like you are riding a moped). However, most of these Class 2 bikes also have a pedal assist!

A Class 3 e-bike is just like a Class 1 except it has pedal assist motor up to 28 miles per hour! The motor stops assisting at 28 mph. Class 3 bikes are not permitted on any trails.

I could go on, but you need to ride e-bikes to understand them.

During a recent e-bike trade show, a major bike company representative said there should be no limitations on e-bikes regardless of Class. However, Ohio law, bike clubs, the (CVNP) and the Metroparks, do limit use based on the Class. But, even within classes, various nuances appear that cloud the picture and make these distinctions questionable. My crystal ball says the bike rep is probably mostly right and there will be more widespread use and less exclusions on e-bikes.

The bottom line is that no matter what bike you ride, you have to ride with awareness and safety by following the rules of the road.

Ken Knabe, Greater Cleveland’s Bike Attorney: Helping injured cyclists from the ground, up! 14222 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107 * 216-228-7200