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Understanding Idaho Bicycle Laws

Idaho has special laws regarding bicycles, including the “Idaho stop” and “Dead Red” laws. Still, the state’s traffic laws apply to persons on bicycles and other human-powered vehicles. According to §49-714, “Every person operating a vehicle propelled by human power or riding a bicycle shall have all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.”

In other words, cars and bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities in Idaho – with some exceptions. All bicycle laws are designed to help prevent bicycle accidents and keep cyclists safe.

Do Bicycles Have to Stop at Stop Signs and Red Lights in Idaho?

Not always. Under §49-720, also known as the “Idaho stop” law, bicyclists can treat stop signs as yield signs if it is safe to do so. Bicyclists must slow to a “reasonable speed” and stop before entering the intersection “if required for safety.” They must also yield the right-of-way to approaching vehicles. Otherwise, bicycles do not have to come to a full stop at stop signs.

Idaho’s Dead Red Law

§49-720 is also called the “Dead Red” law because it recognizes that small vehicles like bicycles may not trigger traffic control devices. If a bicyclist approaches a red light, they must stop, but they do not have to wait for the light to turn green before proceeding.

Bicyclists must stop at red lights in Idaho, yield to all other traffic, then proceed with caution through a steady red light. Like other vehicles, bicycles can turn right on red. Unlike other vehicles, bicyclists can turn left on red if it is safe to do so.

Cyclists must also use hand signals to indicate right or left turns within 100 feet of their maneuvers.

Is It Legal for Cyclists to Ride Side by Side on Idaho Roads?

Yes. Cyclists can ride side by side on Idaho roads, but they may not ride more than two abreast unless the road is exclusively designated for bicycles. If the bicyclists are slowing down motor vehicle traffic, however, they are required to go into a single file lane and ride “as close as practicable” to the right-hand edge of the road.

Is It Legal to Ride a Bike on the Sidewalk in Idaho?

Yes. Cyclists can ride on the sidewalk in Idaho, but they must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, give audible signals before passing pedestrians or other cyclists, and follow all applicable laws.

If bicycles are prohibited on a certain sidewalk or crosswalk, for example, bicyclists should ride on the street or walk their bikes. Bicyclists on sidewalks and crosswalks have the same rights and duties as pedestrians (in addition to the special rights and responsibilities outlined in §49-721).

Does Idaho Have a Bicycle Helmet Law?

No. Idaho law does not explicitly mention bicycle helmets. Nevertheless, some cities have municipal regulations about bicycle helmets, particularly for cyclists under age 18.

No matter what the law says, wearing a bicycle helmet is a good idea for all riders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash,” and bicycle helmet laws are effective for reducing crash-related injuries and deaths.

Can You Get a DUI on a Bicycle in Idaho?

No. Because “vehicles moved solely by human power” are excluded from Idaho DUI laws, you cannot get a DUI on a bicycle in Idaho.

Unfortunately, you can be charged with public intoxication or other alcohol-related offenses if you cause a hazard on a public sidewalk, street, or highway.

At night, most bicyclists get stopped for lacking the proper safety equipment, such as a white headlight and a red rear reflector. If you are intoxicated, a simple safety stop could result in alcohol-related charges.

Beware of Local Ordinances

Each city in Idaho has special rules about riding on sidewalks, wearing helmets, and more. Get to know the bicycle laws in your city, and if you are riding somewhere new, research local ordinances before you head out.

Safety Tips from Boise, Idaho

Boise, for example, has special rules and safety tips for bicycles. Like the state, the city requires a forward-facing white light and a red reflector on the rear of a bicycle. Boise also recommends bicyclists wear a properly fitted helmet each and every time they ride a bicycle, ensure their bicycles are in good working order before riding, and lock their bicycles with a U-Lock.

Other safety tips from Boise include:

  • Using hand signals and bike lights
  • Obeying traffic laws
  • Expecting the unexpected
  • Riding as far right as practicable
  • Riding with the flow of traffic
  • Riding in a place where you can see and be seen
  • Riding at least 3 feet away from parked cars
  • Acting as a car when on the road and a pedestrian when on the sidewalk
  • Giving pedestrians the right of way on the Greenbelt

If you follow all Idaho bicycle laws and the rules and recommendations from local ordinances, you can significantly reduce your risk of a bicycle accident.

Unfortunately, you cannot control other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists on the sidewalks and roadways.

If someone else’s carelessness causes your bicycle crash, you may be entitled to compensation. May, Rammell & Wells can help you recover damages for your medical bills, missed wages, and other accident-related losses.

Our attorneys have more than 70 years of combined legal experience and want to help empower you as you deal with the aftermath of your accident. We are committed to the highest level of integrity, and we are not afraid to fight for what you deserve – even if that means going to trial.

To learn more about your rights and legal options after a bicycle accident, please call us at (208) 623-8021 or send us a message online.


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