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Kentucky Bicycle Laws

The state of Kentucky regulates all vehicles that travel on the state’s roads including bicycles. The law allows for each city to create rules governing certain areas of bicycle operation. (KRS 129.297).

The state laws have to be followed by all municipalities in the state, but each city is free to make their own rules in areas like helmets, sidewalks and bike paths.

Kentucky State Laws and Regulations

The state’s laws set the framework for bicycle rules for each city. (601 KAR 14:020)

  • A bicycle is to be operated as a vehicle for the purposes of traffic codes and rules. This means that a bike has all the rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle on the roads.
  • If there is a bike lane, a cyclist must use it unless it is able to travel the same speed as the traffic on the vehicle lane.
  • A bike can exit a bike lane when it otherwise should travel in the bike lane when:
    • Making a left turn
    • Avoiding a hazard in the lane
    • Passing a slower vehicle
    • Avoiding the door zone of a row of parked cars
  • No more than two bikes can ride side-by-side in any lane.
  • If a bike lane is unavailable and the cyclist is unable to travel at the same speed as traffic, the bike is to use the far right-hand side of the right lane except for the same conditions that are exceptions to riding in a bike lane.
  • Helmets required for those 11 and under.

The state also regulates certain equipment requirements such as lights and reflectors, and it requires cyclists to use hand signals and must sound a bell or yell when approaching a pedestrian.

Louisville Regulations

The City of Louisville passed its own regulations that add to the states laws concerning the operation of bikes. They are found in the city’s Traffic Code chapter on Bicycles and Motorcycles, TITLE VII, CHAPTER 74.

Some of the more prominent of these local rules are:

  • No one over the age of 11 can operate a bicycle on any sidewalk in Louisville and no bikes are allowed on the downtown sidewalks.
  • Children are allowed to ride as passengers as long as certain conditionsare met.
  • Anyone under 18 must wear a helmet in any metro park.
  • No motorized vehicles on any of the city’s bike paths or bike lanes.
  • Cyclists must use hand signals 50 feet before a turn.
  • Slower moving bicycles must use far right-hand of the right lane, except to avoid a hazard
  • Must stop at all red lights and stop lights.
  • If riding in traffic, must pass on the left, allowed to pass on the right if in a bike lane or riding on the right-hand side of the right lane.

Rules for Motorists Traveling with Bicycles

When a motorist is riding on any road or highway in the state, the motorist must:

  • Share the road with the cyclist
  • Pass with care and execute the following:
    • Look for any reason a cyclist might veer to the left into traffic.
    • Give the cyclist three feet to pass.
    • Return to your lane as soon as you pass the bike.
  • Anytime you turn right after passing a bicycle, leave room that the forward path is not obstructed.
  • Don’t open your car door unless you look for a cyclist in rear-view mirror.
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