Rules of the Road Evolve with Infrastructure

Jun 15, 2015

Active transportation planner for the City of Fort Wayne Kate Riordan rides in newly painted bike lanes on Main Street.
Credit Virginia Alvino / WBOI News

In Fort Wayne, motorists and cyclists sometimes struggle to share the road – and there are the collisions to prove it. 

In the past five years in Allen County there have been more than 400 collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles, including two fatalities and more than 300 injuries. The number one reason? Failure to yield. And police say both motorists and cyclists are each at fault only about half the time.

The rules of the road are pretty straightforward – share.

Paul Spoelhoff is a senior planner for the City of Fort Wayne. He says there are a few places, like highways, that bikes just shouldn’t be, "but otherwise the state recognizes bike as a form of transportation and we certainly honor that here in Fort Wayne.” 

That means all the same rules apply for bikes and cars. Go the right way down the street. Stop at a red light.

When it comes to riding on sidewalks, that’s up to cities to decide. While Fort Wayne used to ban biking on sidewalks in some areas, that created confusion, and there was less street-based infrastructure at the time.

“So we needed to provide them with a place, and the sidewalks are wide downtown, and there is some room, so as long as you put provisions in there that encourage people to yield to pedestrians and take care of each other, then we thought that was a good solution," says Spoelhoff. "It’s not a forever solution.”

Meaning the City needs to keep putting in more bike lanes. But for now, it’s legal to bike on any sidewalk in the city.

Fort Wayne also requires motorists to leave a three-foot buffer on all sides when going around a bike.

Spoelhoff says education is key, and reminds all travelers that responsibility lies with motorists and cyclists alike to stay safe.