Wyoming laws are fairly sparse when it comes to bike laws which means that it’s important to use common sense and care while cycling on the roads. Wyoming has been beefing up their laws around the use of electric bikes which makes them stand out compared to other states, but when it comes to bikes, it’s mostly a matter of being careful and aware. What should you know about the bike laws in Wyoming before you ride?
Bikes and The Road
Bicycles are considered to be vehicles under law in Wyoming, meaning that they have to follow the same laws as cars. All traffic signals and signs must be obeyed and cyclists have to ensure they properly signal. Sidewalk riding in Wyoming is generally discouraged and the use of crosswalks is kept to pedestrians. This is not to say that it is precisely illegal to ride on sidewalks (because there are not state laws around using bike laws on sidewalks), but you may still get into trouble for doing it. Pedestrians always have the right of way on sidewalks and crosswalks anyway, so it’s likely quicker to stay in your own lane.
When riding on the road, cyclists must ride as far to the right as is practical. Wyoming does not specifically set out cases where riders can deviate from the right side of the road, so this falls on the rider to make sure he or she is riding in a safe way and out of the way of traffic as much as possible. Wyoming does have safe passing laws whereby drivers have to give at least three feet of distance between themselves and cyclists; however, since cars outweigh cyclists by several thousand pounds, it’s still a bad idea to try to challenge drivers even when you have the right to be where you are!
Wyoming does not observe the Idaho stop law, so if you get stuck behind a stale red light, you’ll have to continue waiting until it changes due to a car or walk your bike over to a walk light and change it yourself.
The most important thing is to ride in a predictable manner, stay conspicuous while riding, and ride with a mind towards predicting what other road users are going to do. This means keeping track of things like vehicles turning, what other cyclists are doing, and keeping an eye on pedestrians.
Riding Safely in Wyoming
There is a lot of emphasis given over to the importance of cyclists riding in a predictive and visible manner. Wyoming tips also put emphasis on the importance of carrying and knowing how to use repair tools in case of an emergency or accident. All in all, most of the information centers around the importance of the cyclist keeping him/herself safe rather than any particular protections under law.
When riding at night, bikes have to be equipped with lights and reflectors, just like cars. In Wyoming, this means having a white light in the front and a red rear reflector.
Wyoming does not mandate the use of helmets while riding. Anyone of any age can ride a bike without wearing a helmet. This is not a good idea however as riding without a helmet increases the chance of serious head injuries or death in cases of accidents. While it’s not illegal to ride without a helmet, you will find that most tips and information about riding will emphasis the importance of wearing a helmet for your own safety.
It is however illegal to ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you ride while under the influence, you can be subject to fines or even jail time, depending on the severity of the incident.
Electric Bikes in Wyoming
Electric bike laws are a bit of a mess in Wyoming and very grey. E-bikes are popular enough that over half of the United States have regulated their use, but Wyoming has not done so and as a result, the burden falls on towns and counties. Some towns such as Teton and Jackson Town support the use of e-bikes on pathways and trails, but there is a great deal of pushback as well with people stating that they are vehicles, dangerous, and should not be used on pathways. The problem is that e-bikes are not defined under Wyoming law (yet anyway), leaving it up to counties to decide how best to define them.
It really depends on where the weight of attention lies: with the motor or with the pedals. People who support the use of e-bikes on paths point out that e-bikes can be pedalled, meaning they are closer to bikes. People who do not support their use point out that they have motors and are thus motor vehicles that belong on the road. This has been the main point of contention between supporters and detractors and it’s one that may keep Wyoming e-bike users tied up in slight knots for a while to come.
Wyoming does not have licensing or registration requirements for electric bikes. However, helmets are required for all riders under the age of eighteen. While there is a fight over whether e-bikes are allowed on paths, they are allowed on roadways as long as they are riding as far to the right as practical. They are not permitted on National Park Paths. Bike paths and trails are up for grabs still and is left up to the towns, as pointed out before.
It is very important to ride in an alert fashion in Wyoming and keep an eye on those around you on the roads. The only safety equipment that is mandated by law is the use of lights and reflectors while riding at night, but it’s still a very good idea to wear a helmet! Wyoming also doesn’t set out any exceptions to the riding to the right of the road, though you will not likely get into trouble for avoiding pedestrians, other vehicles, or debris on the road! Electric bikes are also being contested in Wyoming which means that you’ll want to check local law when riding to see where you can ride or not. The most important thing is to take control of your safety and of course, have fun!