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Arkansas Traffic Laws as they relate to pedestrians and cyclists.

With the expansion of the PAC Paths to include a new section of multi-use trail along University Loop and Aggie Road, here are some reminders for all campus road and path users about current state of Arkansas traffic laws.

Pedestrians have the right of way in any marked crosswalk, and with a recent change this year, so do cyclists (Ark Code 27-51-1804).  Where the campus trails cross roads or parking lot entrances, drivers should always look both ways on the path or sidewalk.  It’s notable that the stop signs and stop bars (white lines painted on the roadway) are positioned before crosswalks.

While those walking or riding have the right of way, do not assume drivers of vehicles see you, or are aware of your legal rights.  Look both ways, and where cars have stopped for pedestrians or cyclists, we recommend making eye contact with drivers.

For campus drivers, we also remind you that once a person is in the crosswalk, state law requires yielding to pedestrians, and remaining stopped until they have cleared the entire sidewalk (Ark Code 27-51-1202).  It is also not legal to pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk.

Both pedestrians and people on bikes share the campus PAC Paths.  There are almost 10 miles of shares paths, and while many are marked, the important difference between a shared path and a traditional sidewalk is width.  We encourage bike riders to not use older, narrower six and eight-foot-wide sidewalks.

Just as people in vehicles are expected to share the road with cyclists, people on bikes must yield to pedestrians.

While cyclists have the right to use any road they are not expressly forbidden to use under state of Arkansas law (for example, an interstate highway), we strongly encourage people who are walking, running or riding to use the multi-use paths along University Loop and East Aggie Road.  The road lane widths are narrower on U-Loop West, and the multi-use path is there to provide a safe, separated alternative to using the road.

In the state of Arkansas, cyclists are allowed to treat a stop sign as a yield, and a red light as a stop sign, when traffic is not present (Ark Code 27-51-1803).  Often known nationally as the “Idaho Stop,” this allows bike riders to become less of a hindrance to traffic flow.  The keys for the cyclists are they must slow for the yield, and must still come to a full stop if traffic is present at an intersection.  At a red light, the same applies with a full stop required and no traffic present before proceeding through the intersection.

Again, on campus, a person riding a bike on the PAC Paths has the right of way through road and parking lot intersections.  However, we highly recommend keeping an eye on any vehicles who may not see a cyclist or may not appropriately yield to the cyclist at these crossings.

Also, in Arkansas, drivers are required when they encounter bike riders on the road to provide a minimum of three-foot spacing while passing (Ark Code 27-51-311).  The safest vehicle pass is to treat the bicycle like another vehicle and change lanes.  As a reminder to drivers, Arkansas does not restrict the number of bicyclists who can ride abreast, nor are cyclists required to ride as far to the right side of the road as possible.

Bicyclists are required to ride with traffic, not against it, and must obey all traffic signs and signals, with the caveats of how they obey them that were listed above, as they have “all the rights and all the duties applicable to a driver of a vehicle” (Ark Code 27-49-111). 

There is no statewide law related to riding bicycles on sidewalks, but in many cities, bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks as they are defined as for pedestrians, not persons riding bikes.  Further confusing is some cities only define no bicycles on sidewalks in “business districts.”

In Arkansas, bicycles are required to have a white front headlight visible at 500 feet, and either a red light or reflector visible from the rear at 500 feet (Ark Code 27-36-220).  E-bikes in Arkansas are defined as bicycles and not motor vehicles (Ark Code 27-51-1703), but only Class 1 or Class 2 e-bikes are allowed on multi-use paths.

While cyclists are required to flow with traffic, runners and walkers may operate against traffic for safety.  However, runners and walkers should note that the City of Jonesboro has an ordinance that prohibits walking or running in the road when a sidewalk is available, and that pedestrians cannot “utilize a roadway in a manner making it impossible for drivers utilizing the roadway to yield.” (Sec. 66-188) There is also a city ordinance prohibiting the use of skates, skateboards or scooters on city streets or sidewalks (“any public property not designated for such purpose”), and they may only be used in areas specifically designated for their use.