Arkansas law does not specifically define a bicycle as a vehicle. In fact,
the definition of “vehicle” appears in a section of the Arkansas Code,
Annotated titled “Motor Vehicular Traffic” (Title 27, Subtitle 4), so bicycles
aren’t included in the definitions. A.C.A. § 27-49-111 contains the lan-
guage from the Uniform Vehicle Code which reads, “Every person
riding a bicycle or an animal, or driving any animal drawing a vehicle upon a
highway, shall have all the rights and all of the duties applicable to the
driver of a vehicle, except those provisions of this act which by their
nature can have no applicability” so as to include cyclists as legitimate
and rightful users of the public streets and highways.
The specific statutes pertaining to bicycles are found in the Arkansas
Code of 1987, Annotated, (“A.C.A.”) Title 27, chapters 49 through 111.
Cyclists may use any public road, street, or highway in Arkansas with the
exception of the freeways and other controlled-access highways. You
may ride your bicycle on the sidewalks in Arkansas, except in specific
cities which have enacted local ordinances that prohibit riding on the
sidewalks in the business districts (Little Rock, North Little Rock, Hot Springs,
and Maumelle prohibit, directly or indirectly (NLR) cyclists from riding on
the sidewalks. LR, Hot Springs, Conway, Maumelle, Fayetteville, and Fort
Smith directly prohibit riding on the sidewalks in the business district, NLR
indirectly prohibits bikes from all city sidewalks.)
Riding on the streets and public roads in Arkansas generally falls into
six general principles in order to comply with state and local law:
1) Drive on the right side of the roadway; never on the left, and
never on the sidewalk;
2) Obey all traffic signals and traffic control devices;
3) When you reach a more important or larger road than you are
on, yield to crossing traffic;
4) When you intend to change lanes or move laterally on the road-
way, yield to traffic in the new lane or line of travel;
5) When approaching an intersection, position yourself with re-
spect to the direction of your destination; and
6) Between intersections, position yourself according to your
speed relative to other traffic.
Bicyclists are required to signal like other vehicles pursuant to A.C.A. § 27-
51-403, but not continuously if they need both hands for safety (A.C.A. §
27-49-111).
When riding at night, Arkansas law (A.C.A. § 27-36-220) requires that you
have a white headlight on the front of your bike, and a red tail light on the
rear – both visible from at least 500 feet away. You may substitute a red
reflector on the rear provided that it is still visible from at least 500 feet
away when illuminated. The white and red reflectors that come on your
bike from the sporting goods store or bike shop are insufficient; state law
requires that you have active lighting systems when riding at night (re-
flectors are passive.)
Arkansas does not require either children or adults to wear a bicycle
helmet when riding. Little Rock and Fayetteville city ordinances additionally require that a
bicycle be equipped with a bell or other device for warning pedestrians,
and that it have a brake capable of making the braked wheel skid on dry,
level pavement.
Additional information (aimed exclusively at motorists) is found in the
Arkansas Driver’s License Study Guide (https://www.arkansas.gov/dfa/
driver_services/ds_documents.html), not all of which is covered under
Title 27 of the Arkansas Code of 1987.
Summary of Major Violations for Bicyclists in Arkansas:
• Failure to operate on right half of road: A.C.A. § 27-51-301
• Riding wrong way on one-way street: A.C.A. § 27-51-304 (Class
C misdemeanor)
• Moving across roadway without yielding: A.C.A. § 27-51-403 (a)
• Entering intersection on red signal: A.C.A. § 27-52-107.
• Failure to yield the right of way at stop or yield sign: A.C.A. §
27-51-503, § 27-51-601
• Failure to yield the right of way before entering roadway: A.C.A.
§ 27-51-603
• Failure to use head light: A.C.A. § 27-36-220(a)
• Failure to use rear light or reflector: A.C.A. § 27-36-220(a) and
(b)
• Failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalk not controlled by
traffic signals: A.C.A. § 27-51-1202
• Driving while intoxicated:
Applicable only to motor vehicles. (You
can’t get a DWI or DUI on a bicycle in Arkansas, however you may
still be cited for “public drunkenness.”)
Summary of Major Violations for Motorists in Arkansas:
• Failure to make right turn from rightmost part of roadway: A.C.A.
§ 27-51-401 (1)
• Failure to yield when turning left: A.C.A. § 27-51-502
• Entering intersection on red signal: A.C.A. § 27-52-107.
• Failure to yield the right of way at stop or yield sign: A.C.A. §
27-51-503, § 27-51-601
• Failure to yield the right of way before entering roadway: A.C.A.
§ 27-51-603
• Failure to yield the right of way before starting from parked
position: A.C.A. § 27-51-1308
• Unsafe distance when overtaking: A.C.A. § 27-51-306
• Unsafe distance (< 3 feet) when passing a cyclist: A.C.A. § 27-
51-311
• Unsafe place to overtake on left: A.C.A. § 27-51-307
• Unsafe overtaking on right: A.C.A. § 27-51-308
• Operating at unsafe speed: A.C.A. § 27-51-201
• Speeding in excess of 15 MPH over posted speed limit – Class C
misdemeanor
• Opening door of motor vehicle when unsafe: A.C.A. § 27-51-1307
• Failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalk not controlled by
traffic signals: A.C.A. § 27-51-1202
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