If you live in Mississippi, then you already know that cycling around the state is really fun and gives you the ability to easily move around your city, town, or area while becoming healthier. What you may not know are the bike laws in Mississippi which are there to help protect you and ensure that you can keep riding for a long time. What should you know about the bike laws in Mississippi?
Bikes and Vehicles in Mississippi
In Mississippi, bicycles are considered to be vehicles and as such, riders have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers. Mississippi also has some statutes around keeping cyclists safe while on the road. Mississippi has vulnerable road user laws which means that it is ‘unlawful to harass, taunt, or maliciously throw an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle.’ The vulnerable road user law also states that a car cannot make a right turn at any intersection or into a highway or driveway while or just after passing a cyclist unless it is safe to do so. These vulnerable road user laws are common across the United States and Mississippi is no different.
Mississippi also has drivers ensure that they leave at least three feet of distance between the car and the cyclist at all times. This too is pretty common as it’s an easy way to keep cyclists safe on the road.
Mississippi does not recognize the Idaho stop law. In some states, it is legal for cyclists to go through a red light if it hasn’t changed in a long time and it is safe to do so. This is not the case in Mississippi, so riders can only go through on a green and if there is a stale red, they will have to wait until it turns green from a vehicle.
When riding with traffic, cyclists must ride as close to the right side of the road as possible, except in the following circumstances:
- When it’s too dangerous to ride on the right (such as if the right side is under construction, has a lot of debris, there are animals, the lane is too narrow, etc.)
- When passing another bike or vehicle going the same way.
- When preparing to make a left turn.
- When proceeding straight through a part of the road where it’s permitted to turn right.
Mississippi does not require the use of separated facilities. This means that even in places where there are things like bike paths and bike trails, riders don’t have to use them instead of the road. Mississippi also doesn’t outright prohibit or allow riding on sidewalks, leaving this largely up to the city or town to decide. Cyclists cannot ride more than two abreast on the road or on paths, unless the bike path or trail allows it.
Safety While Riding
Mississippi has some pretty loose laws when it comes to riding safely in the state. Mississippi is one of only a few states which does not require riders to wear a helmet (no matter how old the rider is), though we wouldn’t recommend it! However, people riding motorcycles or scooters on the public road or highway, must wear a helmet. This is always the case, no matter where you are in the United States. The lack of law around wearing bike helmets is more uncommon and this could change in the future.
Bikes do have to be equipped with some safety gear when being ridden at night. These are:
- A white lamp on the front that is visible from five hundred feet.
- A reflex mirror reflector or lamp that emits red light visible from five hundred feet at the rear of the bike.
- There are no provisions or laws set out that state bikes have to be equipped with side reflectors or lights.
Mississippi does not give DUIs for bikes (or horses, or any other non-motorized vehicle, for that matter). Mississippi also doesn’t have any distracted riding laws, so you could ride and text at the same time, though that could be a bit dangerous.
Electric Bikes in Mississippi
Mississippi doesn’t have much of anything around electric bikes yet. This is because Mississippi doesn’t actually recognize electric bikes! Attorney General Jim Hood stated that bikes with a motor attached don’t ‘satisfy the definition of motor vehicle’, so electric bikes are basically considered as bikes, for the purposes of riding legally.
There is no licensing or registration required for electric bikes and unlike many other states, you don’t need to wear a helmet while riding one, no matter the age of the rider. The laws around where it’s legal to ride an electric bike are left entirely up to the people/towns/cities that created the bike paths, bike roads, and trails and the state of Mississippi doesn’t step in at all. It’s important to check on the laws wherever you intend to ride an electric bike however, since e-bikes are still relatively new, and the laws may change without much notice.
All in all, there really is not much on the books for bike laws in Mississippi. The state mostly leaves things up to the municipalities which by and large follow the state. The important thing to keep in mind is that cyclists are treated as vehicles for the purposes of riding with other traffic, that cyclists have to ride to the right, and that the law does protect riders from being harassed or having things thrown at them. Mississippi does not yet have anything on the books in regard to electric bikes (and it does not seem like there will be much any time soon), and it’s one of the few states that does not force riders of any age to wear a helmet. All of this means that there is a lot of personal responsibility on the rider to stay safe and ride properly while on one’s bike. Enjoy riding in Mississippi and enjoy your time out there! (We still say wear a helmet even if the law does not).