May is National Bike Month, and a time when warmer weather draws bicyclists of all ages to area roads and bike paths. AAA urges motorists and bicycles to be aware of Ohio's new 3-foot passing law, and offers tips to share the road safely.

More than 1,500 bicycle crashes occurred last year in Ohio, resulting in 18 deaths, according to Ohio Department of Public Safety crash statistics. Most crashes happened during the daylight hours.

New Law Protecting Bicyclists:

In December, Ohio legislators passed HB 154, which mandates motorists maintain at least 3 feet clearance when passing a bicycle traveling along the road in the same direction.

The law took effect on March 21, 2017. Those who fail to comply can be cited with a minor misdemeanor and up to a $150 fine. Ohio was the 29th state to pass a law requiring motorist maintain a specific clearance when passing a bicycle.

Sharing the Road:

In addition to abiding by Ohio's new 3-foot passing law, AAA offers the following tips to help motorists and cyclists share the road safely:

Remember, in Ohio, bicycles are considered vehicles, and have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, including the right to ride in the lane of traffic.

It is illegal for bicyclists to ride against traffic or on sidewalks.

Never honk your horn at a bicyclist. They may startle and swerve off the road or into traffic.

Bicyclists should be visible and predictable. Wear reflective clothing at night and always ride where drivers can see you. Don't swerve between parked cars.

Both motorists and cyclists should remain alert and avoid distractions.

Assisting Bicyclists:

AAA works to protect bicyclists year-round through its Bicycle Breakdown Service. This service launched in April 2016, and is automatically included in a AAA Ohio membership.

Members who experience a bicycle breakdown (flat tire, broken chain, etc.) while riding in AAA Ohio Auto Club's territory can call AAA, make their way to the nearest accessible road and a service truck will transport them and their bicycle where they need to go. For more information, visit AAA.com/Bicycle.