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  1. #1
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    Riding Single File Or Two Abreast?

    In the United States, bicyclists are regulated to ride single file in some states. In others, bicyclists are allowed to ride two abreast. I've traveled in many states, not knowing how it applied in some of them.

    For those of you who ACTUALLY know the laws applying to this, I ask this:

    Which specific states regulate bicyclists to ride single file?

    Which states allow bicyclists to ride two abreast?



    MODERATORS: If this belongs in the Vehicular Cycling forum, put it there.
    Last edited by powerhouse; 03-30-07 at 05:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    Number of Riders Abreast
    There is no need to prohibit riding abreast since the rules on passing require cyclists to move right to permit overtaking and the slow-moving vehicle rule requires cyclists to keep to the right if going slower than other traffic. Eight states have no rule concerning the number of riders abreast. Fifteen other states prohibit bicycling more than two abreast, but permit riding two abreast. Twenty states permit riding two abreast unless traffic is impeded. New York permits riding two abreast except when a cyclist is being overtaken. The remaining six states require cyclists to ride single file, with the exceptions shown in Table 6.
    Table 6. Exceptions to Single File Requirement
    State
    Exceptions
    Colorado
    when no traffic is impeded or on bike paths or lanes
    Hawaii
    when on bike lanes and where traffic is unimpeded
    Massachusetts
    when passing
    Montana
    when passing, on bike lanes, paved shoulder or parking lane, or on a multilane road when not impeding traffic
    Nebraska
    when on bike lanes or paths
    Virginia
    none
    from:
    http://www.bicycledriving.com/trafficlaw.htm
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  3. #3
    Senior Member MrCjolsen's Avatar
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    I have no problem with requiring single file as long as an exeption is allowed for passing.

    I'm not a big fan of riding two abreast. I don't like doing it. On my commute I often come up behind other commuters who are two abreast, and passing them can often be a pain.

  4. #4
    Can't ride enough! Da Tinker's Avatar
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    Two abreast riding can be useful at times. When riding with a group (>3 riders), riding abreast in a narrow lane will serve to give the riders more visibility to motorist & shorten the length of the group for motorists to pass.

    Given that the motorist must change lanes to pass, would you rather he have to pass eight riders in a single file or the same eight in a 2 X 4 double line?
    Happiness begins with facing life with a smile & a wink.

  5. #5
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    Here's the rub. If we cyclists don't even know, how in the world is the driver going to know the law? The only answer is, of course, in driver education. I'm not holding my breath for that one.

    ... Brad

  6. #6
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    Why even bother worrying about the laws? If riding two abreast isn't impeding anyone from passing (any more than a single cyclist would) who cares? I enjoy riding two abreast as it's the only way to be able to carry on a conversation with someone while cycling without having to shout. My dad is hard of hearing and can't understand a word I say unless I'm riding right next to him. Motorists who complain about cyclists riding two abreast don't seem to recognize the irony in doing so: if their cars weren't so wide (to accomodate side by side seating) they could easily pass a cyclist (and sometimes two side by side cyclists) without having to leave the lane.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    my inner 12 year old still chuckles at the word "abreast".
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  8. #8
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I like riding abreast because I can't hear when people talk to me otherwise and they can't hear me either. But it seems hard to get people to ride side-by-side.
    ~Diane
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  9. #9
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    Riding side by side is easier if you have a mirror so you are constantly aware of the traffic situation behind you.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tapeworm21's Avatar
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    Why would you even ride side by side? Is the topic of your chit chat really that important? You're literally playing in traffic by riding side by side.

  11. #11
    Can't ride enough! Da Tinker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapeworm21
    You're literally playing in traffic by riding side by side.

    Hold on! Bikes are traffic!
    Happiness begins with facing life with a smile & a wink.

  12. #12
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    Multiple lanes in one direction = no real reason not to ride 2 abreast to fill the lane.

    One lane in each direction = single file to ease passing of traffic and reduce risk of being hit.

    ^ ^ ^ that's my opinion. There has been a recent report of one of the small suburbs around here harassning rec cyclist groups on weekend rides for how many across they were riding.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapeworm21
    Why would you even ride side by side? Is the topic of your chit chat really that important? You're literally playing in traffic by riding side by side.
    It's about as important as it is to have your passenger next to you in a car to chat with them. At least on bikes, you have the option to go single file when it can help with passing.

  14. #14
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Add me to the opinion of not really caring about the law. I see no problem if you are not impeding traffic, and are aware enough of what's coming up behind you to change when necessary. But when there is faster-moving traffic behind you and room for it to pass, purposefully continuing to hold it up is rude. It's about common courtesy and cooperation on the road.
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  15. #15
    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    Texas: two abreast is OK by law.
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

  16. #16
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    Wait a second here - are you trying to say that passing a slow cyclist/rollerblader/golfcart/electric wheelchair/horse is illegal in a bunch of states? Is that enforceable?

  17. #17
    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    What is ironic is that when I ride two abreast with my father, I get far more angry honks/shouts from the motorists, yet in single file we take the lane by riding the right tiretrack. Somehow the latter doesn't upset the stupid cagers even though they have to move to the opposing lane to pass in either case. BTW, my state law specifically states that bicyclists can ride two abreast.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rajman
    Wait a second here - are you trying to say that passing a slow cyclist/rollerblader/golfcart/electric wheelchair/horse is illegal in a bunch of states? Is that enforceable?
    It's illegal in no passing zones, just like it's illegal to pass motor vehicles in no passing zones. No passing zones include any road with a solid yellow line down the middle on the side closest to the one you are operating on. I've never seen it enforced (I've been passed by motorists crossing a solid yellow line with a cop behind them and the cop then proceeded to pass me too).

    There are laws in most states that require slow moving vehicles on a two lane road (one lane each way, this law does not apply when there is a passing lane)to pull over when there's space if they are impeding traffic (no safe and legal way to be passed). The laws I've seen state that being followed by 5 or more vehicles while going less than the normal speed of traffic is impeding traffic.

    While cycling, I prefer to be passed even in no passing zones if my speed is slow enough that the limited sightlines do not pose a hazard. Most people pass reasonably and it allows me to keep moving instead of having to pull over periodically to let backed up traffic pass. On rare occasion, I will pull over (turn onto a cross street, a driveway, or a narrow shoulder) if someone's been stuck behind me for a significant period of time. In practice, it's impossible to tell how many vehicles are behind you so it becomes a judgement call for the cyclist for when to pull over.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by LandLuger
    What is ironic is that when I ride two abreast with my father, I get far more angry honks/shouts from the motorists, yet in single file we take the lane by riding the right tiretrack. Somehow the latter doesn't upset the stupid cagers even though they have to move to the opposing lane to pass in either case. BTW, my state law specifically states that bicyclists can ride two abreast.
    Some motorists do seem to get offended by cyclists riding two abreast. It doesn't help that most cyclists think it's illegal too, and most cyclists think it's their duty to always get out of the way of faster traffic (with that mindset, you'd never even consider riding two abreast except for offroad trails or very wide shoulders).

  20. #20
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    Ohio Revised Code

    4511.55. Bicycle to be ridden near right side of roadway; riding bicycles or motorcycles abreast.

    A) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles and exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.

    (B) Persons riding bicycles or motorcycles upon a roadway shall ride not more than two abreast in a single lane, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles or motorcycles.

    (C) This section does not require a person operating a bicycle to ride at the edge of the roadway when it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so. Conditions that may require riding away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary to avoid fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, surface hazards, or if it otherwise is unsafe or impracticable to do so, including if the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
    .

  21. #21
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    It's legal here in Michigan, but not always a safe choice.

    Michigan Compiled Laws 257.660b
    Two or more individuals operating bicycles upon a highway or street shall not ride more than 2 abreast except upon a path or portion of the highway or street set aside for the use of bicycles.

    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(jpd...e=mcl-257-660b
    Last edited by MiRider; 04-04-07 at 06:51 AM.

  22. #22
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    FWIW, I'm 99.999% positive that it is not legal to ride three (or more) abreast in a single lane on a roadway in any state.

  23. #23
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    FWIW, I'm 99.999% positive that it is not legal to ride three (or more) abreast in a single lane on a roadway in any state.
    According to:

    http://www.bicycledriving.com/trafficlaw.htm

    Eight states do not have a law limiting number of cyclists abreast.

    Al

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    According to:

    http://www.bicycledriving.com/trafficlaw.htm

    Eight states do not have a law limiting number of cyclists abreast.

    Al
    I was hoping they'd list the states. Guess I need to do more searching. Thanks for pointing that out though.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    Motorists who complain about cyclists riding two abreast don't seem to recognize the irony in doing so: if their cars weren't so wide (to accomodate side by side seating) they could easily pass a cyclist...

    Never thought of that angle. Good call.

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