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  1. #1
    Planet Saver billwatson58's Avatar
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    Two abreast in Kane County Illinois

    I was at the Elmhurst Metro Metric today and word was that a local sheriffs deputy was planning to issue tickets to people for riding two abreast. I don't know if he actually issued any tickets or not.

    According to the Illinois statutes "Riding two abreast is permitted as long as the normal and reasonable movement of traffic is not impeded." The ride took place out in the country on a Sunday morning with minimal traffic. So my question is, would this constitute an infraction under the statute? How does this get interpreted by the court? To me, if a car can easily pass, traffic isn't impeded. You would think the coppers would have something more pressing to do than to be concerned about two abreast cyclists on country roads on a Sunday morning.
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  2. #2
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    You hit the nail on the head with impeding flow of traffic.

    I'm 15. I've been driving since April. I already can't count how many times I've had to follow bikes for upwards of to miles in places I didn't deem safe to pass them. They're two wide, one on the shoulder one in the middle of my lane. Now I realise they've got just as much of a right to the road as me, but I'd think it's common courtesy to let cars pass. In a 55mph zone I don't tend to appreciate 10-15mph. Neither does the line of cars behind me. Maybe I'm just impatient, but I know I'm not alone here.

    When I'm riding on the road, I stay on the shoulder. If a car comes up behind me, I move further over onto the grass.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Kona- bikes are made for the road, if you get off the road every time a car comes along, they'll think that's where you belong, off the road. Hold your line, if they can pass, fine, it not, that's fine too.
    Where do you ride when you're in town?

    OP- my definition of impeding traffic while riding two abreast would be by you riding preventing them from passing. If your two abreast riding prevents them from passing, you're impeding.
    Not too much to say here

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    Kona- bikes are made for the road, if you get off the road every time a car comes along, they'll think that's where you belong, off the road. Hold your line, if they can pass, fine, it not, that's fine too.
    Where do you ride when you're in town?
    Okay fair enough. I'd think that when you look behind you on a bike that you'd see the line of cars and at least get to the shoulder. Maybe it's because that's what I do, maybe it's just because I don't usually ride on the road for long distances (at least now when I can avoid it)

    Speaking again from the car point of view here, it does create a saftey hazard. Even if it is caused by the general impatience of drivers, it's there. In these instances I've had people close enough to my rear bumper that I can't even see the hood of their car in the mirror. If I had to slow/stop for any reason he'd hit me. I suppose the guy on the bike wouldn't know that, though.

    I'm assuming here that when you say "in town" you're taklinga bout somewhere with a general population? To be honest, I can't answer that. Never have ridden in an area like that and never plan to. The closest "city" is 15 miles away, and it's just not worth it to ride a bike there to me. I guess I'd be riding in the road. In any case, what I'm describing was on a rather busy 2-lane a few miles from any town, in a section of corners with a double-yellow and oncoming traffic.

    I guess I don't really know what I'm trying to say here.
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  5. #5
    Banned. Jeronimo_'s Avatar
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    It's a loaded question because "impair" is in the eyes of the LE person who decides you are in the wrong and either cites you, or doesn't even pull you over.

  6. #6
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    I'm not a judge, but to me cyclists riding two abreast do not impede the flow of traffic if the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely share. In other words, if the lane is narrow enough that the cyclist should be in a road position that a motorist would have to change lanes to pass, then it doesn't matter if it's a single cyclist, or two side by side.

    However, in a lane wide enough to safely share that would not apply. On any road with more than two lanes, the motorist can pass in another same direction lane.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun View Post
    I'm not a judge, but to me cyclists riding two abreast do not impede the flow of traffic if the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely share. In other words, if the lane is narrow enough that the cyclist should be in a road position that a motorist would have to change lanes to pass, then it doesn't matter if it's a single cyclist, or two side by side.

    However, in a lane wide enough to safely share that would not apply. On any road with more than two lanes, the motorist can pass in another same direction lane.
    Here's Delaware's take on impeding traffic:

    Quote Originally Posted by DE Traffic Code
    4125. Turning off roadway by slow-moving vehicle.

    On a 2-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving vehicle, behind which 5 or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the vehicles following to proceed. As used in this section, a slow-moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place. (60 Del. Laws, c. 701, 24.)
    This is a pretty standard law as it's used in other US states as well.

    Notice that it only applies on a two lane highway (one lane each direction) and that you only need to pull over when a safe turnout exists assuming that the faster traffic cannot pass using the other traffic lane. I've only had to do this a few times while cycling in the past 15,000 miles or so. It takes a pretty busy road or a very twisty road with a decent amount of traffic before this situation occurs. FWIW, if I'm going 20 in a 25, I couldn't care less how much traffic is behind me. 20 in a 25 is plenty normal for me When I'm under the speed limit by 15-20mph is where I start considering myself "slow."

  8. #8
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    Most states also have a law that says that a bicyclist can take the entire lane if a bike and a car cannot safely travel side by side in the lane.

    So reading the "take the lane" law with the "two abreast" law together, whenever the lane is one that a bike is allowed to take the lane, then riding two abreast is permitted, since one bike is already allowed to take the lane.
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  9. #9
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Long tailbacks are a serious safety hazard, be they caused by bikes, farm equipment, or anything else that moves significantly slower than most of the other traffic.

    There are some narrow roads that have poor visibility for miles due to curves, hills, etc. I do not think it is reasonable to expect traffic to crawl along behind cyclists for that long.

    Even in situations where it is perfectly legal to take the lane (and in which I do take the lane), I think riding 2 abreast is a bad practice. If you're wondering what the difference is, it's that the cyclist can shift right after the car slows way down and a closer pass can be safely made.

    If you take the lane (or two people ride abreast), cars will slow down as they see the cyclists. However, as the cars slow from 60+ to something more reasonable, I think the cyclists should shift right and ride single file. I frequently use hand signals to tell motorists it's OK to pass.

    I do not like it when drivers are too timid and wait for too much space. Once you get a bunch of cars stacked up, you get a lot of abuse if they've been stuck there for more than a short time. It's not an anticycling thing -- they'll start doing crazy unsafe passes and rage on anything that holds them up for long. It might not be right, but that's the way things are.

    Besides, we have a law in Oregon that requires RVs and other slow moving vehicles to let others through. Last year, I left the road to let cars pass only once. I've done it more than once in a year before, but I don't do it every year.

  10. #10
    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    Most states also have a law that says that a bicyclist can take the entire lane if a bike and a car cannot safely travel side by side in the lane.

    So reading the "take the lane" law with the "two abreast" law together, whenever the lane is one that a bike is allowed to take the lane, then riding two abreast is permitted, since one bike is already allowed to take the lane.
    Thank you San Rensho and CommuterRun! The law in Texas is this way, and has codified the principal that on multiple lane roads (two or more each direction) riding two abreast is permitted.

    When an overtaking vehicle MUST encroach on oncoming lanes to pass safely on a two lane road, it is moot whether the cyclists are single file or not, even though the law does not permit it.

    One of the hazards that one may encounter, while exercising the privilege of operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway, is that you may come upon a slow moving vehicle. It is your duty and responsibility to overtake any slow vehicle in a safe manner.

    I say, if you want to drive your car where you won't be bothered by slow moving vehicles, stay on the freeway!
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  11. #11
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    I suspect the practical response and approach depend to some extent on local custom. We've gradually moved from a rural farming area to a mixed area as developments come in. City people moving out present much more danger to everyone. An old guy in a nicely maintained 1970s pickup generally waits for a decent passing opportunity at a safe distance. A 40 something lady in a new SUV talking on a cell phone will do an illegal pass at 30 in a 15 mph zone to get to a blind stop sign. Sometimes the city people find there really is a tractor around that blind turn. Not often enough to instill country road sense.

    So we generally travel side by side on the back roads until we hear someone coming, then we ride to the right in line. On the more major roads, we ride in line unless they're clearly vacant. And we never let cars stack up if we have a reasonable pullover and are going slowly. If we're cranking at 25 mph in a 35 mph zone, we don't pull over. We're always well within our typical laws and will go out of our way to let other traffic by. Seems a common sense approach.

    The biggest problem with common sense approaches is, of course, impatience and recklessness on the part of drivers. Almost universally the dangerous drivers are in more suburban type vehicles. Minivans, SUVs, etc. Almost everyone else behaves sensibly. These are the same vehicles that get in single vehicle wrecks out here. And the same ones that get splattered pulling into traffic on the main roads.

    The key for realistic cycling appears to me to be what is the safest compromise for everyone without unduly impeding reasonable use of the road. Not what one can get away with.

    The problem LE faces is that cyclists look the same. The poor fellow riding to his manual labor job on a beat up mountain bike against traffic gets classified with the serious commuter and with the fast recreational performance rider. I doubt LE in many places expects crisp, polite, professional driving on the part of cyclists. Unfortunately many cyclists capable of polite, reasonable riding have some kind of burr up their rear about their right to the road and unreasonably impede traffic. This is just stupid.

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