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    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Practicable/possible definition

    I have always struggled to truly understand the meaning of 'practicable' as used in bicycling regulations so often, such as "shall ride as far to the right as practicable". Today I had conversation with a local police officer while at our daughter's soccer games. 'Practicable' came up, and he explained it like this-

    It is possible to stand right behind a closed door, but not practicable because when that door is opened, you'll get hit.

    Any thoughts on that explanation? Is it an accurate way to tell the difference between possible/practicable?
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    Senior Member Script's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    I have always struggled to truly understand the meaning of 'practicable' as used in bicycling regulations so often, such as "shall ride as far to the right as practicable". Today I had conversation with a local police officer while at our daughter's soccer games. 'Practicable' came up, and he explained it like this-

    It is possible to stand right behind a closed door, but not practicable because when that door is opened, you'll get hit.

    Any thoughts on that explanation? Is it an accurate way to tell the difference between possible/practicable?
    The short answer...No.

    There are as many ways to define practicable as there are lawyers.

    Did you find his explanation helpful? Would have been interesting to know what location would have prompted an action on his part were he on duty.

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    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Script View Post
    The short answer...No.

    There are as many ways to define practicable as there are lawyers.

    Did you find his explanation helpful? Would have been interesting to know what location would have prompted an action on his part were he on duty.
    He said of bikes that he had better things to do. The only time he "fools" with bikes is BMX kids stunting in parking lots.
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    IIRC, someone defined "practicable" as that which is "possible" to do, with the following caveat. The "possible" has safely implied, since it is presumed that the legislature intends that actions be conducted safely, unless evidence clearly points to the contrary. IANAL. (IIRC, this issue might have come about in the famous Ohio case Trotwood v. Selz).
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    I have always struggled to truly understand the meaning of 'practicable' as used in bicycling regulations so often, such as "shall ride as far to the right as practicable". Today I had conversation with a local police officer while at our daughter's soccer games. 'Practicable' came up, and he explained it like this-

    It is possible to stand right behind a closed door, but not practicable because when that door is opened, you'll get hit.

    Any thoughts on that explanation? Is it an accurate way to tell the difference between possible/practicable?
    I think his definition is very good and very applicable to cycling. Practicable implies as close as "safely" possible. Most state have laws that say that cyclists must ride as close to the right side of the road as "practicable." This doesn't mean as close to the right side of the road as possible, but as close as its safe to do, so when its safer to take the lane, that is as far to the right side of the road as "practicable."
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    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    ^^^It seemed to hit the nail on thehead for me. I had never really understood the difference until he said that.
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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    It is cool you actually found a cop that understood the difference. Many cops and people think both words mean exactly the same.

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    Many states have revised the basic legal language to improve understanding and applicabilty of the law. Here's the state of Georgia's law about "ride as far right as practicable". I think it's clear that Georgia intends to give the bicyclist some legal latitude to interpret the situation and then operate bicycle in safest manner possible.

    Getting a road raging motorist to understand this is, however, quite another issue. I think motorists' basically make up the rules as they go to justify their latest dangerous, aberrant behavior.

    40-6-294
    (a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except when turning left or avoiding hazards to safe cycling, when the lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle, when traveling at the same speed as traffic, or while exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; provided, however, that every person operating a bicycle away from the right side of the roadway shall exercise reasonable care and shall give due consideration to the other applicable rules of the road. As used in this subsection, the term "hazards to safe cycling" includes, but is not limited to, surface debris, rough pavement, drain grates which areparallel to the side of the roadway, parked or stopped vehicles, potentially opening car doors, or any other objects which threaten the safety of a person operating a bicycle.

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    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    I think his definition is very good and very applicable to cycling. Practicable implies as close as "safely" possible. ...
    I concur. This is the sort of message we need to get out to John Q. Public.
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    Thought that I had last week:

    When I ride my full-suspension mountain bike on the road, there is no practical reason why I can't curb-hug over the sewer grates, broken pavement, and busted car parts in the gutter. I'm not talking about places where I can get doored or hooked.

    On a bike with long travel suspension and downhill tires, it makes no *practical* difference to me.

    So is a my freeride bike legally entitled to less of the road than my road bike?

  11. #11
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    the other word to compare practicable to is practical.

    they all basically mean the same thing, practicable is just the snooty engineer / lawyer way to say it.

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    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    The general public would be better served if legislators would simply change the word "practicable" to "safe".

    It is obvious that our legislators are serving lawyers rather than the general public.
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

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    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Some discussion here:
    http://www.crankmail.com/Fred/Rt2Road.html#Practicable

    What I think is interesting is that in the case cited, a judge struck down a law using the word "practicable" as unconstitutionally vague.

    Two elements of "practicable" are legal, and safe. Here's a way of thinking of the difference between practicable, practical and possible: if someone drove a car as fast as possible, they would be negligent. If they drove as fast as practical, they might speed sometime, but would otherwise be reasonably careful. If they drove as fast as practicable, they would obey all speed limits and traffic regulations, in addition to being reasonably careful.
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    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    It is possible to stand right behind a closed door, but not practicable because when that door is opened, you'll get hit.
    I like it.

    "Practicable", or "practical", would also include "predictable" to me -- meaning that, even though you might be able to hug the curb for thirty yards without running over dead cats, you should probably ride close to the same position as if you were encountering curbside hazards... which means that you'll be swerving less, which means that drivers will be less confused about what you're really doing.

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    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    It is cool you actually found a cop that understood the difference. Many cops and people think both words mean exactly the same.
    Yes, what stinks is he was a local cop, but not from my city, or one I regularly ride in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
    Thought that I had last week:

    When I ride my full-suspension mountain bike on the road, there is no practical reason why I can't curb-hug over the sewer grates, broken pavement, and busted car parts in the gutter. I'm not talking about places where I can get doored or hooked.

    On a bike with long travel suspension and downhill tires, it makes no *practical* difference to me.

    So is a my freeride bike legally entitled to less of the road than my road bike?
    The law doesn't differentiate between Hummers and Hoda Civics, even tho' a Hummer can clearly withstand highway obstacles better. I can see no no reason why the law should differentiate between different kinds of bikes. In any case, kerbside litter, including busted car parts, is hazardous to tyres. It is, therefore, not practicable for you to "curb-hug", since full suspension does not protect you against puncture causing sharp stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    I have always struggled to truly understand the meaning of 'practicable' as used in bicycling regulations so often, such as "shall ride as far to the right as practicable". Today I had conversation with a local police officer while at our daughter's soccer games. 'Practicable' came up, and he explained it like this-

    It is possible to stand right behind a closed door, but not practicable because when that door is opened, you'll get hit.

    Any thoughts on that explanation? Is it an accurate way to tell the difference between possible/practicable?
    Yes, it's accurate and a great way of explaining the difference.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    I have always struggled to truly understand the meaning of 'practicable' as used in bicycling regulations so often, such as "shall ride as far to the right as practicable". Today I had conversation with a local police officer while at our daughter's soccer games. 'Practicable' came up, and he explained it like this-

    It is possible to stand right behind a closed door, but not practicable because when that door is opened, you'll get hit.

    Any thoughts on that explanation? Is it an accurate way to tell the difference between possible/practicable?
    It's a good explanation of the difference, by way of example, not definition.

    I agree with Randya that "practical" is closer than "possible" to the meaning of "practicable", but more specifically practicable also conveys "reasonably safe" and "repeatable". So to me practicable means reasonably safe to repeatedly practice.

    So a certain distance from the curb may be possible and even practical at the moment, but "as far right as practicable" may still be further left because it can't be done repeatedly like that.

    Consider a road on which on street parallel parking is allowed. My interpretation of "as far right as practicable" is that you're not required to ride where cars can be parked just because they happen to not be there at that moment. It's not practicable to ride there, though it may be practical on that Sunday morning, because you can't ride there when cars are parked there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    It's a good explanation of the difference, by way of example, not definition.

    I agree with Randya that "practical" is closer than "possible" to the meaning of "practicable", but more specifically practicable also conveys "reasonably safe" and "repeatable". So to me practicable means reasonably safe to repeatedly practice.

    So a certain distance from the curb may be possible and even practical at the moment, but "as far right as practicable" may still be further left because it can't be done repeatedly like that.

    Consider a road on which on street parallel parking is allowed. My interpretation of "as far right as practicable" is that you're not required to ride where cars can be parked just because they happen to not be there at that moment. It's not practicable to ride there, though it may be practical on that Sunday morning, because you can't ride there when cars are parked there.
    That interpretation is nonsense, and will result in you being on the wrong side of the law in the event you're cited or involved in a collision.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    So to me practicable means reasonably safe to repeatedly practice.
    That interpretation is nonsense, and will result in you being on the wrong side of the law in the event you're cited or involved in a collision.
    What about that interpretation makes you think it's nonsense?

    Here's a dictionary definition for practicable: Capable of being effected, done, or put into practice. link

    To "put into practice" implies doing it more than once - repeatable.
    If it's practicable to do something, that generally means you can do it like that repeatedly, doesn't it?

    Are you suggesting that cyclists (and drivers of slow moving vehicles who are also legally contrained by the "as far right as practicable" language) are legally required to ride in the area where cars park whenever cars happen to not be parked there?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    What about that interpretation makes you think it's nonsense?

    Here's a dictionary definition for practicable: Capable of being effected, done, or put into practice. link

    To "put into practice" implies doing it more than once - repeatable.
    If it's practicable to do something, that generally means you can do it like that repeatedly, doesn't it?

    Are you suggesting that cyclists (and drivers of slow moving vehicles who are also legally contrained by the "as far right as practicable" language) are legally required to ride in the area where cars park whenever cars happen to not be parked there?
    The fact that it's a nonsensical legal argument makes me think that it's nonsense-- and I don't need a dictionary to know what practicable means.

    You can twist the words all you want, but you're still required to ride as far to the right as practicable, and a practicable distance is a fluid concept, dependent upon the time, place, and conditions then existing-- it is most definitely not a rigid concept, as you (and some misinformed law enforcement officers and prosecutors) are attempting to make it. And if you insist on twisting the words to make "practicable" fit your ideological agenda, don't be surprised to find yourself on the losing end of that argument in court-- no judge, and no jury, will believe that a "practicable distance" means that you must ride at the same distance from the curb when cars aren't parked there as you must ride when cars are parked there.

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    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
    Thought that I had last week:

    When I ride my full-suspension mountain bike on the road, there is no practical reason why I can't curb-hug over the sewer grates, broken pavement, and busted car parts in the gutter. I'm not talking about places where I can get doored or hooked.

    On a bike with long travel suspension and downhill tires, it makes no *practical* difference to me.

    So is a my freeride bike legally entitled to less of the road than my road bike?
    There are at least three reasons to ride farther from the curb: 1) debris; 2) right hook avoidance; and 3) visibility. Even if you are in an area where no right turns (including into driveways) are possible, #3 still applies, irrespective of your choice of machine. For me, the biggest difference between riding one of my road bikes and riding my mountain bike on the road is whether or not I have to circumnavigate various potholes, bits of debris, and other road hazards.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order View Post
    The fact that it's a nonsensical legal argument makes me think that it's nonsense-- and I don't need a dictionary to know what practicable means.

    You can twist the words all you want, but you're still required to ride as far to the right as practicable, and a practicable distance is a fluid concept, dependent upon the time, place, and conditions then existing-- it is most definitely not a rigid concept, as you (and some misinformed law enforcement officers and prosecutors) are attempting to make it. And if you insist on twisting the words to make "practicable" fit your ideological agenda, don't be surprised to find yourself on the losing end of that argument in court-- no judge, and no jury, will believe that a "practicable distance" means that you must ride at the same distance from the curb when cars aren't parked there as you must ride when cars are parked there.

    But at the same time, every piece of bike safety literature I've ever seen says you aren't supposed to weave in and out parked cars, so if you're riding a safe distance from parked cars and you come upon an area of the road for 1/2 a block or so where there are no cars parked, but 1/2 block up there are parked cars, you should hold your line a safe distance from where the parked cars are/were and will be again shortly.
    http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/...ycle/rules.htm
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    I have always struggled to truly understand the meaning of 'practicable' as used in bicycling regulations so often, such as "shall ride as far to the right as practicable". Today I had conversation with a local police officer while at our daughter's soccer games. 'Practicable' came up, and he explained it like this-

    It is possible to stand right behind a closed door, but not practicable because when that door is opened, you'll get hit.

    Any thoughts on that explanation? Is it an accurate way to tell the difference between possible/practicable?
    That's a pretty good explanation. I think the Bicycling and the Law definition said it was as best you could do without compromising safety, according to the reasonable person standard. Where the reasonable person standard is determined by a jury of your peers.

    So, IMO, as far to the right as practicable basically means never. You're almost always going to be able to find an excuse why it wasn't safe to be over to the right. And a jury of your peers will have one person who knows anything about cycling in traffic, if you're lucky.
    Riding on the right should be thought of as traffic etiquette instead of law. You're doing it to help out drivers, not to avoid getting a ticket. So only do it when it makes sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikesafer View Post
    But at the same time, every piece of bike safety literature I've ever seen says you aren't supposed to weave in and out parked cars, so if you're riding a safe distance from parked cars and you come upon an area of the road for 1/2 a block or so where there are no cars parked, but 1/2 block up there are parked cars, you should hold your line a safe distance from where the parked cars are/were and will be again shortly.
    http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/...ycle/rules.htm
    Bikesafer
    Jeff
    Blue Order seems to be envisioning no parked cars for a significant enough distance to allow some traffic by you. It's not practicable to weave in and out of parked cars, but if there aren't any for a block or two you can let some traffic get by you.

    I'm not sure what the original author was envisioning.

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