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Old 04-29-09, 01:19 PM   #1
CVB
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North Carolina "Bicycle Protection Act"

NC bicyclists take note:
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascript...9&BillID=H1451

I don't doubt the intentions of the bill's sponsor, but this thing's got some major problems, such as:
"Whenever a bicycle lane has been provided adjacent to a roadway, Bicyclists are required to ride in the bicycle lane except when necessary to..." (right hooks, anyone?)

"every person operating a bicycle upon a public street or highway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable. A bicyclist may, but is not required to, ride on the shoulder of the roadway" (this already applies to all vehicles under NC law)

Just an FYI. Form your own opinions and speak out accordingly.
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Old 04-29-09, 01:41 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CVB View Post
NC bicyclists take note:
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascript...9&BillID=H1451

I don't doubt the intentions of the bill's sponsor, but this thing's got some major problems, such as:
"Whenever a bicycle lane has been provided adjacent to a roadway, Bicyclists are required to ride in the bicycle lane except when necessary to..." (right hooks, anyone?)

"every person operating a bicycle upon a public street or highway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable. A bicyclist may, but is not required to, ride on the shoulder of the roadway" (this already applies to all vehicles under NC law)

Just an FYI. Form your own opinions and speak out accordingly.
What are the bike lane "exceptions?" If they are wide and strong enough, you can avoid right hooks.

Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Is the new bill giving you any protections?
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Old 04-29-09, 01:42 PM   #3
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Major problems? The bit you quote about bike lanes is general enough to mean you don't have to ride in the door zone, and it doesn't require use of MUPs.

And if the bit about riding to the right already applies, how is redundancy a "major problem"?

It is possible that "20‑171.3F" prohibits towing other riders. As in those common kidback tandem replacements that have the kid on a half bike attacked to the seatpost. That would be bad.

"20‑171.3I" is stupid but common -- it prohibits any sort of antilock brake technology. It also appears that it's legal for me to have no front brake (only a rear brake), but if I have a weak front brake then they can fine me $25.
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Old 04-29-09, 02:09 PM   #4
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As far as I'm concerned, any requirement for cyclists to have to ride in bike lanes (which are abominable more often than not) has more to do with getting cyclists out of driver's way than it does with anything else.

This is a fundamental problem that needs to be eliminated.
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Old 04-29-09, 02:18 PM   #5
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What are the bike lane "exceptions?" If they are wide and strong enough, you can avoid right hooks.]
They're not:

Quote:
Originally Posted by NC H1451
Bicyclists are required to ride in the bicycle lane except when necessary to pass another person riding a bicycle or to avoid an obstruction in the bicycle lane.
This would be one of the worst lane-positioning rules in the country. No exceptions for left turns, for passing slow motor vehicles on the left rather than on the right, for preventing right hooks at intersections, or if I'm interpreting it correctly, for avoiding door zones. (Unless a door is already open, creating an "obstruction".)

It then goes on to impose an "as-far-right-as-practicable" rule with almost no exceptions. The one exception they do list is bizarrely worded and unclear:

Quote:
Originally Posted by NC H1451
A bicyclist may ride in a lane other than the right-hand lane if only one lane is available that permits the bicyclist to continue on his intended route.
Take that literally, and it means, "if there's only one left turn lane, you can use it to turn left. If there are two left turn lanes, you can't use either of them, but must stay in the right lane." And note that even this isn't an exception to the bike lane requirement, only to the more general "as far right as practicable" section.

This law is dreck. Granted, it does offer some protections: it prohibits harassment and throwing things at cyclists, which is undoubtedly already illegal in North Carolina, and also prohibits cars from blocking bike lanes, which may not be. But any benefits it offers are minor compared to the ham-handed restrictions it places on cyclists. CVB was generous in giving the sponsor's intentions the benefit of the doubt; looks to me like the sponsor intends to get those annoying cyclists out of the way of real traffic, under the guise of "protecting" them.

Last edited by sanitycheck; 04-29-09 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 04-29-09, 03:42 PM   #6
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CVB was generous in giving the sponsor's intentions the benefit of the doubt; looks to me like the sponsor intends to get those annoying cyclists out of the way of real traffic, under the guise of "protecting" them.
From what I know of the representative that introduced it, I still give her the benefit of the doubt. In fact, beyond doubt, I'm quite sure she has very good intentions. Just maybe not the most appropriate ways of achieving them. Frankly I don't see any problems with our current legal system in NC - bikes are vehicles and must act like it, and other vehicle operators must give due space and consideration to other vehicles. What more do we need? Lots of education. I worry that something like this starts us down the road to a status of "special vehicles" where we get some special protections that car drivers will resent us for and that will make it justifiable for us to face special restrictions.
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Old 04-29-09, 09:36 PM   #7
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I worry that something like this starts us down the road to a status of "special vehicles" where we get some special protections that car drivers will resent us for and that will make it justifiable for us to face special restrictions.

Start down the road to special restrictions?

If the bill requires cyclists to ride in bike lanes, you've already arrived at special restrictions...
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Old 04-30-09, 11:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanitycheck View Post
This would be one of the worst lane-positioning rules in the country. No exceptions for left turns,
not true, see below

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanitycheck View Post
for passing slow motor vehicles on the left rather than on the right
true

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanitycheck View Post
for preventing right hooks at intersections, or if I'm interpreting it correctly, for avoiding door zones. (Unless a door is already open, creating an "obstruction".)
Someone who rode left of the bike lane because of potential car doors or right hooks would be "avoiding an obstruction in the bicycle lane". A right hook or a surprise opening door certainly is an obstruction, and avoiding these by riding farther left is reasonable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanitycheck View Post
It then goes on to impose an "as-far-right-as-practicable" rule with almost no exceptions. The one exception they do list is bizarrely worded and unclear:
...
Take that literally, and it means, "if there's only one left turn lane, you can use it to turn left. If there are two left turn lanes, you can't use either of them, but must stay in the right lane." And note that even this isn't an exception to the bike lane requirement, only to the more general "as far right as practicable" section.
I agree that it's worded foolishly and when you take it literally it can be totally weird. But I think the sensible reading that would prevail in court is that it permits destination positioning. So if there's a "straight ahead" lane and that's where the bicyclist wants to go, that's the lane they should take. Similarly with left and right turn lanes.
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Old 05-12-09, 06:26 AM   #9
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The bill has been removed from consideration at today's NC House Transportation Committee meeting, so the point is moot.

The bill won't be considered in time for "cross-over" (NC General Assembly requires any bill that doesn't deal with appropriations to be passed by the Senate or House by Thursday May 14th) and will die in its current form.

Which gives us the opportunity to communicate with Ms. Harrison (the sponsor of HB 1451) and get to change the things we disagree or have concerns with.

What are your recommendations?
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Old 05-12-09, 11:28 PM   #10
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What are your recommendations?
Recommendation - throw away all the provisions of H1451 except for the following:

Whenever a bicycle lane has been provided adjacent to a roadway, operators of motor vehicles may not block the bicycle lane to bicycle traffic and shall yield to a bicyclist in the bicycle lane before entering or crossing the lane.

A driver of a motor vehicle must at all times maintain a safe operating distance between the motor vehicle and a bicycle.

Harassing or throwing object at person riding bicycle; penalty.
It is unlawful to harass, taunt, or maliciously throw an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) or imprisoned not more than 30 days, or both in the discretion of the court.

Here’s a modification of an existing provision in the bill that makes it good enough to keep:

Signaling turns.
A bicyclist may satisfy the requirement for indicating a right turn by extending the right arm horizontally to the right.

Last edited by Bruce Rosar; 05-12-09 at 11:29 PM. Reason: add link to bill status page
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Old 05-13-09, 08:53 AM   #11
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I think you could also keep the following sections: 1 - definitions, 2 - racing, 3 - rights and duties of bicyclists generally, 3G - can't carry stuff such that no hands available for bars, 3H.d - don't have to signal when needing hands for bike, 3J - police bikes

Further, 3I would be good with a change from a skid requirement to "the operator must be able to bring the bicycle to a full stop from 15 mph in 30 feet on clean, dry, level, pavement" would be good.

Massachusetts bike law is pretty sensible: http://www.massbike.org/bikelaw/
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Old 05-13-09, 09:28 AM   #12
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There is a bicycle lane provided "adjacent" to reedy creek road in west raleigh. I never use it because reedy creek is nice and smooth, low traffic, etc. The bike lane, which is seperated from reedy creek has seemingly random humps, curves, sand/straw in places. So I would be required to use it?
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Old 05-13-09, 09:40 AM   #13
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So I would be required to use it?
Under the law which was not passed, yes, unless the sand and straw were "obstructions".
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Old 05-13-09, 10:49 AM   #14
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I like this part of it;
"
" 20‑171.3E. Harassing or throwing object at person riding bicycle; penalty.
It is unlawful to harass, taunt, or maliciously throw an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) or imprisoned not more than 30 days, or both in the discretion of the court."

I take it to mean if a driver lays on the horn, not jsut a short beep to let a cyclist know they are there, but blares it as they go flying past, often too close, they can be fined and/or jailed.

However I did not see a passing distance requirement.
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