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  1. #1
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    legally take a lane?

    While riding with my bicycle club last tonight we were riding two abreast on a four lane road. The speed
    limit is 35mph on this road and the traffic was light. Cars were able to easily pass us in the other lane.
    While we were stopped at a red light a police officer going in the other direction yelled at us that were not
    legally able to take a whole lane. How can I find out what the written law states? Do I go to the
    city hall or the police station?

  2. #2
    This steel horse I ride Skones MickLoud's Avatar
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    The mission is the one that begins and ends with the mission.

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    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biking nurse View Post
    While riding with my bicycle club last tonight we were riding two abreast on a four lane road. The speed
    limit is 35mph on this road and the traffic was light. Cars were able to easily pass us in the other lane.
    While we were stopped at a red light a police officer going in the other direction yelled at us that were not
    legally able to take a whole lane. How can I find out what the written law states? Do I go to the
    city hall or the police station?

    Look it up in the Michigan Vehicle Code. If a lane is too narrow to share with another vehicle safely, then you should be able to take the lane. Check on two abreast, also.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

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    Quote Originally Posted by biking nurse View Post
    How can I find out what the written law states?
    Here is an electronic version of the traffic laws. You have to scroll down to '300-1949-VI-OPERATION-OF-BICYCLES-MOTORCYCLES-AND-TOY-VEHICLES.' Here is the bit about 'Each person riding a bicycle...has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle...' Here is your lane positioning law and here is the no more than 2 abreast law.

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    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    The Michigan two-abreast law doesn't clarify when riding two abreast might conflict with the as-far-right-as-practicable law or not, for example if the lane is wide.

    It is customary in many places for group rides to take up an entire lane on 4-lane roads by riding two abreast in a shorter group even if the lane is wide. Cyclists typically report safer results and more efficient throughput at intersections.

    Have your ride leaders talk to the local police chief and/or bike planner, if you have one, about how to interpret the law and incorporate best practices for group rides.

  6. #6
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Michigan's law only prohibits riding MORE than two abreast. You were fine.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    I was able to read the city ordinances for St. Clair Shores on the web site and unfortunately one of them reads as follows: No persons riding a bicycle upon a street, highway or bikeway shall ride more than
    single file. However there is no specific ordinance against " taking a lane".

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    Knowledge of all laws is not a prerequisite to become a cop. I've gotten so many different answers I stopped asking.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biking nurse View Post
    I was able to read the city ordinances for St. Clair Shores on the web site and unfortunately one of them reads as follows: No persons riding a bicycle upon a street, highway or bikeway shall ride more than
    single file. However there is no specific ordinance against " taking a lane
    ".
    This is a direct contradiction of Michigan law, which states that cyclists can ride no more than TWO abreast. State law takes precedence over city statutes, I believe.


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  10. #10
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    Cities are not prevented from making stricter laws than the state has made. Cities can't pass laws that violate the state or federal constitution of course, but a vehicle code law isn't doing that. I think you're stuck with single-file in that particular city.

  11. #11
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    This is a direct contradiction of Michigan law, which states that cyclists can ride no more than TWO abreast. State law takes precedence over city statutes, I believe.
    It does not contradict state law. State law says you may not ride more than two abreast, city law says no more than single file. Single file is not more than two abreast, so riding single file satisfies both laws.

    The state law does not stipulate that localities may not modify this law.

    Of course, in general when there are a lot of cyclists, it's in the motorist's best interests to have them bunch up, so they get past quicker. You can't safely pass a pack of cyclists that are spread out over 300 feet anyway, so you may as well have them bunch up into a pack that's maybe only 100 feet long and they get past quicker so you can get across the road/in the road/etc.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    It does not contradict state law. State law says you may not ride more than two abreast, city law says no more than single file. Single file is not more than two abreast, so riding single file satisfies both laws.

    The state law does not stipulate that localities may not modify this law.

    Of course, in general when there are a lot of cyclists, it's in the motorist's best interests to have them bunch up, so they get past quicker. You can't safely pass a pack of cyclists that are spread out over 300 feet anyway, so you may as well have them bunch up into a pack that's maybe only 100 feet long and they get past quicker so you can get across the road/in the road/etc
    .
    By making it more restrictive, they sure are changing the law.

    You might be right, but it was always my impression that cities can't change a state traffic regulation, unless the vehicle code specifically gives them the right to do so--known as "local option".

    For example, the Michigan Vehicle Code says that local jurisdictions may, at their option, prohibit bicycles from a roadway, if there is a parallel bike path and they put a sign up.

    There is no such local option provision in the section about riding abreast, IIRC.


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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE (EXCERPT)
    Act 300 of 1949


    257.606 Regulation of streets or highways under jurisdiction of local authority and within reasonable exercise of police power; stop sign or traffic control device requiring state trunk line highway traffic to stop; approval; posting signs giving notice of local traffic regulations; providing by ordinance for impounding of motor vehicle parked contrary to local ordinance; bond or cash deposit.

    Sec. 606.

    (1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be considered to prevent local authorities with respect to streets or highways under the jurisdiction of the local authority and within the reasonable exercise of the police power from:

    (a) Regulating the standing or parking of vehicles.

    (b) Regulating the impoundment or immobilization of vehicles whose owner has failed to answer 6 or more parking violation notices or citations regarding illegal parking.

    (c) Regulating traffic by means of police officers or traffic control signals.

    (d) Regulating or prohibiting processions or assemblages on the highways or streets.

    (e) Designating particular highways as 1-way highways and requiring that all vehicles on those highways be moved in 1 specific direction.

    (f) Regulating the speed of vehicles in public parks.

    (g) Designating any highway as a through highway and requiring that all vehicles stop before entering or crossing the through highway; designating any intersection as a stop intersection and requiring all vehicles to stop at 1 or more entrances to these intersections; or designating intersections at which vehicular traffic shall be required to yield the right of way at 1 or more entrances to these intersections.

    (h) Restricting the use of highways as authorized in section 726.

    (i) Regulating the operation of bicycles and requiring the registration and licensing of bicycles, including the requirement of a registration fee.

    (j) Regulating or prohibiting the turning of vehicles at intersections.

    (k) Increasing the prima facie speed limits as authorized in this act.

    (l) Adopting other traffic regulations as are specifically authorized by this chapter.

    (2) A local authority shall not erect or maintain a stop sign or traffic control device at a location so as to require the traffic on any state trunk line highway to stop before entering or crossing any intersecting highway unless approval in writing has been first obtained from the director of the state transportation department.

    (3) An ordinance or regulation enacted under subsection (1)(a), (d), (e), (f), (g), (i), or (j) shall not be enforceable until signs giving notice of the local traffic regulations are posted upon or at the entrance to the highway or street or part of the highway or street affected, as may be most appropriate, and are sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. The posting of signs giving the notice shall not be required for a local ordinance which does not differ from the provisions of this act regulating the parking or standing of vehicles; nor to ordinances of general application throughout the jurisdiction of the municipalities enacting the ordinances which prohibit, limit, or restrict all night parking or parking during the early morning hours, if signs, approximately 3 feet by 4 feet, sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person, giving notice of these ordinances relating to all night parking or parking during the early morning hours, are posted on highways at the corporate limits of the municipality.

    (4) A local authority, in providing by ordinance for the impounding of any motor vehicle parked contrary to a local ordinance, shall not require a bond or cash deposit by the owner of the motor vehicle in excess of $500.00 in order to recover the possession of the motor vehicle pending final adjudication of the case.


    History: 1949, Act 300, Eff. Sept. 23, 1949 ;-- Am. 1951, Act 270, Eff. Sept. 28, 1951 ;-- Am. 1952, Act 254, Eff. Sept. 18, 1952 ;-- Am. 1955, Act 165, Imd. Eff. June 13, 1955 ;-- Am. 1980, Act 518, Eff. Mar. 31, 1981


    Š 2009 Legislative Council, State of Michigan
    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(eqc...me=mcl-257-606


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  14. #14
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE (EXCERPT)
    Act 300 of 1949

    257.660b Operation of bicycle upon highway or street; riding more than 2 abreast. Sec. 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.
    History: Add. 2006, Act 339, Imd. Eff. Aug. 15, 2006 [/B]


    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(5fw...e=mcl-257-660b


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    This is a direct contradiction of Michigan law, which states that cyclists can ride no more than TWO abreast. State law takes precedence over city statutes, I believe.
    No, it's the opposite. Generally, the city laws (if they exist) apply further/additional restrictions to the state law.

    Quote Originally Posted by biking nurse View Post
    I was able to read the city ordinances for St. Clair Shores on the web site and unfortunately one of them reads as follows: No persons riding a bicycle upon a street, highway or bikeway shall ride more than
    single file. However there is no specific ordinance against " taking a lane".
    Then, riding abreast in that locality was illegal. If nothing is mentioned about "taking the lane", then the MI state law applies.

    This doesn't say the city can't change the state law for things not listed. That is, there is no language that indicates the list is restrictive (ie, "limited to" items in the list).

    Item i also indicates that the provisions do not prevent the locality from "regulating the operation of bicycles".
    Last edited by njkayaker; 09-08-09 at 05:11 PM.

  16. #16
    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
    Cities are not prevented from making stricter laws than the state has made. Cities can't pass laws that violate the state or federal constitution of course, but a vehicle code law isn't doing that. I think you're stuck with single-file in that particular city.
    So just take the lane single file.
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

  17. #17
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    What Chipseal said, to start with.

    Roody, the law works like this -- a city cannot make a law more LENIENT than a state law; but they CAN make a MORE RESTRICTIVE one. There is no need for a state disclaimer. In this case -- say, for example, the state law said 'single file' -- the city could not say '2-abreast' is OK. But the way things are, they sure can do what they did. It doesn't contradict or undercut the state law, just tightens it up. You may not like it -- I don't either, and won't ever ride in that city -- but you DO have to live with it as long as it's on the books.

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    Not true

    If the city does not receive funds from the state to maintain the roads than local laws will apply.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    What Chipseal said, to start with.

    Roody, the law works like this -- a city cannot make a law more LENIENT than a state law; but they CAN make a MORE RESTRICTIVE one. There is no need for a state disclaimer. In this case -- say, for example, the state law said 'single file' -- the city could not say '2-abreast' is OK. But the way things are, they sure can do what they did. It doesn't contradict or undercut the state law, just tightens it up. You may not like it -- I don't either, and won't ever ride in that city -- but you DO have to live with it as long as it's on the books.
    DX-Man,

    The military works the same way. A base commander can't make regulations lax, but s/he can make 'em tougher. Like say you've got a "tea tottler" for a base or unit commander. They can make the drinking & driving regs stricter.
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  20. #20
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    BS- municipalities can so make laws regulating behaviors more lenient than state codes.

    decriminalization of various possession offenses, for example.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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