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  1. #1
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    Biking road laws?

    I know it depends on the state but generally....

    Do I have to fallow the same rules as cars?

    For example lets say I want to uturn, the road is clear but there is a double no crossing line, am i braking the law if I do not wait till I get to a uturn point? I can think of many more scenario's

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    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    Just be predictable, safe, and ride defensively and you'll be fine. Being predictable generally means you'll be following the same laws as the cars since that is what is expected of road users.

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    Generally yes.
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    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Depends on what you want to do. Ride on the sidewalk? OK on a bike (unless there is a specific prohibition), not in a car. Pass a school bus? You can hop off and walk, but otherwise, same law applies to both. Ride on the shoulder? OK on a bike, but not in a car. Use common sense. Your safety should come first.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kinggrant20 View Post
    I know it depends on the state but generally....

    Do I have to fallow the same rules as cars?

    For example lets say I want to uturn, the road is clear but there is a double no crossing line, am i braking the law if I do not wait till I get to a uturn point? I can think of many more scenario's
    You can find the bicycle laws for your state by googling them. Generally speaking, you follow the same laws as cars with some special provisions that are based on our slower speed. That said, bicycles are pretty small potatoes when it comes to law enforcement and you can get away with more without getting in trouble. For the U-turn, you aren't likely to have a problem with doing it if you have a clear road. Look behind you before you pull a "Crazy Ivan", however. You don't want to get squished.
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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Read the state vehicle code for your State .. if it matters it's in there ..

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    Senior Member jfowler85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    bicycles are pretty small potatoes when it comes to law enforcement and you can get away with more without getting in trouble
    This is highly subjective and very, very bad advice to pass on. A much more sound practice is to ensure that you are always on the right side of the law; this starts with employing your favorite search engine to find where, in your state's vehicle code, bicycle laws are hidden. It's worth learning them, and it's worth following them, despite what those like cycco might try to convince you of. I've cycled in many states, and generally cyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of cars on public roadways, but again, the onus is on you to learn your local laws.

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    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kinggrant20 View Post
    Do I have to fallow the same rules as cars?
    Yes, everywhere in the US as far as I know.

    The exception is reasonable safety. On a tight road with high speed traffic for example, the sidewalk is reasonable even in jurisdictions where it is prohibited. You can still get a ticket for it however.

  9. #9
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfowler85 View Post
    This is highly subjective and very, very bad advice to pass on. A much more sound practice is to ensure that you are always on the right side of the law; this starts with employing your favorite search engine to find where, in your state's vehicle code, bicycle laws are hidden. It's worth learning them, and it's worth following them, despite what those like cycco might try to convince you of. I've cycled in many states, and generally cyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of cars on public roadways, but again, the onus is on you to learn your local laws.
    First, you didn't understand what I was posting and, second, you don't know me very well. I absolutely am not a proponent of the "you don't need to follow the laws" crowd. If you read even a little that I post on following traffic laws, you'll find that I am hyper-vigilant about following them. I stop at stop signs and lights, I signal turns, I don't filter at lights and I (usually) can't violate speed laws. Further, and more importantly, I understand why the laws are the way that they are and how violating them gums up the works. I stop at signs and lights because not only is it the law but it is the way to be a predictable road user.

    But, in reality, what I said is absolutely true. Bicycles are small potatoes when it comes to law enforcement. Blowing a stop light might get a cop's attention. Making a u-turn in the middle of the street wouldn't even register.
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    Cyccommute, I concur whole heartedly with your analogy, as I see it all the time and in various counties on my long distance rides.

    Law enforcement couldn’t be bothered with bicyclists unless they do something incredibly stupid or actually cause an accident or harm to others (which is rare in the scheme of things). They have more dire scenarios to deal with than the typically harmless infractions made by some bicyclists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kinggrant20 View Post
    I know it depends on the state but generally....

    Do I have to fallow the same rules as cars?

    For example lets say I want to uturn, the road is clear but there is a double no crossing line, am i braking the law if I do not wait till I get to a uturn point? I can think of many more scenario's
    Yes, under the law you're bound by the same general rules of the road as motorists (plus a few that apply only to bicycles).

    Then there's common sense. As long as you ride predictably in traffic, use some street sense and stay out of trouble, nobody is going to care what you do. Real life tends to operate under "no harm - no foul" rules.
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    Look up the vehicle code for your state and see what it says. In PA, bicycles are vehicles so all of the same laws apply unless bicycles are specifically excluded (such as shoulder riding, not having to pull off the road to let faster traffic move past, riding on the sidewalk, etc.). I'm pretty sure most states operate the same way.

    So for your example, yes it would be an illegal u-turn. But as many others have posted, the police aren't going to care as long as it was safe to do so.

  13. #13
    Senior Member yote223's Avatar
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    jfowler85

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  14. #14
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
    Look up the vehicle code for your state and see what it says. In PA, bicycles are vehicles so all of the same laws apply unless bicycles are specifically excluded (such as shoulder riding, not having to pull off the road to let faster traffic move past, riding on the sidewalk, etc.). I'm pretty sure most states operate the same way.

    So for your example, yes it would be an illegal u-turn. But as many others have posted, the police aren't going to care as long as it was safe to do so.
    I agree with you but it has to be tempered with this: the reason illegal u-turns are against vehicle code is that it's not safe to do so. Even when it looks safe, it's one of those "unpredictable" maneuvers that could cause trouble for those vehicles you don't see, or judged to be too far away to matter. Otherwise why make it illegal in the first place?

    Of course we all do it when it looks OK myself included. But I'd emphasize that this sort of thing is not the normal traffic pattern that you'd do routinely.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnosis View Post
    Cyccommute, I concur whole heartedly with your analogy, as I see it all the time and in various counties on my long distance rides.

    Law enforcement couldn’t be bothered with bicyclists unless they do something incredibly stupid or actually cause an accident or harm to others (which is rare in the scheme of things). They have more dire scenarios to deal with than the typically harmless infractions made by some bicyclists.
    Generally, this is true. However, IMO, it makes sense to find out what the situation is in the area you're looking to ride. For example, every weekends tons of cyclists traverse U.S. 9W between the George Washington Bridge and counties to the north in NJ and NY. In Fort Lee and several other communities, cops ticket cyclists all the time for a variety of infractions, even though NJ traffic law states it's perfectly legal for a cyclist to continue through a red light, if it's safe for them and they won't impede traffic. It's a money generator for them and since the cyclists aren't local to the area, the likelihood they're going to go to court and fight is slim.

    These local situations, coupled with the fact that so many local cops don't even know how traffic laws relate to cyclists themselves, is one of the reasons it pays to know where you are and what you're up against. Common sense, sadly, isn't so common anymore. So assume nothing.

  16. #16
    Senior Member jfowler85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    First, you didn't understand what I was posting and, second, you don't know me very well. I absolutely am not a proponent of the "you don't need to follow the laws" crowd. If you read even a little that I post on following traffic laws, you'll find that I am hyper-vigilant about following them. I stop at stop signs and lights, I signal turns, I don't filter at lights and I (usually) can't violate speed laws. Further, and more importantly, I understand why the laws are the way that they are and how violating them gums up the works. I stop at signs and lights because not only is it the law but it is the way to be a predictable road user.

    But, in reality, what I said is absolutely true. Bicycles are small potatoes when it comes to law enforcement. Blowing a stop light might get a cop's attention. Making a u-turn in the middle of the street wouldn't even register.
    This is an internet forum; I don't need to know you, nor do I want to. I understand what was said insofar as you stating that pragmatically the laws which a cyclist is required to follow are less important relative to the laws that are given a higher degree of attention by traffic cops. You could have meant anything, but that is what I read, and presumably what others might read. There is no reason to perpetuatute the cycling subculture which promotes things like running red lights - in fact us law abiders should make an effort to combat this. I'm happy for you that you understand the laws and claim to follow them; good for you. Keep it up there bud.

    However, you still have that qualifier tagged on the end there effectively negating part of the value in your action. It's like saying "yeah I follow laws, but it doesn't matter because they're superfluous to a certain degree." You may disagree with this - in fact I know you will because you don't take criticism very well on these boards (who does?) - but again, that is what I read into it, and presumably others could/will also. Surely you see the logic there.
    Last edited by jfowler85; 04-11-14 at 01:03 PM.

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    Senior Member jfowler85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnosis View Post
    Law enforcement couldn’t be bothered with bicyclists unless they do something incredibly stupid or actually cause an accident or harm to others (which is rare in the scheme of things). They have more dire scenarios to deal with than the typically harmless infractions made by some bicyclists.
    This depends on where one is. I would agree with you that in certain locales, this is the case most of the time, e.g., a crowded, large megalopolis like L.A. or nearby Riverside/San Bernardino/Moreno Valley. However, I've been hassled for small potato stuff by cops in such areas wherein you would think there are better/more dire things for said cops to be addressing...even in big, gang-infested cities there are lulls in the law's daily routine. Also, I have seen campus and federal property cops hassle cyclists over so-called small potato stuff...the thing is sometimes one may not know that one is on such property if one is unfamiliar with the area, especially where I currently work.

    In my opinion, it is not wise to speak on behalf of law enforcement, especially when the point of the conversation is giving advice on cycling laws. If a cop busts you for something small potato, try and talk your way out of a citation by telling them that he/she should have more pressing mattters to deal with.
    Last edited by jfowler85; 04-11-14 at 02:25 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfowler85 View Post
    There is no reason to perpetuatute the cycling subculture which promotes things like running red lights - in fact us law abiders should make an effort to combat this.
    Why? How does that promote your self-interest?

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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby View Post
    Why? How does that promote your self-interest?
    +1, IMO there's something fundamatally wrong with the group think attitude of some cyclists. We're not members of some cult, subculture or closely identified class. Cyclists are simply folks that ride bicycles, no more and no less. To imply that what any one person who happens to be on a bicycle somehow represents other cyclists, or reflects on them in any way makes about as much sense and saying that a black drug dealer implies that all blacks are drug dealers,or an Italian mobster means that all Italians are mobsters, or a crooked cop means that all cops are crooked (and so on).
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  20. #20
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    OP: Generally speaking, we have the same laws to follow and responsibilities as cage drivers, with notable exceptions relating to our lack of speed and small size. Your project, should you decide to accept it, is to ride free, and ride safe. Occasionally that means breaking a traffic law, but 99% of the time it doesn't. Here's Trac's Rules:
    • If it's safe and it's legal, do it.
    • If it's safe and it's illegal, but unnecessary, don't do it. Like running a red just cuz.
    • If it's safe and it's illegal, but necessary, do it. Like sitting at a red light in the middle of nowhere and you know your bike didn't trip the signal. You can run that bad boy.
    • If breaking a law is the only way to stay safe, break it. On my commute there is one stretch of road (short fortunately) that I will have nothing to do with, nossir, so I'm up on the sidewalk (illegal in my burg) and dashing through a couple of parking lots. Fortunately pedestrians are as rare as dollars in my wallet, but If I see one on "my" sidewalk I dismount.
    • Law officers are human beings and not stupid. Mostly they will overlook actions a cyclist takes to stay safe.
    • Law officers are human beings and not stupid. They will ticket you for doing dangerous, illegal things, even if your jersey says "Greg Le"Man"
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  21. #21
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    In Pennsylvania you are considered a vehicle and must follow all the laws of the car unless specifically called out in the vehicle code. The only exception I know of in PA is bikes must stay as on the shoulder or if it is unsafe as close to the shoulder as is safe.

  22. #22
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtuttle04 View Post
    In Pennsylvania you are considered a vehicle and must follow all the laws of the car unless specifically called out in the vehicle code. The only exception I know of in PA is bikes must stay as on the shoulder or if it is unsafe as close to the shoulder as is safe.
    From everything I've found, I am permitted to ride on the shoulder, but I've never found a requirement to do so (since a shoulder isn't considered part of the roadway and motorized vehicles are not permitted to operate on the shoulder). Do you have a reference to the law you are referring to?

    That being said, even if there isn't a law requiring it I'm pretty sure a LEO would tell me to move over if I wasn't using a perfectly clear shoulder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    From everything I've found, I am permitted to ride on the shoulder, but I've never found a requirement to do so (since a shoulder isn't considered part of the roadway and motorized vehicles are not permitted to operate on the shoulder). Do you have a reference to the law you are referring to?

    That being said, even if there isn't a law requiring it I'm pretty sure a LEO would tell me to move over if I wasn't using a perfectly clear shoulder.
    It was part pf HB170 which instituted the four feet passing law (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/...r=0170&pn=0114).
    The exact wording of the law is "(1) Upon all roadways, any pedalcycle operating in accordance with Chapter 35 proceeding at less than the normal
    speed of traffic at the time and place and under the
    conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand
    lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable
    to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when
    overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same
    direction or when preparing for a left turn at an
    intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway."

    It does not specifically require you to ride on the shoulder but as close to the right edge as practical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtuttle04 View Post

    It does not specifically require you to ride on the shoulder but as close to the right edge as practical.
    In New York and, I believe, most states the shoulder isn't considered part of the road for this purpose, so "as far to the right..." refers to the driving lanes, excluding the shoulder. This (practical) itself is is subject to interpretation. I tend to ride about 3-4 feet into the lane, moving over to allow passing when necessary and safe. I adjust this according to pavement and road condition.

    I was once (in 45 years) pulled over by a cop who lectured me about my position on a road where the right side was in bad shape. While I was listening to this lecture his supervisor happened by and stopped (two cop cars for one bike) and asked what was up. When he was brought up to speed, he looked at the road, and asked the first cop "where the %$%^&#@ do you expect him to ride?" and sent me on my way with best wishes for my safety.

    Regardless of the law, if you ride with a decent "share the road" attitude the police will leave you alone.
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  25. #25
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway

    mrtuttle04, roadway usually means the lanes, the portion of the road used for normal travel exclusive of the shoulders.

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