# Thread: can cyclists take the lane when there's no traffic in California?

1. Originally Posted by sudo bike
We're on the same page with most of this, there are only a few point we see things differently.

But that isn't what the law says. The law says "normal speed of traffic at that time". If they had meant faster traffic, they could have simply written "in the presence of faster traffic". As it is, there's the quandary of a cyclist having to assess traffic and determine what is "normal".

In essence, it is what you are saying though; you are saying that a cyclist must ignore the speed of other cyclists when determining what is "normal" (basically that they "don't count" when assessing traffic), and you seemed to say that this was because they are faced with the same requirement to assess traffic (apologies if this isn't right, but that seemed to be what you were saying). What I'm driving at (ha), is why do you think that other cyclists are excluded from this cyclists' assessment? If we have determined that (a) the speed limit of the road doesn't have bearing on what the "normal speed of traffic at that time" is, and that (b) the law says the cyclist is to assess "normal" traffic speed, not just faster traffic speed, then it follows that (c) the majority of traffic sets the "normal" speed of the law. I don't think the law says (or implies) that other slow traffic should be excluded from this speed assessment just because they are all faced with the same task.

Let's simplify this and, for the sake of argument, assume we are on a road with no speed limit (or minimum). Even a "virgin" road, with nary a treadmark. How is the "normal speed of traffic at that time" figured? I would say if, on such a road, there were 20 cyclists riding along and a single car comes up from behind, the cyclists are obviously setting the speed of what is normal on that road at that time, since "normal" does not necessarily equal faster. Or if there is a road with a 40mph speed limit that sees high volumes of cyclist traffic but low volumes of car traffic. Wouldn't this case be that the "normal speed of traffic at that time" is cycling speed, even if it's below the speed limit.

FWIW, I have no doubt that your interpretation is probably more in the spirit of the law and that is how the law would be applied by the courts, I just don't think it's terribly well written because it doesn't make things as clear as it could.
Ever since the newer FRAP law, with exceptions, was proposed in California, we who were intimately familiar with its origins have always argued that, if cyclists using a roadway outnumbered motorists using that roadway, the cyclists would be determining the normal speed of traffic at that place and time, and motorists would be required to use the standard overtaking procedures rather than insisting on squeezing through between FRAP cyclists and the adjacent traffic. However, I know of no case in which this has been tested in court.

2. That's interesting. It would also be interesting to see how the courts actually handle it. A good lawyer could make a fairly convincing argument in favor of that position...

3. Originally Posted by sudo bike
But that isn't what the law says. The law says "normal speed of traffic at that time". If they had meant faster traffic, they could have simply written "in the presence of faster traffic".
The law say "at less than the normal speed of traffic". You have elided an crucial word!

"Less that" is a synonym for "slower" and, if there is something slower (the cyclists), there is something faster!

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/...0316.2065.html

(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
=========

Originally Posted by sudo bike
As it is, there's the quandary of a cyclist having to assess traffic and determine what is "normal".
No cyclist has this "quandary".

Originally Posted by sudo bike
In essence, it is what you are saying though; you are saying that a cyclist must ignore the speed of other cyclists when determining what is "normal" (basically that they "don't count" when assessing traffic)
No, I am not saying that. In fact, as I pointed out earlier, an operator has to assess the speed of other traffic even if that speed is abnormal.

Originally Posted by sudo bike
Let's simplify this and, for the sake of argument, assume we are on a road with no speed limit (or minimum). Even a "virgin" road, with nary a treadmark. How is the "normal speed of traffic at that time" figured? I would say if, on such a road, there were 20 cyclists riding along and a single car comes up from behind, the cyclists are obviously setting the speed of what is normal on that road at that time, since "normal" does not necessarily equal faster. Or if there is a road with a 40mph speed limit that sees high volumes of cyclist traffic but low volumes of car traffic. Wouldn't this case be that the "normal speed of traffic at that time" is cycling speed, even if it's below the speed limit.
No, in most places, the US, a group of 20 cyclists is not "normal". It might not even be legal.

In all states (as far as I know), they would not be allowed to ride more than two abreast and in many (most?), they would have to move to single file as not to impeded traffic. Thus, such a group of cyclists would not be riding legally (in most states).

Something that is illegal is not "normal" in the law.

4. Originally Posted by John Forester
Ever since the newer FRAP law, with exceptions, was proposed in California, we who were intimately familiar with its origins have always argued that, if cyclists using a roadway outnumbered motorists using that roadway, the cyclists would be determining the normal speed of traffic at that place and time, and motorists would be required to use the standard overtaking procedures rather than insisting on squeezing through between FRAP cyclists and the adjacent traffic. However, I know of no case in which this has been tested in court.

5. Originally Posted by njkayaker
The law say "at less than the normal speed of traffic". You have elided an crucial word!

"Less that" is a synonym for "slower" and, if there is something slower (the cyclists), there is something faster!
That had no bearing on my point. Pretend I inserted "less than", and the point remains. God forbid I skip it once in the billion times it seems I've typed that phrase . It was implied. "Less than the normal speed of traffic at that time" doesn't equal the simple phrase "faster traffic". They are two subtle, but important differences.

No cyclist has this "quandary".
Sure he does. He must assess what the normal speed is at that time rather than simply yield to faster traffic, as you seem to say is the case. Again, two different things.

No, in most places, the US, a group of 20 cyclists is not "normal". It might not even be legal.
Why the hell not? Who says they are riding together? It doesn't matter for the point of this thought exercise; the point remains that in the stated case, there is no other metric for determining what "normal" is, aside from the majority of traffic. Especially in a case where there is high cyclist traffic but low car traffic; surely in that case, regardless of speed limit, a cyclist would be considered the normal speed on that road, yes?

It's the same principle otherwise. When the cyclist is assessing traffic, he isn't assessing what is "normal" in general (such as "normal for US roads" or "normal for this time of the month" or "normal for this road"), he is very specifically assessing what is normal at that exact point in time. I don't know how you could interpret this as anything but what the majority of traffic is - regardless of the past, if at that time the normal pace of traffic is that of a bicycle due to their being a lot of bikes but few cars, then that is the normal speed! What the normal speed is at other times is completely irrelevant, since "at that time" is specified.

In all states (as far as I know), they would not be allowed to ride more than two abreast and in many (most?), they would have to move to single file as not to impeded traffic. Thus, such a group of cyclists would not be riding legally (in most states).
All I have contended is that they would not be required to ride FRAP. Nothing more, nothing less, so the two abreast vs single file discussion is moot.

6. Originally Posted by njkayaker
That wouldn't be a CRITICAL VEHICULAR CYCLING MASS, would it?

7. Originally Posted by sudo bike
That had no bearing on my point. Pretend I inserted "less than", and the point remains. God forbid I skip it once in the billion times it seems I've typed that phrase . It was implied. "Less than the normal speed of traffic at that time" doesn't equal the simple phrase "faster traffic". They are two subtle, but important differences.
???

If a cyclist moves over for faster normal-speed traffic, it's almost certain that they'd move over for speeding traffic.

Plus, there is the typical law that says that cyclists can be in the lane if they are travelling at the speed of traffic.

There is a bit of a fuzzy region between the two but cyclists don't seem to have any problem dealing with it!

You are imagining a problem that does not occur in the real world!

Originally Posted by sudo bike
Sure he does. He must assess what the normal speed is at that time rather than simply yield to faster traffic, as you seem to say is the case. Again, two different things.
No, the cyclist doesn't actually have to determine what "normal" is. He just has to detect difference in speed.

If a cyclist would move right for "normal" speed traffic, it's almost certain that he'd move right for traffic that is speeding!

Originally Posted by sudo bike
No, in most places, the US, a group of 20 cyclists is not "normal". It might not even be legal.
Why the hell not? Who says they are riding together? It doesn't matter for the point of this thought exercise;
Generally (in most states), cyclists, riding legally, are two abreast, passing, or riding single file. Anything that isn't one of these three things is not legal. And, yypically, states require moving to single file when there is traffic being impeded.

Originally Posted by sudo bike
the point remains that in the stated case, there is no other metric for determining what "normal" is, aside from the majority of traffic. Especially in a case where there is high cyclist traffic but low car traffic; surely in that case, regardless of speed limit, a cyclist would be considered the normal speed on that road, yes?
Again, a cyclist doesn't have to determine normal speed. Pretty-much every cyclist succeeds in doing what you seem to think is beyond their abilities!

8. Really, this whole discussion in regards to real-world scenarios is fairly moot, and I wasn't arguing otherwise. I'm merely making the point the law is poorly written, because it can easily be interpreted to the meaning I gave. I don't mean to say it actually puts the cyclist in a tough spot or anything of the sort, just that the law provides that if cyclists are setting the "normal speed at that time", then they have no obligation to share a lane via FRAP. Furthermore, I was musing that such a law could be used to let informal mass rides ignore FRAP laws, depending on the traffic situation. It's all a cerebral discussion and has nearly no real-world application, as I said.

9. Originally Posted by sudo bike
Furthermore, I was musing that such a law could be used to let informal mass rides ignore FRAP laws, depending on the traffic situation.
Such rides are not normal and would entail riding illegally (not passing, or two abreast, or single file).

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