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Old 06-01-07, 10:06 AM   #1
skanking biker
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Legality of taking the lane

I just stumbled across this today at work and thought it would provoke some thoughtful discussion, given its ambiguities:

_____________________________________
Wis. Stat. sec. 346.80(2)(a):

"Any person operating a bicycle or elecric personal assistive mobility device upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb of the unobstructed travelled roadway . . . ."


Interstingly, the statute goes on to make an exception for when "reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions including . . . parked or moving vehicles . . . , surface hazards or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to ride along the right-hand edge or curb."

A "substandard width lane" means "a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle . . . and a motor vehcile to travel safely side by side within the lane."

_____________________________________

Given the number of Hummers and SUVs on the roads, I wonder if one could argue that any road without a bike lane or wide shoulder is of "substandard width lane" and thus unsafe? Speaking hypothetically, a road might be of succifient width to allow one to safely ride alongside a geo metro but the same road would be unsafe to ride alongside a H3. Seeing as one doesn't know whether a vehicle behind is small or large until it attempts to pass, one must assume it is large and that it is unsafe to ride along the right hand edge
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Old 06-01-07, 10:35 AM   #2
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Yes, this is very similar to the CA CVC 21202 wording, which I'm sure it's based on.


Operation on Roadway

21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations: (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm

Few cyclists know about this, not to mention non-cyclists who are probably almost all unaware of it, much less understand the implications. This rule is at the heart of vehicular cycling.

The basic idea is that any time a lane is too narrow to be safely shared side-by-side, there is no legal obligation for the cyclist to keep to the side. Although the laws use the word "substandard", a typical lane is about 12 feet wide, and is arguably too narrow to safely share with most cars. So, arguably, this rule only applies in WOLs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_outside_lane



The topic is also addressed in this section of the vehicular cycling Wikipedia article:


Using the full lane

A bicyclist is using the full lane (also known as "taking the lane") when traveling along near the center of a marked travel lane instead of the side. Using the full lane normally precludes passing within the same lane by drivers of wide motor vehicles, while being positioned next to a lane line usually encourages such passing.
Vehicular cyclists commonly use the full lane under the following circumstances:
  • when there is a junction at which approaching or waiting traffic may turn or cross directly in front of the cyclist
  • when there is traffic approaching from the rear (to increase conspicuity)
  • when traveling at the normal speed of traffic at that time and place
  • when the marked lane is too narrow to share comfortably with overtaking traffic
  • when merging across a roadway in preparation for a turn across the opposing lanes
  • when overtaking and passing another vehicle
  • when the cyclist feels that it increases their safety
John Franklin advocates operating bicycles in accordance with the basic rules of the road for vehicle operation. Using terms such as primary riding position — meaning in the center of the traffic lane — and secondary riding position — meaning about 1 meter (3 feet) to the side of moving traffic, but not closer than .5 meters (1.5 feet) to the edge of the road, Franklin advocates the primary riding position as the normal position and the secondary riding position only when safe and reasonable to allow faster traffic to pass.
Vehicular cycling, including using the full lane when appropriate, is supported by traffic laws in most countries (California's Vehicle Code section 21202 is an example of this).




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicul..._the_full_lane
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Old 06-01-07, 10:42 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head

Few cyclists know about this, not to mention non-cyclists who are probably almost all unaware of it, much less understand the implications. This rule is at the heart of vehicular cycling.

The basic idea is that any time a lane is too narrow to be safely shared side-by-side, there is no legal obligation for the cyclist to keep to the side. Although the laws use the word "substandard", a typical lane is about 12 feet wide, and is arguably too narrow to safely share with most cars. So, arguably, this rule only applies in WOLs.
I have no problem agreeing with this and this happens to be how I ride anyway under most circumstances. Where I disagree with some VC advocates is that I do not think "taking the lane" is always ipso facto safe. This is why I do not oppose bikelanes being installed on highspeed, high volume roads.
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Old 06-01-07, 10:46 AM   #4
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If one prefers to left or center bias when going thru/past intersections where there is a wide lane (BL striped or not) and one does not live in CA which has a specific exception for this, what is the legality?

Does "reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions including ... moving vehicles" apply? Even those those moving vehicles are approaching from rear or potentially left-hooking from opposite direction.

Is increasing visibility and/or blocking a right hook considered 'reasonably neccessary to avoid...'?

Al
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Old 06-01-07, 10:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
I have no problem agreeing with this and this happens to be how I ride anyway under most circumstances. Where I disagree with some VC advocates is that I do not think "taking the lane" is always ipso facto safe. This is why I do not oppose bikelanes being installed on highspeed, high volume roads.
But if the stripe was not there one would still ride in nearly the same right biased position on such a road (assuming it was intersectionless) when there was faster same direction traffic. One would not 'take the lane' given the same pavement width and conditions.

(I am fine with wide properly maintained BLs on high speed high volume intersectionless roads, but also fine with a WOL on such a road.)

Al
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Old 06-01-07, 10:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
But if the stripe was not there one would still ride in nearly the same right biased position on such a road (assuming it was intersectionless) when there was faster same direction traffic. One would not 'take the lane' given the same pavement width and conditions.

(I am fine with wide properly maintained BLs on high speed high volume intersectionless roads, but also fine with a WOL on such a road.)

Al

I don't disagree but I do favor the words "bike lane" or pictures of a bike painted or "bike route" signs in conjunction with WOL to put alert drivers to the possibility that there will be cyclists using the road and to watch for them
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Old 06-01-07, 10:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
I have no problem agreeing with this and this happens to be how I ride anyway under most circumstances. Where I disagree with some VC advocates is that I do not think "taking the lane" is always ipso facto safe. This is why I do not oppose bikelanes being installed on highspeed, high volume roads.
Well, this statement hinges on the meaning of is always ipso facto safe. And if the VC contrarians would agree to oppose bike lanes except on those roads with high speeds (say 45 mph speed limit or higher), and long intersectionless sections, we'd probably have nothing to disagree about it.

It's the insistence of BL advocates to support and not oppose bike lanes on all the other roads (NOT high speed high volume) that is really at issue here.
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Old 06-01-07, 11:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
And if the VC contrarians would agree to oppose bike lanes except on those roads with high speeds (say 45 mph speed limit or higher), and long intersectionless sections, we'd probably have nothing to disagree about it.

It's the insistence of BL advocates to support and not oppose bike lanes on all the other roads (NOT high speed high volume) that is really at issue here.
That is how I see it. I'd call high speed as 40mph and higher posted SL though.

Thats why I like the guideline to be to not have a BL stripe (keep the pavement width of course) for 200' before any and all intersection approaches (with the exception of those with a RTOL*).

If there are so many intersections that the resulting BL stripe can no longer exist (or the bits that are left are absurdly short) then the road does not have long intersectionless sections.

I also support bicycle awareness signage or road stencils on/adjacent to WOLs.

*This exception is not my personal preference, I'd still prefer WOTL in this case, but it is a compromise and one I can accept.

Al
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Old 06-01-07, 11:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head

It's the insistence of BL advocates to support and not oppose bike lanes on all the other roads (NOT high speed high volume) that is really at issue here.
But not all those who do not oppose bike lanes are bike lane "advocates."

On roads that are not HSHV, I will not "push" for a BL and would actually prefer a WOL with signage---that said, I'm not going to throw a tantrum if they put a bike lane on a non HSHV road.
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Old 06-01-07, 11:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
That is how I see it. I'd call high speed as 40mph and higher posted SL though.

Thats why I like the guideline to be to not have a BL stripe (keep the pavement width of course) for 200' before any and all intersection approaches (with the exception of those with a RTOL*).

If there are so many intersections that the resulting BL stripe can no longer exist (or the bits that are left are absurdly short) then the road does not have long intersectionless sections.

I also support bicycle awareness signage or road stencils on/adjacent to WOLs.

*This exception is not my personal preference, I'd still prefer WOTL in this case, but it is a compromise and one I can accept.

Al
I would say high speed is anything 30 and over, because drivers rarely in reality ever obey the speed limit. So in reality a 30 zone will have people going 40-45. otherwise, I agree.
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Old 06-01-07, 11:28 AM   #11
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Casque Tete, should you repeat your warning to avoid riding on the bike lane stripe (for potential legal liability issues in case of an accident)?

Also, please be sure to leave the bike lane when FSDT is not present. Staying in the bike lane in this case forfeits your legal right to be treated as a vehicle, according to Monsieur Casque Tete.
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Old 06-01-07, 11:37 AM   #12
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I'm not the CT, but I'll chime in anyway...

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeytoun
...repeat your warning to avoid riding on the bike lane stripe (for potential legal liability issues in case of an accident)?
That is potentially one factor. But also due to ambiguity. With the presence of a BL a driver who glances and sees a cyclist ahead off to the right may just register them as in the BL, then switch their focus elsewhere. This may be fine if the cyclist is fully in the BL, but if on the stripe could lead to a very close pass or even a clip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeytoun
Also, please be sure to leave the bike lane when FSDT is not present. Staying in the bike lane in this case forfeits your legal right to be treated as a vehicle...
While I think this practice has its benefits they are not driven with the goal of exercising legal rights, but instead visibilty and enabling two-way communication with FSDT when it does come. Also I believe that on intersectionless roads, using this technique is not a must do to be a vehicular cyclist.

Al

Last edited by noisebeam; 06-04-07 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 06-01-07, 12:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Few cyclists know about this, not to mention non-cyclists who are probably almost all unaware of it, much less understand the implications. This rule is at the heart of vehicular cycling.
Actually, this rule is at the heart of your own personal anti-bike lane quest, and not necessarily part and parcel of Vehicular Cycling.
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Old 06-01-07, 12:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
Actually, this rule is at the heart of your own personal anti-bike lane quest, and not necessarily part and parcel of Vehicular Cycling.
Knowing when it is safe and appropriate to control the full lane, such as at intersection/junction approaches and including recognizing when the lane is too narrow to be safely shared, is a core aspect of VC, whether you recognize it or not.
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Old 06-01-07, 12:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I'm not the CT, but I'll chime in anyway...


That is potentially one factor. But also due to ambiguity. With the presence of a BL a driver who glances and sees a cyclist ahead off to the right my just register them as in the BL, then switch their focus elsewhere. This may be fine if the cyclist is fully in the BL, but if on the stripe could lead to a very close pass or even a clip.


While I think this practice has its benefits they are not driven with the goal of exercising legal rights, but instead visibilty and enabling two-way communication with FSDT when it does come. Also I believe that on intersectionless roads, using this technique is not a must do to be a vehicular cyclist.

Al
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Old 06-01-07, 11:28 PM   #16
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changing your tune, eh head? don't have to 'gap hunt' with the 'power weave' all the time now, eh?

are you riding more?
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Old 06-02-07, 09:10 AM   #17
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The reference is to the narrow lane traffic law. HH wrote that this is the heart of VC, to which sbhikes replied:

Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
Actually, this rule is at the heart of your own personal anti-bike lane quest, and not necessarily part and parcel of Vehicular Cycling.
Sbhikes, you do not know what your are writing about and manage to put the strangest interpretations on the opinions of others as the result of your own inventions.

It was my work in the early 1970s on the California Statewide Bicycle Committee that got the narrow lane rule into traffic law, and it is the perfectly reasonable way to handle narrow lanes. If the cyclist stays far right, too many motorists attempt to overtake when there is insufficient room for safety. Either the cyclist is endangered, or the traffic in the adjacent lane is endangered. It is better, in this situation, for the cyclist to take the lane so that any overtaking motorist will see that he has to change lanes and will do so.
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Old 06-02-07, 09:28 AM   #18
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correct, john - but diane is talking about bike laned roads i believe.
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Old 06-03-07, 11:13 AM   #19
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The Wisconsin statute is typical of most states bicycle laws. It essentially codifies common sense applicable to all vehicles on the road. If you are going slow, stay to the right and let others pass. If its not safe to stay to the right, then take the whole lane.
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Old 05-06-08, 06:29 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker View Post
at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall
This is the key language in the statute.

It means if you are on a 11 or 12 foot wide road and a Mini is behind you, you probably don't have the right to the whole lane, but if a Hummer is behind you, you probably do have the right to the whole lane. Of course this assumes the road is in good condition. So there is no answer that covers every road of a certain width, it depends on the car about to pass you at the time and the condition of the road.
I generally
use as a guide, the fact that my bike is 2 feet wide and motor vehicles have to give at least 3 feet of clearance, so if there's no paved shoulder to ride on or escape on, if the car is more than 6 feet wide, I can take an 11 foot lane if I need it.

I also ride on roads with 8 foot lanes in which case I almost always take the lane. Of course I rarely encounter traffice on those roads.
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Old 05-06-08, 06:51 AM   #21
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I would say high speed is anything 30 and over, because drivers rarely in reality ever obey the speed limit. So in reality a 30 zone will have people going 40-45. otherwise, I agree.
True, I ride through a mall area many days, (use it as a shortcut) and it is posted 25 mph.

Most people go 30-40mph through there without a worry. There happens to be two lanes in each direction and it zig-zags a lot, and has 4 stop signs through it... I ALWAYS take the full lane just for my own safety because the lanes are NOL.
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Old 05-10-08, 07:47 PM   #22
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"All vehicles are equal... but some (SUVs) are more equal than others"


I think it was Orwell who said it...
I wouldn't worry about SUV's. Soon, you'll be able to buy a used one cheap.

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Old 05-12-08, 11:40 AM   #23
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I still see way too many out there. Sales are down by around 30%, so we need even higher gas prices. Something like 10 bucks the gallon.
I think eventually there may be a point where it may make better financial sense to buy a huge inefficient motor vehicle for dirt cheap, and pay the higher fuel bill. As long as you're not driving too many miles anyway.
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Old 05-21-08, 08:54 AM   #24
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Might be 'thread necromancy' in operation here, but I have a question to ask.

Is it really the case, under US or local State laws (whichever apply where you're at) that motorists are obliged to travel in the center of the lane?

I've been a bit bemused by all this, because under road law which applies where I'm at ALL vehicles are obliged to travel as close as practicable to the outside edge of the traffic lane. That applies to motorists and cyclists alike. We travel on the left of the road, rather than on the right, and the principle of "keep to the left of the lane you are travelling in" is an over-riding principle of correct and lawful road use.
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Old 05-21-08, 09:07 AM   #25
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Is it really the case, under US or local State laws (whichever apply where you're at) that motorists are obliged to travel in the center of the lane?
This is Arizona law which is the same or very similar to most other US state. I bolded what may help answer your question:
"B. On all roadways, a person driving a vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall drive the vehicle 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 a private road or driveway. "

and
" If a roadway is divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, the following rules in addition to all others consistent with this section apply:
1. A person shall drive a vehicle as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not move the vehicle from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety."


So my interpretation is that one doesn't need to be centered in the lane, only within it and if there is faster traffic present, one must be in the right most lane or as far right as practicable.

Al
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