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Thread: What is an SMV

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    What is an SMV

    How does your state define a Slow Moving Vehicle? Do you think your state's SMV laws apply to you as a bicyclist? Please discuss your answers.

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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    rules for vehicle operators generally apply. if you ride in a state with no bike specific rule for lane positioning when slower, general SMV laws regulating lane position on roadway generally WOULD apply. yes.

    North Carolina is an example of a state with SMV-lane position law that applies to bicyclists. states like Michigan with bike specific laws regulating lane position supplant their general SMV laws with the bicyclist specific lane position rules, so the general SMV lane position rule does not apply.

    hope that helps.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    North Carolina does not define Slow Moving Vehicle.

    There is one state law that applies to all vehicles as a class that are slow by their nature: it is the exemption of such vehicles from the impeding traffic law.

    The are are a variety specific laws in NC requiring or exempting registration, insurance, operator licensing or specific safety equipment for different specific types of vehicles including farm tractors, spreadors, golf carts, low speed 4-wheeled electric vehicles, mopeds and so forth. There is no catch-all term for these vehicles in NC; they are discussed separately, with different equipment requirements for each type, but they do not have special rules of the road written for each.

    There is also a law that requires any vehicle traveling at slower than the maximum posted speed limit to use the right hand lane available for through travel or operate as far right as practicable except when overtaking or preparing for a left turn. That is an operational situation rather than a vehicle class, and applies to vehicles capable of going fast, too, so I don't know if that's what you mean.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    rules for vehicle operators generally apply. if you ride in a state with no bike specific rule for lane positioning when slower, general SMV laws regulating lane position on roadway generally WOULD apply. yes.

    North Carolina is an example of a state with SMV-lane position law that applies to bicyclists. states like Michigan with bike specific laws regulating lane position supplant their general SMV laws with the bicyclist specific lane position rules, so the general SMV lane position rule does not apply.

    hope that helps.
    I was wondering how states legally define an SMV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
    I was wondering how states legally define an SMV.
    A slow moving vehicle is any vehicle which is being driven distinctly slower than the other traffic in that direction at that time.

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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
    ....
    There is also a law that requires any vehicle traveling at slower than the maximum posted speed limit to use the right hand lane available for through travel or operate as far right as practicable except when overtaking or preparing for a left turn. That is an operational situation rather than a vehicle class, and applies to vehicles capable of going fast, too, so I don't know if that's what you mean.
    yes, the SMV lane position law in north carolina, that applies to all vehicles.

    good on ya for identifying it.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Barnard
    I was wondering how states legally define an SMV.

    Usually, states 'define' Slowly Moving Vehicles in lane positioning statutes as "a vehicle moving slower than other traffic at time and place and under conditions then existing", or in the case of more draconian states, vehicles not doing the speed limit.


    Hiles' "Keep right" compendium

    that link is to a graph of states' 'keep right' laws, which regulate slowly moving vehicles in most states, and regulate bike traffic if a state has no corollary bikes right right laws that supplants these.

    north carolina is an example of a state with a smv-keep right law that applies to bike traffic.

    the UVC's slow 'moving traffic keep right' regulation forms the basis for the general SMV laws in most states.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 10-21-11 at 11:24 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    In Maryland there are two uses of the term slow moving vehicle.
    1) a motor vehicle capable of doing the speed limit but isn't.
    2) when there is a legal requirement to display a "safety triangle"

    Nether of these apply to cyclists.
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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    maryland does, however, have 'traffic moving slower than other traffic' law, as do most states, wether bike specific or general.

    smv laws generally are equipment laws. laws in most states regulating lane position use some variation of 'traffic moving slower than others at time and place' and are most assuredly considered 'slow moving vehicle' laws in the 49 states that regulate slowly driven traffic, despite lack of use of the exact term 'slow moving vehicle'

    did you look at the chart i posted?

    Here's marylands lane positioning for slow moving vehicles' law, and it doesn't use the word 'slow moving vehicle' but the law applies to vehicles being driven slowly than others and etc.......

    MD 21-301 " 21-301. Driving on right side of roadway; exceptions.

    (a) General rule.- On every roadway that is wide enough, a vehicle shall be driven on the right half of the roadway, except:
    (1) While overtaking and passing another vehicle going in the same direction, under the rules governing this movement;
    (2) Where there is an obstruction that makes it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway, but the driver of any vehicle doing so shall yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle that is traveling in the proper direction on the unobstructed part of the highway and is so near as to be an immediate danger;
    (3) On a roadway that is divided into three or more clearly marked lanes for vehicular traffic, subject to the rules applicable to these roadways;
    (4) On a roadway designated and signposted for one-way traffic; or
    (5) On a roadway that is marked or signposted in a manner indicating that a contrary rule exists.
    (b) Special rule for slow-moving traffic.- On every roadway, except while overtaking and passing another vehicle going in the same direction or when preparing for a lawful left turn, any vehicle going 10 miles an hour or more below the applicable maximum speed limit or, if any existing conditions reasonably require a speed below that of the applicable maximum, at less than the normal speed of traffic under these conditions, 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.
    (c) Roadway with four or more lanes and two-way movement of traffic.-
    (1) On any roadway that is divided into four or more clearly marked lanes for vehicular traffic and that provides for two-way movement of traffic, a vehicle may not be driven on the left of the centerline of the roadway, except:
    (i) Where authorized by a traffic control device designating a lane to the left of the center of the roadway for use by traffic not otherwise permitted to use this lane; or
    (ii) As permitted under subsection (a) (2) of this section.
    (2) This subsection does not prohibit the crossing of the centerline of a roadway while making a left turn into or from an alley or a private road or driveway.
    "

    THAT is the primary road positioning law that regulates slowly moving vehicles in Maryland. it uses the term 'slow moving traffic' and is assuredly a law that regulates slow moving vehicles when moving slowly relative to other traffic.

    it is disingenuous to suggest states that don't use the term 'slow moving vehicle' in their lane positioning laws have no slow moving vehicle laws.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 10-23-11 at 06:14 AM.
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    As I understand it here: In BC, a slow moving vehicle is any vehicle that is incapable of exceeding 60 km/h on a major highway and are generally required to display the familiar "Slow Moving Vehicle" triangle (cyclists exempt, though many touring cyclists do display one) as well as an amber beacon light (farm equipment is exempt, though many do display the light).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    maryland does, however, have 'traffic moving slower than other traffic' law, as do most states, wether bike specific or general.
    ...
    did you look at the chart i posted?

    Here's marylands lane positioning for slow moving vehicles' law, and it doesn't use the word 'slow moving vehicle' but the law applies to vehicles being driven slowly than others and etc.......
    ...
    THAT is the primary road positioning law that regulates slowly moving vehicles in Maryland. it uses the term 'slow moving traffic' and is assuredly a law that regulates slow moving vehicles when moving slowly relative to other traffic.

    it is disingenuous to suggest states that don't use the term 'slow moving vehicle' in their lane positioning laws have no slow moving vehicle laws.
    Your chart has nothing to do with with cyclists... or at least in Maryland.

    21-1202. Traffic laws apply to bicycles and motor scooters


    Every person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter in a public bicycle area has all the rights granted to and is subject to all the duties required of the driver of a vehicle by this title, including the duties set forth in 21-504 of this title, except:

    (1) As otherwise provided in this subtitle; ...
    Since MD provides lane positioning for cyclists in this title what you quoted is not applicable to cyclists. There is nothing disingenuous in stating what the laws are in Maryland. It is however disingenuous to state I implied applicability to other states.
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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    right, I was showcasing that 'slow moving vehicle' laws don't necessarily have the word 'slow moving vehicle' in them.

    Maryland does have a provision for bikes being driven slower than other traffic as well, MD 21-1205

    Riding to right side of roadway.- Each person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter at a speed less than the speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing on a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable and safe, except when:
    (1) Making or attempting to make a left turn;
    (2) Operating on a one-way street;
    (3) Passing a stopped or slower moving vehicle;
    (4) Avoiding pedestrians or road hazards;
    (5) The right lane is a right turn only lane; or
    (6) Operating in a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle or motor scooter and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
    (b) Riding two abreast.- Each person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter on a roadway may ride two abreast only if the flow of traffic is unimpeded.
    (c) Passing.- Each person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter on a roadway shall exercise due care when passing a vehicle.
    (d) Walking bicycles on right side of highway.- Each person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter on a roadway may walk the bicycle or motor scooter on the right side of a highway if there is no sidewalk.

    and that's the slow moving bicycle law of Maryland, dontchyaknow.

    Despite the law not having the word 'slow moving vehicle' in it. similar to the general slow moving vehicle positioning regulation, MD 21-301, in maryland. both are 'slow moving vehicle' laws, yet they don't have the term 'slow moving vehicle' in them.

    do you see what I was illustrating with the chart? Slow moving vehicle laws don't necessarily use the words 'slow moving vehicle' - as in Maryland.

    the exact term "slow moving vehicle' is generally used in equipment regulations. LAWS RELEVANT TO SLOW MOVING VEHICLE OPERATION in most states regulate lane position and use some variation of 'traffic moving slower than others at time and place' and are most assuredly considered 'slow moving vehicle' laws in the 49 states that regulate slowly driven traffic, despite lack of use of the exact term 'slow moving vehicle'
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-06-11 at 03:45 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  13. #13
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester View Post
    A slow moving vehicle is any vehicle which is being driven distinctly slower than the other traffic in that direction at that time.
    i'm pretty sure John Forester and I are in agreement on this.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    I think this overstates bicyclists' legal rights in MD, at least as indicated by the current Baltimore and state websites - while there has been talk for several years of repealing the mandatory bike lane law, I'm not aware that it actually happened.

    The mandatory bike lane laws (21-1205.1) don't address bicycle speed - you might bicycle at the speed of rush hour traffic (i.e. you're not slow moving), but if there is a bike lane present you are required to use it. The exceptions don't include speed.

    When I lived in Baltimore, city traffic was rarely faster than bicycling, and never at rush hour. The bike lanes I've seen installed recently are safe if you walk your bike, but not if you bicycle faster than that. The more glaring hazards are storm drains (not level with pavement), car doors, and parked cars. However, the bike lanes are paved and hence mandatory - in theory you might leave the bike lane 1-4x per block, but I've never heard of police that believe an entire bike lane was unsafe just because of car doors (or the left edge or cars intruding into bike lanes).

    http://www.baltimorecity.gov/Governm...BikeLanes.aspx

    The city website also mentions that cyclists should ride between parked cars and the normal traffic lane when parked cars block a "Floating Bike lane". I think this is the very definition of the door zone - I'm glad they didn't have this policy when I lived there.

    State Code
    http://www.mva.maryland.gov/Driver-S...le/default.htm
    http://www.baltimorecity.gov/Portals...ike%20Laws.pdf

    (1) Where there is a bike lane paved to a smooth surface or a shoulder paved to a
    smooth surface [COMAR October 29, 1979 defines smooth surface as a surface that has
    a texture equal to or better than the adjacent roadway and if the surface contains
    undulations which are no longer than the adjacent roadway.], a person operating a
    bicycle or a motor scooter shall use the bike lane or shoulder and may not ride on the
    roadway, except in the following situations:
    (i) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, motor scooter, pedestrian, or
    other vehicle within the bike lane or shoulder;
    (ii) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road, or
    driveway;
    (iii) When reasonably necessary to leave the bike lane or shoulder to avoid debris
    or other hazardous condition; or
    (iv) When reasonably necessary to leave the bike lane or shoulder because the bike
    lane or shoulder is overlaid with a right turn lane, merge lane, or other marking that
    breaks the continuity of the bike lane or shoulder.
    (2) A person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter may not leave a bike lane or
    shoulder until the movement can be made with reasonable safety and the only after giving
    an appropriate signal.

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