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Cyclist traffic right of way - who should give way?

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Cyclist traffic right of way - who should give way?

Old 02-19-22, 01:34 PM
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Sardines
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Cyclist traffic right of way - who should give way?

I was commuting home as usual during peak hour and traffic was particularly bad. I tend to stay in the curb lane and not weave unless it's very safe to do, even with 2 mirrors left and right. At a stoplight, I saw a big muscle guy riding up behind me, with me right in the front, resting one leg on the curb, waiting for the light to change. I always glance back and I see this guy weave between 2 cars in the middle lane just to get ahead of me. I made sure there was enough space for anyone to get round me but I guess he didn't want to. I noticed he was riding a new Cannondale Synapse, with all the Smart Sensor stuff. He also had a gopro hanging out the back and his earpods on. I thought he was being a bit aggressive going between cars, and I waved to indicate he could just ahead of me, without making the cars slow down to accommodate him. He ignored me, so I left it.
He jumped the red light to try get ahead of me, and I rode relaxed to let him go and then stuck behind him, only to find he was actually pretty slow. My heart rate dropped below 120bpm, so when it was safe, I decided to over take him on my right, even signaling with a bell. When he saw me pulling up to him, he immediately went harder. I kept up a bit but saw cars coming up to us so I backed off. Then in traffic, he decided to start weaving into the 2nd lane again to avoid squeezing between the curb and cars. I assumed he took off. There were a few buses and trucks, ahead so I just squeezed and rode cautiously on along the curb. Then suddenly, this guy just jumped out of a gap between a bus and a truck, and I was blindsided because I didn't see him coming. He just jumped out without even checking traffic. If there was a moped, ebike or even motorbike going normal speed, he'd be hit. I slammed the brakes and went sideways to avoid him. I said hey be careful, he didn't even apologize but just kept going.
In all my years riding through Manhattan and other big cities, I've never had a cyclist ride like this guy, and that's with messenger riders zipping in and out of lanes between cars. They always check before jumping into lanes.
TLDR: Who had the right of way?

Last edited by Sardines; 02-22-22 at 03:54 AM.
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Old 02-19-22, 01:50 PM
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Doesn't really matter does it. Under most traffic laws I know of you have an obligation to avoid a collision even when you are the vehicle with the right of way.

Until the careless person has some major event that causes them to think about life, then they'll likely not change their riding habits. So no need to get in a fuss with them about it.
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Old 02-19-22, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
I decided to over take him on the right, even signaling with a bell.
Since you don't seem to be in a drive-on-left country, why in the world would you do that?

Was this a left side bike lane on a one way Manhattan avenue? That I could at least see confusing the situation (presumably there one passes on the vehicular traffic side, as in central/prospect parks)
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Old 02-19-22, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Since you don't seem to be in a drive-on-left country, why in the world would you do that?

Was this a left side bike lane on a one way Manhattan avenue? That I could at least see confusing the situation (presumably there one passes on the vehicular traffic side, as in central/prospect parks)
Opps that was a typo... on "my" right, not on "the" right!

Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Doesn't really matter does it. Under most traffic laws I know of you have an obligation to avoid a collision even when you are the vehicle with the right of way.

Until the careless person has some major event that causes them to think about life, then they'll likely not change their riding habits. So no need to get in a fuss with them about it.
Obviously you are right, but I'm genuinely curious about right of way, if there is even this rule with bikes in city traffic.

Last edited by Sardines; 02-19-22 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 02-19-22, 02:52 PM
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There were a few buses and trucks, ahead so I just squeezed and rode cautiously on along the curb. Then suddenly, this guy just jumped out of a gap between a bus and a car, and I was blindsided because I didn't see him coming. He just jumped out without even checking traffic. If there was a moped, ebike or even motorbike going normal speed, he'd be hit. I slammed the brakes and went sideways to avoid him. I said hey be careful, he didn't even apologize but just kept going.
Clearly you didn't have the right of way when you started squeezing past the other vehicles. At least not IMO since you are a vehicle too and you were either in the same lane as them or in a parking lane which is for parking. Maybe certain other situations too many to mention here.

Regardless the other person also has the obligation to check for traffic when coming out from between vehicles. So without seeing the actual environment and situational things needed to determine what was actually going on. I'd say you were both in the wrong. The other person more wrong than you.

Last edited by Iride01; 02-19-22 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 02-19-22, 03:09 PM
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My rule is the bigger they are, the softer they fall. Garbage trucks have the right of way over cars, and cars have the right of way over bikes. And the reason is simple: survival of the biggest. I avoid aggressive cyclists when I'm on my bike mostly because I enjoy riding and don't want some idiot to ruin my day.
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Old 02-19-22, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Clearly you didn't have the right of way when you started squeezing past the other vehicles. At least not IMO since you are a vehicle too and you were either in the same lane as them or in a parking lane which is for parking. Maybe certain other situations too many to mention here.

Regardless the other person also has the obligation to check for traffic when coming out from between vehicles. So without seeing the actual environment and situational things needed to determine what was actually going on. I'd say you were both in the wrong. The other person more wrong than you.
This is a main road with no lots, or bike lanes. Cars will always pass bicyclists so riding in the right most curb lane is not only the law but necessary. "Lane splitting" is a legal action for motorcyclists and cyclists, only when safely done. Cyclists are expected to do it in the right most lane. From what I understand, leaving the curb lane is only allowed for left turns, hazard avoidance etc. That is in the codes. Wearing earphones are also not allowed. I wish I'd remembered to turn on the cams when I started riding, but I forgot to charge them.
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Old 02-19-22, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
Then suddenly, this guy just jumped out of a gap between a bus and a car, and I was blindsided because I didn't see him coming. He just jumped out without even checking traffic
Where was he before he jumped out?
'
It sure sounds like you're saying that he was in an ordinary lane, between two vehicles, and then somewhat blindly pulled to the curb.

If there was a moped, ebike or even motorbike going normal speed, he'd be hit. I slammed the brakes and went sideways to avoid him.
This would only be an issue if someone were using the shoulder to pass slowed traffic at a speed that exceeded their reaction time.

And the simple answer is don't do that.

Regardless what the law might say in some places, regardless if this guy was reckless, it's foolish and hazardous to pass traffic on the wrong side at speed where you can't react to the expectable unexpected - be that a motor vehicle pulling to the curb, a passenger giving up on congestion and hopping out, a right turn, or whatever.

If other traffic is stopped, and you can at still move, count the fact that you're not also stopped as a blessing; don't expect to keep moving at speed.

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Old 02-19-22, 05:22 PM
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Safest thing with these kind of folks, hop up on the sidewalk and dismount for a minute or two, then back on the road and carry on. If you are concerned about this guy, you won't see the oncoming car/truck/bus squeezing in the cross lane turn that whacks you.
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Old 02-19-22, 05:26 PM
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Cat 6 racing at its finest!
But squeezing between the curb and cars sounds like a way to die early. Ride in the gutter and get treated like the rest of the garbage and debris there by the traffic. Taking the second lane may have been the best and safest option.
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Old 02-19-22, 05:48 PM
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Cars will always pass bicyclists so riding in the right most curb lane is not only the law but necessary. "Lane splitting" is a legal action for motorcyclists and cyclists,
Were the other vehicles motorcycles or cyclist? I think you are probably treading in some section of the law that aren't very well defined and certainly untested in the courts.

Can't speak for where ever you are, but here cyclist can ride two abreast in the same lane with some if's and's and but's. A motor vehicle can pass a cyclist in the same lane if, and only if it can maintain 3 feet separation from the cyclist and complete the pass safely. I don't see anywhere where is says a bicycle and motor vehicle can occupy the same lane side by side unless it is the time required to pass a cyclist. Don't know that the law as it's written allows for a cyclist to pass a car in the same lane.

Believe me the other persons insurance company on the hook for any claim you may ever have will point this out in court. So then it's you against a jury that likely consists of motorists. So if you think squeezing by on the right side of a vehicle which is the most unwatched side for a typical driver is safe, then I guess you might be subject to some of the same type of thinking the other cyclist you compared yourself to must use for his cycling.

Once a motor vehicle has passed you then you'll be forgotten about and they won't be watching for you creeping back up on their right side. At least not if you are in a country that drives on the right side of the road. Right which also stands for correct. <just a friendly jab at our UK and down under friends>

Last edited by Iride01; 02-19-22 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 02-19-22, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
A motor vehicle can pass a cyclist in the same lane if, and only if it can maintain 3 feet separation from the cyclist and complete the pass safely. I don't see anywhere where is says a bicycle and motor vehicle can occupy the same lane side by side unless it is the time required to pass a cyclist. Don't know that the law as it's written allows for a cyclist to pass a car in the same lane.
There are actually laws in a number of places now that purport to make it legal for a cyclist to pass another vehicle on its right, or at least say that the fact that the cyclist was overtaking on the driver's right is not a defense the driver can raise.

But making it legal doesn't make it safe to do at a speed beyond where one can react to the expectable unexpected.
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Old 02-20-22, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
But squeezing between the curb and cars sounds like a way to die early.
It often checks the 3 D boxes. Dumb, Dangerous and Discourteous.
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Old 02-20-22, 08:54 AM
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Well traffic was at a standstill, so being in my lane is the safest option. I let him run ahead and he shot out to lane splitting lane 1 and 2 when the jam was horrendous. I stayed in the curb cos there was plenty of space to ride on in the stopped traffic between the non-moving cars and curb.

With buses and trucks also crawling if moving at all in the right most lane, I'd thought he'd be long gone, but I guess the buses and trucks made lane splitting a bit difficult between lane 1 and 2. I couldn't see him through the big vehicles when he tried to jump back to curbside. The biggest issue is he didn't even look right to see if anything was coming, but just charged into the lane, then turned to look when I yelled out and jammed the brakes.

I'm not trying to roast this guy, but his actions were dangerous. If I'd been riding faster, and it was safe to do so since lane 1 was stationary, I'd hit him for sure. And we would've tested out that CF vs Ti accident durability debate. He choose to cut back into the lane between a truck and a bus, essentially a blind corner entry.

I think in all the laws and codes, the "vehicle" going straight has right of way. So I'm interested to see if there are places where 1) no such rule and the law of the jungle supercedes all!, 2) It's considered an intersection and he had right of way.

Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Where was he before he jumped out?

'

It sure sounds like you're saying that he was in an ordinary lane, between two vehicles, and then somewhat blindly pulled to the curb.




This would only be an issue if someone were using the shoulder to pass slowed traffic at a speed that exceeded their reaction time.


And the simple answer is don't do that.


Regardless what the law might say in some places, regardless if this guy was reckless, it's foolish and hazardous to pass traffic on the wrong side at speed where you can't react to the expectable unexpected - be that a motor vehicle pulling to the curb, a passenger giving up on congestion and hopping out, a right turn, or whatever.


If other traffic is stopped, and you can at still move, count the fact that you're not also stopped as a blessing; don't expect to keep moving at speed.
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Old 02-20-22, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
Well traffic was at a standstill... there was plenty of space to ride on in the stopped traffic between the non-moving cars and curb.
Do you understand why passing stopped vehicles on the right is risky?

That's not to say that you can't do it, but when you do it, you're completely unexpected by those you're overtaking, so you need to expect all sorts of crazy things - doors opening, cars suddenly pulling over.

The biggest issue is he didn't even look right to see if anything was coming, but just charged into the lane, then turned to look when I yelled out and jammed the brakes
He probably shouldn't have done that, and some yelling might indeed be educational, but again, you were arriving from a direction most people don't really expect - which means you're going to have to expect things like this to happen.

his actions were dangerous. If I'd been riding faster, and it was safe to do so since lane 1 was stationary
Do you understand yet why riding at any sort of speed at all along the right side of stopped or slowing traffic is dangerous?

I think in all the laws and codes, the "vehicle" going straight has right of way.
Being passed on the right is just plain not a normal aspect of how traffic is "supposed" to work.

As such, this idea you are pushing can only practically apply in a properly routed through lane. You weren't in any sort of lane, but even an actual bike lane is not really "properly routed" when used to bypass stalled traffic in the other lanes, especially as it approaches intersections where there's a legal opportunity to turn right. In fact, they're no longer supposed to build bike lanes that do that - they either move to the left of the turning lane, or they vanish at the intersection.

Your conflict wasn't precisely with a turning vehicle, but it has the same fundamental cause in you having tried to overtake someone from a direction they did not expect anyone to be moving, let alone overtaking them.

Last edited by UniChris; 02-20-22 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 02-21-22, 04:35 AM
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thanks for the information
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Old 02-21-22, 02:33 PM
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yup doesn't matter who has the right of way. reading, I like that you let him pass you. sounds like it would have been safer to pull over, have a lunch break, then proceed again, ensuring the nutjob was long gone. but that's not practical. stay safe
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Old 02-22-22, 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
yup doesn't matter who has the right of way. reading, I like that you let him pass you. sounds like it would have been safer to pull over, have a lunch break, then proceed again, ensuring the nutjob was long gone. but that's not practical. stay safe
Haha It was dinner time and I was headed home. And I've seen some road rage in my time so I know better than to prove anything to anyone. I have my DRLs on all rides, so there's minimal chance of missing my approach in a mirror. What some of the answers have shown that many people don't understand the laws presiding bicyclists. Riding the right side of the road closest to the curb is required,
  • Use of the Roadway Bicycles traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable except: when passing, preparing for a left turn, to avoid hazards and dangerous conditions or if the lane is too narrow.
Personally, I don't think that guy was a nutjob per se, but he obviously likes to rule the road so to speak. To accelerate when someone is passing you isn't nice. That guy was more late 40s than 14. To weave in and out between lanes and cars, and then jump into a lane without checking if there's anything oncoming is just silly. Many of the comments here are more about defensive riding than anything. To say a rider doesn't expect another bicycle in the same path as the path he/she is taking makes no sense. I was ready for such surprises, which is why I avoided the accident. I initially asked the question because I thought there were rules that after 20+ years of commuting on a bike, I'd not heard of. There were parts of a highway I'd always thought were closed to bicyclists, but the city opened that stretch up and I didn't know for 3 years! Haha
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Old 02-22-22, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
Haha It was dinner time and I was headed home. And I've seen some road rage in my time so I know better than to prove anything to anyone. I have my DRLs on all rides, so there's minimal chance of missing my approach in a mirror. What some of the answers have shown that many people don't understand the laws presiding bicyclists. Riding the right side of the road closest to the curb is required,
  • Use of the Roadway Bicycles traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable except: when passing, preparing for a left turn, to avoid hazards and dangerous conditions or if the lane is too narrow.
I don't want to get into the weeds here, but you are way over-simplifying the FRAP rule (actually, since that code (California?) uses the word "close" I think you could call it the CRAP rule, but I digress). You can literally write a major treatise on the meaning of the phrase "as practicable" in that context.

Notice also that no matter what that rule is, "when passing" is a specific exception to it.

"As practicable" renders this a "rule of reason" where a cyclist must use their judgment as to how far to the right that is, as does the phrase "too narrow", which makes it a judgment call as to whether the rule even applies as "too narrow" is not meaningfully defined.

I'm going to say this to you in the most polite way I can think of, you're accusing people of not knowing this rule in a way that makes it clear you don't really understand the rule and its exceptions.

I live in a state with a FRAP rule (NH), but do a major amount of riding in a state that does not have that rule (MA). My observation is that people usually take about the same road positions on their bicycles in both states. I also note that motorists also seem about as ignorant of the actual rules cyclists are supposed to follow in both states assuming, for example, that a cyclist is supposed to take a left turn from the right side of the road and getting irate when the cyclist moves over to the left in anticipation of the turn (with looking and signaling, btw).

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