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Legal to pass a cyclist on double-yellow?

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Legal to pass a cyclist on double-yellow?

Old 09-15-11, 11:30 AM
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JeffOYB
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Legal to pass a cyclist on double-yellow?

Here's a question from a driver's point of view.

As a cyclist I ride to the side of the road and often have cars come up behind me. If they slow down and drive behind me for too long even though the coast is clear, I wave them on ahead. I'm pretty sure this balking occurs when a double yellow line is there that would prevent a car from passing another car. It's certainly good when cars slow and do not pass when visibility is truly impaired. But I'm pretty sure that it's legal to pass a bike with a double-yellow. Does this vary from state to state or is it fairly standard? Obviously, a bike is slower than a car and requires far less distance to safely pass. That's perhaps partly why bike-passing isn't held to the same standard as car-passing. But here's a twist: what about passing a moped? Say it's going 20-25mph -- it's much like a bike. Say it's taking the lane. Say a bike is taking the lane. Any standard rules here?

Here's another somewhat related question: our area has seen many roads altered recently to have miles of a center-turning lane in flat, open terrain. This has apparently eliminated all cars-passing-cars. I've had folks tell me a car can pass a car in the turn lane, but when I looked up the law it says the center lane is for turning only, not passing. Many times, now, we'll have a dozen cars stacked up behind a senior-citizen putting along a wide open road. How do these new miles-long center turning lanes affect cars-passing-bikes? I suppose the car is allowed to use any safe, open space to pass an "exceptional" and slow vehicle -- like a bike or lawnmower or farm implement. Now, what if the bike or moped is taking the lane? Again, I'd think it's OK to pass the bike. But what about the moped? At what speed-differential does the law change? (Speed being the only variable I can think of right now.)

Thanks for the info on these questions! ...Bikers often know general car-passing-slow vehicles law pretty well. (Let's please go easy on opinion in any reply.) --JP
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Old 09-15-11, 11:47 AM
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http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...le-yellow-line
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Old 09-15-11, 11:58 AM
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I can't speak for your state, but here the center turn lane (if there is one) is for entering before a left turn off the road, or you may use it to enter traffic( i.e. reach a safe speed to enter traffic). Not legal to pass in it... but yeah different states different laws.
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Old 09-15-11, 12:12 PM
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This is what it says in Maryland:

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. 21-305

Annotated Code of Maryland
Copyright 2011 by Matthew Bender and Company, Inc., a member of the LexisNexis Group
All rights reserved.

*** Current through chapters of the 2011 Regular Session of the General Assembly
that took effect through July 1, 2011 ***

TRANSPORTATION
TITLE 21. VEHICLE LAWS -- RULES OF THE ROAD
SUBTITLE 3. DRIVING ON RIGHT SIDE OF ROADWAY; OVERTAKING AND PASSING; USE OF ROADWAY

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. 21-305 (2011)

21-305. Limitations on overtaking or driving to left


(a) Clear visibility required; return to authorized lane. --

(1) The driver of a vehicle may not drive to the left of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle going in the same direction unless:

(i) Authorized by this subtitle; and

(ii) The left side of the roadway is clearly visible and is free of approaching traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit the overtaking and passing to be completed without interfering with the operation of any other vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any other vehicle overtaken.

(2) The overtaking vehicle shall return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, if the passing movement uses a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within 200 feet of any approaching vehicle.

(b) Grades, curves, intersections, crossings, bridges, etc. --

(1) This subsection does not apply on a one-way roadway.

(2) The driver of a vehicle may not drive on the left side of any roadway if:

(i) The vehicle is approaching the crest of a grade or is on a curve in the highway where the driver's view is obstructed for such a distance as to be dangerous should another vehicle approach from the opposite direction;

(ii) The vehicle is crossing or approaching within 100 feet of any intersection or railroad grade crossing; or

(iii) The driver's view is obstructed while approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

-While the law allows in certain situations for a motorized vehicle to cross over the double-yellow line, to pass another vehicle. It is that same law that I utilize when I 'take the lane'. Because I will not 'share the lane', so a motorist can run me into the curb or some road obstruction, or make me ride over bad asphalt, just so they can speed by for no justifiable reason.
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Old 09-15-11, 12:13 PM
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In many states it's not technically legal to pass a bicycle over a double yellow, and I'm pretty sure in ALL states it's illegal to pass in a center turn lane.

Of course, 100% of drivers don't adhere, and I would be pretty darn annoyed if I encountered a driver who did. A couple years ago a driver who absolutely refused to pass (over a double yellow on a straight, flat road) came up behind me, and caused a massive backup of traffic behind. For center turn lanes there is the risk of a head-on, but the only time I've encountered that that was remotely possible, both drivers (the left turner and the one following me) stayed out of the center lane until they had passed.
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Old 09-15-11, 12:25 PM
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In Ohio, a driver can legally cross the double yellow line under some conditions:

4511.31. Hazardous zones

(A) The department of transportation may determine those portions of any state highway where overtaking and passing other traffic or driving to the left of the center or center line of the roadway would be especially hazardous and may, by appropriate signs or markings on the highway, indicate the beginning and end of such zones. …

(B) Division (A) of this section does not apply when all of the following apply:

(1) The slower vehicle is proceeding at less than half the speed of the speed limit applicable to that location.

(2) The faster vehicle is capable of overtaking and passing the slower vehicle without exceeding the speed limit.

(3) There is sufficient clear sight distance to the left of the center or center line of the roadway to meet the overtaking and passing provisions of section 4511.29 of the Revised Code, considering the speed of the slower vehicle.
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Old 09-15-11, 12:35 PM
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You actually have people slow down behind you and wait until it is clear to pass? The drivers in my area (southwest michigan/northern indiana) are pretty good in dealing with cyclists .... except when it comes to this. Drivers around here tend to just speed right around cyclists, regardless of oncoming traffic. I tend to drift to the center of the lane when there is oncoming traffic and then drift back when all is clear.

I think most states will have statutes that allow crossing the yellow to pass slow moving traffic like bicycles.
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Old 09-15-11, 01:54 PM
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In NYS, it's illegal to pass by crossing the double-yellow. however, after getting into an accident a couple of years ago, it was explained to me that there is the law of the road (Such as above), and the custom of the road (Such as passing when it's obviously clear, by crossing the double yellow). Both come into play when determining fault (From an insurers POV), but only the law of the road when it comes to citations.

The accident I was in, I used the shoulder to pass a vehicle I assumed was turning (No turn signal, but hugging the center of the road). I followed the custom of the road (By passing on the shoulder), but violated the law of the road (Do not use shoulder to pass). He violated custom of the road (By hugging the center prior to a turn), but violated law of the road, by failing to signal. We were found both at fault (Joint fault accident), and each had to pay 1/2 of a deductible, and the insurance company was responsible for the other half.

I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, please consult an attorney licensed in your state to practice law.
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Old 09-16-11, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
This is what it says in Maryland:

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. 21-305

Annotated Code of Maryland
Copyright 2011 by Matthew Bender and Company, Inc., a member of the LexisNexis Group
All rights reserved.

*** Current through chapters of the 2011 Regular Session of the General Assembly
that took effect through July 1, 2011 ***

TRANSPORTATION
TITLE 21. VEHICLE LAWS -- RULES OF THE ROAD
SUBTITLE 3. DRIVING ON RIGHT SIDE OF ROADWAY; OVERTAKING AND PASSING; USE OF ROADWAY

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. 21-305 (2011)

21-305. Limitations on overtaking or driving to left


(a) Clear visibility required; return to authorized lane. --

(1) The driver of a vehicle may not drive to the left of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle going in the same direction unless:

(i) Authorized by this subtitle; and

(ii) The left side of the roadway is clearly visible and is free of approaching traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit the overtaking and passing to be completed without interfering with the operation of any other vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any other vehicle overtaken.

(2) The overtaking vehicle shall return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, if the passing movement uses a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within 200 feet of any approaching vehicle.

(b) Grades, curves, intersections, crossings, bridges, etc. --

(1) This subsection does not apply on a one-way roadway.

(2) The driver of a vehicle may not drive on the left side of any roadway if:

(i) The vehicle is approaching the crest of a grade or is on a curve in the highway where the driver's view is obstructed for such a distance as to be dangerous should another vehicle approach from the opposite direction;

(ii) The vehicle is crossing or approaching within 100 feet of any intersection or railroad grade crossing; or

(iii) The driver's view is obstructed while approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

-While the law allows in certain situations for a motorized vehicle to cross over the double-yellow line, to pass another vehicle. It is that same law that I utilize when I 'take the lane'. Because I will not 'share the lane', so a motorist can run me into the curb or some road obstruction, or make me ride over bad asphalt, just so they can speed by for no justifiable reason.
That's the law when there is no double yellow, the following is the law when there is a double yellow:


21-307. No-passing zones


(a) Establishment of zones; signs and markings. -- The State Highway Administration may determine those parts of any highway in its jurisdiction where overtaking and passing or driving on the left of the roadway would be especially dangerous and, by appropriate signs or markings on the roadway, may indicate the beginning and end of these zones. Where the signs or markings are in place and clearly visible to an ordinarily observant individual, every driver of a vehicle shall obey their directions.

(b) Driving on left prohibited -- In general. -- Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, where signs or markings defining a no-passing zone are placed as provided in subsection (a) of this section, a driver may not drive on the left side of the roadway within the no-passing zone.

(c) Driving on left prohibited -- Left side of pavement striping designed to mark no-passing zones. -- Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, where signs or markings defining a no-passing zone are placed as provided in subsection (a) of this section, a driver may not drive on the left side of any pavement striping designed to mark the no-passing zone throughout its length.

(d) Left turns. -- The driver of a vehicle may drive across the left side of the roadway in a no-passing zone while making a left turn, but only if it is safe to do so.
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Old 09-16-11, 03:13 PM
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I think the states where it is legal to pass on a double yellow are the exception, but thank goodness that is ignored by almost everyone. It's really annoying when people refuse to pass because of a double yellow. It doesn't take long for this to be an obligation on the cyclist's part to find a safe place to pull over. Around here, there are very few rural roads that have any passing zones at all. In fact, the nearby rural roads that have passing zones would be far safer if passing wasn't allowed. Passing generally fails to significantly shorten anyone's trip, and passing on a 2 lane road is dangerous.
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Old 09-16-11, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffOYB View Post
Here's a question from a driver's point of view.

As a cyclist I ride to the side of the road and often have cars come up behind me. If they slow down and drive behind me for too long even though the coast is clear, I wave them on ahead. I'm pretty sure this balking occurs when a double yellow line is there that would prevent a car from passing another car. It's certainly good when cars slow and do not pass when visibility is truly impaired. But I'm pretty sure that it's legal to pass a bike with a double-yellow. Does this vary from state to state or is it fairly standard? Obviously, a bike is slower than a car and requires far less distance to safely pass. That's perhaps partly why bike-passing isn't held to the same standard as car-passing. But here's a twist: what about passing a moped? Say it's going 20-25mph -- it's much like a bike. Say it's taking the lane. Say a bike is taking the lane. Any standard rules here?

Here's another somewhat related question: our area has seen many roads altered recently to have miles of a center-turning lane in flat, open terrain. This has apparently eliminated all cars-passing-cars. I've had folks tell me a car can pass a car in the turn lane, but when I looked up the law it says the center lane is for turning only, not passing. Many times, now, we'll have a dozen cars stacked up behind a senior-citizen putting along a wide open road. How do these new miles-long center turning lanes affect cars-passing-bikes? I suppose the car is allowed to use any safe, open space to pass an "exceptional" and slow vehicle -- like a bike or lawnmower or farm implement. Now, what if the bike or moped is taking the lane? Again, I'd think it's OK to pass the bike. But what about the moped? At what speed-differential does the law change? (Speed being the only variable I can think of right now.)

Thanks for the info on these questions! ...Bikers often know general car-passing-slow vehicles law pretty well. (Let's please go easy on opinion in any reply.) --JP
Unfortunately no. Bike laws and MV laws can vary from state to state and indeed sometimes the variations can be quite wide. It is particularly troublesome in some instances for those of us who ride/drive in multiple states regularly. And the level of enforcement runs the gamit from liassez-faire to strict revenue enhancement techniques.
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Old 09-16-11, 03:27 PM
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When they passed a 3' passing law in our state -- Maine -- they also passed a few other cycling/driving laws at the same time. One specifically allows cars to pass cyclists over a double yellow line, when it is safe to do so.
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Old 09-16-11, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
When they passed a 3' passing law in our state -- Maine -- they also passed a few other cycling/driving laws at the same time. One specifically allows cars to pass cyclists over a double yellow line, when it is safe to do so.
Thanks for that, as Maine is one of the states I drive/ride in extensively (also VT, NH and of course Mass), and I did not know this. Here in Mass, unless directed by a law enforcement officer, crossing the double yellow to pass is not allowed*. You must wait until you reach a passing zone, or it is otherwise safe to pass in the same lane, assuming that can even be done. Of course, there is also an obligation on the part of slower moving vehicles to facilitate passing by faster traffic, so...

*That being said, I have seen numerous motorists do this to much slower moving traffic, including myself. I have no issue with it occurring as long as it is done safely. I have seen this done in plain sight of local police and have never seen enforcement at least here in Mass. My preference would be for the motorist to cross the yellow enough to effect the pass without buzzing, but leaving themselves and the opposing lane enough room to maneuver if need be. This is what usually occurs. I hate the situations when folks refuse to cross the double yellow, and instead either sit on my rear despite my waiving them on. I know they are trying their best not to get too close, but at some point you just wish they would pass. I also hate the folks (not just the situation) who choose not to slow down, nor move over, but just squeeze by - Known as the classic buzz. This is mostly unintentional: sometimes resultant from distraction: texting, cell phone use, etc.; ignorance that it is disturbing to a rider; but sometimes and thankfully rarely, but nonetheless disturbingly intentional. (...with respectful and humble apologies in advance for that last sentence, which manages to threaten, assault and indeed batter the English language in more ways than is grammatically acceptable.)
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Last edited by zac; 09-16-11 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 09-17-11, 12:09 AM
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Technically, crossing the double yellow lines into an oncoming lane is illegal to pass, even if it's a cyclist they are passing. It's why they painted the lines. People do it and get away with it. Considering the circumstances, I have no issue with it if safely performed , no harm no foul doctrine, but it's definitely against the law. Most don't realize that maintaining your lane and thus right of way and most of your problems never happen and when they do, you'll be right in the rules of the road and laws.
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