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Mercer Island (Wa.) considering "anti-peloton" ordinance

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Mercer Island (Wa.) considering "anti-peloton" ordinance

Old 04-19-10, 10:53 PM
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Mercer Island (Wa.) considering "anti-peloton" ordinance

Mercer Island, which is in the process of considering a new bike plan, is considering an ordinance that would ban "pelotons" from riding two abreast on the island. It also would require any group that is impeding traffic to pull off and let cars pass.

The obvious intent is a reaction to the large groups that frequently circle the island on East Mercer Way and West Mercer Way, holding up car traffic that can't pass on the winding road that circles the island.

A story on the background:

http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/east_kin.../85985827.html

The first reading of the ordinance is April 19; passage is scheduled for May 3,

http://www.mercergov.org/Page.asp?NavID=2526

Cascade apparently is going to argue against the ordinance. I ride this route frequently, and I see all kinds of behavior from cyclists and cars. I think there are some particular groups that have caused problems on the island and have likely led to this.

Here is the language in the ordinance:

10.60.040 Violations – Single File Riding Required.

Every person operating a bicycle in a group of two or more bicycles at a rate of speed less than the normal
flow of traffic at the particular time and place shall ride single file as far to the right side of the roadway
as is safe except as may be appropriate while preparing to make or while making turning movements, or
while overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.


10.60.050 Violations – Slow Moving Groups to Pull Off Roadway
Each and every person operating a bicycle among a slow moving group of bicycles in a location where
passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, and there is at least one
motor vehicle formed in a line of five or more vehicles behind the bicycle leading the group, each and
every person in the slow moving group of bicycles shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for
a safe turn-out exists in order to permit the vehicle(s) following the group to proceed. As used in this
section a slow moving group of bicycles is a group of two or more bicycles traveling together at a rate of
speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.
Section

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Old 04-19-10, 11:32 PM
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i think washington state has expectations of uniformity of local traffic code with the RCW.

single file requirement is overly restrictive far as i can tell.

as to the second, no bicyclists or groups of bicyclists should EVER be required to be pulling off the roadway for other road users. Washington needs to clarify its SMV-I-POR law so it clearly applies only to motor vehicles in my opinion pronto if localities are trying to pull this 'pull off the road' crap.

Cascade and washington bike alliance needs to lobby or this at the state level so that SMV-I-POR requirements do not apply to bicyclists, or localities might very well try to make this stuff stick. there's not much of the loop ride that even HAS wide paved shoulders bicyclists can pull off onto as far as i can recollect from my last ride there.

so that ordinances they are trying to enact are overly restrictive and largely inapplicable. but erosional to cyclists rights on MI indeed. nothing new though.

awful that there's this type of fight between club riders and motorists on MI. personally i have no problem there as rarely ride there with a large group.

I think a series of weekday rush hour riders of organized groups of 5 cyclists, and more singly spread out, riding only as far right as is safe when lanes are too narrow to be safely shared, would do the trick to cause MI to rethink it's desires to oppress bicylists.

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Old 04-20-10, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
i think washington state has expectations of uniformity of local traffic code with the RCW.
Indeed. Good luck with this, M.I. You'll be in the same litigation loop with the county as the city of Lake Forest Park, with their stop signs on the Burke-Gilman Trail to halt bicycle traffic for their private roads.
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Old 04-20-10, 08:40 AM
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my question to the mercer island city council is: are there even many parts of the mercer island loop that has spots bicyclists can 'pull off the roadway'? this would mean areas that are improved and have wide & ample paved area to the right of the fog line that will allow continued safe operation of the regulated slow moving vehicle. Bicyclists or slow moving vehicles cannot be regulated to pull into a private or commercial drive to allow faster moving traffic to pass.

even thinking about this onerous development in anti-cyclist backlash makes me BOIL.

Again: washington state's slow movers pull off roadway law needs to be clarified so as to only require motorists to pull off; expectations of bicyclists to pull off the road to benefit faster traffic is an affront to bicyclists right to travel the roadways!

Regardless of the inapplicability of these proposed ordinances, the public perception of how bicyclists are expected to operate lawfully will lead to general worsening of bicyclist/car interactions on mercer island.

Those provincial poverty rock dwellers need a reality check: you live in a nice place with public roads. bicyclists and groups of bicyclists lawfully and legally visit and ride on mercer island. please improve road conditions so your inhabitants can share the roads safely with all road users.

I might just start taking more rides on mercer island. every time i ride the loop i get some idiot blind passing on one of the dogleg turns on the east side of the island....

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Old 04-20-10, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
The obvious intent is a reaction to the large groups that frequently circle the island on East Mercer Way and West Mercer Way, holding up car traffic that can't pass on the winding road that circles the island.
I think that has more to do with the narrow, windy roads and the many blind curves, than with the cyclists themselves. I ride around the Seattle metro area, and don't cause the kinds of problems Mercer Island experiences when I'm in most of Seattle, and even most places on the East Side; cars can pass you safely. I also drive over MI - my mother lives near Groveland Park, so I find myself on the roads being complained about. You can't pass anybody, be it a cyclist or a granny.

Keep in mind that Mercer Island residents can ride the express lanes which are otherwise HOV. Residents tend to have above-average wealth, and with that comes a great deal of clout.

Fortunately none of what's being proposed here will affect the I-90 trail, except for a small section by the park and ride.
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Old 04-20-10, 10:50 AM
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every person in the slow moving group of bicycles shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for
a safe turn-out exists in order to permit the vehicle(s) following the group to proceed.

Sounds like they do intend this to mean using private driveways or gravel shoulders for "turn-out" areas. Since "safe" is a subjective term, this is an arguable point in court, should the matter ever arise. Safe according to whom? The impatient motorist who thinks that riding into a soft, glass littered gravel spillway is necessary to they can get someplace faster? The judge, who may not even be familiar with the roadway? Or the cyclist, who is best equipped to decide when it is "safe" to turn out off the roadway to allow faster traffic to pass?

As used in this section a slow moving group of bicycles is a group of two or more bicycles traveling together at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.
This is the same BS that NYC uses for their anti-cycling laws, defining a parade as a procession of more than X number of bicycles travelling in a group and requiring they have a permit. (enacted in an attempt to blockade CM rides, but applicable to all club rides)

A few of the Seattle Randos live on M.I., and I'm going to point this out and see about getting our club involved in speaking out against it, too.
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Old 04-20-10, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I think that has more to do with the narrow, windy roads and the many blind curves, than with the cyclists themselves.
I do the loop around Mercer Island on my bike several hundred times a year. I live at the south end of the Island, so am usually on West Mercer Way 2x a day (I commute by bike). I also ride East Mercer Way frequently.

I am not trying to argue whether the MI council is right or wrong in what they are doing. But the council's action is, in my opinion a reaction to a small minority of cyclists who ride around the island in *very* large groups in double and triple pacelines, holding up traffic. It's not only annoying to drivers, but also hazardous to other folks on the road -- I've been ridden off the road several times when frustrated drivers pull out to pass these pelotons and then fail to see an oncoming cyclist.


A couple of other things:

- 99.9% of the drivers on MI are *very* patient with cyclists. I ride the island at all hours, 52 weeks a year, in all kinds of weather, and feel that my presence on the road is respected.

- This change in the ordinance comes as the city is adopting an overall bike master plan that has lots of good things in it for cyclists.

- The city *has* widened Mercer Way where it can. It's a very narrow road, with a hill to one side, and in many places a very steep dropoff on the other. There are multiple places where the city has widened the (admittedly small) shoulder by a few inches here and there to squeeze out as much pavement as they can without causing erosion problems on the hillside. In my many, many trips around the island by bike I've searched out places where they could eke out a bit more room -- and there ain't much. The city is, I believe, considering an investment to remove the "road dots" that are a hazard on Mercer Way, and they've also been more vigilant in the last year about enforcing city regulations that require property owners to cut back vegetation that overgrows the road.

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Old 04-20-10, 11:12 AM
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WA State law already has this covered (emphasis mine):

RCW 46.04.67 - Vehicle

"Vehicle" includes every device capable of being moved upon a public highway and in, upon, or by which any persons or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway, including bicycles. The term does not include power wheelchairs or devices other than bicycles moved by human or animal power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. Mopeds shall not be considered vehicles or motor vehicles for the purposes of chapter 46.70 RCW. Bicycles shall not be considered vehicles for the purposes of chapter 46.12, 46.16, or 46.70 RCW. Electric personal assistive mobility devices are not considered vehicles or motor vehicles for the purposes of chapter 46.12, 46.16, 46.29, 46.37, or 46.70 RCW.
Bikes are vehicles. RCW 46.12 covers "certificates of ownership and registration", 46.16 covers "vehicle licenses", and 46.70 covers "dealers and manufacturers".

RCW 46.61.770 - Riding on roadways and bicycle paths

(1) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe except as may be appropriate while preparing to make or while making turning movements, or while overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction. A person operating a bicycle upon a roadway or highway other than a limited-access highway, which roadway or highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near to the left side of the left through lane as is safe. A person operating a bicycle upon a roadway may use the shoulder of the roadway or any specially designated bicycle lane if such exists.

(2) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
The state says riding two abreast is fine. I know Cascade (and possibly other clubs) encourage riding single file, but I think this is just an attempt to "play nicely" with drivers; it's not a requirement.

RCW 46.61.427 - Slow-moving vehicle to pull off roadway

On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow moving vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in a line, shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for a safe turn-out exists, in order to permit the vehicles following to proceed. As used in this section a slow moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.
We are already required to pull off to the side and allow traffic to pass under certain conditions.
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Old 04-20-10, 04:34 PM
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According to this blog post, which summarizes the city council's discussion at their April 19 meeting, this ordinance is not faring well --

http://www.criminale.com/blog/2010/0...Oblivious.aspx


This article says it's dead:

http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/east_kin.../91648884.html

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Old 04-21-10, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
According to this blog post, which summarizes the city council's discussion at their April 19 meeting, this ordinance is not faring well --

http://www.criminale.com/blog/2010/0...Oblivious.aspx
"3) Mike Cero expressed concern that the ordnances only restated state law, and he proposed modifications as a cure. When that failed, he supported revising the ordnances. He was pleased that the city attorney interpreted state law to mean that bicycles had to ride to the far right when a car wanted to pass, and not several feet out from the edge of the road."

WTF is that all about? Are they saying that if it's a narrow two lane road with no shoulder, we now have to share the lane with a car coming up behind us? So much for taking the lane.
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Old 04-21-10, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
"3) Mike Cero expressed concern that the ordnances only restated state law, and he proposed modifications as a cure. When that failed, he supported revising the ordnances. He was pleased that the city attorney interpreted state law to mean that bicycles had to ride to the far right when a car wanted to pass, and not several feet out from the edge of the road."

WTF is that all about? Are they saying that if it's a narrow two lane road with no shoulder, we now have to share the lane with a car coming up behind us? So much for taking the lane.
You are correct. RCW 46.61.770 provides: ...Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe except as may be appropriate while preparing to make or while making turning movements, or while overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction....

Taking the lane does run the risk of getting a ticket in Washington state.
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Old 04-21-10, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
"3) Mike Cero expressed concern that the ordnances only restated state law, and he proposed modifications as a cure. When that failed, he supported revising the ordnances. He was pleased that the city attorney interpreted state law to mean that bicycles had to ride to the far right when a car wanted to pass, and not several feet out from the edge of the road."

WTF is that all about? Are they saying that if it's a narrow two lane road with no shoulder, we now have to share the lane with a car coming up behind us? So much for taking the lane.
You are correct. RCW 46.61.770 provides: ...Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe except as may be appropriate while preparing to make or while making turning movements, or while overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction....

Taking the lane does run the risk of getting a ticket in Washington state.
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Old 04-21-10, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MillCreek View Post
You are correct. RCW 46.61.770 provides: ...Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe except as may be appropriate while preparing to make or while making turning movements, or while overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction....

Taking the lane does run the risk of getting a ticket in Washington state.
The statement "as is safe" is subjective. If it's a narrow no passing zone on a blind curve and you take the lane because you thought it was unsafe for a trailing vehicle to pass you, that's your judgement call to make. While an officer might write you up for it, it's also an easy one to argue in court due to ambiguity of the law.
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Old 04-22-10, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
The statement "as is safe" is subjective. If it's a narrow no passing zone on a blind curve and you take the lane because you thought it was unsafe for a trailing vehicle to pass you, that's your judgement call to make. While an officer might write you up for it, it's also an easy one to argue in court due to ambiguity of the law.
I myself have not heard of any such citations being issued, unless the officer did it as an attitude correction measure.
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Old 04-22-10, 03:24 PM
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you can take the lane in Washington if the lane is too narrow to share safely. That's why the standard design for new streets has a 14 foot lane next to the curb. Some of the "B" highways in Scotland, one lane each direction, are not much wider!
The MI city attorney needs to receive a short informative brief on the issue. The criteria is "as far right as safe", not "as far right as there is blacktop"
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Old 04-25-10, 12:54 AM
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Mercer Island has widened parts of the clockwise loop, but the counterclockwise loop is mostly one narrow lane with limited shoulder.

As one who rides, drives and lives on Mercer Island, I can say that:
  • Most riders are considerate
  • SOME riders pack up and could care less about ANY car ever passing them.
  • Most drivers are keenly aware of the bikers and do their best not to pass them very closely
  • The intense curvy-ness of the roads makes passing packs of riders at times very difficult and unsafe


I personally would not be opposed to a single-file riding ordinance, but in lieu they should simply have an ordinance that states riders muct move to single file formation during the hours of 7AM-9AM, 2:30PM-7PM, and any time a car is behind them attempting to pass.
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Old 04-25-10, 07:50 AM
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a requirement bicyclists have to operate single file is overly & unlawfully restrictive compared to state statute.

EASIEST way for mercer island to deal with bicyclists?

Educate Mercer Island rezidents ( starting with the mayor -the mayor seems like the most vocal complainer at the council meetings and ignorant!) about bicyclists legally allowed right to travel public roads on mercer island 2 abreast as we help establish the prevailing, "normal" speed of traffic.

They could also reduce the speed limit to 20mph on the loop roads. if bicyclists are that large of a portion of road use (has anyone done any bike:car counts on MI way>**********) Bicyclists, as lawful road users, are vehicles that help establish the normal & prevailing speed of traffic when traveling in significant numbers on the roadways.

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Old 04-25-10, 12:12 PM
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I don't get it, have you guys never been stuck behind a slow moving vehicle in a no pass highway? A bicycle would be going much slower than that vehicle and cars could potentially be stuck behind you for a good while. Make the speed limit 20mph? Change the speed at which EVERYONE has to travel to benefit cyclist, how bike-centric is that? The pull over law should only apply to motor vehicles?? That makes no sense, again, a slow motor vehicle is probably going much faster than a biker, especially if there is any kind of hill involved. I would feel obligated to pull over to the side if cars were stacking up behind me. I can't understand why some cyclists think its perfectly okay to ride two abreast while cars are stacking up behind you...mind boggling.
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Old 04-25-10, 07:56 PM
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+1
Why do some bicyclist think the roads are made just for them.
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Old 04-25-10, 08:16 PM
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How fast do people need to travel on Mercer Island anyway? I was posting a joke, but if the motorists have a problem sharing the road with other road users, maybe some speed restrictions are in order.

Requiring bicyclists turn off the road to benefit faster traffic is an affront to cyclists right to the travelled way.

Cyclists ARE much slower than motorized traffic, and narrower. Any purported requirement a cyclist leave the travelled entirely to way to benefit other traffic on the road stands is an affront to cyclists rights and would be a de facto prohibition of travel by bicycle on busy, narrow, two laned highway. I will ignore any purported requirement to do so, and would plead a defense of necessity if ever cited for this infraction.

Imrpove the roadway to add safe shoulders and bike lanes so cyclists riding two abreast can move to the right to allow faster traffic to pass.

Of course cyclists should ride as far right as is safe, and no more than two abreast. and pull onto safe shoulders or bikelanes if safe to do so.

A requirement cyclists pull off the road onto what??? Do you guys think this discriminatory turn off law would require a group of cyclists pull into a private driveway or a gravel shoulder?

good luck making that stick. Ludicrious anyone that rides a bicycle would be of the opinion that cyclists should leave the road for faster traffic. please, don't insult my rights.

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Old 04-25-10, 09:04 PM
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As a cyclist and motorist on MI, I just want to point out that there is very little traffic (at the times I ride, Sunday am and maybe a week night) and most of the time riding near the speed limit there are rarely more than one car back, can't speak to the clubs that go slow and take the road. Best way around the island is clockwise with more shoulder so it doesn't hold up a car or two. The heart of this matter is they are trying (a small minority) to change the law, even the city attorney seems to agree that it's an futile case from what I've read. I give the road as much as possible and 99.9 of the drivers seem to be amiable to cyclist that do the same.

Last edited by Marinman; 04-26-10 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 04-25-10, 10:45 PM
  #22  
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'zacktly! most commenting here have never ridden or driven the island. for those who have not, there are tremendous amount of curves, lots of blind spots, and almost no shoulder for most of the roughly 15 miles round the island. at least not counterclock-wise. In addition, there is plenty of gravel spots, and lots of slopes where one could easily end up mountain biking where they do not want to.

riding MI in an 'unsafe' fashion could easily expose a cyclist to more surprises than they would normally find on most urban areas. jamming up traffic on a weekend because the law says you can is not a smart move, as eventually one of those people is gonna get pissed off enough to cut someone short with potentially disasterous results.
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Old 04-26-10, 11:31 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
How fast do people need to travel on Mercer Island anyway?
How fast do people "need" to travel? I suppose not all that fast. But come on: with virtually all the automobile traffic, we're talking about people who live on or near the road and do "need" to travel on it to get to and from their jobs, the store, school, etc.

If need is the criteria, how much do bicyclists even "need" to ride on this particular road at all? Sure, I guess there are a few who do, but the vast majority - and all those riding in groups - are just riding on it to ride.

... Any purported requirement a cyclist leave the travelled entirely to way to benefit other traffic on the road stands is an affront to cyclists rights and would be a de facto prohibition of travel by bicycle on busy, narrow, two laned highway. I will ignore any purported requirement to do so, and would plead a defense of necessity if ever cited for this infraction.

... good luck making that stick. Ludicrious anyone that rides a bicycle would be of the opinion that cyclists should leave the road for faster traffic. please, don't insult my rights.
The pull-over-if-you're-blocking-5-cars law applies to all slow-moving vehicles. If tractors, RVs etc. were to be required to pull over to let cars pass but bikes weren't, that'd be inappropriately discriminatory, but not against the bikers. If you actually read the law - easy, since it's quoted above - it doesn't require anyone to do anything impossible or crazy: just pull over "wherever sufficient area for a safe turn-out exists."

If you consider your own practical experience - and, even more, the posts by people above who know the specific situation here - you'll see that there's really no problem with bikers who ride in a reasonably considerate manner. A single bike, or a handful together, sometimes have a modest effect an a few cars, but it's possible for cars to pass them (with a little patience), and they never create a line of five cars. Drivers, for the most part, have no complaint with such riders (or at least not one that they don't forget about by the time they get to where they're going). It's big, unpassable pelotons that are the issue. Asserting the right to ride like this, or to delay strings of cars, is a good way to ensure that whatever rights bicyclists do have will go away. If this is what you consider a reasonable tactic, you might try gathering a group of fifty bicyclists and riding en masse on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass.

Incidentally, at least one bit of the MI ordinance seems to be aimed at helping cyclists. If you read the state law literally, any line of six bikers is violating the 5-vehicle rule, even if there's no car anywhere on the road. Not that anyone would adopt such a rigorously literal reading....

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Old 04-26-10, 12:49 PM
  #24  
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groups of cyclists have every much right as motor vehicle operators to use the roads on mercer island. Groups of cyclists establish a metric of what 'normal speed of traffic' is on a road, as bicyclists are traffic. any purported requirement cyclists pull off the road IS an affront to bicycling as a unique mode of human powered transportation on relatively fragile machines.

a bike is not driven by a motor and they are not robust like tractors so as to be expected to even be able to 'turn off the road' to benefit faster traffic. optional use of a shoulder as a considerate vehicular cyclist, but requirements we turn off the road is excessively restricitive of my personally interpreted rights as a cyclist, and i would fight and defend against any such citation with a defense of necessity.

like i said earlier about mercer island specifically, there are few spots cyclists can pull off the road safely so the proposed ordinance is largely inapplicable anyway esp in the hairpins on the east side of the island. but it will foster anti-cyclist sentiment even if cyclist cannot pull off safely.

lets hope the mercer island anti-cycling nonsense goes away, but i'd expect more backlash so long as mercer island continues to indulge their mayor's misguided rampage against washington state traffic code.

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Old 04-27-10, 09:29 AM
  #25  
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Wow, mind boggling. Roads built with motor vehicles in mind, largely supported through gas taxes, yet human powered cyclists establish the metric for normal speed? I don't get how you think, the world does not revolve around cyclists. Everyone shares the road, try and make things easier on each other. That sort of entitlement attitude, which may translate to behavior on the road does nothing to advocate the image of cyclists to regular motorists; if anything, it perpetuates the negative stereotype associated with aggressive lycra clad riders on the road to whom red lights are just a suggestion and the "Do Not Cross" signal does not apply to.
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