Lol. Ok, so I try to keep the content on this blog serious and focused on moving Bicycle Advocacy forward. But I ran across this lawn mower and just had to laugh. Gosh, this is great. I doubt it cuts worth a darn — […]
For the most part, bikes are allowed on roadways. One of the large exceptions is the interstate. Cyclists are not allowed on the nation’s interstate. Safety There is always the question of whether you, the cyclist, wants to be on that particular stretch of road. […]
Space for bike lanes is always at a premium. At best, we are lucky to be allowed to ride on an unprotected shoulder. Occasionally, cities will gives us a lane we can share with the busses and turning cars.
Today, Philadelphia upped the ante for most bicycle friendly city by opening a 1.1 mile stretch of lane between 45th and 34th streets. This lane is protected by posts and is delineated for bike-only traffic.
The driving force in this change is Philadelphia’s vision 0 campaign. Philly has one of the highest rates of death per 100k drivers in the nation, with over 100 fatalities in their city every year. It is their goal to redesign the most troublesome spots to make them safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
This lane is not without its detractors. Philadelphia is still a vehicle-focused location, and drivers are frustrated by having to share the lane with cyclists. Which only underscores the need for more of these dedicated lanes, at least until cars get used to looking out for the cyclists.
I think Philly is onto something. If some of these thourghfares can be made bicycle-friendly, then maybe we can start encouraging more people to ride. Converting 5% of that commuting traffic to bikes could make a huge impact on their safety numbers.
And it is a proven fact that, at least in inner-city locations, cycling can offer a lot of relief to congestion.
New York has been a frustration to the electric bike industry for many years now. While electric bicycles are marketed to those living in large cities as a way to make larger distances and longer commutes a possibility, New York State’s ban on electric bikes […]
A shared-use path.
Often referred to as a “bike-path“, most shared use paths are for the use of all travelers not using motor vehicles. Strollers, skate boards, roller skates, wheelchairs, pedestrians, and sometimes even horses are permitted on these quiet roads where cars are restricted.
Unless it’s one of those sacred paths where pedestrians are prohibited, the multi use paths are made for people who are aware of their surroundings and expecting to share.
The general rule of such paths is that faster moving travelers use audible alerts to let those in front of them that they will be passing, and that everyone stay to the far right of their lane unless they are passing a slower traveler.
That doesn’t mean that the use of these pathways is always seamless and safe.
Accidents are uncommon, but not rare in these settings. As with all accidents involving more than one person, liability is determined by fault. No, the cyclist is not automatically assumed guilty if they hit a pedestrian any more than a driver is assumed guilty for hitting a cyclist.
It is possible for a cyclist to be struck by a pedestrian, as unlikely as that sounds. If a pedestrian steps into the pathway of a cyclist without warning and with too little room for the cyclist to stop, they are technically the one striking the cyclist, and not the other way around. Especially if the pedestrian was distracted when they moved into an obstructing position, they are very clearly at fault.
However, cyclists that move into a pedestrian cross walk or out of their designated lanes (often, when a high cycling use is predicted in a shared use pathway, cyclists and pedestrians/wheelchais will have different lanes within the pathway) will generally be considered at fault if they strike a pedestrian in that situation.
These accidents are uncommon, as I said before because cyclists tend to be hyper aware when sharing a pathway with pedestrians. Your own body is at high risk if you are in an accident, and while Hollywood enjoys depicting cyclists going over their handlebars, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywnS8sUYD6Q)I promise you that anyone on a bicycle is doing all they can to keep that from becoming their reality.
The biggest cause of fault being found in the cyclist seems to be distracted riding. Fitness apps, texting, riding with one hand to talk on the phone — all of these are causes for the cyclist to be held liable. Other reasons the cyclist would have fault is riding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, riding the wrong way, using a sidewalk instead of a bike lane, not exercising prudence, not announcing your presence when coming behind, not signaling a turn, and etc.
If you were fully aware and were struck by a pedestrian, they will have liability, but if you are acting irresponsibly in a shared use pathway, expect to carry full liability if you harm another person.
Also, be aware of the rules of each specific pathway. It’s likely your pathway has speed limits (It’s pretty easy to speed in a 15mph zone) and know whether or not you have your own designated lane.
As always, wear your helmet and ride safely!
Sidewalk laws vary from state to state, and then again from county to county. San Antonio restricts bicycles from side walks as a city wide mandate, while Madison, WI allows them in non-commercial areas, providing cyclists yield to pedestrians and give audible warnings when they […]
Some states have such hard and fast double yellow line rules that (literally) cyclist have been struck by cars because they driver had an inability to move over far enough even though they were trying. While many cyclists would say ‘they should have waited for […]
State laws vary as to the the priority and rights of cyclists on roadways, but many places have very specific laws in place for cyclists riding side by side and what constitutes impeding traffic.
We are gonna dive into some of the basics of lane sharing, traffic impeding, and riding abreast, but before we do I need to clarify: We are not legal authorities, nor do we have the ability to cover the specific municipal codes and location specific laws of the entire nation. Please be aware of your local laws, and always be respectful!
When one or more travelers move to the side of a lane to allow others to pass or ride beside them. Examples include:
- a vehicle going under the required minimum that drives on or as close to the shoulder as possible to allow faster vehicles to pass
- a vehicle moving to the curb to make a right hand turn to allow overtaking vehicles to continue without stopping for them.
- a group of cyclists or motorcyclists traveling in a group rather than in single file
- two cyclists riding abreast in one lane to travel side by side
When a driver/operator acts in a way that restricts the normal flow of traffic through irresponsible choices. Examples include:
- using a lane to ride below the minimum speed requirement
- not allowing a car to pass for a long period of time
- stopping in a roadway
Two Abreast Riding
A law regulating how many cyclists can ride beside each other and limiting them to only two. Variations include only allowing two cyclists to ride side by side if they are not impeding traffic, or single file restrictions at all times.
At iamtraffic.org you can easily check your state’s legislation restricting how you are allowed to ride, including mandates covering shoulder use, bike lanes, TOR, and impedement laws.
In 42 of the 50 United States, cyclists are exempt from laws that call “delaying” and impediment by motor vehicles, meaning that if cars have to slow down and wait to pass them they are not considered “impeding”. However, in 8 states there is no exemption, and cyclists are often ticketed for riding slower than the speed limit for motor vehicles.
California has a dichotomy here, with no two abreast law or impediment restrictions, meaning that cyclists can travel in groups on the roadways. BUT they do not have an exemption from cyclists for impediment tickets, so all that is needed for cyclists to find trouble is for a driver to find that they are moving too slowly and feel inconvenienced.
Many states also have laws in place for when a cyclist can rightfully “take the lane” by moving into the center and claiming the entire lane, but some states have no such provisions, meaning that cyclists simply have to wait until there are no cars that would have to wait for them to do something as simple as make a legal left turn.
This is frustrating, at best, but you must be aware of your local laws because you are responsible. You can always lobby, call representatives, and raise awareness, but please do so in a way that reflects positively of the cycling community.
And always, be safe!