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Thread: Bicycle code

  1. #1
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    Bicycle code

    I got into a disagreement with one of my in-laws about riding bicycles on the sidewalk. He felt that we should stay off the road and I told him it wasn't legal in most places around here for adults to ride on sidewalks. I looked up the municipal code in the town that I live in and proved myself correct. Yeah for me. One of the other ordinances in the code did catch my eye.

    A. Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right-hand side of the roadway as practicable, and at all times giving the right of way to other moving vehicles.

    Taken literally doesn't this mean that a rider would have to stop and give right of way to allow a car to make a left turn in front of them even if they both had a green light?

    This is in addition to requiring a license sticker, reflectors and a bell or horn on all bicycles.

  2. #2
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    Your absolutely correct. The minute we start using the sidewalks, the motorists will never stand for us in the streets again. My city has made it legal to ride on sidewalks. This could be a sign that the sidewalks is where they want us.
    Your in-law is just one of the million motorists out there that are in a hurry and don't want anyone to get in the way. Pretty sad mentality indeed.
    With people like Peter P. around, I am done posting on this website. Mean people have driven me off after 9 plus years. Good luck newbies beware.

  3. #3
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    I'm in Salt Lake and the code here states it's against the law to ride on the sidewalk only in the downtown area. Anywhere outside of the specified area is fair game.

  4. #4
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    Our shop works with a local advocacy group and we get all kinds of info from them. They even run classes to educate the various police organizations (we have two sizable private collages and a major state university in our town of 90K so that's at least 4) on the statutes and reasonable interpretation of them. First I'll have to say that if your local cops don't have a resource like our's, they'll probably know less about the actual statutes than you might - they usually have somewhat more important things going on like major crime.

    So anyway, riding as far to the right as practicable is saying that as long as you are unobstructed (by say cars and their doors, debris that could cause flats or worse, storm-drains, etc.), and the roadway is wide enough to allow a car to pass you with a safe margin (usually thought to be 3 feet) you need to stay to the right - about 2 feet from the edge of the road. So think about how wide you and your bike are - say about three feet. Then add 3 feet for the safety margin between you and the cars. Then add 2 feet for the margin from the road's edge. Then add the average width of most cars, let's say 8 feet (that's actually pretty conservative if you consider full-size pickups with oversize mirrors, not to mention commercial vehicles...) So you need a lane that's at least 13 feet wide for you to always be on the right side and not take your lane. That's also assuming that the space over there is relatively clean of debris. It's good to have a clear idea of what that looks like in relation to the roads you ride regularly.

    This is all based on Bike League education classes. Easy to look up, just like the statutes in your area.

  5. #5
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    Sidewalks are a terribly dangerous place to ride. Drivers are not expecting cyclists there and don't look for them. It's safer in the road.

  6. #6
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    if you are required to ride on the side walk then ordinance needs to be created that:

    A. Every person operating upon a sidewalk shall walk as near to the right-hand side of the sidewalk as practicable, and at all times giving the right of way to other bicycles.

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    I got into the same argument with my cousin who is under 40 and still gets smashed after work and bounce from bar to bar. Once I tolt him that if I had my way (I design 12 foot wide bicyle paths for my county 20ft off the side of the rode) All cities would have these paths and I will not stop pressing on city officials untill I get my way. He then shut up...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe the biker View Post
    A. Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right-hand side of the roadway as practicable, and at all times giving the right of way to other moving vehicles.

    Taken literally doesn't this mean that a rider would have to stop and give right of way to allow a car to make a left turn in front of them even if they both had a green light?
    I think ^^ this ^^ is the main point of the OP's post, not riding on sidewalks, which has been discussed ad nauseum in this forum. I've never seen wording like that in a cycling ordinance. I'd agree with your interpretation, JTB. That's a shitty and narrow-sighted ordinance. Do you have any local cycling advocacy groups that could put some weight behind getting this reworded?

  9. #9
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    jeez, the question isn't about sidewalks...read the OP.

    in my area, the law has similar wording regarding 'riding as far right as practicable'...which is pretty much what most do. that doesn't mean you have to cruise over broken bottles and debris tho.

    and if there's no designated bike lane, cyclists are allowed to take whatever portion of the roadway they need to safely proceed.
    eff all y'all...

  10. #10
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    Riding on sidewalks is dangerous, but not as dangerous as arguing with your in-laws. Doesn't matter if you're right or not. Tread carefully, my friend.

  11. #11
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    I was on a radio show recently talking about bicycle commuting. The host asked me, "How come I see you guys are in the road when there is a sidewalk alongside, empty?"

    I told him it is more dangerous for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. Intersections are where drivers hit cyclists most often. If you are on the sidewalk, every driveway becomes an intersection. Not safe!

    Also, as a cyclist, you want to be where drivers can see you that means where drivers are looking for traffic.

    Drivers never look for traffic on the sidewalk. Why should they?

    So even where legal, sidewalk riding is more dangerous. By one study, much more dangerous a sidewalk cyclist is twice as likely to be hit by a car than is one riding in the road.

    Try that argument. It seemed to convince the radio host.

    I rode on a sidewalk the other day, to see what it was like. Narrow, with too many bumps (an expansion joint every 6 or 8 feet). Just not built for riding bikes, except at the slowest of speeds, and even then, take care.

    Further, the people on the sidewalk don't want even a slow say, 10 mph cyclist blowing by them.

    Stay on the street and become a visible part of the traffic flow. You are safer for it, and the sidewalk pedestrians appreciate it.

  12. #12
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    Thank you for recognizing my actual point. I did send an email to our local cycling advocacy group to ask them how to proceed. Because I was bored at the office I decided to see what the rules were for the villiages that I ride through on my commute. One other one had the exact same wording about always giving right of way. I also came across these gems from one of the villiages that I pass through.

    (e) Persons operating bicycles shall exercise due caution at intersections, and shall be required to yield to motor vehicle traffic turning right.

    So I guess I always have to stop if someone wants to make a right turn in front of me.

    (q) Every bicyclist attempting to cross a street shall dismount and walk his bicycle across the street.

    If I follow this rule I am going to have to allot some extra time for my commute and some extra dollars for cleats.

    (n) No bicyclist shall practice or perform any stunt, trick, or fancy or acrobatic riding on any street, sidewalk or public way, except under the supervision of his parents or legal guardian, and shall do so in a safe and reasonable manner.

    I am 48 years old but if I want to do any "fancy riding" I have to call my 80 year old parents and have them come supervise me.
    Last edited by Joe the biker; 05-02-2012 at 02:24 PM.

  13. #13
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    I've had drivers yell at out the window at me telling me bicycles belong on the sidewalk!! People are just ingnorant about laws concerning bicycles. I yelled at one guy when he said that: "The way you drive you would hit me on the sidewalk!" All I heard was from him was "falk...." something or other, couldn't catch what he said since he was speeding off.

  14. #14
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    The city ordinances in place have placed the responsibility of safety on bicyclists, not the motorists, due to the simple fact that there are more cars on the road than bicycles.

    A little common sense goes a long way when interpreting these city ordinances:

    (e) Persons operating bicycles shall exercise due caution at intersections, and shall be required to yield to motor vehicle traffic turning right.

    What this means is that the driver of the car has their attention focused on the turn itself, not what is coming behind them or from the side. It is safer for pedestrians and cyclists to let the car follow through with their turn than to try to go around them mid turn. If you think about it, nobody in their right mind would try to cut off a moving train going full speed with a car (let alone a bicycle), so by using the same logic, why would someone try to do the same with a car?

    (q) Every bicyclist attempting to cross a street shall dismount and walk his bicycle across the street.

    I am sure this applies to busy intersections with cross walks for pedestrians, busy 4-way stops and not subdivision side streets. It is easier for a motorist to see a stationary or slow moving object than it is a small, fast moving object.

    Of course, this would be the ideal solution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlApbxLz6pA

    (n) No bicyclist shall practice or perform any stunt, trick, or fancy or acrobatic riding on any street, sidewalk or public way, except under the supervision of his parents or legal guardian, and shall do so in a safe and reasonable manner.

    This only applies to people under the age of 18 (or 21 depending on the city & state laws regarding being a legal adult) due to liability issues when there are accidents, medical issues, etc.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe the biker View Post
    This is in addition to requiring a license sticker, reflectors and a bell or horn on all bicycles.
    Do you guys have a problem with these?

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    I fully agree that your interpretations are probably the intent of the ordinances. My problem is that if that is the intent of the ordinances why don't they write them that way. Couldn't a driver making a right turn on red hitting a cyclist claim that they are not at fault because the village ordinace says that the cyclist is required to yield? If they only mean for us to walk our bikes across controlled intersections then say so. And if they only want to stop kids from trick riding then say "No bicyclist under the age of X" instead of "No bicyclist". One of the other Villages that I ride through has two ordinances. One says that a rider shall keep both hands on the handlebars at all times. And another ordinance says that the rider is required to signal turns and stops by extending his left arm. Both ordinances make some sense but from a literal standpoint you cannot comply with the second ordinace without violating the first one.

    My main point is that while I am sure that these ordinances were written with good intentions, they are not practical and poorly written. If an ordinance says that a cyclist has to yield to other moving vehicles at all times then couldn't a lawyer make the claim that a bicycle/auto accident is always the fault of the cyclist?

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    I will only have a problem with them if I am issued a citation for not complying with them. On my commute to work I pass through 8 towns. To comply I think that I would need 6 license stickers. All of them have license ordinances in their codes but two specifically say that they only apply to residents of the town.

    Illinois law requries that all bicycles and pedals sold have reflectors on them. There is state law that says that they have to stay on the bike. Technically just about every bicycle shop in the state is in violation of the law if they sell a set of clip-in road pedals without reflectors on them.

  18. #18
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    I try to never ride sidewalks. They are way too dangerous where I live. I abide by the laws and do stay as far right as possible when I am in traffic
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  19. #19
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    The problem I see is that many cyclists feel it is up to them to interpret these laws, calling these interpretations common sense. When we really think about it the issues aren't with the laws, it's our desire not to be inconvenienced by slowing down, stopping, etc. We're not that different from motorists in that way.

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe the biker View Post
    I fully agree that your interpretations are probably the intent of the ordinances. My problem is that if that is the intent of the ordinances why don't they write them that way. Couldn't a driver making a right turn on red hitting a cyclist claim that they are not at fault because the village ordinace says that the cyclist is required to yield? If they only mean for us to walk our bikes across controlled intersections then say so. And if they only want to stop kids from trick riding then say "No bicyclist under the age of X" instead of "No bicyclist". One of the other Villages that I ride through has two ordinances. One says that a rider shall keep both hands on the handlebars at all times. And another ordinance says that the rider is required to signal turns and stops by extending his left arm. Both ordinances make some sense but from a literal standpoint you cannot comply with the second ordinace without violating the first one.

    My main point is that while I am sure that these ordinances were written with good intentions, they are not practical and poorly written. If an ordinance says that a cyclist has to yield to other moving vehicles at all times then couldn't a lawyer make the claim that a bicycle/auto accident is always the fault of the cyclist?
    If a driver making a right run on red hits a bicyclist during the turn, then the bicyclist is at fault for not obeying the traffic light.

    What did the city council say in reply to your grievances with the city ordinances?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkdvsm View Post
    Do you guys have a problem with these?
    Problem? No, I personally just don't use them.

    First a bell is completely useless, in city traffic no one can hear the things so why bother? They may work on a bike path to warn people on the path your coming, but my voice is louder then any bell so why a bell? Also reaching for a bell or horn in an emergency means your taking your hand off one brake that could help you to stop quicker and avoid a wreck.

    Reflectors on the bike I don't bother with because I replaced the reflectors with active lighting instead, so the only reflectors I use is on my saddle bag, the shoes, ankle straps, a simple strip around the parameter of the helmet, and on my clothing built in by the factory. so I use plenty of reflectors but I much rather depend on active lighting.

    License stickers have not been used in any state I lived in, plus they do nothing to track a stolen bike since they can be removed so why bother? It's just as effective to keep a record of your serial number and use it if a bike gets stolen, and a serial number can't be easily removed.

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