Thursday, July 11, 2013

Everybody Has to Follow the Rules

You will frequently find bicyclists throughout the city and, for as often as they can be seen on roadway, we are lucky to have so few incidents.  Last year there were 17 reported bicycle related incidents and this year there have been 4.  These numbers are either a reflection that people are following the laws regarding bicycles, or that we've been lucky.  To make sure it’s not just luck, we’ll take this opportunity to review a few things with the end goal being everyone’s safety.

Wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders have to use the path, not the roadway.  This is one rule that surprises a few people because many think that bicycles have to remain on the roadway.

Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has the same rights as any motor vehicle, but is also held to the same laws as the motor vehicles.  That means they have to obey all traffic control devices (stop lights and stop signs) and they must signal lane changes. And for the speed racers, this means obeying speed limits, as well.

When bicyclists do use the roadway, they have to ride as near to the right side of the roadway as possible in almost every case.  The few exceptions to this have to do with preparing to make a left turn, overtaking another bicyclist, or avoiding an obstruction or hazard.

One of the least known parts of the ordinance restricts bicyclists from riding in large packs that block a lane of traffic.  It says they cannot ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

Now, it’s not all about the bicyclists minding the rules.  Those who operate motor vehicles have to understand that if a bicycle is on the roadway, you have to give them the same respect as another vehicle.  The ordinance that allows drivers to pass another vehicle allows vehicles to pass a bicyclist in a no passing zone when it’s safe, but-- and this is important-- you have to pass on the left and at a distance of not less than three (3) feet. 

Striking a bicyclist is the same as striking another vehicle or pedestrian.  It’s a motor vehicle accident and, if you leave the scene without exchanging information or stopping, you can be charged with hit and run, in addition to any other charges that may be coming your way.

In short, when it comes to bicycles and vehicles trying to utilize the same roadways, everyone has to follow the rules.  Continuing to follow the rules will keep everyone happy and safe.