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Thread: Question about law concerning two cyclists riding abreast

  1. #11
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    The postings here so far clearly demonstrated the problem with the current bicycle laws - vague, inconsistent, and open to interpretation. The only consistency is that these are guaranteed to change whenever one pedals into another jurisdiction. These laws are confusing enough for a cyclist, so can one really expect a driver to know AND follow? I think not. An average cyclist/driver simply do not have the bandwidth or a law degree to parse all these while on the road.

    Rules of the road need to be the same, for two wheels or four. I much rather see some real effort in creating a uniform set of traffic laws that span across jurisdictions and vehicle types than having to deal with these esoteric bike laws conjured up by those that likely have never pedaled an inch in their adult life.

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    If the lane is not wide enough to allow me to ride on the right--and allow room for the driver to pass me with three feet of clearance without partially crossing into the oncoming lane--then I will ride in the center anytime there is oncoming traffic (if the road is clear ahead, then I'll ride on the right-ish side). I do not want to give a driver room to make her believe she can squeeze by. This is, IMO, common sense and makes me safer, regardless of what the law says. In some places laws are starting to acknowledge this, such as the two-abreast law in Virginia.
    Quote Originally Posted by ImaCynic View Post
    Again, why is there a double yellow? It usually means that there is insufficient line-of-sight for safe overtake. By passing this law, a driver may legally be able to cross it, but it does not reduce the danger involved in doing so.
    This is yet another unintended consequence of passing something that they believe it is safer for all. It is not.
    I disagree with this. If cars are never allowed to cross the double yellow and are also required to allow three feet to pass, then they could end up being stuck behind a cyclist for many miles, much of that unnecessarily. The law states that they may cross the line and pass, but only when safe to do so. I personally have experienced hundreds of cases of cars moving over to the oncoming lane and passing me with lots of clearance in a completely safe manner. In the absence of a law like this, I believe we cyclists would be more endangered, not less.
    Last edited by Steve O; 04-29-2021 at 11:20 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaCynic View Post
    The postings here so far clearly demonstrated the problem with the current bicycle laws - vague, inconsistent, and open to interpretation. The only consistency is that these are guaranteed to change whenever one pedals into another jurisdiction. These laws are confusing enough for a cyclist, so can one really expect a driver to know AND follow? I think not. An average cyclist/driver simply do not have the bandwidth or a law degree to parse all these while on the road.

    Rules of the road need to be the same, for two wheels or four. I much rather see some real effort in creating a uniform set of traffic laws that span across jurisdictions and vehicle types than having to deal with these esoteric bike laws conjured up by those that likely have never pedaled an inch in their adult life.
    1. Laws always require interpretation and that applies to all traffic laws. We can of course (and are) working to get clarification where needed in Virginia

    2. Consistency across states is a good thing. That does not mean we should never change

    3. Of course I do not count on others to follow the law. That applies whether I am riding, walking, or driving. I adjust my riding for my own safety, of course.

    4. The new laws in Va were pushed by the Virginia Bicycle Federation. I can assure you they have pedaled, and also thought throug the implications of change.

    If you want uniform laws, does that mean you want bikes to not be required to ride as far to the right as practicable, to be banned from all sidewalks and trails, and to be allowed on all interstate highways? The fact is we do make different laws for different classes of vehicles. There are good reasons for that, and it does not have to be confusing. We can improve driver education on such laws - and of course drivers will learn them better when we have more people on bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by baiskeli View Post
    New question - Virginia law still requires a single rider to stay to the right unless necessary for, say turning left, or when it is unsafe not to take the lane. That would still apply, I think. Only riding with a buddy next to you gives you the right to take the lane at any time. Do you think I'm reading this right?
    This is in Virginia Code 46.2-905

    https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/...ction46.2-905/

    46.2-905. Riding bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, motorized skateboards or scooters, and mopeds on roadways and bicycle paths.
    Any person operating a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, motorized skateboard or scooter, or moped on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under conditions then existing shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following circumstances:

    1. When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;

    2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;

    3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right curb or edge;

    4. When avoiding riding in a lane that must turn or diverge to the right; and

    5. When riding upon a one-way road or highway, a person may also ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as safely practicable.

    For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane too narrow for a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, motorized skateboard or scooter, or moped and another vehicle to pass safely side by side within the lane.

    Persons riding bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, or motorized skateboards or scooters on a highway shall not ride more than two abreast. Persons riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, shall move into a single file formation as quickly as is practicable when being overtaken from the rear by a faster moving vehicle, and, on a laned roadway, shall ride in a single lane.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the Department of Conservation and Recreation shall permit the operation of electric personal assistive mobility devices on any bicycle path or trail designated by the Department for such use.


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    Basically you can take a lane when it less than 14 feet. However, as Imacynic points out in a cynic fashion, interpretation bungles things up. Substandard width is defined, however several police agencies interpret that a cyclist can be passed legally within a three foot lane because they do not take into account shy distance, surface imperfections, width of the rider and general maneuverability space when doing lane width math.


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    A couple of disparate comments.

    Many traffic rules require interpretation. However, the goal should be to write them in a way that minimizes potential differences in interpretation. Part of the difficulty lies in codifying common sense and simple courtesy. Add to that the fact that cyclists are often viewed by legislators and motorists as second class citizens who don't have equal rights on the road.

    I'm not in the habit of measuring lane width when I am out riding. However, for nearly every road I ride on, there is insufficient space for both a bicycle and a faster moving car (the speed at which cars are traveling is another factor in determining how much room I feel I need.) I'm sure the new Virginia law is an improvement over the current law, but it is written in a rather odd way. A bicycle and other slower vehicles "shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following circumstances:" Among the circumstances is: "When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right curb or edge." These aren't exceptions but rather determine how close to the right it is safely practicable to ride.

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  9. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    If the lane is not wide enough to allow me to ride on the right--and allow room for the driver to pass me with three feet of clearance without partially crossing into the oncoming lane--then I will ride in the center anytime there is oncoming traffic (if the road is clear ahead, then I'll ride on the right-ish side). I do not want to give a driver room to make her believe she can squeeze by. This is, IMO, common sense and makes me safer, regardless of what the law says. In some places laws are starting to acknowledge this, such as the two-abreast law in Virginia.
    ^^^ This is spot on. I do the same, particularly around blind curves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    I disagree with this. If cars are never allowed to cross the double yellow and are also required to allow three feet to pass, then they could end up being stuck behind a cyclist for many miles, much of that unnecessarily. The law states that they may cross the line and pass, but only when safe to do so. I personally have experienced hundreds of cases of cars moving over to the oncoming lane and passing me with lots of clearance in a completely safe manner. In the absence of a law like this, I believe we cyclists would be more endangered, not less.
    The rub here is "but only when safe to do so", and I have no confidence on drivers' ability to make that judgement. Besides, if this "allowed to cross double yellow" is a new law and won't take effect until July, why have drivers been do so already? Again, laws only seem to matter after the fact, and when there is no enforcement, it is largely ignored. Recall the four-way stop intersection video that you posted?

    Keen situational awareness and assertive riding are the best bet to stay alive out there. Laws can only be used to punish those that run you over, if they ever get caught.

  10. #18
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    1. IIUC VBF is currently discussing exactly what is a substandard width lane, and how to get standards accepted by LE across the Commonwealth. IF you have an issue with the details of a particular law, the best thing is to get involved with advocacy orgs like VBF. This is a fine forum for general musing and free ranging discussion, but the rubber hits the road on making things better by "doing the work" of advocacy. There is ALWAYS a shortage of volunteers, and seldom a shortage of people kvetching in the background

    2. It's always wise to be situationally aware on roads.

  11. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    This is in Virginia Code 46.2-905

    https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/...ction46.2-905/

    46.2-905. Riding bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, motorized skateboards or scooters, and mopeds on roadways and bicycle paths.
    Any person operating a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, motorized skateboard or scooter, or moped on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under conditions then existing shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following circumstances:

    1. When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;

    2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;

    3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right curb or edge;

    4. When avoiding riding in a lane that must turn or diverge to the right; and

    5. When riding upon a one-way road or highway, a person may also ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as safely practicable.

    For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane too narrow for a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, motorized skateboard or scooter, or moped and another vehicle to pass safely side by side within the lane.

    Persons riding bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, or motorized skateboards or scooters on a highway shall not ride more than two abreast. Persons riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, shall move into a single file formation as quickly as is practicable when being overtaken from the rear by a faster moving vehicle, and, on a laned roadway, shall ride in a single lane.
    That's actually the law that was amended. The last sentence, "Persons riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, shall move into a single file formation as quickly as is practicable when being overtaken from the rear by a faster moving vehicle, and, on a laned roadway, shall ride in a single lane," was removed.

    So it seems that one may ride two abreast and not have to "not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic" but must still " ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway" as required in the first paragraph. Seems contradictory, or maybe it simply means you have to try to do both at the same time.

  12. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaCynic View Post
    Double yellow means no passing when I last checked the traffic laws, so the notion that a car has to completely cross the double yellow to overtake a cyclist makes no sense. When put in this situation, a driver has two choices; 1) wait, or 2) squeeze around the cyclist without infringing on traffic violation, and I suspect the driver will most likely choose the latter as I would do the same.
    And this, kids, is why you make sure you're far enough over to the left to keep idiots in cars from trying to squeeze past you.

    As an aside: have you ever noticed how if a car breaks down or a lane is otherwise blocked on a road with a double yellow line that drivers just put their cars into park behind the obstacle and wait patiently for it to be removed? Oh, yeah, right--the inviolability of the double yellow line is something that only exists when the issue is cyclists making it "impossible" to pass, in all other cases people use their common sense and cross the stupid line when necessary.

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