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Variability of state bicycle laws

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Old February 7th 08, 05:49 PM posted to rec.bicycles.soc
Eric Vey
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Posts: 399
Default Variability of state bicycle laws


Updated to 2006.

here is just snippet:

Bicycle-Specific Considerations in General Driving Rules

All the general rules for driving vehicles apply to bicycles. There are
very few bicycle-specific rules that are necessary. There are only a few
sections of the general traffic rules that need to be revised to take
bicycles into account. In fact, several states (AR, IN, IA, KY, NC) have
hardly any statutes that apply exclusively to bicycles.

Right Turn Hand Signal

The standard hand signals for stopping and turning assume that the
operator is seated on the left side of an enclosed vehicle and therefore
can only use the left hand to signal. However, either hand of a cyclist
or motorcyclist can be seen by other drivers. For the past 50 years,
almost all motor vehicles have been equipped with automatic turn
signals. Most people are not familiar with the standard hand signals,
especially a right turn signal made with the left hand. Pointing right
with the right arm is much more easily understood by all. Ironically,
the only drivers who regularly use hand signals any more are cyclists.
So far 23 states have changed their statutes to permit cyclists to make
a right turn signal with the right hand. The most recent was Colorado
(2005). Cyclists can make a stopping signal with either hand; the law
should also permit it. A right-hand stopping signal is more effective
and more visible when the cyclist is at the left side of a traffic lane,
for example when riding on the left side of a one-way street.

Recommendation: Permit cyclists to signal a right turn with the right
arm and a stop with either arm.

Continuous Signal

When automatic turn signals became common, a requirement to signal
continuously in advance of the turn was added to the UVC. Most states
have adopted some version of this requirement, specifying 100 to 300
feet as the continuous signal distance. A few still have older language
that does not require a continuous signal. For example, Kentucky
requires all drivers to signal "intermittently for the last fifty feet
traveled by the vehicle before the turn." While it is inconvenient for a
motorist to make a continuous hand signal for 300 feet, it can be
dangerous as well as inconvenient for a cyclist to do so, since both
hands are needed for steering or braking. So far 24 states have either
explicitly exempted cyclists from the continuous signal requirement or
have never adopted the requirement.

Recommendation: If there is a requirement for continuous signaling,
exempt cyclists from it.

Sidewalk Use

A person who walks a bike is considered a pedestrian in all
jurisdictions. Although cyclists traveling at normal speeds are
virtually always safer on the roadway than on the sidewalk, there are a
few circumstances where sidewalk bicycling might be permitted. Outside
of business districts, slow sidewalk cycling is reasonably safe and is
convenient to let the cyclist go half a block on a one-way street.
Pre-teen cyclists ought to be permitted (but not required) to use the
sidewalk, at least in residential areas.

Some states have a rule that prohibits drivers from using sidewalks.
This rule should exempt cyclists, at least in the specific situations
described above. The following states include "bicycle" in the
definition of "vehicle" and prohibit vehicle use of sidewalks: Indiana,
Nevada, New Jersey, and North Dakota. Arguably, all sidewalk cycling is
unlawful in those states.

At least 22 states explicitly permit bicycling on the sidewalks, usually
with exceptions. In most of the other states, sidewalk bicycling is
implicitly permitted since there is no general prohibition against
driving vehicles on sidewalks. Sidewalk bicycling may be prohibited by
signs or local ordinances. In Maryland and Wisconsin, sidewalk bicycling
is not permitted unless a local government adopts an ordinance allowing
it. Sidewalk bicycling is restricted to areas outside business districts
in Alaska, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, and
Pennsylvania. Hawaii permits sidewalk bicycling only at speeds less than
10 mph. Of the 22 states that explicitly permit bicycling on sidewalks,
12 specify that sidewalk cyclists have the rights and duties of pedestrians.

Recommendation: Sidewalk cycling should be permitted, but not required,
outside of business districts. Cyclists on the sidewalk should have the
rights and duties of pedestrians but should also be required to yield to
pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Manner of Making Left Turns

Cyclists and motorcyclists do not occupy the entire width of a travel
lane. The rule for making a left turn should specify that the turn is to
be made from the left-most portion of the road available for traffic in
that direction, not merely the left-most lane available for traffic in
that direction, unless left turn only lanes are designated.

Following Too Closely

The standard language in the Uniform Vehicle Code on following too
closely ("tailgating"), if applied to bicycles, could be interpreted as
prohibiting cyclists from riding in a pace line, where by common consent
cyclists travel close enough to be sheltered from the wind. Not all
states have adopted the tailgating rule. In many states the rule
explicitly applies to "motor vehicles," not "vehicles." Regardless of
the definition of vehicle, this rule should be rewritten to explicitly
say that it applies to "drivers of motor vehicles." Nine states have
adopted a version of the statute that applies to all vehicles and
includes bicycles in the definition of vehicle. These states are
Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Texas,
and Wyoming. It could be argued that drafting is unlawful in these states.

Parking on Sidewalks

Many states have adopted statewide parking rules that prohibit parking
on sidewalks. In states where bicycles are considered vehicles, this
prohibition applies to bicycles. Only a few states have specifically
exempted bicycles from this requirement. Several states have statutes
explicitly permitting parking bicycles on sidewalks, generally with the
restriction that parked bicycles are not to block pedestrian flow.
States should permit parking bicycles on sidewalks, with reasonable
restrictions, as in the current version of the UVC.

Racing Rules

Some states have a rule prohibiting racing that is so broadly written
that it could be construed to apply to any cyclists riding hard in a
group. These rules should be modified so that they apply only to motor
vehicles, not all vehicles. Special rules for bicycle racing should
apply only to events in which the participants are allowed to violate
the traffic laws. In this case, as in all similar cases of special use
of highways, special permits are required.

Impeding Traffic

Some states have statutes prohibiting drivers from impeding traffic.
These statutes should be written so that they apply only to motor
vehicles, not to all vehicles. Otherwise, a broad version of this rule
could be wrongly interpreted as prohibiting operation of bicycles or
horse-drawn wagons whenever following drivers might be inconvenienced.

Slow-Moving Vehicle Rule
Old February 8th 08, 12:04 AM posted to rec.bicycles.soc
Kristian M Zoerhoff
external usenet poster
Posts: 472
Default Variability of state bicycle laws

On 2008-02-07, Eric Vey wrote:

Right Turn Hand Signal

So far 23 states have changed their statutes to permit cyclists to make
a right turn signal with the right hand. The most recent was Colorado

Just to update this, IL now allows this as of 1 Januray 2008.


Kristian Zoerhoff


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