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Thread Box:
Side by Side Riding Illegal?
Thread started by daymen at 03.5.09 - 7:18 am



I came across this article in the Daily Bulletin while putting together my "Today's Headlines" post. I was always under the impression that side-by-side riding was legal in certain circumstances, however this article and the CHP are saying it never is. Can someone fill me in on whether I'm right or not? I'm going to write about this tomorrow, and any help from the CVC experts out there would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Damien - Streetsblog

http://www.dailybulletin.com/ci_11835402?source=email

The California Vehicle Code book weighs over 3 pounds, has over 1,000 pages and contains over 40,000 laws and provisions. I would love to say that I know every code and every nuance of its numerous sub-decimal appendages by heart, but that wouldn't even come close to being the truth.

As it turns out, a question that I was recently asked by a reader had to be reviewed and debated by the entire Vehicle Code division of the Sacramento CHP Academy before it could be answered definitively.

When a reader sends a question that I cannot readily identify a clear-cut answer for, I contact my sources at the Sacramento CHP before I put my answer in print. It's my own little fail-safe system to cover my bases and my backside.

Thus was the case a few weeks back when a reader wrote and asked about the legality of bicyclists riding side-by-side. Unable to find a specific mention of this practice in the vehicle code book, I contacted my source in Sacramento, Information Officer Jaime Coffee, who verified that there was no code which specifically stated that the bicyclists riding side-by-side was illegal, although individual municipalities might be able to enforce specialized citywide ordinances.

Retired police officer Kevin Cushman took umbrage with this conclusion, and he let me know it in no uncertain terms.

Fortified in righteousness from having my answer verified by my ace-in-the-hole in Sacramento, I sent him the contact information to duke
Advertisement
it out directly with the Sacramento CHP.

Well, kudos to Officer Cushman for his persistence, as I received the following e-mail from Sacramento:

"Michelle, I was hoping you could run a correction to the answer that we discussed that ran in your column a while back about bicyclists riding side-by-side. After speaking with retired officer Kevin Cushman recently, I decided to pose the question to our folks over in the Vehicle Code section at our Academy. Hopefully, this will prevent anyone from getting a ticket or putting themselves in harm's way."

"VC 21202 (a) indicates that any person riding a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride 'as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway' except if they are passing another bicycle or vehicle, if they are making a right or left turn, or if they need to avoid an obstacle or hazard.

"So, if a bicyclist is riding next to another cyclist (or side-by-side) than there's no way the cyclist on the outside could be riding as close as practical to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway... and therefore would be in violation of VC Section 21202(a) and could be cited by an officer.

"Hope that helps....." Jaime Coffee, Information Officer II, CHP Media Relations

Michelle Pearl is a longtime traffic school instructor and the owner of InterActive! Online Traffic School (www.trafficinteractive.com). Send questions to drivetime@inlandnewspapers.com. Some reader questions will be answered in print.




reply


I know that last year in a misguided and ultimately abandoned effort to restrict cyclists around the Rose Bowl, the Pasadena City Council considered an city-wide ordinance banning side-by-side riding.

I also know that the junction of on-street bike lane on Fiji Way between the Ballona Creek and the Marvin Braude bikeways is painted with "single file only."

Not that that answers your question, but it's all I got.



Agent Orange
03.5.09 - 8:33 am

reply


Section 3 of 21202 states,

(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.


This states you can take the lane. If you are taking the lane, I would argue that if motorcycles can do it, so should bicycles. Is there even VC that states that motorcycles can do this? If so, then it should include bicycles. I would interested in what the CVC states on motorcycles.

I know here in LB it is specifed in the muni code. 10.48.040 Riding in a group. So in ur mof u fat stoopd cop!!!



User1
03.5.09 - 11:36 am

reply


You could take the Smokey Yunick (look him up) approach: if the rules don't specifically prohibit it, it's OK.



mr rollers
03.5.09 - 1:50 pm

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Exactly. Take the whole fuggin lane!



Joe Borfo
03.5.09 - 1:53 pm

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i've had someone yell at me and a friend riding side by side, " ride single file!!!". i yelled back at him, "relax!". I don't know- something about riding single file reminds me of lining up for class.



sciencefriction
03.5.09 - 1:57 pm

reply


Maybe the folks who wrote the CBC never imagined that there would be more than one bicyclist on the street at any given time.

It reminds me of that sign in Griffith Park at the entrance to the tunnel:"Watch for Bicyclist".



mr rollers
03.5.09 - 2:01 pm

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I was always under the impression that a "staggered formation" was the prim and proper way to go.

At least that's what the CA Motorcycle Handbook says, but for bicycles, less chunkiness and clunkiness to worry about, so it's up in the air.




bentstrider
03.5.09 - 2:08 pm

reply


I cited the "substandard width lanes" part of the code to an officer who pulled a friend and I over on Centinela, in Mar Vista. He used his megaphone (yay!) to inform us we needed to ride single file because we were obstructing traffic. Then he pulled his squad car over to talk to us.

I pointed out there were two lanes of traffic, and that cars could easily pass us. He said no go. I pointed out that it was a substandard lane, pointed to the row of cars with people hopping in and out of them very close to the right lane, and further stated that I would have taken the lane even if I were riding solo because of the lack of sufficient space. He said no go, again, but he looked very uncertain. (He tried to hide it, but he didn't do a very good job.)

He let us go with a warning but not a ticket, probably because of his own uncertainty of the law. Not quite an unqualified success, but maybe it caused him to look up the law again. Which is something.



katiepoche
03.5.09 - 2:25 pm

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this morning in santa monica a 5000 year old judge told me that bicycles aren't allowed to take a lane; even if it's narrow w/ no bike lane. he was wrong, of course, but i still have to pay for the ticket. he wasn't at all interested in looking up VC21202. the piggly wiggly that gave me the ticket just slithered from side to side a bit and smirked. the system really doesn't work. next time i'm just going outrun them when they try to pull me over..



asparagus
03.5.09 - 2:39 pm

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that sucks paul.
riding two abreast is overrated. why? you cant paceline!



ruinedbyidiots
03.5.09 - 2:44 pm

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hmm, being ticketed for being inside the law... and the judge refuses to even read the law? wow go SM, the green bike friendly city!

That's why you bring the relevant sections with you to court if you must go, but why you do the whole drawn out (written dec, de novo) thing first.





FuzzBeast
03.5.09 - 2:52 pm

reply


Oh and as far as I know it IS legal.
The problem here is you were asking CHP... Bicycles are a bit out of their jurisdiction (unless it's crimanimals).

Just like Lane Splitting, there is nothing that says a bicycle CANT do this, and as CVC allows us to take a lane if conditions warrant (read 99% of the time).
Remember it says PRACTICABLE in the law not POSSIBLE.

Oh and if you want to shut dumbass officers down, don't just learn what the law says, learn the section number too. Worked for me when a SM cop tried to tell me my freak bike was illegal.



FuzzBeast
03.5.09 - 2:55 pm

reply


Oh yeah, and remember, it's not up to officer's to interpret the law.


that's a judge's job.



FuzzBeast
03.5.09 - 2:58 pm

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Appeal it asparagus!!

BTW, you always got more leverage if you tell them you want to go to trial on your case and you'll be representing yourself. Then they pay attention to the case. You were just bum rushed out the court room along with everyone else. You'll never get justice that way.



User1
03.5.09 - 3:30 pm

reply


"You could take the Smokey Yunick (look him up) approach: if the rules don't specifically prohibit it, it's OK."

Smokey Yunick is the last person I ever thought would be mentioned on this forum. That's awesome.



JB
03.5.09 - 4:18 pm

reply


Life is full of surprises, there are lessons to be learned everywhere.



mr rollers
03.5.09 - 4:37 pm

reply


the problem is that police only carry around the abridged version of 21202. here's the full law:

21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or 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, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.
Amended Sec. 4, Ch. 674, Stats. 1996. Effective January 1, 1997.

EXPLAINED:
"at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time"

So if you're the only person on the road, or you're stuck in gridlock, youre good.

"or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge"

so if you're in a substandard width lane (95% of streets in LA) the first part doesnt apply.

and that part about 21656 applying? if you're on a 2 lane (one in each direction) road, and 5 cars are lined up behind you and unable to pass, pull over as soon as it is safe. this should probably only apply on mountain roads.



tortuga_veloce
03.5.09 - 7:08 pm

reply


culver city actually has a law stating that cyclists are expressly permitted to ride "no more than two abreast." but try explaining that to the culver city pig that pulled me over a block and a half into the city of LA. at least it will be easy to fight in court.



tortuga_veloce
03.5.09 - 7:12 pm

reply


This is obviously faulty logic. If the road is too narrow for a car to safely pass, it is much safer for EVERYONE if a cyclist takes the lane (so cars don't try to squeeze through). If there are two cyclists riding side-by-side on such a road, it is precisely the fact that one is riding FARTHER from the curb that makes it safe for the person riding closer to the curb to do so.

However, if the road is wide enough for cars to pass......



theroyalacademy
03.5.09 - 7:26 pm

reply


I got a great response to my request from Dan Gutierrez from Long Beach, check it out

http://la.streetsblog.org/2009/03/06/if-you-want-to-know-bike-laws-dont-ask-the-california-highway-patrol/



daymen
03.6.09 - 10:43 am

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unfortunately, logic is irrelevant in this situation. the description on my ticket was "riding in the middle of the road," which was true. I was riding eastbound in the slow lane on wilshire; no bike lane and parked cars to the right. the VC# next to the description was illegible; possibly on purpose since technically I wasn't doing anything illegal. when I asked the officer @ that gave me the ticket to be specific about what he was citing me for he responded with threats to take me to jail ..so from then on I kept my mouth shut. there were no less than 6 officers that arrived at the scene; weak SMPD wannabe thugs.

at the arraignment the Judge noticed the vagueness of the ticket and confirmed that taking a lane was legal in this situation. he made a comment about wanting to personally try this case. trial date was set; i was confident.

the day of the trial the officer showed up and asked if the trial could be moved to another courtroom. i don't now the details of how/why this happened but I was moved to another courtroom which was completely empty. i had no say in this. the million year old judge crawled out of his coffin in the back room and slithered up to the bench. at that point i knew it was over. I argued my case, recited V.C. Section 21202, blah, blah, blah.. I don't think the judge was even listening to me. he and the cop scolded me for blocking traffic.. I responded w/ the standard, "i am traffic." it was obvious that they didn't agree. guilty.

was only a $25 fine; next time i'll just pay it. i don't ever want to step foot in a courtroom again. the stress from dealing with ignorant public servants with power trips isn't worth it.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
--Einstein



asparagus
03.6.09 - 11:15 am

reply


Santa Monica is just a pathetic city. They were all probably just offended that you were getting exercise.



daymen
03.6.09 - 2:38 pm

reply






Joe Borfo
03.6.09 - 2:50 pm

reply


"What we can conclude from these last two exceptions may come as a surprise, but in general, through cycling downtown areas with narrow lanes, and commercial areas with frequent driveways are NOT governed by 21202, only 21654. Thus two abreast cycling is legal. Even more interesting is the fact that most residential areas, cyclists are similarly exempt from 21202 because of a driveway every 50 feet, so cyclists are not obligated to ride near the edge in these areas either, and can therefore also ride two abreast."



Joe Borfo
03.6.09 - 3:04 pm

reply


Damn this is "The Wackness" .. Good job though on not just laying down and aking it in the behind you really did give it a shot thats more than most can say.....



Debut213
03.6.09 - 3:42 pm

reply


My understanding was that bicycles can take up a lane if there are
at least 6 riders in a group.
I may be wrong about the number, but there is a provision for a group of cyclist to take a lane.



Dedicated818
03.6.09 - 6:39 pm

reply


The thing that comes to mind when I hear or read about cars not accepting the bicyclists using, and therefor, in the road is:
Driving is a privledge, not a right...
People in motor vehicles complaining about other traffic, like bikes, make me think they are forgetting this fact.
They are overgrown CRY BABIES!!
Cops that harrass bicyclists, like they did to KatiePoochie and (they have used the same argument to harrass) me are overgrown BULLIES!!
The ambiguity of the CVC is classic legislative crap.
The treatment delivered @ the Santa Monica Craphouse is DISGUSTING UNJUSTICE!!




Gern
03.6.09 - 8:15 pm

reply


dedicated, that number you're looking for is 1





FuzzBeast
03.6.09 - 10:02 pm

reply

Reply


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