Bike Lanes are getting press again in NYC. A recent poll found that 66 percent of New Yorkers said bike lanes were a good idea while 27 percent called them a bad idea. Mayoral candidate Christine C. Quinn said she placed bike lanes “in the category of things you shouldn’t discuss at dinner parties,” alongside money, politics and religion. Not talking about transportation safety is probably not the best approach.
Here in Seattle we’ve got some bike lanes we ought to discuss. Like the bike lane on Second Avenue in front of our office. Do we need a bike lane on a one-way street going downhill? Assuming we do, should it be on the left? If it should be on the left, should there be parking to the left of it? What about the left turn lane to the right of the bike lane?!
Bill de Blasio, New York’s public advocate, apparently annoyed bicyclists recently when he said where bike lanes have worked, “great, let’s keep them,” but “where they haven’t worked, let’s revise them or change them.” That seems to makes sense there and here.
New York Times
The Bicycle Alliance says it’s “just common sense” to allow the crossing of “double yellow lines on an empty road to safely pass a person walking or biking on the shoulder”. They “just want to make sure you don’t get a ticket for doing something so sensible.” We agree. But has anyone actually ever been issued a ticket for this?
Here is what the Bicycle Alliance says: http://bicyclealliance.org/2013/02/11/its-just-common-sense-the-safe-passing-bill/
Here is the bill: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5564.pdf
It would change RCW 46.61.100 to add a section that allows driving on the left side of the road “When overtaking and passing a pedestrian or bicyclist so as to maintain a safe distance of at least three feet”. That sounds like a great idea, but do we need this law?
RCW 46.61.100 already allows driving on the left “When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing such movement”. Bikes are vehicles, so this is already legal. We are skeptical that the 3 feet language here will make any difference.
As for pedestrians, known among the impatient motorist crowd as “obstructions,” the current code also allows driving on the left “When an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway; provided, any person so doing shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the highway within such distance as to constitute an immediate hazard”. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.61.100
Finally, RCW 46.61.110(2) currently states that “The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian or bicycle that is on the roadway or on the right-hand shoulder or bicycle lane of the roadway shall pass to the left at a safe distance to clearly avoid coming into contact with the pedestrian or bicyclist, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken pedestrian or bicyclist.”
The proposed legislation does not seem necessary. And yet we share the Bicycle Alliance’s goal to increase the safety of bicycling. Why not legislate something that would actually increase safety?
We support legislation that would make motorists who hit bicyclists or pedestrians presumed to be at fault. This presumption could be overcome by facts like a bicyclist’s failure to use required lighting during the hours of darkness. If drivers think that they will likely be found responsible for hitting a bicyclists or pedestrian, it won’t be a matter of measuring 3 feet– they’ll try harder to avoid running us down.
Imagine the scariest part of your bike commute being replaced by something better. Not a sharrow. Not a bike lane. Not even a cycletrack. But an elevated bicycle superhighway. Impossible? Why would you say that? Los Angeles (of all places) built one in 1900… before its ugly love affair with the car.
The Atlantic has an article about bicycling and its affects on the brain that has nothing to do with head injuries or helmets. It quotes Harvard psychology professor John Ratey as saying that cycling is “like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin.”
Of course the drug-like qualities of riding were insufficient for one professional bicyclist who wanted to — ah hem– live stronger…
Read it here: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/02/why-we-need-more-research-cycling-and-brain-science/4624/
We’ve been posting bike law tidbits to Facebook for a few years now and ignoring our blog. This will change… NOW.
You can still follow us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/wabikelaw) because our everything on our blog (http://washingtonbikelaw.com/blog/) will now go there. So take your pick. And thanks for your interest.
Here is your reward http://inthralld.com/2013/01/spiraling-stack-of-bikes-creates-forever-bicycles-installation/