Double yellow lines in Bainbridge streets

The in basket: Greg Anderson of Hansen Road on Bainbridge Island, writes, “It seems that, at least here on Bainbridge, there is an explosion of double yellow lines on residential streets that only a few years ago didn’t even have stripes of any kind.  As I understand it, it is illegal to cross a double yellow line unless turning to or from a driveway. 
“So what are we to do when one’s lane is blocked…?


The in basket: Greg Anderson of Hansen Road on Bainbridge Island, writes, “It seems that, at least here on Bainbridge, there is an explosion of double yellow lines on residential streets that only a few years ago didn’t even have stripes of any kind.  As I understand it, it is illegal to cross a double yellow line unless turning to or from a driveway. 
“So what are we to do when one’s lane is blocked by 1)  a garbage truck; 2) pedestrians coming towards you (with no sidewalks or room to move to the right off the road); 3) bicyclists in your lane; 4) a moving truck in your lane; or other such everyday occurrence when we have double yellow lines with which to contend?
“I believe this was done to prevent passing, but it used to mean that such was illegal only when sight lines were inadequate, not simply to prohibit such a maneuver entirely.  It certainly doesn’t seem to have any relationship to actual accidents or any recent studies. 
“Any comment on this further effort to stymie a driver’s inalienable right to make driving decisions?”
The out basket: Bainbridge Island Public Works Director Randy Witt says, “We haven’t changed the centerline striping on roads in a few years, (but) we have an older practice of striping roads that have an existing (usually a skip) stripe with a double yellow line after an overlay or chip seal. 
“This practice predates my hiring with the city, but probably based upon desire to keep speeds slower and discourage passing.  Last year we changed that practice and kept the striping the same after the annual chip seal and overlay.  This will be evaluated further in the future.”
Island Assistant Police Chief Mark Duncan says he doesn’t believe that his officers ever have written a ticket for crossing a double yellow line to get around an obstacle unless the driver endangered someone coming in the opposite direction in doing so. State law permits driving around an obstacle regardless of the striping if it’s done safely
The tricky part is in defining an obstacle. A boulder, garbage truck making a collection or stalled car in the lane certainly would qualify, but a bicyclist doing about the speed limit or the “moving truck in your lane” that Greg mentions wouldn’t be. A transit bus making continuous stops and a bike going substantially under the speed limit are in a gray area. Passing a school bus with its red lights flashing is expressly prohibited by another law.
If the pass can be made at a slow speed and doesn’t endanger any traffic coming in the opposite direction ) including those on foot or a bicycle), you’ll probably be in no danger of being stopped for doing it.

One thought on “Double yellow lines in Bainbridge streets

  1. Nice column. Goes to show that the old adage about common sense not being all that common holds true in some cases; certainly in this one. Found the last paragraph about “…driver’s inalienable rights…” particularly amusing. Do they have their own, separate constitution on “The Island” as well?

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