Of bicycles, cars and double yellow linesMarch 27th, 2012 by travis baker
The in basket: I came across a nearly five-year old inquiry in my e-mail queue from Hal Johnson about what a driver can do when following a bicyclist.
“I live on Bainbridge Island,” he said, “where there has been a
large increase in bicycle traffic (and the increase will continue
with the increasing density in Winslow.)
“Many of the roads on Bainbridge do not have bike lanes or shoulders wide enough for cars to pass bicycle traffic; also an increasing number of bicyclers are asserting their right to travel in the traffic lane and not leaving enough room for cars to pass and stay within the lane.
“Most of these roads have double center lanes,” Hal said, “prohibiting cars from using the adjacent, opposite lane for passing vehicles. The result is often following the bicycles at 4-12 miles per hour for long distances, with the auto driver frustrated and biker feeling pressured.
“The double center line prohibits passing because of short visibility. Is it legal to cross the double center lane to pass a bicycle?”
The out basket: State Trooper Russell Winger, spokesman for the State Patrol here, says, “The answer is no, you cannot legally cross over a double yellow centerline to pass a bike that is legally traveling on the roadway. The bike rider has every right to use the lane and CAN USE the shoulder but is not required to by law.
“However, if a bike rider(s) are traveling at speeds slower than other traffic, and at least five vehicles are prevented from maintaining normal flow and speed behind the bike rider, this is an impeding violation. Bike riders traveling on roadways are subject to the same traffic laws and rules as motor vehicles.
“Bike riders, as well as motorists, need to be aware of surrounding traffic and be prepared to move to a position that allows traffic to legally and safely pass,” Russell said.
Since Hal’s question focused on Bainbridge Island, I tried to find out if the island police department had anything to add, but they didn’t respond.