Bicyclists not allowed to share lanes with cars

The in basket: Deborah Moran e-mailed me in August, to say, “I have always been told/read that bicycles have the same rights and rules as cars. Today, as my husband and I were waiting to make a left turn from Highway 305 onto Bond Road in Poulsbo, a bicyclist passed a line of cars on the left and positioned himself in front of the first car in the turn lane. We all then had to pass him as we were making our turns. He did this again while we were waiting to make a left turn onto Viking.

“Now, if we did this in our car, we would be cited, I am sure, since cars are not allowed to drive between lanes and pass on the right. So, I am wondering, did this biker commit a traffic offense also? And if not, why not.

The out basket: We last addressed this question in late 2010 when a bicyclist asked if it could be done on Lindvig Way at Viking Way, just a short distance from where Deborah saw it. A Poulsbo city officer said then that the maneuver is illegal.

State Trooper Russ Winger agrees, saying,  “Bicyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road that motor vehicles are subject to. They are, however,  allowed to travel on the shoulder portion on the right, and could, effectively pass stopped vehicles as the bike approaches the signal or stop sign. They cannot however, then just move off of the shoulder in front of a stopped vehicle.

“The bicyclists cannot pass on the left in the same manner, passing vehicles that are stopped and waiting to turn left or right – moving to the front of the pack so to speak.

“Bicyclists need to signal properly and obey proper traffic movement and signal devices. They do not have the ‘right of way’ by the simple fact of being a bicycle.

Bicyclists can ride two abreast, essentially sharing a lane with another bicyclist, in any lane accessible to cars, as motorcycles can, as well, Russ said. A bike is not allowed next to a motorcycle in a lane, though.

The full limitations and requirements are listed under RCWSs 46.61.750 through 46.61.790 if anyone is interested,” he added..


3 thoughts on “Bicyclists not allowed to share lanes with cars

  1. Regardless of what the law says, apparently there is no enforcement when it comes to bicyclists. On any day they can be see blowing through stop signs, weaving in and out of traffic, riding on sidewalks and into traffic with no regard for other vehicles or pedestrians, just like the skateboarders. All for using bikes, but if they are to use the roads and streets, be responsible and o0bey the laws. Perhaps no one wants to cite a bicyclist because it wouldn’t be PC?

  2. I have been yelled at several times by bicycle riders ( usually between ages 20 to 35) that they have the unconditional right-away. I see them cut off drivers (and almost get run over) almost daily by cutting crossway’s through traffic lanes at a light. They think they don’t have to stop. I think the newspapers and tv should make some serious noise about this. Nobody want to run over a bike rider, but they sure test you daily.

  3. Same rules? I guess school bus drivers will need to have a camera when a bike rider ignores the flashing red lights seeing as we can’t get a licence plate number. Yes, it happens… a lot.

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