Tag Archives: passing

Passing at intersections is illegal, regardless of the striping

The in basket: Bob Miller writes, “I moved into rural South Kitsap in the last year, and am slowly becoming familiar with the roads that crisscross the area.
On our way home the other evening, my girlfriend remarked that she was scared making the turn off Olalla Valley Road SE onto southbound Banner Road to get to our house, because there is a northbound passing zone that would seem to make collisions with a car making that right turn inevitable.
“I haven’t looked at it great detail, but when I pull up the intersection on Google Maps, sure enough, the passing zone seems a lot closer than one would think it should be to avoid the possibility of a collision.”

The out basket: Aside from the occasional “No Passing,” sign, the only indicators of where it’s OK or forbidden to pass are the stripes in the road. It was news to me that proximity to an intersection affected that striping. I’d always regarded driver visibility due to hills or curves to be the the only criteria that guides the striping.

I looked in the state laws and found that passing near an intersection to be illegal.

I drove Banner Road – and Sedgwick, while is was in the area – and noticed don’t-pass striping only at intersections near a hill or curve. I asked Kitsap County Public Works if I’d been missing something all these years.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer, replied, “The county marks no-passing zones where hills and curves restrict the visibility of oncoming vehicles.  We do this in accordance with federal guidance spelled out in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

“The requirement is solely based on the speed limit posted on the road.  If the road has a centerline, we are required to establish no-passing zones.

“Similar to other traffic regulations we do not sign or mark, we assume motorists are aware of the rules of the road and know that passing is restricted within 100 feet of an intersection.  RCW 46.61.125 (1) (b) is very clear that you cannot pass another vehicle near or in an intersection.

“If the county were to try and mark all no passing zones at intersections, it would be very problematic and not necessarily safer.  State law only recognizes intersections as where two or more public roads meet.  So private roads and commercial accesses would not be recognized as intersections and not striped for no passing.  In many cases these private and commercial accesses to public roads see much more traffic than a low volume public side road.

“Our county roads have thousands of accesses to them; both public and private.  A car can come out from them at any time.  When passing anytime on county roads, I would recommend using extreme caution,” Jeff said.


Of bicycles, cars and double yellow lines

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.