Tag Archives: shoulder

Big waterfront wedding poses parking questions

The in basket: Karen Ross of North Kitsap said “We are having a wedding (at a home on) Beach Drive in Poulsbo on August 6 in the front yard, which is beach-front property.
“There will be a very large crowd, possibly 180 people, which could mean at least 120 cars.
“I am unable to find out what the law is regarding roadside parking.  The roads in our area have very wide shoulders.  Our neighborhood is rural.
“I plan to go door to door to let neighbors know that cars will be alongside the roads during the wedding,” Karen said.
“Do you know what the law is regarding roadside parking in our area? I would like to know what the law is first before I contact neighbors and I also think it would be good for me to let the county police know.”
The out basket: I would have known the answer had her road had white edge striping. It’s illegal to park on the shoulder with one’s tires on or across that white stripe.

But Beach Drive doesn’t have edge striping, so I had to go to Deputy Scott Wilson of Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

“This should not be an issue for the Ross family and their wedding guests,” he said.

“Vehicles parked on roads without painted edge (‘fog’) lines follow the same rules as roads with painted edges. Cars parked in this neighborhood should be positioned on the roadway shoulder, facing the direction of travel. Parked vehicles should not block the traveled portion of the roadway,  not block driveways and must remain at least 15 feet from a fire hydrant.

“This is a safety aspect primarily,” Scott said. “if there’s a requirement for sheriff’s patrol, medic or fire engine units to enter the neighborhood for emergency response, they need to be able to do so without having parked vehicles block or hinder their ingress/egress.”


‘Filtering’ in traffic is illegal for bicyclists

The in basket: After a flurry of bicycle-related Road Warrior columns last summer, Julie Snyder of Poulsbo asked about what she called “the fairly common practice of ‘filtering,'” or riding one’s bicycle between lanes of traffic stopped at an intersection.

She specifically asked about The Finn Hill/Lindvig Way intersection with Viking Way in Poulsbo, and turns in either direction onto Viking.

Coming west on Lindvig, she said, it’s uphill and bicyclists have trouble not delaying cars if the biker has to take a full spot in the travel lanes to get to the Viking Avenue signal.

“The road splits from two lanes into three just before Cenex, with no shoulder,” she said. “At the bottom of the hill (near Bond Road), I’m moving much slower than traffic, since it’s uphill. Everyone passes me. Then, as cars stop at the light, I start overtaking them.

“Since I want to proceed straight, I look and signal into the center lane, cross the right turn lane when given a break by a motorist, and ride to the right BESIDE those center lane cars up to the stop line, ready to cross when the light changes. There is a shoulder on the opposite side of Finn Hill, and soon the line of cars passes me again.

“I use the same method when turning left to go south on Viking Way (but I add some further eye contact and a nice left-turn signal).

“A motorist friend told me that although filtering was practical, it wasn’t legal. I should take the lane and act ‘like a car’ through this, and every, intersection with no bike lane. I tried this once, and found myself the subject of motorist frustration. Since Lindvig is uphill, I take much longer than a car to move through, and drivers weren’t happy about waiting.”

Going in the other direction on Finn Hill Road, she runs afoul of a safety tip on the state’s Web site, which says, ‘Don’t pass on the right – Motorists may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.’

“There is often a back-up of 20 cars from the light,” Julie said. “Should cyclists NOT pass this line of traffic on the right-hand shoulder? There is no designated right-turn lane at the bottom. I approach the bottom of the hill slowly, and stop at the stop line well to the right of the first car in line at the light,” she said.

The out basket: Julie is OK with her tactic coming down Finn Hill Road eastbound, says Ian Macek, the state’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. The advice about not passing on the right doesn’t apply to bikes on the shoulder or in a bicycle lane, he said.

I would hope so. The shoulder is the safest place for a bicyclist, and state law specifically accords bike riders the right to use the shoulder.

Sadly, that’s the only exemption from the state law that requires bicyclists to comply with all laws that apply to cars. Julie’s friend is correct, filtering is illegal.

I asked Sgt. Andy Pate of Poulsbo police and Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office about this.

Andy replied, “I have ridden the same portion of roadway on a bicycle. Going uphill is an issue at that intersection. Bicyclist cannot legally ‘filter’ in this state. They can, however, ride on the shoulder to avoid impeding traffic. If they are going to make a left turn they must ‘take a lane’ and the fact that they will annoy motorists is unavoidable.

“The idea behind the laws is that bicyclist should not do anything that would surprise a motorist. A bicyclist ‘filtering’ through traffic leaves a motorist, inexperienced in riding a bicycle on the roadway, confused and wondering what the bicyclist’s intentions are. That leads to accidents.

“If a bicyclists takes an assertive position in a lane, such as a left turn lane, it makes it clear to the motorist that the bicyclist is preparing to make a left turn, albeit a slow one.

“It is important in this state that bicyclists approach an intersection and assert themselves into a lane of travel making it clear for all surrounding motorists of the intention. No surprises.

“Once in a lane of travel, the bicyclist is afforded all the rules of the road pertaining to a motorist, forcing the motorist to also follow the rules of the road and treat the bicyclist as a vehicle. Granted, this can be annoying to some motorists, but it does put the burden on them to also follow the rules of the road.

“If a bicyclist rides near the fog line, but not actually on the shoulder, this allows an impatient motorist to try and take advantage of the extra room and go around the bicyclist and squeeze by the bicyclist… In such cases where it is dangerous for a bicyclist to ride on the shoulder, or there is no shoulder, the bicyclist should ‘take the lane’ and ride closer to the center line, helping to ensure that the motorist behind him must treat them as another vehicle.

It is difficult, (but) bicyclists must develop the mindset that they are part of the traffic when riding on the roadway.

Scott’s advice differs somewhat.

“If the bicyclist becomes the impeding factor, ie:  a bicyclist traveling uphill on a roadway in the lane of travel, it would be prudent for the bicyclist to move onto the roadway shoulder, or at least as far to the right of the lane of travel as possible, in order to allow uphill traffic to pass the bicycle (given that there are no other impediments and traffic is moving along at the posted speed limit),” Scott said.

“If traffic is slowed or stopped, the bicyclist certainly may pass this traffic on the shoulder as in all probability the bicyclist will be moving faster than traffic.

“The realities.” he concluded, “are that there are a few bicyclists who ride their bikes in all manner of movement or design, ie:  riding against traffic, riding at night without any illumination, failing to abide by the most basic rules of the road.

“These are the individuals about whom we are most concerned from a safety aspect to both themselves and other motorists.  Serious bicyclists are very aware of their personal actions and strive to adjust to traffic flow utilizing common sense and adherence to traffic laws.

Raccoon family on 303 shows why so many die

The in basket: Christy Folden was upset to see seven dead raccoons on the roadside or in the road on Highway 16 during a trip to Tacoma and back to Port Orchard one mid-July day.

She wonders if anyone is responsible for their removal. “They shouldn’t be treated like this, leaving them to rot on the highway,” she said.

The out basket: I was in a car on Highway 303 just south of McWilliams Road about 7 p.m. on Aug. 5 when a family of raccoons tried to cross from the west side to the east. A couple had gotten over the center barrier  and into the woods on the other side but two young ones hadn’t. Drivers were stopping to avoid adding to the summer’s death toll. The two young raccoons on the west side dodged one way and another, finally getting back into the brush from where they had come.

I hate to think what might have happened later that night if the family tried to reunite.

Duke Stryker, head of state highway maintenance crews in Kitsap and Mason County, says his employees remove the carcasses of dead wild animals from the state highways, but they have to be notified of the location unless his workers happen to come across them.

And if the dead animal is in the roadway and it’s a busy highway like 16 or 303 , they have to arrange for  lane closure for the safety of the employees who must collect the animal.

They bury the carcass at one of their properties, he said.

You can tell his office about a dead animal in need of removal from a state highway at (360) 874-3050. If it’s a Kitsap County road, call them at (360) 337-5777. If a domesticated animal, call Kitsap Animal Control.

I wondered if seven dead raccoons on one highway on one day was unusual. Craig Bartlett of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife says they don’t manage the raccoon population, so can’t be sure.

What does manage those populations are outbreaks of canine distemper among raccoons when their numbers grow too large, he said. A few reports of the disease in raccoons last year, when none is the norm, suggests that the population cycle may be at or near its peak, and more raccoons means more dead ones hit by cars, he surmised.

He couldn’t shed any light on another mystery – why most of the roadkill is on the shoulder and not in the driving lanes. He guesses they are thrown off the roadway by the impact or are put there by a driver who passed by earlier and decided to keep the body from being mashed to a pulp by successive vehicles.

Do bicycles on shoulder forfeit right of way?

The in basket: I just came across a misfiled, year-old e-mail from Bill Christensen, sent about the time a man on a bicycle was killed when a car turned in front of him on Holly Road at Wildcat Lake Road.

“After reading all the comments on the death…,” Bill wrote, “I conclude there is some confusion as to the rights of riders and automobile drivers. I believe that anyone on the shoulder of the road is considered to be off the road, thereby relinquishing their right of way as a vehicle in a lane of travel.

“If this is the case, the rider that was killed was at fault in as much as he didn’t stop at the cross road and walk across/ride across as if it were a crosswalk.

“My question is this: Is a person walking or riding on the shoulder considered to be on the road or off the road and what are the obligations for crossing cross streets for the rider and the turn requirements for drivers?”

The out basket: The law that confers to bicyclists the same rights and duties as motorists deviates from that standard to allow bicyclists to ride on the shoulder, which cars aren’t allowed to do.

So the fact a bike rider is on the shoulder doesn’t change the rules and the rider, if going straight, has the right of way over a turning vehicle.

Pedestrians have the right of way at any unsignalized intersection, whether there is a crosswalk or not, provided the pedestrian doesn’t move so abruptly a driver has no realistic chance of getting stopped in time. The signals confer right of way at intersections with stop lights.

Using the shoulder to talk on one’s cell phone

The in basket: Lisa Rossi e-mails to say, “Several times while driving to Silverdale from Poulsbo (and back) I have seen a couple of cars pulled off to the side of the road not blocking traffic. The drivers were talking on the cell phone and shortly thereafter, police, either county or state patrol, pulled in behind them.

“The cell phone talker doesn’t have flashers on so they aren’t in distress. Why would an officer stop? Are the (drivers) illegally parked or stopped? Is it still illegal to talk on your cell phone in your car even if you are safely on the side of the road?”

The in basket: More than likely, the officers were making a courtesy stop to see if the driver was having trouble, but there are places where it would be illegal to use the shoulder for that purpose. And the State Patrol encourages use of a safer place than the shoulder.

“If a trooper sees a vehicle stopped along the shoulder,” says WSP information officer Krista Hedstrom, “they will stop (if not in route to another call) and check on the driver to make sure they are OK. Many times, drivers with disabled vehicles don’t turn their flashers on when they are stopped.  Sometimes they can’t because their battery is dead. 

 “There is nothing in (state law) that says you cannot stop along the side of the road to take a call,” Krista said. “Keeping this in mind, Highway 3 is a limited access highway and we (don’t like to see) drivers lined up on the side of the road talking on their cell.  We encourage drivers who must make a call to take the nearest exit and find a place where they are safely off the roadway. 

“It is my belief that stopping on the shoulder of Highway 3 where cars are passing you at 60-plus MPH is not the safest alternative. It also poses a huge hazard when attempting to pull back onto the roadway after the call is complete.   

“If a driver on the phone is contacted on the shoulder, more than likely that trooper will ask them to move to a safer location,” she said.

But if the driver has pulled over just to use his or her phone in one of those no-shoulder-parking zones, such as the one established by a sign on Highway 3 in Gorst for a few miles to the north, “a ticket could be issued, at the troopers discretion,” Krista said.

Have you heard of the “Move Over Law?”


The in basket: The in basket: Beverly Hanson of Bremerton wrote to say, “When I recently was visiting Florida, I was made aware of the Move-Over Law enacted there, meaning that when there is police or emergency car pulled over to the side, you must, if at all possible, move into another lane even if that emergency vehicle is not in a lane. 

“They have a large fine for not complying and reflects points which can make your insurance increase as well. 

“Lately,” Beverly said, “I have been reading that the Move Over Law is in place in most states.  Washington State was not listed as being one that doesn’t have the law, so am I to assume it is in place. 

“If so, there sure isn’t any notice about it.  We all know to slow down, but getting into another lane is not in our consciousness at this time.”

The out basket. Well, allow me to make it a little more well known. This state has had the same law, also called the Move Over Law, in force since 2005. 

State Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton detachment says, “Last year, troopers statewide stopped 997 cars for this violation, (of which) 245 received $124 infractions. 

“I know the Seattle-based media (KING5, KOMO4, KIRO7, Q13) have all covered this issue numerous times. There was also a large campaign done throughout Kitsap County when this law became effective in 2005.  The (state traffic safety commission) printed up brochures containing information on the law, which are still handed out at public safety events.

“And still,” she said, “I see drivers violating this law on a regular basis.  Usually when this violation occurs, the trooper is already on a traffic stop and cannot drop what they are doing to chase after the driver who failed to move over.  Troopers will continue to stop drivers for this violation.”

The law also protects tow trucks, fire engines, ambulances and highways crews working on emergency repairs, when they have their emergency lights flashing. A police officer is less likely to be tied down on another detail and able to come after you in those cases.

“We plan to do an emphasis soon focusing on this violation, ” Krista  said. 
“It is so common – we hear about police vehicles and WSDOT vehicles getting rear ended all the time.

You don’t have to move over it isn’t safe to do so (as when another car is in the next lane), the law says, but you must slow down if you can’t move over.