Yesterday I received an e-mail about the “Million Car Challenge” from Bicycles Allowed Full Use of Lane, who are launching a campaign to educate drivers on cyclists’ rights.
There have been so many cyclists killed and injured by cars, some in horrific accidents, others deliberately by aggressive, belligerent drivers, that something needs to be done.
Our Mission is simple.
Deliver one consistent message using one million cars so that millions of drivers will get the message….. “Bicycles Allowed Use of Full Lane, Change To Pass”
In most places, you have the right to the lane. However, as we all know, this doesn’t necessarily mean anyone will honor that. If you want to take part in educating other drivers and cyclists, you can join in the Million Car Challenge Campaign. The idea is to use window clings in your car as a way to advertise the message.
Laws in other locations may vary. As I live in Oregon, I went searching for Oregon laws on this topic and found this at BikePortland.org:
ORS 814.430: Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty.
(1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not
ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
(2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:
(a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.
(b) When preparing to execute a left turn.
(c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.
(d) When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.
(e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
(f) When operating on a bicycle lane or bicycle path.
I think the pertinent part is subsection (e) which specifies “does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” However, subsection (c) states “conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side.” So if you’re riding on a road where the speed limit is faster than you’re riding, it doesn’t sound to me like you can take the lane unless there are extenuating circumstances such as dodging debris, potholes that could swallow a Hummer, it’s too narrow and there is no bike lane, that sort of thing. Anyway, best to check the laws in your area.
In Oregon, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance offers legal clinics, 60-minute seminars put on by bicycle lawyer Ray Thomas (see their site to RSVP for one). Ray has also put together a guide called Pedal Power: A Legal Guide for Oregon Cyclists, which can be had for free if you attend one of the seminars, or by ordering it ($10) from the BTA here.
Also, Ray Thomas has more information on bicycle law application here. (thanks for the link to that, Gary)
Ride safely, everyone.