Isn't that illegal?

FAQ: Isn’t riding your bike in the middle of the lane illegal?

Let’s start with California’s vehicle code:

Duty of Bicycle Operator: Operation On Roadway. VC 21202
a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

When overtaking and passing another bicycle or motor vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane

So why was I riding on the middle of the lane? In this case, I consider vehicle doors a hazard, you never know when one is going to swing open in front of you. I ‘take the lane’ when it’s safe for me to do so, after clearing the row of cars I ride close to the sidewalk again, I wave as a thanks to any motorist that was behind me. I’ve yet to encounter a driver that has gotten pissed off at me for doing so.

So the answer is NO, it is not illegal for me to ride in the middle of the lane when it’s appropiate.

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0 thoughts on “Isn't that illegal?”

  1. MGPSMITH says:

    In this small city outside of Milano in northern Italy, bicycling is the normal way to get around, probably more common than cars judging by my impression of relative numbers of each I see. I don’t know the actual laws, but rather than argue about whether cyclists are modified pedestrians or modified cars, they seem to have their own status. Stay to the right, be observant, use the sidewalks and pedestrian zones when necessary (and available), and one-ways don’t count; STOP signs and red lights do, at least if you have any expectation of survival; streets are very crowded with all sorts of traffic. Nobody wears a helmet except for a small proportion of the road-riders/racers in training one sees in the countryside (and most of them are unhelmeted). On a similar theme, nearly all riders are in ordinary street clothes, not Lycra monkeysuits. The majority of bicycles one sees have a more upright riding position so being observant is easier than from drops.
    Despite aggressive drivers, there just don’t seem to be many crashes. Why is this? It could be driver/cultural awareness. It could also be extremely punitive fines for automobile drivers who hit pedestrians/cyclists (I personally know one driver who paid a 12,000 Euro fine for hitting a pedestrian, with no significant injury resulting), and it could be just the sheer number of bicycles on the roads forces a degree of respect on everybody’s part. I think the fines and the sheer numbers are the reasons for evident successful road co-habitation…I don’t hold much hope for the concept of driver awareness (nor cyclist awareness for that matter…).

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