Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Form a line

A fan of the Chief’s Corner emailed me off-blog and suggested that I write about a couple more topics related to bicycling.  He is a daily rider, and we complained to one another about the lingering winter and discussed the pros and cons of studded bike tires. It seems a little early to broach the topic of cycling, but I suppose spring is right around the corner.  Awfully long block until you get to that corner, though. 

So, the two topics are riding in groups, and riding in crosswalks.  I’ll tackle the groups issue first, because it’s pretty straightforward.  I’m a cyclist myself, so there is no need to suggest that I am anti-bike just because I know how to look up statutes.
Nebraska State Statute 60-6,317 provides, in part, that:
“Any person who operates a bicycle upon a highway shall not ride more than single file except on paths or parts of highways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Except as provided in section 60-6,142, whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a highway, a person operating a bicycle shall use such path and shall not use such highway.”
Lincoln Municipal Code 10.48.190 provides, in part that:
“Persons riding bicycles upon a street or roadway shall ride single file, except on paths or parts of roadway set aside for exclusive use of bicycles.”
Thus, both State and City law require bicyclists in groups to ride in single file.  You are also required, as previously discussed in the Chief’s Corner, to ride as close as practicable to the right-hand edge of the road.  The phrase “as close as practicable” leaves room for a lot of discretion and judgment.  The State statute on this even enumerates a number of the common factors that make hugging the right edge impractical.  "Single file", however, is pretty simple and specific and doesn’t leave much room for interpretation. 


Steve said...

While I don't ride much anymore, I used to put on a lot of miles on my bicycle. I know riders complain a lot about automobile drivers and their lack of respect or consideration for bikes. While there certainly are those who simply don't like sharing the road with bikes, I think the majority of the problems I encountered were due not to a lack of respect, but to simply not being aware that their actions might cause problems for bikers. On the other hand, I witness bikers far more frequently riding abreast, running stop signs, riding down the middle of the lane for no good reason except, it seems, because they think they have as much right to do so as cars. Those are just a few examples. Many also ride on the sidewalks and seem to think pedestrians are cramping their style. It's no wonder there are some people driving cars who outwardly display contempt for bikers. I'm glad you are reminding bikers of their own responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

A bright light on the front and a red flashing light on the rear, makes it clear, you want no car near.
For being a safe biker, and having safe tools, I still sit and ponder what really rules.
You ride down Vine street in the center lane, as all the cars behind you become your personal train.
You have no clue, what a drunk driver can do. Bright lights at night, are never in sight, to the drunk that may linger. So to you Mr. Biker, I bid you a do, the long line of traffic, eventually will get you.

now that I have done the poetic part of my point here is the prime rib.
Bike travel in the middle of any street is about as big a danger I can imagine. It happens on a regular basis in Lincoln. Their should be no room for a warning, and they should be cited for impeading traffic at the least.

Anonymous said...

Interesting State this why the shoulder on Highway 77 is inoperable to most bicycles? Since there is the Homestead trail that goes to Princeton and Cortland are bicyclists expected to use that instead of using the highway?

Jon Downey said...

I did not realize you were a cyclist. As an avid cyclist myself I'd enjoy a ride with you sometime when I am in Lincoln.

As a resident of Norfolk I am quite envious of the network of bike lanes and trails you enjoy in Lincoln. My daughter will be attending UNL this fall and we will be getting her a good bike for transportation.

Thank you for pointing out the statutes as a reminder.

Perhaps you could reverse your viewpoint, and post something on how motorists can better avoid collisions with cyclists. Through some better understanding, patience, and courtesy maybe we can all get along better.

Jon Downey
Norfolk NE
(Deputy, Madison County SO)

Anonymous said...

I am unable to ride a bicycle now because of joint pain but I did ride for many years and I loved it. One of my pet peeves is when I drive by our schools and colleges and see huge parking lots full of students cars. I then drive by the bike racks and for the most part they are empty. Childhood obesity is a problem. How many fat kids would be leaner in two years if bike riding to school was the norm? Hundreds? Thousands? Plus the added benefit of turning student parking lots into taxable real estate.

Gun Nut

Dave said...

That's interesting Chief... What about motorcycles two-abreast? I know that state law permits riding that way, but what about in the city, is it permitted?

As a motorcyclist, I watch out for my brothers and sisters on bicycles and for the most part, observe most bicyclists as law abiding.

Like in everything else however, there are a few that seem to believe that they are above the law. We all see them crossing against a red light, riding on sidewalks downtown and so forth.

Are there any sort of statistics on moving violations given to bicyclists?

Anonymous said...

The only reason to ride in anything other than single-file is when a group/team is riding in a paceline, when the lead rider drops back in rotation to the rear of the paceline. You don't ride pacelines in town, unless you're in an organized event and doing a team time trial.

Anonymous said...

Since others brought it up I am going to comment on riding two abreast on a motorcycle. My personal opinion after fifty years of riding. Even in States where riding two abreast is LEGAL in My Opinion it is STUPID beyond belief. You are taking away a huge percentage of your area that can be used to avoid an accident by riding abreast. Another of my pet peeves are lane splitters. It is legal in some states but it is dangerous and does nothing but anger other motorists. Is it really worth the few seconds you can save by slitting lanes?

I must add I have never enjoyed riding a motorcycle in groups. The group I.Q. is never any higher than the dumbest rider in the group. Riding double is probably not a good idea either although I will make exceptions for attractive Females.

Gun Nut

Former Deputy D said...

What are your thoughts?

Report: Lincoln is the second-least angry city in America

Anonymous said...

Dave and Gun Nut:

I believe there is not a law prohibiting riding two abreast on motorcycles, although it is a rather dumb behavior. As an Instructor at Harley Davidson RidersEdge program, we teach riding in groups using a staggered formation with at minimum a two-second spacing between you and the rider in front of you. Adjust the two second spacing for inexperienced riders, road and traffic conditions, weather, and anything other than optimal conditions.

Having said all that, I have to say I get a thrill seeing two motorcops on Harleys riding in formation. Brings back a lot of fond memories. You just gotta hope the dog or kid on the curb doesn't run in front of them.


Anonymous said...

The individuals cruising around downtown sidewalks are generally not the same people as those utilizing state highways. Just pointing this out.

Additionally, I plan on continuing to ride abreast when traffic conditions allow. If a car can pass to the right, its harmless. If someone is coming up behind and wont be able to pass, without a word we form single file. On busy roads, we ride single file, no question, no discussion. We just do it.

The amount of times ive been cut off by individuals chosing to attend to their cellphones [illegal] rather than focus on operating their car is atrocious.

Are cyclists the only one's who run lights? Countless times i see drivers accelerate obviously to get through a yellow, they treat yellow lights as secondary green's. Illegal.

If were going to discuss and follow statutes, then lets discuss and follow statutes.

For the most part, the issue is a lack of understanding on the part of _some_ drivers, and blowing a 5 sec delay way out of proportion.

Anonymous said...

No Plate, No Insurance, No wheel tax, No License, Stay the heck off my streets until you pay your share.
And don't give me the line about paying for your other vehicles. ALL vehicle's on the road should pay their share.

Anonymous said...

I've never understood the lame bike lane down the middle of the street in downtown Lincoln. I avoid driving on those streets with my car OR my bike.

MG said...

Good points, Gun Nut...

As an avid cyclist and Lincoln resident, I feel fortunate to have the awesome network of roads and trails to ride that we have. It's important for each of us -- cyclists and drivers -- to understand the laws that govern the mode(s) of transportation we choose and act appropriately and safely in the midst of the other traffic in our presence.

But law aside, I've been commuting by bicycle for more than 20 years, and if I know anything, I know for certain that if I get in a fight with a driver in a 3,000 pound vehicle, the vehicle's gonna' win... So it's incumbent upon me to ride defensively, and choose my routes well (Ex: not using major arterial like Vine or O street, but instead using L street or the Mopac trail).

What drivers in Lincoln should know is that, by encouraging more people to commute by bicycle, it's actually going to make driving in Lincoln easier and less congested. When I rode into work today, I was one less car to wait behind at each red light... One less car slowing down traffic.

You didn't even see me riding down L street, did you?

Anonymous said...


Okay, but since it is primarily the weight of the vehicle that causes the wear and tear on the pavement, how about we pro-rate that tax by pounds?

Steve said...

Certainly there are automobile drivers who run red lights, fail to yield, don't signal, etc. The reason I mentioned the failures by many bike riders is because it seems their number one gripe is automobile drivers who honk, flip the bird, pass unsafely, follow too close, and otherwise treat bikers like they don't belong on the roads with cars. If more bike riders followed the rules of the road and didn't cause unnecessary delays for motorists, they wouldn't have so many people angry at them. One biker riding non-challantly down the middle of the road for blocks, with no good reason, can create dozens of irate motorists who will take it out on the next biker they see (perhaps even if they are doing nothing wrong).