Can You or Can’t You? – The Difficult Situation of Sidewalk Cycling

Sidewalk Cycling

Like so many other cycling laws, as to whether or not you can actually ride your bicycle on the sidewalk can be a difficult thing to answer. The law on the subject is not covered by any federal guidelines and not every state law covers them either. Instead, the law tends to be specific to local municipalities. Which means if you want to know if you can in your area, then you need to check city law if there is nothing in the state law.

However, even if there is no explicit law regarding sidewalk cycling in your area, you will always find people who think there is. For some reason, riding your bicycle on the sidewalk even without laws against it is frowned upon by pedestrians. But why? Most cyclists have more problems with other motorists than they have with pedestrians. When they ride responsible on sidewalks, everyone is safer.

Are There Cycling Laws?

Of course, if there are no laws, then all the dirty looks in the world can’t stop you from doing it. However, always remember that if there is a bicycle lane available, you should be using it. So many people rally against bicycle lanes because it takes away driver parking and they claim cyclists don’t use them. This is why when a city makes preparations for cyclists, they should be using them, even though the closer you are to cars occasionally means the closer you are to danger. However, if no cyclists choose bicycle lanes over sidewalks, the motorist will never learn to share the road and bike lanes will stop being built.

As for the legality of sidewalk cycling, it is explicitly banned in very few cities, but cyclists should only use it when necessary. When roads are too narrow or bike lanes are not available, you should be able to go to the sidewalk if you can. For more information on cycling laws and safety, contact us today.

Do You Have to Ride Single File When Cycling?

Single File Cycling

Cycling is good for both the body and the mind as well as an environmentally friendly way to travel. However, it is also better with a friend. If you travel the same scenery every day, having someone to talk to can help keep things fresh. Yet while cycling, can you ride next to them as you travel or do you need to keep things single file where you mind as well be cycling alone?

State to State Laws

The answer, like many things, will vary by the state. There are currently 39 states that explicitly allow the cyclist to ride two abreast, but many of those states have specific conditions. It is best to look up the particular rules for your state before heading out on a group ride, but the general best rule of thumb to consider is to only ride two abreast when there is room to do so.

For example, when room in the bike lane allows, traveling two abreast is fine. Yet, many states only allow two-deep travel on roads if you are riding along the shoulder and if there is room while others recommend filing out if a car needs to pass. So usually, the thing to be considerate of is “if there is room.” Unfortunately, in many cases, since roads were built for cars, there is the room to ride next to your friend.

The Takeaway

While you may not be sure if you can ride two-by-two with other cyclists, since some states do not have rules either way as well, it is always best to use your best judgment. If you are not impeding traffic, most law enforcement officers won’t even give you a glance for doing so even in states where not allowed. It is always recommended to ride safely regardless of the rules. For more safety tips on cycling and law regarding cyclists, contact us today.

Drinking and Cycling

Drinking and Cycling

By this point, everyone should know better than to drink and drive. A car can cause a lot of damage even at a low speed, and thus, should only be driven when in a sober state of mind. However, the law in most states is a touch fuzzier when it comes to the issue of bicycling while drunk. The good news is that in many states, you might be arrested for drinking and cycling if acting obviously intoxicated, but you may not face punishments.

The key issue in drunk driving law is that many still use the term “motor” vehicles. This means cars, boats, and even your lawnmower shouldn’t be used while intoxicated. Yet, a bicycle doesn’t have a motor. In states where the statutes still specify motor vehicles, it makes it easy for the right defense attorney to argue that you weren’t driving a motor vehicle. Furthermore, as bicycles often do minimal damage to others, though can do much damage to your own person, courts will generally look more favorably on a drunk cyclist as opposed to a drunk motorist.

State to State

However, if you live in a state the specifically specifies “vehicles” instead of “motor vehicles” then they have probably already taken into consideration the event of drunk cyclists. However, since you do not need to hold a license in order to cycle, the punishments will be less severe in nature. If you hold a driver’s license, unfortunately, there may be punishments against that, but the courts can’t technically stop you from cycling.

While cycling under the influence charges usually come with the minimal punishments, you still don’t want to face them or have them on your record. If you have been arrested for biking under the influence and need help, contact us today to see what we can do to help you out.

The Idaho Stop is Stopping by Other States

Bicycle Laws

Bike laws are always transforming. Sometimes they focus on the safety requirements for bicyclists, such as under what circumstances a helmet is mandatory or when bicyclists should stay off the road. Other times, the laws are about penalties and precedents: some behaviors (like walking to cross a pedestrian lane) automatically put the burden or liability on the driver involved in a collision. But sometimes the law change how bicyclists should read road signs, and it’s just as important to keep an eye on those updates.

What’s an Idaho stop?

In 1982, Idaho passed a law that let bicyclists downgrade their responses to traffic signs. A red light became a stop sign, and a stop sign became a signal to yield. Delaware adopted the idea last year, and Colorado adapted part of it to fit their road rules earlier this year. Utah is also considering it.

The law was designed to make the roads make more sense for cyclists. Bikes don’t brake and restart the same way cars can, and Idaho had a lot of bikers with technical violations filling up their court space. With the Idaho stop, cyclists and cars both paid more attention to the purpose of stop signs and lights: safety and right-of-way.

But there’s still a lot of contention surrounding the idea of Idaho stops. Some organizations think having separate rules for cyclists and drivers will cause confusion, both for people on bicycles and drivers not expecting a bicycle to “run” a red light. But supporters of the laws maintain that Idaho stops make more sense with the flow of bike riding and aren’t hard to intuit.

California has seen a few proposed bills and resolutions about these rolling stops, and San Francisco has looked into it separately. Whether you’re for or against the idea, it’s another factor to keep in mind if you plan biking across any state or city lines. Go to the Law Office of Gary Brustin for more updates and bike safety news.