Day 290: Local cycling advocate ticketed for taking the lane

20 10 2010

David Morse, a local cyclist (and Vice President of the Coalition for the Advancent of Regional Transportation (CART) received a traffic citation today for failing to use a provided bike lane. David is one of the instructors of the Bicycle Safety class for new riders (sponsored by Louisville Bicycle Club and the League of American Bicyclists). I took the class last year when I first started riding. David and the other instructors (Tom and Katie) are some of the most knowledgeable people about cycling that I’ve met. 

Here is David’s summary of the event today (copied and posted here with his permission. Thanks, David!):

It’s hard to tell from the citation, but it looks like I’ll be cited under 601 KAR 14:020, Section 9(2): “If a highway lane is marked for the exclusive use of bicycles, the operator of a bicycle shall use the lane whenever feasible”, or perhaps KRS 189.300 “The operator of any vehicle moving slowly upon a highway shall keep his vehicle as closely as practicable to the right-hand boundary of the highway, allowing more swiftly moving vehicles reasonably free passage to the left.”

The officer and I disagreed on what constituted “feasible” and “practicable”. It was a 7′ (update: 8′) parking lane with 5′ bike lane, then a ~10′ vehicular lane (update: 11′) and yet another 10′ vehicular lane, all going south on 3rd street heading for University of Louisville. On-street parking was packed, and next to it was the skimpiest bike lane in the Chicago Bike Lane Standards, but stuck onto a heavier traffic street by our resourceful local engineers.

I had a dilemma (actually a trilemma):

  1. Ride fully in the bike lane, and hope no doors opened into my path.
  2. Ride partially in the bike lane, as far to the right while being safe from doorings, but in a position that would surely cause motorists to pass me without sufficient safety margin.
  3. Ride fully in the vehicular lane, forcing motorists in the same lane to change lanes in order to pass.

I opted for 3, but there really was no good solution.

David chose to take the right-hand lane, as he is allowed to do. This street does have two traffic lanes, giving plenty of room for vehicles to pass cyclists in the left lane. As he points out, the problem is the bike lane, which is clearly within range of a cyclist getting “doored” by drivers exiting parked cars. Herein lies the problem with bike lanes. Shown below is a diagram (David’s creation) of the street:

I ride this street from downtown to the U of L area quite often. When I feel it’s safe, I use the bike lane. However, after a couple close calls with car doors (on this street in addition to others), I prefer to take the lane when it’s safe for me to do so. Particularly since cars have another lane in which to pass me. I talked about this recently here.

I think the question here is who makes the decision on when it’s safe to use the bike lane versus taking the lane? It would seem that it should be the cyclist’s decision. For example, if I’m riding in a bike lane but encounter road debris or potholes, then I’m going to move into the traffic lane instead. Legally though, I wonder whose decision is it? The cyclist’s? The cop’s? The judge’s? I don’t know the answer. I’m looking forward to hearing what happens with David’s case. I’ll keep you posted.

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Strawberry banana smoothie = 4.5 points

Lunch:
— Homemade chicken salad = 5 points
— Pita pocket = 2 points
— Weight Watchers brownie = 2 points

Snack:
— Apple = 1.5 points

Dinner:
— Soft pretzel = 10 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.

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6 responses

20 10 2010
Alice - cyclingproject365

Sorry. The crappy spell-check missed my typo before I published: it should be Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation (CART). Not “Advancent.” My apologies.

20 10 2010
Dave M

Hey, I’m pretty sure you took the class from Bicycling for Louisville. 🙂

21 10 2010
Alice

Correction: the bicycle safety classes are sponsored by Bicycling for Louisville, not the Louisville Bicycle Club. I actually made this correction before publishing, but it clearly didn’t save my correction. Sorry for the confusion.

22 10 2010
Apertome

Sounds like he did everything right. I hope he fights it.

There’s a street on my commute that’s almost exactly like this, and I take the lane when necessary. Sometimes it’s the only safe choice.

22 10 2010
Alice - cyclingproject365

He has a court date coming up in November, I think. I’ll keep you posted once I hear how it turns out. In the meantime, I think I’ll avoid riding on S. 3rd and take another street instead (and take the lane). Enjoyed your photos of Brown County State Park, Michael. It really is a nice park. We were there a couple years ago, but I’ve not biked through there before. Might be a good excuse for a road trip!

25 10 2010
Day 295: Local cycling advocate’s ticket dismissed « Cyclingproject365

[…] recently received a traffic ticket for not using a bike lane. (More details are available in this previous post). Yesterday, David said a deputy showed up at his house this weekend to let him know the ticket had […]

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