Friday, February 9, 2007

Columbus City Bike Laws: Part 4

Now we're going to step into the world of actually operating your bicycle on the road. I mean, that's what it's all about, right?

2173.07 Riding bicycle on right side of roadway; traffic control devices; hand and arm signals; yield right of way.

(a) Any person operating a bicycle shall:
(1) Ride as near to the right-hand side of the roadway as practicable, obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles and exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
Stay toward the right side of the road. Pretty simple there. Now, keep in mind that word "practicable." That means capable of being put into practice, or feasible. So that means that you stay as far to the right as is feasible. In other words, stay to the right, but not to your own detriment as a cyclist.

Translated, that means stay out of the door zone. The door zone is that 3'-4' space next to parked cars where, if a door suddenly opens, you're going to get clotheslined if you're not far enough away. Cars should be following that rule, but it's not going to hurt them like it'll hurt you.

Now moving on with this section - notice that you should be obeying all traffic rules. This is a big pet peeve of mine: people (notice I didn't say cyclists and I didn't say drivers - I said PEOPLE) who don't follow the traffic laws. That means not using your turn signal (or sticking your arm out to the left or right as a cyclist), coming to a complete stop when you get to a stop sign, etc. The number one complaint you hear about cyclists on the road is that "they don't follow the traffic laws." Sure, neither do the drivers. But we, as cyclists, should be doing our part to keep the peace between cars and bikes by following the laws they should be following.

To continue:
(2) Yield the right of way to a pedestrian upon a sidewalk or a crosswalk;
(3) Give timely and audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian upon a roadway or sidewalk.
Pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way. I don't care if they're trying to cross High Street during rush hour and you have to pee and you're late for work anyway. They have the right of way. Period. So yield to them. Let them know they're there before you pass them. A simple "on your left" or whatever is plenty. And though this isn't in the traffic laws, it's a good idea to do this on bike trails as well, as most "bike" trails are really multi-use trails.

Now, you may be thinking "well, I'm the one with less control - they need to get out of my way." See, that's not going to work on a bike like it does in a car - injury-wise, anyway. If a car hits a pedestrian, chances are that the driver isn't going to be harmed. If YOU run into a pedestrian on your bike... you're probably going to get hurt. So this rule is as much for you as it is for them.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one (1) year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one (1) predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one (1) year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two (2) or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree. (ORC 4511.55; Ord. 1579-72; Ord. 2120-03 § 1 (part).)
And the penalties.

So let's sum up the laws in this section:
  • Stay to the right, where feasible, but don't stay so far to the right that you endanger yourself.
  • Obey the traffic laws.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way - let them know you're there.
Next time we'll get into some more roadwork issues.

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