Urban Velo

Cycling Legalese: Does the Bike Lane Compel You?

bkevinidesCycling Legalese is our online cycling law column from everyday cyclist and Chicago based injury lawyer, Brendan Kevenides.

Ever expanding bicycle infrastructure is awesome, hands down. But are you compelled to use a bike lane or separated path if it exists, even if it is in disrepair or otherwise not suitable? Read on.

Q:There are new bike lanes popping up all over. That’s cool, but do I have to ride in them?

Bike lanes are awesome, except when they’re not. As someone who has been riding in the big bad city for decades, I am thrilled at the proliferation of bike specific infrastructure in my town and others nationwide. Our cities are evolving. However, no big North American city can claim to be on par with bike meccas like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. In the evolutionary timeline we have crawled out of the primordial ooze, but we are still pretty wet behind the ears. Sometimes bike lanes, and other cycle specific infrastructure, suck. Thankfully, in most places bicyclists are not required to use bike lanes or separated paths.

There are several reasons why a cyclist might choose not to ride in a bike lane. It may be in disrepair, full of potholes, ruts or broken glass. Leaving the bike lane may be the safe thing to do. It is common in U.S. cities for the lanes to be occupied illegally by cars, delivery trucks or other vehicles. Here in Chicago, buses are permitted to share bicycle lanes with people on bikes. In the winter months, bike paths maybe rendered impassable due to the accumulation of snow and ice. There are even times when cycling on a path or in a bike lane clear of obstructions just does not make sense. For example, a roadie on a training ride may be advised to avoid a path crowded with cyclists traveling at a more leisurely pace.

There once was a time when the majority of U.S. states had what are commonly referred to as “mandatory use laws,” that is laws that require cyclists to use a bike specific path or other designated area located adjacent to a regular travel lane. These laws were more common at a time when there were actually fewer such paths in existence, and virtually no bike lanes in North American cities. According to the League of American Bicyclists, “In the 1970s, mandatory use laws of some sort existed in 38 states.” Now, however, there are far fewer such laws, many having been repealed. Illinois’ vehicle code has no mandatory use requirement. Until recently, the municipal code of Chicago had such a requirement which read, “Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.” The ordinance did not define what a usable path was. Was it a bike lane with nothing more than a painted line separating cars and bikes? Or, was more substantial separation required, like a jersey barrier? This vagueness ultimately lead to repeal of the ordinance in June, 2013.

Cyclists throughout Illinois and in places like Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and many others cyclists may ignore bike lanes and paths for any reason. In other jurisdictions a cyclist’s right to do so is qualified. For example, in California a bicyclist must use a bicycle lane where one is provided, unless he or she is traveling at the same speed as traffic moving in the same direction. California bikers may also abandon the lane when overtaking another bicyclist or pedestrian, when preparing to turn left, to avoid debris or hazardous conditions or when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. The law in New York seems to be the same. Where there are bike lanes, cyclists have to use them. It appears, however, that cyclists there may abandon them under the same circumstances set for the in California Code.

The state with perhaps the scariest mandatory use language is one generally considered the most bike friendly in North America, Oregon. Its vehicle code states that, “A person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.”

An “offense.” Yikes. Still, even in Oregon a bike lane or path may be abandoned to pass other cyclists, to make a left turn, to avoid hazard and to execute a right turn. Also, Oregon provides that a person need not comply with the mandatory use law unless it has been determined after public hearing that the bike lane or path is “suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.”

As is generally the case, knowing what the law requires depends on the particular circumstances and where you are. If you want to check the law on mandatory use in your state, The League of American Bicyclists has a very helpful chart online. Be advised, however, that laws can change at any time without notice.

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—Disclaimer—
Nothing contained in this column should be construed as legal advice. The information contained herein may or may not match your individual situation. Also, laws differ from place to place and tend to change over time. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of an attorney in the relevant jurisdiction. This column is meant to promote awareness of a general legal issue. As such, it is meant as entertainment. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.
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Indianapolis Bikeshare Set To Launch

PacersBikeShareLogo_Main_Web-250x250 The Indianapolis Bikeshare officially kicks off April 22nd as 250 bikes will be locked in to 25 stations around the downtown area. The hype has been building in the city, but let’s just quickly mention how cool it is that the Pacers are the sponsoring organization. You can get in on the perks of the program by signing up for various membership levels here. Maybe we’ll see some of the Pacers using the system, like Lebron in Miami?

A launch party will take place at The City Market on the 22nd. All information about the event, photos of the stations and updated information can be found on the Indy Bikeshare Facebook page.

Boston Doctors Can Now Prescribe You a Bike

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 11.35.25 AMFrom Slate.com:

The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that’s whimsically known as “Prescribe-a-Bike.” Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write “prescriptions” for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city’s bike-share system, for only $5.

Read more.

Friday Follow – Rosko Cycles

rosko 1Those kids in NYC have their hands in all modes of travel, from bikes to motorcycles to skateboards, and Seth Rosko of Rosko Cycles is no different, as evidenced by his IG feed. A stripped down, simplistic frame builder, you’re sure to get shots of builds in process, but also depictions of daily life in the big city, from CX racing to coffee stops to rider profiles.

Facebook : Rosko Cycles Inc
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Cleveland Cycling Update

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Something About Cleveland in Urban Velo #40 helped shine a light on what’s up in the cycling world in the home of the Browns. Refresh your memory, and then check out this update from contributor Joe Bauer.

Following a slew of critical examinations of Cleveland cycling infrastructure—rather the lack thereof—the City of Cleveland is finally taking action with the approval of Bike Cleveland, the city’s premiere bike advocacy organization.

This past January, the City of Cleveland announced a plan that prioritizes the implementation of bicycle facilities by aligning priority bikeway routes with their Capital Improvement Plan. In total, the City of Cleveland plans to install 70 miles of bikeways over the next four years, adding much needed infrastructure to the city’s paltry 47.5 unconnected miles that currently exist.

Adding to the excitement of cycling in Cleveland is the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission’s recent announcement of their inaugural NEOCycle event taking place September 27 and 28. The event is billed as “an urban cycling festival consisting of competitive races and unique rides connected by live entertainment and an interactive, action-filled festival at Cleveland Metroparks Edgewater Park on the shores of Lake Erie.”

Races and rides include a criterium, a night ride, fundo, cyclocross, and laps at the velodrome. City partners believe this could become Cleveland’s signature event, like SXSW in Austin or Bonnaroo in Tennessee.

Back to the City’s cycling plans; the goal is ultimately to connect every neighborhood in the City of Cleveland with safe and accessible bikeways. The important missing piece, however, is what type of bikeways will be developed—painted lanes, cycle tracks or the much-maligned “sharrows” that advocates, backed by research, say does little to increase cycling traffic.

“As the number of people riding bikes, either by choice or necessity, continues to grow across Cleveland, it is important to balance the needs of all users,” says Bike Cleveland Executive Director Jacob VanSickle. “We look forward to working with the City on identifying the bikeway types that will create a truly world-class bikeway network in Cleveland.”

Friday Follow – Shawn182

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Shawn182 was our dude here in Indy until he went searching for bigger adventures in NYC, where he seems to be running things with Kinfolk Bicycles and the Brooklyn King Kog shop. His IG feed is pretty standard for a two-wheeled hipster with shop shots, CX action images and other amusing shenanigans. Give him a high five if you see him around town.

Instagram : Shawn182
Facebook : Shawn Wolf
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Feedback Sports Pee-WeeElite Stand

Action_1 Right tools are key to the job. There are a lot of child’s bikes and accessories on the market, but this might be the first repair stand. Built to the same specs as the adult stands, the Feedback Sports Pee-WeeElite is as much play stand as the ticket to get Sally gluing tubulars while you’re recovering from the morning’s bike path time trial. Maybe it’s all but a cruel April Fools’ joke Feedback is actually playing on themselves as parents with extra money call to order balance bike workstands for the garage.

Goodbye Fabio Rattazzi

1604406_10202927585780175_1073655652_n Goodbye Fabio. It is with great sadness that we pass on the news that after a long battle with illness that Fabio Rattazzi, co-founder of DZR Shoes, has passed on. He was a favorite person to run into at tradeshows, to talk bikes, and to talk fine food and travels. A world class observed trials rider in the ’80s, Fabio could outride most anyone no matter his illness. Watching him carve the San Francisco traffic was amazing, talking over coffee on the street and in the DZR offices something I won’t forget. Taken far too soon from us, such a gentle and wise soul. Jeff and I are going to miss you Fabio. So bummed.

Abbey Bike Tools Crombie and Whip-It Combo

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abbey_bike_tools-1 Assuming you are actually using them, quality tools are typically worth the expense. Few things are worse than breaking parts while wrenching with sub-par tools, or sub-par tools themselves breaking after light use, and while quality tools can set you back a few extra dollars, the longevity tends to pay for itself over time. Abbey Bike Tools is a relatively new entrant to the game, making short run tools for professional mechanics for the past couple of seasons. Pictured is the double sided Crombie, a $45 tool with a Shimano/SRAM cassette lockring tool on one side, and a Campagnolo spline on the other. The long, solid handle gives plenty of leverage to break a stuck cassette lockring free, and more than enough to tighten it down far too much if you’re not careful. Since you tend to use a cassette lockring tool in conjunction with a chain whip, conveniently so the Crombie handle is designed to slip inside of the $40 Whip-It chain whip for one stop shopping. Really great looking stuff coming from this Bend, OR shop. Check out their HAG derailleur hanger alignment gauge too, billed as a rebuildable, shop quality tool and the last one any shop will ever have to purchase.

Team Cinelli Chrome

The Cinelli Chrome Fixed Crit Racing TeamCinelli and Chrome have partnered to sponsor the new Cinelli Chrome Fixed Crit Racing Team.

The new team will be comprised of 4 Italian riders and 3 Americans led by 2013 Red Hook Criterium Series winner Neil Bezdek. Along with Bezdek will be 4 time Monster Track winner Alfred Bobe’ Jr. who brings his elite alleycat skills and substantial urban cycling background. Representing the women for Cinelli Chrome is Kelli Samuelson, native of Los Angeles with a strong track and road racing background to complement her fixed gear crit experience. The Italians rounding out the squad are veteran rider and team director Giorgio Vianini, as well as Alessandro Bruzza, Paolo Bravini, and Giovanni Bocchi.

Click here for more photos.

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