Year-round bike commuter for 10 years, traffic cycling educator with the CyclingSavvy education program.
"What we're proposing is that the cyclists that can't maintain a posted speed limit should have to yield the right of way to vehicles that are able to maintain the posted speed limit."
He does realize, I hope, the posted speed limit is a maximum, not a minimum. He starts talking about limited access highways having minimum limits, and bicyclists are already barred from using those, but then starts talking about posted limits on local roads as if they were minimums, not maximums, and as if motorists had a right to never have to slow down below the posted MAXIMUM. Hint: School buses, drivers ahead turning left, pedestrians crossing the street, drivers ahead lost or looking for their street, red lights, stop signs, tractors, cars pulling out of driveways... Lots of reasons you may need to slow down. Bicycles in the road are no different.
More towns and cities used to require bicycle registration and inspection than do now. My understanding is that most have dropped those requirements in the last 50 years because they've concluded there is not enough need to justify the cost of administration. As someone else has pointed out, the reason it's required for motor vehicle drivers is the vast potential for public danger presented by unlicensed motor vehicle operators. That bicyclists do not constitute such public danger argues not only against spending money on such a program, but against a further regulation on the basic human right to travel. There should be a good reason to limit that, and even bad bicyclists do not justify that.
Although I am a bicyclist myself, I have some differences with Mr. Grenier. He says of some roads, "There is no place for bicycles. None. So when you ride there, the car has no choice but to put two tires in the other lane, if they want to not hit you."
What? The car (driver) has no choice? They can and must wait for safe time to pass, slowing down behind the bicyclist if necessary. BTW, if the cyclist is already riding a straight line further into the lane, rather than just "steer[ing] into travel lanes" suddenly, that makes it easier for overtaking motorists to clue in that they may need to slow down and think about it. That would be one good reason for a bicyclist to be in the travel lane in situations where the edge is sketchy or the shoulder non-existent. More reaction time is always better.
Speaking of "steering into travel lanes", the article is inaccurate when it states that the new bike law "explicitly [gives] cyclists the right to steer into travel lanes if they deem the shoulder unsafe." Bicyclists already HAVE the right to ride in the travel lane (NOT just "steer into it") under the old law, and shoulders were already optional too. The new law just clarifies that a bit.
If safe passing is not possible at the moment, it is safer for the cyclist to pull far enough into the middle of the travel lane (assuming there is time to do so) to prevent the motorist squeezing through. The cyclist can move back over when safe passing does become possible.
Also note that crossing a double-yellow to pass a bicycle is absolutely legal, if it is otherwise safe. It *can be* safe to pass a bicycle even in this situation because you don't need as much time and distance to pass a slower bicycle than to pass another car, and also (on a two-lane road) you can see ahead of the bicycle better than if it were another car.
I hate hearing the statement that a road "has no place for bicycles". Physically, of course, every road has plenty of room for bicycles; they're narrower than cars! It's a matter of the behavior of both motorists and cyclists. Certainly some roads are more difficult for untrained cyclists than others, and therefore more dangerous to cyclists who don't know what they're doing, but it's a function of knowledge and behavior, not of physical space. What this statement really says is that bicyclists must always have separate space, which runs counter to what the law says, and represents a diminishment of cyclists' right to use the road.
Regarding police not enforcing laws against bicyclists, Lewiston officer Sgt. Ullrich states, "Another [reason] is allowing cyclists to do what they need to do to feel safe."
That doesn't explain not ticketing them for running red lights or for operating at night without lights. Wrong-way riding, maybe, because some cyclists do think that is safer, but even then, police should know that it's actually MORE dangerous, and the responsible thing to do would be to advise wrong-way cyclists of that fact, even if they don't issue a ticket.
Thanks for asking those questions, Allisa. Traffic cycling best practice is widely misunderstood by many road users, not only motorists but also many cyclists themselves.
I have no problem with a cyclist riding in the dead center of a country road (lane, I presume you mean, not actually on the yellow centerline), provided they are considerate about allowing passing when it is safe, which is to say basically when there is no oncoming traffic. My advice to cyclists is be to monitor for traffic behind them, and if it unsafe for overtakers to pass, indicate that with a "hold back" hand signal. This acknowledges that the cyclist knows the motorist is there, and confirms that passing should not be attempted. When it is/becomes safe to pass, the cyclist can confirm that by a polite wave and/or moving slightly to the right. This is what we teach in the CyclingSavvy.org cyclist education program with which I am a certified instructor. It is legal, and it is at least as safe, and we believe more safe, than staying squeezed to the side all the time, especially when there is not enough room to be passed safely. Wide experience has shown us that too many motorists will attempt passing even in the face of oncoming traffic, either through impatience or simple misjudgment, if they even THINK there might be room. This can and does lead to sideswipe crashes. By discouraging unsafe passing with their lane position, a cyclist controlling their space IS actually "sharing responsibility for their own safety", to use your words.
For those who ride recumbent bicycles, their lower profile to the ground makes it even MORE necessarily that they protect their space and maintain a buffer around them to make them easier to see.
Many motorists probably don't know that it is actually legal to cross the double yellow line to pass a cyclist, again provided that it is safe. No-passing zones are marked based the distance required for a car to pass another car, but it takes much less time and distance for a car to pass a bicycle. Plus you can see around the bicycle for oncoming traffic better than you can see around a car or truck. Once again, you still need to verify that it can be done safely, but if so, you are allowed and urged to cross over the centerline to give the bicyclist enough space.
If oncoming traffic means there is no room to pass a single cyclist, then there is also no room to pass a group, so cyclists riding double when there is oncoming traffic is no different than the single cyclist situation. There is not universal agreement on whether cyclists in a group should single up to facilitate passing when passing would be safe. It would seem like common sense, but consider that a group singling up creates a longer line of cyclists to pass than if they stayed doubled-up. The single file line is twice as long. During that longer passing time required, it is more likely that a pass that is begun when there was no oncoming traffic present may not be able to be completed by the time oncoming traffic appears. Then what happens? Note that it is actually illegal to begin a pass if you can't see that it can be completed safely, yet many motorists often do not consider this, and a cyclist or a group squeezing to the side single file can encourage that mistake. Now that you know you are allowed to cross the yellow line, it is not much more of an effort for you to move over more completely into the other lane than to just straddle the centerline, and the shorter distance created by the cyclists doubling up will allow you to move back to your lane sooner. Of course the cyclists should all stay on the right half of the road, no matter how many are riding side by side.
One recommendation we have for large groups is to divide into smaller groups, so the smaller groups may be passed one group at a time, but this is not universally known or done.
Other cyclist behavior you mention -- riding the wrong way, wearing head phones and not paying attention, I'll add talking on a cell phone or smoking a cigarette -- are indeed behaviors we strongly discourage. But we can't control these riders, nor even reach all of them with education. No matter how much they give all of us a bad name, the fact is that we all have an obligation to not harm other people in our travels, no matter how bone-headed or illegal their behavior may be. I know they can make it harder to not hit them. :-(
Better enforcement of illegal behavior by cyclists, such as riding the wrong way, blowing through red lights, and riding at night without lights, might help, and I definitely support that. Unfortunately, ticketing scofflaw cyclists is usually a very low priority for most police departments, which only enables it more. Also, law-abiding cyclists are sometimes hassled by law enforcement for behavior that looks illegal and dangerous but actually is not, such as controlling their lane when safe passing is not possible.
Lastly, while many cyclists on rural roads, especially those in groups, are indeed recreating, remember that some are also traveling for transportation. This is even more true in town. But regardless, the bottom line is that the purpose of one's travel does not make a speck of difference to how that person should be treated, nor does the vehicle they are using. We don't think motorists who are merely going to dinner or the movies are less important than those going to work, do we? We're all equal.
Thanks again for asking.