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Saturday, March 30, 2013

We Are Traffic!

While catching up on the podcasts from The Outspoken Cyclist I heard an interview with Dan Guitierrez from  i am traffic.  

 Check out the website because they talk about the "sixth e" of biking advocacy which is equality.   They have a US map showing the states that have bike equality.  No surprise that Tennessee is in the majority but only two states have bike equality. One is Arkansas!  The other is North Carolina! How did that happen?

Tennessee is listed as unequal because of laws that

1.  Limit  riding to two abreast
2.  Require riding far to the right
3.  Allows discriminatory local laws

This list gives an idea of their point of view. I never thought of a limit on riding more than two abreast as discriminatory. Riding far to the right just seems second nature but automobiles aren't required to stay to the right.  I haven't reviewed the entire web site but it's a different POV.  Sort of John Forrester I guess.

What do you think?

PS. I highly recommend The Outspoken Cyclist it is a great show.  They cover lots of topics and the host is a bike shop owner with an  interest in all types of cycling.


  1. Carey
    You asked “What do you think”?

    I have skimmed though Eli Damon’s posts. He makes some good points and provides a lot of detail and research. However, I think he has carried the “equality” idea too far. All vehicles are not same and we have laws that discriminate. We have roads that allow cars and bicycles but have “NO TRUCK” signs posted. In some states only vehicles with 2 or more occupants are allowed in the HOV lanes but they will allow a motorcycle with a single occupant to use the HOV lane. Cars are not allowed to operate 2 abreast in the same lane, yet in TN both motorcycles and bicyclist may ride 2 abreast under certain conditions.

    2. Require riding far to the right

    Eli Damon is correct that the Uniform Vehicle Code is problematic. He has pages of analysis, but did he actually publish a revised language for the code. He seems to imply there be no requirement to ride as far to the right as practicable. I agree with the LAB, AASHTO and almost every cycling expert out there that it is safe and courteous to ride as far to the right as practicable if the lane is 14 feet wide or wider.

    3. Allows discriminatory local laws

    Local laws that are not the same as state laws are a problem. Several years ago Livable Memphis was able to get the City of Memphis and Shelby County to amend their laws to be in almost complete compliance with state law. The local laws are now more favorable to cyclists than state law.

  2. 1. Limit riding to two abreast
    Preston Tyree (the former Cycling Education Director at the LAB) and I have conversations and exchanged emails about the Riding Two Abreast Laws. We agree that riding more than 2 abreast is dangerous and should be illegal. Caroline Cooley and I were working on a project for Blount Co. We could not find anyone to be the local advocate, thus we let the project die. We did however develop the following assertions that we were going to present:
    Tennessee law allows bicyclists to ride two abreast on the roadway. Section (b) (1) of Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 55-8-175 is listed below:

    (b) (1) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two (2) abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two (2) abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.

    In the interest of bicycling safety and for the convenience of motorists three restrictions were included:
    • bicyclists can ride no more than two abreast,
    • while riding two abreast, bicyclists cannot impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, and
    • bicyclists riding two abreast must ride within a single lane.

    Safety Considerations:
    A bicyclist needs the ability to maneuver within a traffic lane to avoid road hazards or any encroachment by another vehicle be it a bicycle or a motor vehicle. Riding three abreast is both unlawful and dangerous as the center cyclist loses their ability to maneuver due to the bicyclists on each side.
    A cyclist needs to anticipate a motorist may make an unsafe pass that would require the cyclist to quickly make an evasive maneuver to the right. If cyclists ride two abreast, the cyclist on the left does not have the ability to quickly move to the right.
    Controlling the Lane: State law allows and cycling safety instructors teach that in lanes that are not wide enough to allow a cyclist and a motorist to safely travel side by side in the lane: the cyclist may move farther to the left and take the lane. By doing this the cyclist discourages a motorist from making an unsafe pass in a narrow lane which is generally assumed to be any lane less than 14 feet wide. The cyclist should ride between the center of the lane and 1/3 of the lane width from the right edge of the lane. A 1/2 or 1/3 lane position by the cyclists encourages the motorist to wait for a safe opportunity to use the other lane to pass.

    State law does not require bicyclists to ride single file. Stagger Formation (1) : One type of a stagger formation is when one rider rides in the 1/3 lane position and the 2nd rider rides aft of the 1st rider in the 2/3 lane position. The stagger formation is both legal and safer than single file when the riders need to both discourage unsafe passing by controlling the lane and when they want to retain the ability to maneuver quickly if required. This formation also increases the visibility of the cyclists as both cyclists can be seen by a motorist approaching from the rear. The motorist will more quickly see the cyclists and also realize more quickly they will have to slow and wait for a safe opportunity to pass.

  3. (1) The phrase “Stagger Formation” is better used when educating motorists, law enforcement and transportation planners. The example above is a simplification of 2 bicyclists riding on a road with single lane going in each direction. A bicyclist should seek more information from a League Cycling Instructor (LCI) trained by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). A LCI would probably not use the phrase “Stagger Formation” but would teach about proper lane selection on multiple lane roads and proper positioning within a lane on both single lane and multiple lane roads. An LCI may teach when and where it is appropriate to ride two abreast on a single lane road. For example in groups of 2 to 6 riders, an LCI may teach how when a motorist approaches the group from the rear the group should transition from two abreast to single file with only the rear most “sweep” rider maintaining the “stagger” position. The sweep rider should be a very knowledgeable rider who may or may not decide to move right after the motorists slows to a reduced speed differential. The sweep rider may wait until no hills, turns or opposite direction traffic is approaching before moving right. An LCI may teach that when riding up hills or on narrow roads, a larger group should leave a gap between every three to four bicyclists so motorists can pass smaller groups. This footnote is also a simplification; seek professional cycling instruction from the LAB see: .

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