Today’s post, in which I offer a few helpful corrections for the Newport Beach PD

The Newport Beach Police Department offers advice for cyclists riding in the city.

And for the most part, they get it right.

Where they fail is the admonition that bike riders should position themselves farthest to the right of the lane, ignoring the many exceptions to that requirement contained in CVC21202.

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
  4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

And never mind that all of that only applies to bicyclists riding below the normal speed of traffic; if you can keep up with the cars on the street at that time — which is usually pretty easy at rush hour — you can ride anywhere you want on the roadway.

All of which explains why the LAPD says “Ride where it’s right, not to the right.”

There is also no requirement under California law to ride single file, despite what some law enforcement agencies will tell you. As long as riders aren’t impeding traffic — which is defined as five or more vehicles stuck behind a slow moving vehicle and unable able to pass — there is nothing to prohibit riding side-by-side in a non-shareable lane.

Especially on a four lane roadway where drivers can use the other lane to go around.

And riding two abreast is often safer than riding single file, allowing bicyclists to control the full lane to prevent dangerous passing where there’s not enough room for drivers to do it safely. Yet many motorists will try it anyway unless riders take steps — like riding abreast — to physically prevent it.

Of course, just because it’s not against the law doesn’t mean they won’t give you a ticket for it.

And no, bicycles are not considered vehicles under California law, though riders are subject to the same rights and responsibilities of vehicle operators.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.

Update: This is not intended as criticism of the NBPD, but rather, of the website posted under their name. From what I’ve been told, the Newport Beach Police Department is one of the more progressive departments in Southern California when it comes to working with bicyclists.

However, it remains a common problem that police can misinterpret the laws regarding bicycling, and provide inaccurate information to bike riders and drivers that can cause bicyclists to ride in an unsafe manner, and drivers to think we don’t have a right to the roadway.

When a well-intentioned website like this, which serves to provide safety information for both groups, gives incorrect information, it can do more harm than good and lead to needless conflicts on the road.

………

Don’t forget to vote for Walk and Rollers for the Lakers’ Youth Foundation March YOU GRANT. This is a great, locally based program to encourage children to walk and bike to school more often, and more safely. And one I endorse without reservation.

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LADOT recounts the recent first-year bike plan meetings. Some of these meetings — and projects — were highly contentious; you can still offer support for your favorite bike lanes, which may need it.

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A writer for the Wall Street Journal tours L.A. in a Day with Bikes and Hikes LA. L.A. fashion photographer and retailer the Cobrasnake talks tight clothes and L.A. bicycling for H&M; does it hurt my hipness quotient if I never heard of him? This is how you can tell it was a good ride. Gear up for the next battle in the war over parking and bike lanes in North Hollywood. New bike lanes on Rowena Blvd. Santa Monica police bust a bike thief. The Honor Ride for Wounded Veterans rolls in Agoura Hills on April 27th. Manhattan Beach police plan a crackdown on people who walk on the beach bike path, or ride on the Strand; thanks to Margaret Wehbi for the link. The Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition calls for a Metrolink Bicycle Access Plan. Boyonabike looks at the not-entirely-unexpected Cal Poly Pomona Bike Lane Brush-Off; unless and until parents of students, and prospective students, decide the auto-centric school is too dangerous for their kids nothing is likely to change.

Here’s your chance to apply for the planned Newport Beach committee to oversee development of a new bike master plan. The San Diego City Council unanimously prioritizes bike safety improvements, but misses the point about the city’s deadly freeway onramps. Caltrans will test a fix a popular bike route on Highway 1 north of Cambria, after a recent chip seal ruined it for riders; this is what happens when they only consider the needs of drivers. The World Naked Bike Ride hit San Francisco on Saturday, despite the city’s recent ban on public nudity. GEICO partially blames a San Francisco cyclist for the actions of driver who doored her, despite proof to the contrary; and this is exactly what’s wrong with liability insurance in California, where cases too often end up in court for no apparent reason. Manteca plans to triple the amount of bike lanes in the city. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat calls on drivers to share the road, and for Sonoma county officials to pass the first countywide L.A.-style cyclist anti-harassment law; at least five cities have passed a similar law, but no test case has been filed anywhere yet.

Fat Cyclist deservedly takes a bikewear manufacturer to task for their needlessly sexist and borderline offensive ad and asinine, virtually incomprehensible marketing philosophy. The Bike League offers advice on how to approach political leaders gleaned from interviews with Congressional staffers. After a Denver-area cyclist is killed in a hit-ad-run, the driver calls police to claim he didn’t know he hit anyone; if any driver is so careless, drunk or distracted he doesn’t even know he killed someone, he or she shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel. More on the NYPD dropping the term accident from it’s traffic investigations; now maybe we can get the LAPD — and the press — to do the same. Nearly 600 cyclists are injured by dooring in Great Britain every year. Former pro Laurent Jalabert was seriously injured when he was hit by a car headed in the opposite direction.

Finally, I’ve often said that Red Kite Prayer’s Padraig writes more beautifully about bicycling than just about anyone else who’s attempted to set pen to two wheels. But today, he offers a heartbreaking perspective, reminding us that some things are far more important than riding.

If you don’t read anything else I’ve linked to today, read that one.

5 comments

  1. billdsd says:

    I’ve sent one of my overly verbose emails to NBPD detailing the problems and suggesting that they contact David Huntsman to help them fix the page. I doubt that they will but I hope that they do.

  2. Jim Lyle says:

    If the MB police have been warning pedestrians to stay off the bike path for the past month, it isn’t working.

  3. John Murphy says:

    Sonoma County passed the ordinance. That covers unincorporated Sonoma County. Sebastopol has already passed one. Healdsburg is voting on one May 4

  4. Evan says:

    Ted–the next time you’re riding on Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica near the apartments/condos north of Wilshire, look for a bright Cobrasnake van parked along there. I’ve seen it often.

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