I did a radio interview with WAMU’s Elliot Francis yesterday, and it resulted in this two-minute piece this morning. It was a nice change of tone from the usual Cars v. Bikers! approach taken by the general media, and I’m glad I did it. Unfortunately, I think the piece leaves readers with an incomplete understanding of an important point in the law – that cyclists need not be riding at the speed of cars in order to take the full lane. As I wrote to Mr. Francis after it aired:
“I do want to point out one small, but important, piece of missing info. You wrote that “In fact, laws in D.C., Maryland and Virginia allow bicyclists full use of the travel lane when they can match the normal speed of traffic.” This is correct, but it’s not the only time that cyclists may use the full lane. The other circumstances are what seem (to me) to be a mystery to many drivers, and that leads to impatience when they don’t understand what the cyclists is doing is perfectly legal and safe. Cyclists may also use the full lane when it’s too narrow to share, when there are road conditions that make it impractical to ride to the right (think debris, grating, car doors, etc.), and when they are preparing to make a left turn. The Code of Virginia § 46.2-905 provides for these exceptions (http://leg1.state.va.us/000/cod/46.2-905.HTM). There are variations in the language in MD and DC’s laws, but the fundamentals remain the same.”
That said, I’m still encouraged by this kind of reporting, and I look forward to more.
While I’ve got you reading about cycling and road safety, please go take a look at this fantastic letter from Maryland’s Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Access, Michael Jackson. Jackson’s responding to a citizen letter complaining about the “arrogance” of cyclists who use the full width of a lane or decline to ride on parallel trails instead of the road. Jackson methodically goes through the reasons a cyclist would (and should) make those choices. As WABA board member Jim Titus puts it – that’s safe cycling, not arrogance.