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How you manage to deal with that drivel day-in and day-out is remarkable. I would be screaming if I had to read just [the] fraction of that.

It is so sad that a lot of drivers just forget all their good manners and literally turn their cars into deadly weapons just because they cannot get to the red light ahead of them faster. So sad.

On the other hand: What do you expect in a country in which only 57% of the population thinks that there is enough scientific evidence to support the fact that global warming is happening. (Just one fun fact of many I could have used here)

Wow, lets replace "bike in the driving lane" with "negro in the white person's seat on the bus." Man, these cyclists are so uppity with their "rights."

So, what exactly did Jeff Peel say?

The comments are particularly discouraging.

The St. Mary's incident is particularly disturbing because the driver said she didn't see the bicycle even though it was apparently smack dab in front of her in broad daylight. That accident isn't about what she hit; it's about her in ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Many of the USAToday comments are moronic and scary. H1N1 has killed 1,000 Americans this year. How many have died this year from driver incompetence. Obama says H1N1 is a "national emergency". The death in St. Mary's is a national disgrace.

California has a mandatory bike lane law, BTW.

I agree that the comments are discouraging. All the hate sounds like the venom spewed over civil rights by Southern whites, hence my comment about riding in the back of the bus. US Today should run your "myth of the scofflaw cyclist." I suppose the only silver lining is that the US Today demographic is more Southern and less urban than DC, so we hopefully less likely to encounter these haters.

Just a quick correction: Here in California, cyclists are required to use a bike lane if one is available (CVC 21208). However, that has no bearing on the Thompson case, since there are no bike lanes on the Mandeville Canyon road where the assault occurred.

Woodyard's description of this case is also incorrect. According to testimony in this case, the cyclists were riding two abreast, not three, and moved to single file as soon as they became aware of the car behind them. They only flipped Thompson off after he buzzed them and yelled "ride single file!"

What he fails to mention is that Mandeville is a narrow road with substandard lane widths, which meant the riders could legally take the lane. Also, they were riding at or above the posted speed limit, which meant they could ride anywhere they wanted within the lane without violating the law. It also meant that Thompson had to be speeding in order to pass them, and so had no legal justification to complain about the cyclists blocking his way.

Maybe Woodyard should try verifying his facts — like any decent reporter — before he goes off half-cocked like that.

While only a few states have mandatory bike lane or shoulder laws, they're the big ones -- California and New York for instance -- and a substantial portion of the US population lives under these.

But virtually every state has implicit mandatory bike lane use. The bike lane is part of the roadway, and just about every state (Kentucky is the only exception I know of) has language derived from the Uniform Vehicle Code stating that cyclists must right as close to the right edge of the roadway as practicable. So unless that bike lane is on the left, or (in some states) you're on a one-way street, you have to use that bike lane virtually everywhere.

Sure there are exceptions to the as-far-right-as-practicable law, but they're generally for the same sorts of things as exceptions to bike lane laws.

I do love the logic of the article though, that cyclists shouldn't be allowed to use the road because motorists can't be trusted not to kill them.

Dear Cyclist -

As someone who owns both a bicycle and a car, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that riding your bike across the street in a cross walk does not give you right of way over automobile traffic (at least in Maryland) - go look it up. You can cuss at me all you want, but that still does not give you right of way, so stop being so righteous.

@T. Durden: Bravo! I own two cars and ride a bike. Does that allow me to kill twice the number of bicyclists that cross at cross walks?

Not sure what you are attempting to establish with you comment but it is clear that you need to stop being angry t people that you perceive to impede your progress from getting to point A to B. This includes all other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

(Or what would your excuse be for killing a bicyclist for whom you say you don't need to stop? "Did not see him/ her"? You need to take a minute and think about what you are saying and then consider what effect your post might have.)

Durden's rage brings up an interesting point. On multi-use trails and counties like MoCo where sidewalk riding is encouraged, what is the law on crosswalks?

The Paint Branch Pkwy crossing has all sorts of signage that cars must stop for peds, but nothing about cyclists. Are cars legally required to yield the right of way to cyclists waiting to cross Paint Branch, or are they only required to yield for pedestrians?

It's hilarious that Durden says "go look it up" because Maryland law is silent on the issue.

Crosswalks are an extension of the sidewalk, and Maryland law says cyclists can use sidewalks, except when they can't. The law says nothing about how they use it however. (Contrast to DC and VA, which both explicitly give sidewalk cyclists the rights and duties of pedestrians). However, when asked to address the issue the courts have consistently ruled that the only thing that makes sense is to give all permitted users the same rights and duties, anything else would result in chaos. Sidewalk cyclists should be treated as pedestrians.

What are the rights and duties of pedestrians at crosswalks in Maryland? Right of way; vehicles must stop. The duty is to not enter the roadway so suddenly that vehicles are unable to stop.

"Look it up" indeed!

@Contrarian
"But virtually every state has implicit mandatory bike lane use. The bike lane is part of the roadway, and just about every state (Kentucky is the only exception I know of) has language derived from the Uniform Vehicle Code stating that cyclists must right as close to the right edge of the roadway as practicable. So unless that bike lane is on the left, or (in some states) you're on a one-way street, you have to use that bike lane virtually everywhere."

Actually, no. If the bike lane is not practicable to ride in (say, it's in the door zone, it's full of debris, etc.) then cyclists do NOT have to use it.

Actually, no. If the bike lane is not practicable to ride in (say, it's in the door zone, it's full of debris, etc.) then cyclists do NOT have to use it.

First, you're missing my point, which is that there's no difference between a mandatory bike lane law and an as-far-right-as-practicable law. Second, as to the door zone issue, good luck convincing a cop, a judge, or anyone who doesn't read cycling advocacy groups on the Internet that you're a better judge of the practicability of a bike facility than the licensed transportation engineer who put it there.

Second, as to the door zone issue, good luck convincing a cop, a judge, or anyone who doesn't read cycling advocacy groups on the Internet that you're a better judge of the practicability of a bike facility than the licensed transportation engineer who put it there.

Find someone who has been doored or nearly doored in the bike lane and put them on the witness stand. Chances are that person is yourself.

On the League of American Bicyclists' educators email list, I urged them to put this article on their "Trash Talk" section, and also to contact USA Today with an official complaint.

Someone else on that list made an insightful point: "Have bicyclists let motorists' 'rights' go to far?" After all, bicycles were on the roads well before cars were, and bicyclists were the first to start advocating that they be paved. (Including the LAB, at that time calling itself the "League of American Wheelmen".) Ungrateful upstarts!

Forgot to mention, someone else on that list wanted to offer to enroll the author in one of the LAB's Traffic Skills 101 courses.

Hey Contrarian -

Back to my point about not being so righteous. Just because YOU think sidewalk cyclists should be considered pedestrians does not make it so. A crosswalk is not an extension of the sidewalk (see below). Also, please cite the section in Maryland law that gives pedestrians walking on sidewalks Right-of-Way over vehicles - there is none, because there does not need to be, because it is a sidewalk. You have loosley strung together a bunch of misconceptions and half-truths to view the law as you see fit:

- A person riding a bicycle is not considered a Pedestrian in the State of Maryland, they are considered a Vehicle. No where in Maryland code is a person riding a bicycle equated with a Pedestrian:

§ 21-1202. Traffic laws apply to bicycles and motor scooters.

Every person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter in a public bicycle area has all the rights granted to and is subject to all the duties required of the driver of a vehicle by this title, including the duties set forth in § 21-504 of this title, except:

(1) As otherwise provided in this subtitle; and

(2) For those provisions of this title that by their very nature cannot apply.

- Maryland law makes an exception for certain Vehicles to be operated on sidewalks. This still does not equate them with Pedestrians:

§ 21-1103. Driving on sidewalk.

(a) Driving prohibited.- Except as provided in subsection (b), (c), or (d) of this section, a person may not drive any vehicle on a sidewalk or sidewalk area unless it is a permanent or authorized temporary driveway.

(b) Exceptions - Bicycles, play vehicles, etc.-

- While Maryland law defines crosswalk in part as a prolongation of the sidewalk (a continued path of travel), that is different than stating that it is an extension of the sidewalk (retains same attributes), and it still does not give Right-of-Way to people riding bicycles, nor does it equate people riding bicycles with Pedestrians. However, it does explicitly state that crosswalks are in part, distinctly indicated for PEDESTRIAN crossing:

§ 21-101. Definitions.

(a) In general.- In this title and Title 25 of this article the following words have the meanings indicated.

(i) Crosswalk.- "Crosswalk" means that part of a roadway that is:

(1) Within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at any place where 2 or more roadways of any type meet or join, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway; or

(2) Distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings.

- That Vehicles must yield to Pedestrians in crosswalks is explicitly stated. Nothing is mentioned about riding bicycles in crosswalks, because crosswalks are not intended for Vehicles, they are intended for Pedestrians:

§ 21-502. Pedestrians' right-of-way in crosswalks.

(a) In general.-

(2) The driver of a Vehicle shall come to a stop when a Pedestrian crossing the roadway in a crosswalk is:

(i) On the half of the roadway on which the Vehicle is traveling; or

(ii) Approaching from an adjacent lane on the other half of the roadway.

(continued)
- So while you are correct in stating that Maryland law is silent on Vehicles driving in crosswalks, it does have quite a bit to say about Vehicular Right-of-Way:

§ 21-403. Vehicle entering stop or yield intersection or through highway.

(a) Signs authorized.- Preferential right-of-way at an intersection may be indicated by stop signs or yield signs placed in accordance with the Maryland Vehicle Law.

(b) Stopping at entrance to through highway.- If the driver of a vehicle approaches a through highway, the driver shall:

(1) Stop at the entrance to the through highway; and

(2) Yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle approaching on the through highway.

(c) Stopping in obedience to stop signs.- If a stop sign is placed at the entrance to an intersecting highway, even if the intersecting highway is not part of a through highway, the driver of a vehicle approaching the intersecting highway shall:

(1) Stop in obedience to the stop sign; and

(2) Yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle approaching on the intersecting highway.

(d) Approaching intersection marked by yield sign.- If a "yield" sign facing the driver of a vehicle is placed on the approach to an intersection, the driver shall:

(1) Approach the intersection with caution;

(2) Yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle approaching on the other highway; and

(3) If necessary, stop in order to yield this right-of-way.

So according to your logic, a person riding a bicycle (Vehicle) approaching a stop sign at an intersection can blow through the stop sign by hoping onto the adjacent crosswalk that runs parallel to his path of travel and expect oncoming traffic to stop for him if they have enough time to stop?

My guess is that you don't really care about any of these laws that were just cited, and that the only law that you (and alot of other righteous cyclists) selectively choose to rely on is that which states that it is illegal to kill or injure someone, which then permits you to ride your bicycle in whichever manner you see fit. If you want to pick fights with people driving 3000 lb. battering rams that is your choice, but someday you will lose.

1. Prolongation = extension

2. I think the term you're looking for is "self-righteous" not "righteous". Righteous is a compliment. And where do you see someone being self-righteous?

3. A person riding a bicycle is not considered a Pedestrian in the State of Maryland, they are considered a Vehicle. No where in Maryland code is a person riding a bicycle equated with a Pedestrian:

This is a moot point. As the law clearly gives the right of way to vehicles in the crosswalk.

3. 21-202 Traffic lights with steady indication.
(b) Green indication. – Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through, or unless a sign at the place prohibits the turn, turn right or left.
(c) Yielding right-of-way to vehicles or pedestrians within intersections or crosswalks. – Vehicular traffic described under subsection (b) of this section, including any vehicle turning right or left, shall yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle and any pedestrian lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk when the signal is shown.

Any other vehicle in a crosswalk includes bicycles. Lawmakers could have said "vehicles within intersections or pedestrians within crosswalks," but that isn't what they said. They said vehicles or pedestrians within intersections or crosswalks. As in:

a. Vehicles within intersections
b. Vehicles within crosswalks
c. Pedestrians within intersections
d. Pedestrians within crosswalks

4. Read what Contrarian wrote. "The law says nothing about how [cyclists] use [the sidewalk].... However, when asked to address the issue the courts have consistently ruled that the only thing that makes sense is to give all permitted users the same rights and duties, anything else would result in chaos. Sidewalk cyclists should be treated as pedestrians.

So his point is that the courts interpret the law as "Sidewalk cyclists should be treated as pedestrians" though the law does not explicitly say that.

Emphasis mine.

5. Who cares? You should yield to more vulnerable users out of common human decency.

T. Durden has copied and pasted a couple of pages from the Maryland code that show nothing, because they are not relevant to the question at hand. Rather than going through point-by-point why they are not relevant (bicycles on sidewalks are not vehicles, crosswalks are not intersections) I'll cut to the case and cite the caselaw.

In Jermane v. Forfar:
"The purpose of the law is to safeguard human life, and it should not be construed so as to make it applicable only to persons walking heels-and-toe. We cannot escape the conviction that the term 'walking in the highway' was intended to be inclusive of all persons in the street, standing or moving therein, when using their legs and feet."

In Pudmaroff v. Allen, the motorist, Allen, tried to claim that crosswalks were intersections. The judge found that claim "absurd," and went on to say:

"Equally absurd would be [the] practical application of Allen's proposed interpretation: several groups cross on the Interurban Trail, some on foot, others on skateboards, Rollerblades, and bicycles, and wait for a clear opportunity to cross, and like Pudmaroff, they proceed only after they have properly checked for oncoming traffic. If such a group were hit in the crosswalk, under Allen's interpretation, the vehicle driver would be liable to all those except those on bicycles. Such interpretation makes no sense."

The judge went on to add:
"Bicyclists enjoy an anomalous place in traffic-safety law. Cyclists are generally not pedestrians, nor are they always considered vehicles. Statutes variously treat bicycles and bike paths in a recreational context, and at other times the statutes treat them as part of the transport system. These statutes indicate that legislatures have viewed bicycles on paths on a case-by-case basis without any continuity. Plainly our legislature could usefully consider and clarify the state's traffic-safety policy for bicycles and bicycle paths."

I couldn't agree more.

What both of these cases show is a general principle in traffic law, which is that right of way is determined by your route and not your vehicle. In general, a route has permitted and non-permitted users, and permitted users all have equal right of way. (With a few exceptions, emergency vehicles, funeral processions and military convoys come to mind). Think of the chaos that would result otherwise: you come to an intersection, and you have to analyze all of the opposing traffic to see what type it is to determine who has right of way? In heavy traffic would low-priority vehicles be stuck forever, never allowed to go, clogging the road behind them? The reality is the reason that pedestrians in a crosswalk have right of way is that crosswalks have right of way over roads, not that pedestrians have right of way over vehicles.

Finally, regular readers of this blog shouldn't at all be surprised that by the pattern of behavior that T. Durden has exhibited -- first come in here full of bluster saying "you cyclists need to obey the law." Then, once he's been shown that he's wrong about the law, changing his tune to "I don't care what the law is, stay out of my way because I'm bigger than you." I wish I had a nickel for every time I've seen that.

@T. Durden that is why I walk my bike really slow in the crosswalk @ stop light.

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