« CaBi Station | Main | CaBi off to a good start »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

"bike commuting rate dropped from 2008 to 2009. Theories?"

how about gas prices? $4.26 / gallon average for regular, July 2008. $2.64 / gallon average July 2009.

Welcome back.

The 3-foot law does apply where you take one lane and there is another lane in the same direction (the exception is for a narrow roadway). Proponents also claim to have an AG opinion that the exception does not apply where roadway is wide enough to pass and there is no double yellow line. The law also applies if you take a wide lane and are keeping up with traffic. The statute's exceptions are for narrow roadways and cyclists failing to keep right when required to do so.

If there is only one narrow lane, the three-foot law does not apply if you take that lane and are going >10 mph slower than traffic (because if you are taking the lane legally, the situation falls into the roadway-too-narrow exeption; and if you are taking the lane illegally, you are failing to keep right and there is an exception for that.

But the inapplicability is probably moot in that case: The only way a car can pass you is by crossing the double yellow line. Crossing that line is as easy to prove as violation of the 3-foot buffer, so if there is an accident that evidence of a driver violation is just as strong.

Aside from an accident, the one time I think this law might be enforced will be when the driver is also on a hand-held cellphone, since this violation will give police a reason to pull over the driver.

Note: MVA has made a few mis-statements to the Baltimore Sun about the law and is expected to issue a correction.

If there is only one narrow lane, the three-foot law does not apply if you take that lane and are going >10 mph slower than traffic

Where are you getting the 10 mph figure?

Lee, that doesn't explain why the national bike commuting rate remained flat.

If there is only one narrow lane, the three-foot law does not apply if you take that lane and are going >10 mph slower than traffic...

Just curious, is that ">10 mph slower than traffic" or ">10 mph slower than the posted speed limit?"

Because there's a huge difference.

The new statute does not give you a 3-ft buffer if the cyclist is violating 21-1205. Strictly speaking, that statute refers to "less than the speed of traffic". I am not sure that 1-5 mph slower than traffic would really be slower than traffic given the imprecise speed of traffic. But I think that 10 mph is not keeping up with traffic because 21-301(5)(b) "any vehicle going 10 miles an hour or more below the applicable maximum speed limit or, if any existing conditions reasonably require a speed below that of the applicable maximum, at less than the normal speed of traffic under these conditions shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway." I realize that it says "or" instead of "and" but it is still a clear indication that 10 mph is the point at which you ought to move right." Therefore, if you are more than 10 mph slower than the speed limit or traffic (whichever is slower) then I am quite sure that you can only take a lane if it is too narrow to pass side by side (though one might occupy the center temporarily for several other purposes).

This is mostly academic, of course, because most of us mainly take lanes that are too narrow to pass side-by-side, and there is an exception for that as well, which applies at any speed.

Dr. Pangloss. Although the statute refers to slower than traffic, the actual meaning is almost certainly limit, whichever is less"

PS: The incoherent comment to Dr. Pangloss was text I meant to delete after pasting the statute.

Also: Perhaps the most counter-productive aspect of the law is that it may have decreased the duty of care. Before this statute was enacted, a jury could find that the duty of care is always 3 feet, since that is what the MVA handbook said. With a statute saying that one must pass with 3 feet except under some circumstances (which account for most of the cases where cars pass with less than 3 feet) perhaps a judge could conclude, as a matter of law, that the duty of care does not mean 3 feet in those cases, taking it out of the jury's hands. Delegate Cardin told me that I was completely wrong to suggest that this might occur--but when he asked the AG for an opinion, the opinion did not address this issue one way or the other. I am unclear whether Del Cardin or others made statements on the floor to make it clear that the word "except" in the bill was not meant to imply that the duty of care is not 3 feet in other cases though that is what he told cyclists.

Hence the advice of key cycling proponents from the Baltimore area: Comply with 21-1205 and take the lane whenever it is too narrow, which ensures that no car can pass you with less than 3 feet without breaking one law or another.

Here is my comment on the cycling share estimate ... http://www.bikeleague.org/blog/2010/09/bicycling-beats-the-odds-national-bike-commuter-rate-holds-steady/comment-page-1/#comment-33495

I'm not positive that the shares have a wide margin of error; but certainly a difference in the point estimates do not necessarily have any real world meaning.

Anyway, those differences are quite small. Assuming the difference is something other than a statistical phenomenom, there could be simple explanations such as gas prices. Despite the national trend's zero change in percent to the hundreths place, Washington DC is quite different in a lot of ways such that as a layperson, I don't think one can dismiss the big change in prices as being inconsequential for resulting in such a small absolute change.

Of course, since this is shares, perhaps there are more people walking, taking the bus, teleworking, and so on.

Margin of error folks. .5% and .55% and .4% are all the same exact number.

Would a two lane road with shoulders/bike lanes count be excluded from the 3 foot buffer? I don't think they should, but I wonder since I've known, on such roads, that people who turn left generally cause the drivers behind them to be impatient and try to go around the turning (or waiting to turn) car by going into the bike lane/shoulder and they're most likely not aware of any bikers who might be in their way do to their quick actions.

As others have pointed out the differences are within the margin of error. But it's still interesting that there seems to be a slight drop in other major cycling cities, like Minneapolis and Portland.

I agree that gas prices may be a factor. My personal suspicion is that the 2nd "bike boom" has simply leveled off. The idea that large number of people were going to get on bikes as part of a "transportation revolution" was probably a fantasy. Rather, there was a relatively small percentage of the population that was potentially interested in cycling--people who had cycled when they were younger, or who were interested in fitness, or who wanted to reduce their carbon footprint. As long as the there were still a decent number of those people to be tapped, the share numbers increased. Now there are fewer--only enough to replace those people who choose or are forced to stop cycling as transportation.

I hope I'm wrong about this, though.

Not many people are going to ride year round in DC. Gets kind of cold during the winter, so you are still going to need a car. I moved to San Diego and I have a similar problem here. The city is so spread out and a lot of canyons make it impractical biking everyday.

DC is ridable year-round. There are maybe 2-10 days where there is snow on the ground. Other than that, it's a matter of the right equipment.

By which I mean, of course, one's talisman.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader