The topic of bicycle riders traveling side-by-side on local roads is an ongoing discussion. Most recently, a conversation has been taking place on the blog and in the comments section after cycling related Street Smarts columns appear on the Sentinel’s website.
While the California Vehicle Code doesn’t have a specific law banning cyclists from riding along side each other, there is another section that address the practice.
Street Smarts consulted with Chris Cochran of the state’s Office of Traffic Safety for his insights:
“Keeping in mind that a bicycle is considered a vehicle, any side-by-side group of riders taking up space outside of the bike lane or right side of the lane would be expected to travel at the same speed as regular vehicular traffic.
“California Vehicle Code 21202 states that any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except when overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction, when preparing for a turn at an intersection or driveway, 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.
“What that normally means is, unless a group of bikers can pedal at a consistent speed equal to that of the vehicles on that roadway, they need to stay in single file as far right as possible. They could be cited for not doing so.
“So, what if you come across such a group and there is no cop around to cite them? You know it’s unsafe and illegal. They very likely know it’s illegal. You pass them in a safe and legal manner just as you would a slow moving car. They may not be legal, but ranting at them or getting too close to them will do no good.”