Side-by-side cycling not illegal, but there are rules to follow when doing it

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.”
This entry was posted in bicycle, California Vehicle Code, cycling, Office of Traffic Safety, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Side-by-side cycling not illegal, but there are rules to follow when doing it

  1. Mark says:

    I have unfortunately come up behind a groups of cyclists riding side by side occasionally moving well below the posted speed limit on San Jose/Soquel Rd. u00a0These folks hold up traffic because area is a no passing zone with a double yellow line. u00a0It would be illegal to cross the double yellow center line to pass. What then?

  2. Anonymous says:

    u00a0What you do is you wait till you can turn off, or at the bottom, and call the police of their dangerous behavior and that you wish them to cited and fined.u00a0 Report all descriptions as much as possible, and any road rage on their part.u00a0u00a0 Chris Cochran forgot to mention that group riding by cyclists is usually only allowed by special permit as in a race or other permitted event.u00a0 This is to protect both the cyclists and anyone else using the roads.

  3. Mark Nockleby says:

    It doesn’t matter if cyclists travel in singles or pairs, single file or side by side. They all have to obey CVC 21202. Cyclists must ride to the right except when they are not required to ride to the right. nn It doesn’t matter if cyclists travel in singles or pairs, single file or side by side. ALL the exceptions to the ride to the right rule apply to them…. not just the exceptions that Chris Cochran says apply.nnThat means that cyclists that ride side by side in any of these circumstances (in addition to riding as fast or faster than normal speed) apply:nn(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.n(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.n(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.n(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.nnFor instance, two cyclists riding side-by-side in the sub-standard width lanes on Mission Street very likely know that it is legal to do so (because there are signs on the road saying so).nnIt is dishonest for Chris Cochran to claim that side-by-side cyclists are required to keep up with traffic, when there are four more exceptions to the ride to the right rule.

  4. Mark Nockleby says:

    Exactly, it’s about safetynn(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not nlimited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, nanimals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it nunsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the nprovisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a n”substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and an vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

Leave a Reply