So in my conversations with SHA they stated something along the lines "You don't get to pick and choose what traffic laws you have to obey. So slow moving vehicle laws apply to cyclists." But I've always looked at cycling laws as a of clarification of slow moving vehicle law for cyclists. Slow moving vehicle law has "right-hand lane" or "as close as practicable to the right" and cycling laws basically have the same thing but with better explanations when one or the other can be applied. Not to mention the abundance of material that explains how bicycling law should be applied for safety. The from out of nowhere SHA pulls out the so called "requirement" that cyclists must obey slow moving threatens to mess that all up.
So why bring up up slow moving vehicle law at all? Is it just another excuse to say something close to "cyclists need to stay out of the way of cars"? How about SHA needs to build us nice cycling facilities so we could be out of the way of cars? For me this is just a victim blaming thing. Public roads are public space and need to be shared by the public. And everyone needs to be clear on the rules and MDOT has a habit of trying to mess up those rules.
When I was a kid I rode to the right and no big deal, motorists were respectful of my presence. When I got back on the bike in 2000 right hooks and close passing galore. So I found out about "taking the lane" and the problem virtually went away. Again overly stressing cyclist must ride far right is another victim blaming thing. If motorists were polite, courteous and thoughtful to cyclists there may have never been the need to make "taking the lane" lawful for cyclists.
Taking the lane is no more rude than motorists who follow other motorists at a safe 2 second distance. Sure everyone tailgates nowadays and when I drive with a safe following distance I upset drivers behind me but the extra buffer space has saved me (and those following me) from a crash on more than one occasion. Likewise "taking the lane has helped me avoid being in an crash multiple times.
Promoting cyclists must ride right under the unspoken pretence that traffic moves faster that way would be like promoting tailgating to help traffic move faster. Not only is there no net improvement in the flow of traffic more crashes result and crashes are a major source of delays, just listen to the radio during rush hour. (BTW I never hear about safety campaigns or enforcement efforts to crack down on tailgating so in a way it is promoted.)
So what would guidance look like if we had to obey slow moving vehicle law?
So in trying to follow SHA's logic that we can't pick and choose what laws we need to obey I have to start off with choosing to ignoring the following to get close to SHA's statements.
What SHA chooses to ignore:
- § 21-1202.1 which I take to mean if the bicycle subtitle covers bicycles going slower than the speed limit so therefore other sections in traffic law that cover going slower than the speed limit don't apply.
- The slow moving vehicle law that says: shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or...
So everyone grab their speedometers because they will be necessary to follow these set of rules and let's see what kind of farce SHA has in store for us.
Here is a chart that shows what rules are applicable based on your speed in relation to the speed limit.
|Slow Moving Vehicle Law||Bicycling Law||Regular Vehicle Law|
|How far right||as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway (sans "and safe")||as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable and safe (when applicable)||n/a|
|When required to ride far right||Always||Only in a lane that is wide enough to share (13'-14' or greater), that is not a right turn only lane, on a two way street and the cyclist is not preparing to turn left or the cyclists is avoiding hazards. (Not many streets fit this criteria.)||n/a|
|Shoulder use||Mandatory regardless of condition||Optional unless speed limit is greater than 50 MPH then shoulder use is required||Discouraged|
|Special equipment||a slow moving vehicle emblem unless you average 25 MPH or better*||n/a||n/a|
|When making a left turn||From the right side only||May use the left side for traffic in that direction||Must use the left side for traffic in that direction|
|One way street||Stay on the right||May use the left side||n/a|
|Avoiding pedestrians or road hazards||Not clear||May move left to avoid||Whatever is deemed appropriate to avoid.|
|The right lane is a right turn only lane||Stay on the right||May ride further left||Avoid (unless turning)|
|Operating in a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle or motor scooter and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane||Stay on the right||May use the full lane||Use the full lane|
Have you ever seen such a complicated mess before?
As I said a complete and utter farce and only designed to confuse everyone on the road so cyclists will be continued to be harassed. Of course none of this would be asserted if you understand slow moving vehicle law as saying shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic.
§ 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. [e.g. When the code says "motor vehicle" that can't apply to cyclists.]
§ 21-301. Driving on right side of roadway; exceptions
(b) Special rule for slow-moving traffic. -- On every roadway, except while overtaking and passing another vehicle going in the same direction or when preparing for a lawful left turn, 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.