How the car lane paradigm eroded our lane rights and what we can do to restore them
Dan Gutierrez, who helped write this article, took the video from which these snapshots are taken. In the left photo, Dan’s colleague Brian DeSousa is riding close to the curb in the right-hand lane of a multilane arterial. That position invites motorists to pass him within the lane, and sure enough, one does. On the right Brian is in a lane control position, which tells motorists they need to change lanes to pass.
Not long ago I was riding in the middle of the right-hand (slow) lane on a 4-lane urban street with parallel parking and a 25 mph speed limit. I had just stopped at a 4-way stop when the young male driver of a powerful car in the left lane yelled at me, “You aint no f***ing car man, get on the sidewalk.” He then sped away, cutting it close as he changed lanes right in front of me in an attempt, I suppose, to teach me a lesson.
That guy stated in a profane way the world view of most people today: If you can’t keep up, stay out of the way. My being in the right-hand lane and therefore “in his way” violated his sense that roads in general and travel lanes in particular are only for cars, a viewpoint that I call the car lane paradigm. The car lane paradigm conflicts with the fact that in every state of the union, bicyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers of vehicles.
So which is it? Do bicyclists have the same right to use travel lanes as other drivers or not? Before lanes existed, bicyclists simply acted like other drivers. But now that travel lanes are common, most people grow up with the car lane paradigm with bicyclists relegated to the margins of the road. This article goes into the history of how the car lane paradigm came to be and what we can do about it now.
Reading this is going to take a while, so here is an outline of where we’re going:
1897: In the beginning, bicycles were vehicles and bicyclists were drivers
1930: Bicycles are not vehicles
1911 – now: Lane lines are invented and become common
Oops, the inventors of lane lines forgot about bicycles
“Slower Traffic Keep Right” or “Slower Traffic Use Right Lane”?
What does the “or” in “right-hand lane or as close as practicable to the right” mean?
Do speed and might mean that travel lanes are actually “car lanes”?
1944: If you can’t keep up, you don’t belong (in the lane)
1968: Motorcyclists, but not bicyclists, are entitled to full use of a lane
1975: Bicycles once again defined as vehicles, but still not entitled to use of a full lane
Exceptions to the law requiring bicyclists to ride far right are better than nothing, right?
Now: No room on the road for bicycles
Bicycles at the far right and laned roads are incompatible
have had some very fun excursions on rail trails , disused railways turned into pedestrian/bike paths. The trails typically go through very beautiful areas and rarely do you have to concern yourself with motorized traffic of any kind. Reader Will appears to be interested in rails as well, but he wants to ride on them - literally. Check it out - Will included the following text - A rail-bike is a bicycle that has been modified to be able to ride on the rails of a railroad. The front wheel has a device attached to it so that the bike won’t steer off the rail while an outrigger is used to support the bike using the other rail. I used conduit, cut up “razor” scooters parts, one bike fork two bits of steel and numerous nuts, bolts, washers and retaining pins. Nothing is welded. The hardest part is getting the spacing right so that friction and play are minimized. A lot of person hours certainly went in to this working model and the details are pretty amazing. [Keep re