A Lesson that Cyclists Can Take the Lane

First of all, let me apologize to Michael MacDonald.

I’ve been on a kick on Facebook adding “get a camera” to comments every time someone wrote about a transgression without any video evidence.

Michael, who is a great advocate for cycling and livable streets, has unfortunately experienced more than his fair share of incidents.

When we was riding back from CicLAvia Southeast cities, he got warned by police for taking the lane on Central Ave.

Obviously, having the authorities incorrectly apply a law has to be frustrating and you can guess what my comment was on Facebook.

This might have been the second or third time I’ve mentioned it to him, so apologies are in order.

Flash to yesterday when I read his email about biking in the Bus Rapid Transit lane along Wilshire during rush hour(when it’s just bus and bikes only). This time, Michael had video rolling while being confronted about the law by an LA County Sheriff:

Michael is adhering to the law 100% and if you haven’t already memorized the language from the California Vehicle Code, here it is:

21202(a) 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 under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(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.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

That’s a lot of language to remember, but at least remember code number and the last sentence of section 3, when it refers to a “substandard width lane”. Really, most lanes in Los Angeles are not wide enough to accommodate a vehicle and cyclist with three feet of space on both sides.

Taking the lane is one of the safest things to do, but most people don’t know about the law, even policemen. Last week, LACBC’s Colin Bogart corrected a CHP officer who appeared on KPCC’s “The Ride“.



Bus Rapid Transit Sign(photo by Dave Sotero/Metro)

You might ask, why are the LA County Sheriffs involved with this anyways? Koreatown is LA City!

Remember, they police Metro and these bus lanes are considered part of their turf, so you’re going to see them around.

I don’t take that route too often, but by chance I did go that way both Thursday and Friday last week. Whenever I go through that stretch of Koreatown, I always plan to ride a bike with thicker tires and for my safety, to take the lane.

On top of properly knowing the code, Michael also taught us a lesson on how to conduct yourself, especially when you have video rolling.

Whenever you get confronted, I think it’s smart to let the other person the bulk all the talking. Staying quiet is the opposite of what we want to do, but I figure the more a person speaks, the more likely they are to put their foot in their mouths.

If there’s any fault, I wish Michael added the word, “son” at the end of every sentence for my entertainment purposes alone.

We have a long way to go until all drivers understand our rights to the road. Please remember the vehicle code, stay calm and record it if you can.