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Life in the Bike Lane column

Harassed by the DMV

By: Tom Frady
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I don’t know how much longer I can put up with this constant harassment by the DMV.  It was just five years ago I had to renew my driver’s license and here they are, after me again. 

So I got the handbook and immediately turn to the part about bicycles.  Folks, we’ve gone over most of this stuff before, but I think it is a good idea for both drivers and cyclists to review the rules before taking the test.  This is straight from the handbook, with a bit of editing for space and a few pithy comments. 

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle drivers, including:

• Obeying all traffic signs and signal lights. Yeah, that means stop signs, too.

• Riding in the same direction as traffic.

• Signaling when changing lanes or turning.

• Wearing a helmet (if under 18 years old but everybody should).

• Allowing faster traffic to pass when safe.

• Riding as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practicable (not as far to the right as possible).

• Not riding on the sidewalk, unless allowed by the city where you’re riding.

• Making left and right turns in the same way drivers do, using the same turn lanes. If the bicyclist is traveling straight ahead, he should use a through traffic lane rather than ride next to the curb.

My friends and I don’t ride after dark but I see many riders ignoring all the following common-sense rules.  It drives me crazy.  I have greatly summarized the following.

During darkness, avoid dark clothing, have a headlight, rear reflector or red light, a white or yellow reflector on each pedal or ankles and a white or yellow reflector on the front and rear wheels or reflectorized tires.

Bicyclists have the right to operate on the road and may:

• Lawfully be permitted to ride on certain sections of freeways where there is no alternate route and bicycling is not forbidden by a sign (Ophir Road onto Highway 80 to Maple St. in Auburn, for instance).

• Move left to avoid hazards such as parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, animals or debris.

Bicyclists traveling slower than the flow of traffic must ride as close as practicable (safe) to the right curb or edge of the roadway except in the following situations:

• Passing a vehicle or another bicycle in the same direction.

• Preparing to make a left turn at an intersection.

• When necessary to avoid a hazard or road condition.

• When a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane (taking the lane).

As with any slow-moving vehicle, drivers should follow at a safe distance and, when it is safe, the bicyclist should move to a position that allows vehicles to pass.

Passing a bicyclist in the travel lane at a safe distance may require changing into another lane, passing safely and quickly, leaving room between your vehicle and the bicyclist. When you cannot change lanes to pass a bicyclist, allow at least 3 feet between your vehicle and the bicyclist.

Here are some critical points for drivers and bicyclists to remember. Motor vehicle drivers must:

• Always look carefully for bicyclists before opening doors next to moving traffic or before turning.

• Pass bicyclists allowing enough room to avoid forcing them into parked vehicles.

• Merge toward the curb or into the bike lane only when it is safe.  Merge safely behind a bicyclist when preparing to make a turn.

• Enter a bike lane no more than 200 feet before starting a turn.

Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.