Monday, December 10, 2007

Are bicyclists alllowed to ride in bus-only lanes downtown?

In this morning's The Plain Dealer, the transportation column featured a question and answer about where bicyclists are supposed to ride on downtown streets with bus-only lanes. Below is the full Q & A (or click here to read the whole column):

Kathryn Harlow of Cleveland asked:
Where are bicyclists supposed to ride on downtown Cleveland streets that have bus-only lanes? I have asked policemen monitoring Public Square while it was under construction where we are supposed to ride. They said we are supposed to take up a whole lane! Cars and buses don't like to be behind a bicycle. One streets with dedicated bus lanes, if we are in a car lane, then we have cars trying to pass us on the left and buses on the right. That's really scary. If we ride against the sidewalk, we are in a bus lane and buses will honk very loudly righ behind you until you pull over.

Sarah Hollander, The Compass editor, responded:
Bicyclists should ride in the bus-only lanes, except on Euclid Avenue, where there are separate bike lanes.

Ohio Revised Code 4511.55 tells bicyclists to ride "as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable..." There was some confusion about the rule's application to bus lanes, however, because the rest of the sentence requires bicyclists to follow the same rules as other vehicles. And since cars are banned from the bus-only lanes, wouldn't that apply to bikes, too?

Not in this case, according to Lt. Thomas Stacho, the Cleveland police spokesman. the city's traffic engineering department will work with Cleveland's Planning Department and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to decide whether bus-only signs should be clarified.

The only time you should ride in the middle of a lane is when the right edge of the road is unsafe, because of a hazardous surface, for example, or because a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel side by side.

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