02

Blog

Riding Two Abreast

Bike Law Peter explains why it is often a safer way to ride.

We hear more and more about those damn cyclists riding two abreast. Not a week goes by that the lawyers of Bike Law don’t get a call from a journalist asking about this controversy. We hear from frustrated drivers, complaining that when they drive behind a group of cyclists, the riders refuse to ride single file to let cars pass more quickly. While I am sympathetic to these observations that relations must improve between cyclists and motorists, proposals to curtail the rights of cyclists would lead to a worsened situation for all road users. The subject of riding two abreast is generally misunderstood, and changing the law would be a mistake.

As a bicycle accident lawyer who has represented hundreds of injured cyclists in South Carolina and elsewhere and the founder of Bikelaw.com, I am acutely aware of cycling safety, and riding two abreast is one of the most important safety techniques we have. The law in South Carolina states that “Bicyclists riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.” This statute has been honed by decades of experience, is common is most states, and should remain the law.

Visibility:

Driver’s inattentiveness poses the greatest threat to cyclists (and to pedestrians and other motorists). In most of the wrongful death lawsuits that I have handled, the common drivers’ refrain is that “I didn’t see the cyclist.” In too many cases, the motorist has simply run over a cyclist in front of them. A group of riders riding two abreast, however, is far more visible to drivers. A frustrated driver is at least a driver who is aware of the riders on the road and realizes that he must slow down until it is safe to pass.

Easier Passing:

In one tragic case a few years back, a truck driver attempted to pass a long line of single-file riders. But in the middle of his maneuver, an oncoming car forced the truck back into the pace line, killing a young girl. Long lines of cyclists can pose a more difficult challenge to passing drivers. A more compact group of two-abreast cyclists can make passing easier and more predictable. A two-abreast formation is approximately the width of a car, and cars should pass them as if they were passing a slower automobile.

Enough Room to Pass:

Cyclists often maintain a two abreast formation because they can see something the trailing drivers cannot: it is unsafe to pass here. Whether because of a blind curve, a double yellow line, approaching traffic or a narrowing road, by riding two abreast with others, the cyclists are asking the motorist to cool his jets and wait. The driver’s safety is important, too. Too many times, drivers improperly assume that there is ample room to pass a single line of cyclists, and end up hitting them or dangerously forcing them off a too narrow road. Two-abreast riders prevent this from happening until there is adequate room for a motorist to pass.

Most cyclists exercise common sense. With thousands of miles of experience, they know when to ride next to each other and when to ride single file. For example, on heavily traveled roads with adequate lane width for passing cars, most riders I know will ride single file. And most riders already do what critics suggest; they take prudent steps to allow cars to pass safely and efficiently.

The situation can and will improve. As more folks ride, and as more roads across the country get dedicated bicycle lanes, and we as we continue to educate cyclists and drivers alike, frustrations will lessen. Until then, we will continue to encourage common sense and basic courtesy.

Comments

Bruce Hagen Jul 17, 2018

On July 11, 2018, a very experienced rider and friend to many in the Rockdale County area, Albert “Ab” Roesel, was killed while out on a rural road doing a ride that he no doubt had done many times before.  Ab was 75 years old.   The police investigation concluded that Ab had been headed Southbound, […]

Read More
Brendan Kevenides Jun 04, 2018

At sea a boat under power must give way to a more vulnerable craft.  The law requires that a power driven vessel give way to a sailing vessel.  A sail boat must give way to a craft engaged in fishing. These simple rules are consistent with the maxim that with greater power comes greater responsibility. […]

Read More
Commuter Bike
Bruce Hagen May 29, 2018

Recently, my wife and I moved into a new home that’s closer to my office, which has allowed me to start commuting by bike.  I rode my bike to and from my office 4 consecutive days before my schedule forced me back into the car. My hope and plan is to commute by bike at […]

Read More
Pat Brown May 10, 2018

Strength, ambition, and courage are just a few words that come to mind when we think of Anthony Lue.  Growing up, Anthony enjoyed playing competitive sports such as baseball, volleyball, basketball and mountain biking, but his true passion was discovered on his high school track.    After winning gold for 100m hurdles at the provincial championships […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Apr 30, 2018

Following a horrific bicycle crash in 2016, Dr. Michael Rifkin has become a new type of bicycling advocate — one who is deeply committed to ending distracted driving. Read his op-ed on Making Distracted Driving in Maine Taboo here. Dr. Rifkin’s piece reminds us that we can be distracted by our phones and other electronic devices even […]

Read More
Brian Weiss Apr 26, 2018

On November 21, 2017, I saw a TV news story about how the Broomfield District Attorney’s Office was routinely offering lax plea deals to drivers that injure cyclists.  In bicycle crash cases with injuries, the DA was offering plead deals to “broken headlight” or “defective vehicle” charges. A “defective vehicle” sentence is one of the […]

Read More
Atlanta's Bike Czar
Bruce Hagen Apr 19, 2018

Who is looking for a great job in a dynamic city with a great opportunity to make bicycle advocacy not just a passion, but a full time, rewarding and well-paying job?   The City of Atlanta is in search of a a new Chief Bicycle Officer to replace the outgoing CBO, Superstar Becky Katz, who after […]

Read More
Joe Piscitello Apr 04, 2018

Piscitello Law – Bike Law PA is pleased to share highlights from the third annual Vision Zero conference, held March 17 in West Philadelphia.  The event was hosted by Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition and opening remarks by the Executive Director Sarah Clark Stuart encouraged 250 participants to “listen, learn and be inspired….”   Mayor James Kenney […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Apr 03, 2018

The first issue is that many bicycle crashes are not being reported into the State of Maine Crash Database, which leads to incomplete and inaccurate state-wide crash reporting data and arguably also leads to uninformed priority setting and budgetary decisions.  The crashes that are unreported and/or underreported on a state level are sometimes, but not […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Mar 25, 2018

Foundational Principles Bicycles are Traffic and Belong on Maine’s Roadways In Maine, bicycle riders are included within the definition of “traffic” and should be treated as part of Maine’s traffic system.  See 29-A M.R.S.A. § 101 (82).   Rights and Responsibilities In general, a person riding a bicycle in Maine has all of the rights […]

Read More
Joe Piscitello Mar 20, 2018

Vision Zero (VZ) is multi-nation initiative with a guiding principle that death and serious injury should not be an acceptable outcome of transportation.  Vision Zero plans often draw attention to flaws within the transportation system such as dangerous traffic patterns, speeding and a lack of sufficient protected bike/pedestrian lanes.  VZ action plans utilize data to […]

Read More
Danny Feldman Mar 15, 2018

I will not pretend to speak for all cyclists, but I feel pretty confident in saying that being passed by cars on the road is a primary area of concern. Most of the time there is no problem and the vehicle passes safely. Nevertheless, I personally have been “buzzed” more times than I wish were […]

Read More
Load More