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

Fairhope Bike Shop
Peter Wilborn Sep 16, 2019

Katie Bolton and her husband Joseph are the proud owners of Fairhope Cycle and Tri in Fairhope, Alabama – the eastern shore.  Their shop has been open for 8 years now and in addition to selling and servicing bicycles, the shop often is a “hub” for cycling events in the Fairhope area.   Katie grew up in […]

Read More
Rick Bernardi Sep 13, 2019

Stop as Yield. It was the legislative Holy Grail for Oregon cyclists. Idaho had pioneered the Stop As Yield concept—allowing cyclists to treat a stop sign as if it’s a yield sign—in 1982, and for decades, Idaho remained the only state where Stop as Yield was legal for cyclists, despite the actual practice being widespread, […]

Read More
Peter Wilborn Aug 20, 2019

A camera is necessary kit for every ride. But finding the right camera has been a challenge, until now. My rebuttable presumption: the Ricoh GR III is the best cycling camera of all time. Read on, and if you can prove there’s a better one, let me know. The Ideal Cycling Camera To find the […]

Read More
Human Shield Bike Lane
Bruce Hagen Jul 29, 2019

If you ride bikes around Atlanta, chances are that you know Niklas Vollmer and Andreas Wolfe.  They’re some of the many people in town who seem to live on their bikes and can be seen riding everywhere.  While they both have their “day jobs,” folks in the cycling world know them for their place in […]

Read More
Bruce Hagen Jul 19, 2019

This is a time when advocacy efforts are crucial to making our streets safer for everyone. Within 24 hours from the Two Wheel Tuesday gathering we suffered two more casualties.  On Wednesday morning, Marten Bijvank was on his way to work on his bicycle when he was struck and killed by an unlicensed DUI driver […]

Read More
AJ's Bicycle Shop in Iowa
Jim Freeman Jul 15, 2019

Bicycling Magazine recently published an article titled, “Hey, Bike Shops; Stop Treating Customers Like Garbage.”  The story follows a heavy-set 59 year old’s sad tale of how he was treated poorly from a number of local bike shops.   First and foremost, I would be clear that bikes are for almost everyone.  If you are big, […]

Read More
Bike accident scene
Rick Bernardi Jul 12, 2019

The big bike news out of the Oregon legislature this year was the passage of a Stop as Yield law. This was an enormous legislative victory for Oregon cyclists, the culmination of over a decade of advocacy. But it wasn’t the only legislative victory for Oregon cyclists this legislative session. A less glamorous but equally […]

Read More
Uber Biking Escort
Charlie Thomas Jul 11, 2019

I often find myself wanting to ride on a roadway corridor that doesn’t want me there. At best, I could make it across alive with some close calls and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. At worst, I wouldn’t be around to write this blog post.  Of course, a safer, alternate route […]

Read More
Cycling Without Age Bike Law
Brian Weiss Jul 11, 2019

The founder of the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team loves his life on two wheels. Gary Harty was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and raised in Colorado – Denver Metro area, and now makes bicycling in Lakewood, Colorado safe and fun.  Gary is part of the baby boomer generation. He attended Colorado State University (CSU) and […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Bike Law
Rachael Maney Jul 10, 2019

Outrage.  It is what drives action and engagement on the interwebs these days. If it’s not outrageous, it’s boring. The Election of 2018 proved that outrage increases TOS (“time on site”) more than friendship, sympathy, desire, or anything else.  Judgment. By definition it is necessary to reach any conclusion about anything. But passing it on […]

Read More
Stop as Yield for Cyclists
Rick Bernardi Jul 09, 2019

The Oregon Legislature made national news this past week, for all the wrong reasons. The State Senate, with a super-majority of Democrats in control, had been working on climate legislation which would have Oregon join a cap-and-trade market with California and Quebec. Unable to stop the legislation, Republican Senators fled the state en masse, preventing […]

Read More
Bike Law Alps
Charlie Thomas Jul 07, 2019

It’s Tour de France time. I follow the racing daily through the footage on TV feed and still photos. But I hadn’t ever considered what’s happening on the other side of the camera lens. Like, what actually goes into snapping these pictures that we see documenting the Tour’s happenings? I started to care more about […]

Read More
Load More