C.J. Marshall: Significa: Rules of the road apply to all vehicles
Recently, The Daily Review published an article from PennDOT concerning road work scheduled in the area. At the end, was the following paragraph, which caught my eye.
"Effective April 2, 2012, motorists must allow at least four feet between your vehicle and a bicycle for the vehicle to safely pass the bicycle, and motorists should pass at a careful and prudent reduced speed. When safe to do so, it is legal to cross the center double yellow line if necessary to provide the required four feet when passing a bicycle. Also, no turn by the driver of a motor vehicle shall interfere with a bicyclist proceeding straight on a roadway or shoulder."
When I read this, I thought to myself "Hear! Hear!" As the owner of a bicycle, I can really appreciate this law, which is obviously designed to guarantee bicyclists their right to use the road.
When I go out pedaling, I often have to travel down a busy section of road - something which has occurred more frequently due to increased traffic caused by the influx of the natural gas industry. I take this part in stride, because I realize it's the "nature of the beast" and am willing to work around the extra traffic under the circumstances.
Unfortunately, no matter how congested the road, there's always someone who seems to think they have exclusive right to the road just because their vehicle is equipped with an internal combustion engine. As I've been pedaling along, minding my own business (and observing the rules of the road) I've had drivers lay hard on the horn as they come right up behind me. As this just isn't a friendly little "toot" to let me know they're there - the blasts I've heard on occasion would put the best foghorn to shame.
Or, even worse, I've had drivers scream obscenities at me that would shame hell, then make equally unkind comments indicating that I have no right to be riding my bike there and I should get off the road and stop interfering with traffic.
I've also had drivers make turns in front of me, forcing me to stop quickly to avoid hitting their vehicles. This is the worst of all, because according to the information from PennDOT I quoted earlier, the driver is breaking the law, and creating a dangerous situation in the process.
First, I want to emphasize that I obey all traffic laws while cycling. I don't run red lights, I don't cut in and out of traffic, putting myself and others at jeopardy. Obviously I don't speed. I simply pedal along, requiring only that small strip of road for myself and my bike. But sometimes I see another cyclist not obeying the rules of the road, creating a hazard for themselves and others. This is not right as well. Bicyclists should be aware that the laws of the road apply to THEM as well, and they should always observe them to avoid putting themselves and others at risk.
Unless it's specifically stated, a road is a legal passage way for ALL types of vehicles, motorized and otherwise. Sometimes restrictions are put on roads - like major highways - prohibiting bicycles due to safety factors. But if those restrictions are not in place, a bicyclist has as much right to use the road as any other motor vehicle. When bicyclists and motorists respect each other's right to the road, it makes for safer and more pleasant traveling all around.