According to an article written in the ABA Journal titled “Wheels of Justice,” the amount of people riding bicycles has increased by 71 percent from 2007 to 2013. This makes sense, after all, traffic congestion can be a thing of the past for bicyclists in large cities.
However, there is a growing problem that bicyclists, and even the police that issue tickets, do not know the bicycle laws of their state. These laws, just like most other traffic laws, are designed to keep riders and motorists safe.
Tim Panagis, the voice of the article “Wheels of Justice,” is one such example of a conflict due to bicycle law. Panagis was riding with a few of his friends on the roads of Michigan, while one of his friends rode next to him in a single lane. Two cyclists riding abreast to each other in a single lane is legal in the State of Michigan, but that did not stop a police officer from ordering them to ride single file over his PA system. Once Panagis and his friends complied with the order, Panagis waved at the officer in a “smart aleck” fashion which prompted the officer to pull over Panagis and issue him a ticket.
This is not the first conflict between police and bicyclists, according to the article. There was an incident in San Francisco, California, when police officers would ticket riders that rolled through stop signs. Until a law was vetoed in January of 2015, it was legal to roll through stop signs, if it was safe to do so. So, during the summer bicyclists protested the policy by riding in a single file line of nearly one hundred cyclists, slowing down traffic traffic to their speed.
There is clearly a gap in bicycle law that needs to be filled. Especially now that bike share programs are present in nearly every major city in the US. So, it is the responsibility of every rider to know the laws, just like every motorist needs to know the laws regarding motor vehicles. And the laws regarding bicycle use are not always perfect.
For example, it is illegal to ride a bicycle faster than 65 miles per hour in Connecticut. Does that law really need to exist? No. If you can reach 65 miles per hour on a bike, then you should consider riding in the Olympics. But the point is to be safe when you ride, and following the standard bicycle laws of your state will help everyone to be safe.
This story was first reported in the ABA Journal.