Question: I recently purchased a moped. Sometimes when I pull up to a stoplight at night the sensor does not pick me up. Do I have to sit there until the light changes, or may I go if there is no other traffic? Second, my top speed is 30 mph. If I am traveling on a road with a speed limit higher than that, may I ride in the bike lane?
Answer: All of the signals in Bellingham that are on a sensor should pick up your moped. What I have frequently seen, both for bicycles and mopeds, is the operator will stay too far to the right as they approach the intersection and won't activate the sensor.
This becomes more of an issue at night, when there are fewer vehicles to activate it for you. My suggestion, at night, is to move closer to the center of the lane (avoiding the actual center where the majority of the oil drips are) so you will have a better chance of activating the sensor. If you still have trouble with the sensor, contact the city of Bellingham Public Works office and let them know when and where it happened so they can look into it and fix the issue.
I have looked through both the Bellingham Municipal Code and the RCW and did not find any law that would prohibit you from using the bicycle lane on a roadway. I did find several locations that specifically prohibit mopeds from using "bicycle trails or bicycle pathways".
Q: When a bicyclist is turning left onto a one-way road with a bicycle lane, is it appropriate to turn into the nearest lane (left lane) and merge to the right to get to the bike lane, or do you disregard that law and turn directly into the bicycle lane? Example: Traveling southbound on Cornwall Avenue and taking a left turn onto Magnolia Street.
A: Your turn would be regulated the same as for a car. You would need to turn into the left-hand lane of Magnolia and then legally merge to the right (signaling your movement with hand signals) until you arrived at the bicycle lane.
ABOUT RULES OF THE ROAD
Rules of the Road is a regular column with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices.
Answers come from David Wright, a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now serving on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.
To ask a question, go to bellinghamherald.com/ask-a-question.