Rules of the Road: Can Bellingham police ride bikes on sidewalks?

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 27, 2013 

Question: I want to know if it is really legal for the Bellingham police to be allowed to ride their bikes on the sidewalks where people walk?

Answer: Yes, this is a legal practice for the police bicycle officers.

Q: My question is about the intersection of the Britton Road and Mount Baker Highway. Britton Road dead-ends on the highway. Just as you approach the highway, the northbound lane of Britton is split in two with a white painted line. There are no arrows painted on the asphalt or signs designating what the two lanes should be used for.

It seems to me that the left side should be for cars turning left and the right side should be for cars turning right. Several times now I have gotten in the right lane to make a right turn onto Mount Baker Highway. As I wait for traffic to clear, a car has gotten in the left lane and the moment traffic clears, they cut in front of me and make a right turn. Is that legal? Shouldn't the lanes be marked?

A: The short answer is no, it is not legal. State law indicates that you must make the right turn from the furthest right lane, unless two lanes are marked for the movement. As far as needing the lanes marked, I do not know the Model Uniform Traffic Code requirements for that. That would fall under the Whatcom County Public Works Department.


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David Wright is a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.

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