Rules of the Road: Can you legally park along Alabama Street?

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 2, 2014 

Question: Alabama Street is two lanes in each direction, from Electric Avenue to Cornwall Avenue. We don't see "no parking" signs, yet it seems clear that parking along the curb would be a major disruption to traffic. Why are there no signs, and would someone who parked be cited?

Answer: There are no signs because it is illegal to park in the traveled portion of the roadway. If someone were to park there, they would not only be cited for illegal parking, they would discover their vehicle had been towed when they came back to it.

Here IS the relevant law: Bellingham Municipal Code 11.33.060 - Stopping, standing or parking prohibited in specific places; 4. Upon or along any street or highway when traffic will be unreasonably obstructed.

Q: At least once a week, a car passing a bicyclist will enter the other lane (either opposing or same direction lane) in order to do so and always without warning. As a motorcyclist and a box truck driver, this maneuver almost gets me hit at least once a week.

What are the legal ramifications to the offending driver if I do get hit?

A: RCW 46.61.110 covers when it is legal or necessary to pass the vehicle. It does not make it legal for the driver passing to violate the other rules of the road. It is illegal to cross the center line to pass, unless it can be done safely. It is illegal to change lanes without signaling or to change lanes at all if it cannot be done safely. From the information in your question, it would appear that if a driver changes into your lane, either from the same direction or the oncoming direction, and causes a collision, that person should receive a ticket. Even without the collision, if it causes you to take evasive action and is observed by an officer, the other driver should receive a ticket.

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.

For previous Rules of the Road columns or to ask a question, go to bellinghamherald.com/traffic.

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