Rules of the Road: Can you ride a bicycle on a crosswalk?

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 19, 2014 

Question: I was driving north on Orleans Street between Alabama and Barkley streets. A bike rider stopped at a stop sign on a cross street waiting for southbound traffic. When it cleared, he moved over to the crosswalk and rode his bike across in front of me. I had to slam on my brakes.

Since he was riding, wasn't he supposed to follow traffic laws and wait for traffic to be clear? If he had gotten off and walked the bike across, I would have said he was a pedestrian and I should have stopped. Did he have the right of way?

Answer: This is one of those instances where the bicycle has a choice. If the bicyclist had stayed in the roadway at the stop sign (where you first observed), he would be considered a vehicle and must wait for traffic to clear before entering the roadway. In the described incident, the bicyclist moved to the crosswalk prior to riding across the street. The bicycle, whether being ridden or pushed across the crosswalk, must be treated as a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

Q: Traffic circles are proliferating, and I think they are superior to traffic signals. However they are different sizes and designs. Some, as at the Bellingham airport, finish flush with the traveled lane. Others, such as the new one on State Street, have a beveled edge. The amount of bevel varies. Trucks often must encroach over this edge onto the circle. When is it legal or illegal to use the circle part of the traffic circle?

A: Roundabouts are designed with the idea that some large vehicles may need more space than is available in the marked lane. Roundabouts are designed with an inner "apron" that allows large trucks with trailers to use more of the space to be able to make the turns. This is also why the roundabouts usually have a sign that says not to enter next to a large truck. If you are not in a large truck or truck and trailer that needs the extra space for the successful navigation of the roundabout, it would not be legal to use the apron.

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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