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Thread: Road Cycling in the Canyons

  1. #1

    Road Cycling in the Canyons

    I'm hoping one of our fellow attorney's, like Scott Card, will see this and has some experience and the knowledge to comment. In layman's terms, how is the cycling 2 abreast / impeding the flow of traffic up our Wasatch Front canyons, deciphered according to Utah State law? I can read the law as stated but, everyone seems to have a different opinion of what it actually means. For some it means that riding 2 abreast, if impeding traffic, is against the law, period. For others, they read it as if they can still ride 2 abreast, purposefully taking the lane, impeding traffic and forcing cars to pass when they can do so because the canyon road is so narrow. What say ye?

    41-6a-1105. Operation of bicycle or moped on and use of roadway -- Duties, prohibitions.
    (1) A person operating a bicycle or a moped on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as near as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway except when:
    (a) overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
    (b) preparing to make a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
    (c) traveling straight through an intersection that has a right-turn only lane that is in conflict with the straight through movement; or
    (d) reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand edge of the roadway including:
    (i) fixed or moving objects;
    (ii) parked or moving vehicles;
    (iii) bicycles;
    (iv) pedestrians;
    (v) animals;
    (vi) surface hazards; or
    (vii) a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
    (2) A person operating a bicycle or moped on a highway shall operate in the designated direction of traffic.
    (3)
    (a) A person riding a bicycle or moped on a roadway may not ride more than two abreast with another person except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
    (b) If allowed under Subsection (3)(a), a person riding two abreast with another person may not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and shall ride within a single lane.
    (4) If a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, a bicycle rider may be directed by a traffic-control device to use the path and not the roadway.
    Are we there yet?

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  3. #2
    I had a similar question, this morning, in response to the UTV/cyclist colision on the Alpine Loop. With respect to that road that is very narrow and windy, does part (d) reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand edge of the roadway including: (and vii): a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane supercede section (3) ?

    Of course, there is always a big difference between interpreting and practicing what's in the law vs. practicing safe manuevers as a bicyclist to maximize your safety. When traveling up these narrow windy roads, is it safer to travel 2 abreast taking up the whole right lane, and then move over at periodic intervals at safe places to let traffic by, or single file as far right as possible? Does the practice change as going into, through and exiting from tight corners? Different practices and maneuvers that may help to limit accidents with tailing traffic might increase risk with head-on traffic. Pretty difficult to say.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by BasinCruiser View Post
    I had a similar question, this morning, in response to the UTV/cyclist colision on the Alpine Loop. With respect to that road that is very narrow and windy, does part (d) reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand edge of the roadway including: (and vii): a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane supercede section (3) ?

    Of course, there is always a big difference between interpreting and practicing what's in the law vs. practicing safe manuevers as a bicyclist to maximize your safety. When traveling up these narrow windy roads, is it safer to travel 2 abreast taking up the whole right lane, and then move over at periodic intervals at safe places to let traffic by, or single file as far right as possible? Does the practice change as going into, through and exiting from tight corners? Different practices and maneuvers that may help to limit accidents with tailing traffic might increase risk with head-on traffic. Pretty difficult to say.
    Yep. That's how this question came up for me as well. I understand that you may want to ride 2 abreast when the AF Canyon road gets narrow toward the top (16') and take up the lane. Thus forcing vehicles to slow way down and only pass when it's seemingly safer because riding single file many times vehicles pass no matter what, even with a car coming in the opposite direction. Having pedaled the AF Canyon road 100+ times myself though, I see more danger in riding 2 abreast just because of the crazy speeds vehicles are driving it at. I think if you are pedaling further out into the lane, you are putting yourself at more risk. Too many blind corners. Too much high speed driving. I just want to know what the law actually says about pedaling in our canyons and if it's been interpreted in any actual cases so far. With that being said, the cyclist in AF Canyon was at zero fault here, as far as I can tell. This is all on the UTV driver and I hope he gets some serious punishment, even to the taking away of his DL for life. Harsh, I know, but that's how I feel. AS for me, I've pretty much given up road riding. I had too many close calls and it's just not worth the risk anymore. Even if I was still riding the canyon road, I would never, ever ride it on a Saturday morning. Way too much car traffic.
    Are we there yet?

  5. #4

  6. #5
    Here is my quick reading of the statute which should not be considered a legal opinion. Those take a lot of time and cost money.

    I did a quick search and only found one case that cited this statute. It was not relevant to the questions you ask (wrong way rider in bike lane in SLC). The statute was renumbered and I did a quick search on the old numbered statute and again, no cases relevant to your questions.

    Here is my thought. When reading a statute, you have to read it as a whole. That generally means that one part of the statute can't supersede or contradict the other parts, unless it specifically says so. So as to your question of riding two bicycles abreast on a narrow canyon road where it is not safe for one bicycle to ride side by side with a vehicle; if the road is too narrow, one bike, one single rider, can take the whole lane under section 1(d)(vii). Riding two abreast in this situation is irrelevant to the question on a narrow road. If it is unsafe for one bike to travel side by side with a vehicle (road too narrow), it is clearly unsafe for two bikes to travel side by side with another vehicle. Therefore, one bike can take the whole lane. Again, it is the narrowness of the road that allows a single cyclist to take up the whole lane. By so doing, the single rider is in fact impeding traffic due to the narrowness of the road. So since you are already impeding traffic as a single rider, can you just ride abreast of each other? I believe the answer is a resounding, NO. Pursuant to section 3(b) it would be unlawful to ride two abreast and impede traffic on a narrow canyon road. The words, "if allowed" are important. It is not allowed to ride two abreast if you are impeding traffic (See 3(b)). Seems crazy, maybe, but I would venture a guess that is how the statute reads.

    Frankly, if I am with a buddy on a narrow road and we are in the lane of traffic due to the narrowness of the road, the last thing I would want to do is ride side by side and then try to swerve out of the way of oncoming traffic.
    Life is Good

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Card View Post
    Frankly, if I am with a buddy on a narrow road and we are in the lane of traffic due to the narrowness of the road, the last thing I would want to do is ride side by side and then try to swerve out of the way of oncoming traffic.
    Yes. This. My thought exactly. And thanks for your take on the the statute. Your take is how I read it a well.
    Are we there yet?

  8. #7
    I can see now how riding side by side can be a road hazard.

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