To the Editor:
Many of your readers probably have encountered a bicyclist riding in the right traffic lane on local roadways, i.e. U.S. 14, not moving to the gutter when honked at by motorists wanting to pass the bicyclist in the same lane. The bicyclist controls the traffic lane for the following reasons:
1. To improve vantage and safety margin, avoiding potential hazards that are common on the side of the road, including the door zone of parked motor vehicles.
2. To alert motorists to use the adjacent lane to pass because the lane is too narrow for both motorist and bicyclist to share the lane side-by-side with a 3-foot separation (625 ILCS 5/Section 11-703(d)), by being more apparent in position and intent to control the full width of the lane.
3. Riding on the sidewalk is impractical and unsafe if not unlawful.
4. It is the safest place to be.
5. The bicyclist has a legal right to be on the roadway in the traffic lane. “Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle ...” (625 ILCS 5/Section 11-1502).
Advice to motorists approaching a bicyclist in the traffic lane is to plan ahead, slow down as needed, and negotiate with other motorists to pass in the adjacent lane.
Bicyclists are able to use roadways safely and confidently as equal road users. To learn more, go to CyclingSavvy.org.