SB 101 – Putting the “Bi” in “Bicycle”

Sen. Broden’s SB 101 alters the statutory definition of “bicycle” and then sets standards for passing them on the road. Sorry unicyclists; you’re screwed.

Currently “bicycle” is defined as a foot propelled vehicle irrespective of the number of wheels in contact with the ground. The proposed legislation defines it as:

A vehicle:(1) propelled solely by a human powered foot crank or hand crank; (2) operated by one (1) or more individuals; and(3) having two (2) or more wheels. The term does not include a child’s ride-on toy or a skateboard.

It then requires drivers (or other bicyclists, I suppose)to allow at least three feet of clearance between the vehicle and the bicycle; and not return to the original lane until the vehicle is safely clear of the bicycle. You can go into a no-passing lane, if it’s necessary and if it’s safe to do so. It’s a Class C infraction if the driver does not comply with the statute.

Comments

  1. Mary says

    Not sure why the definition needed to change, but I do know a couple of bicyclists whose health would have benefitted from the 3-foot-clearance and original lane reentry part. I hope it’s enforceable and enforced.

    BTW, Doug, this is a most valuable service of your blog. Even though you can’t possibly include everything proposed, having you vet the legislation and highlight the ones you find interesting or useful or important or obscure but oddly relevant or scary or head-scratching or far-reaching or time- and resource-wasting is great for the general civic awareness.

  2. steelydanfan says

    Unless there’s a statute elsewhere that takes care of this, as I understand this bill, if a cyclist is out on a two-lane road at a time of day where there is a constant stream of traffic in the opposite lane, then in order to maintain a 3-foot separation a driver of a motor vehicle in the same lane as the cyclist will have to maintain the cyclist’s speed or lower for an indefinite amount of time. This doesn’t seem like a feasible way of going about this, without imposing a requirement on the cyclist to move off the road long enough to let vehicles in the same lane pass him at some point.

    And why are “child’s ride-on toys” and skateboards specifically excluded? Is it because of some sort of “OMG SKATEBOARDERS ARE DISRESPECTFUL PUNKS WHO DESERVE WHATEVER THEY GET!” hatefulness?

  3. says

    @steelydanfan: You are correct: it implies that at times cars will have to wait pass. In my experience, this is often less than a minute, although it must seem like ages to impatient drivers. Consider the alternative: If the car tries to pass anyway (which they do currently) they risk a head-on collision, or they are trying to fit a fast moving car and a slower-moving bike all in a 11 or 12 foot lane. Having been there, it’s not pretty.

    Cyclists try to avoid such traffic conditions because they are more dangerous and stressful, and I for one will stop and pull over in a driveway if there are cars stuck behind me waiting to pass. It’s safer and pleasant for both of if they can get through!

    Sometimes I take the lane because it’s deters cars from trying to pass me if I was hugging the shoulder. As the vehicle in front, sometimes I can see around a corner to see that there is a car coming head-on in the other lane. It’s not unheard for cars to cross a double-yellow line to try to pass me, even when they are blind to oncoming traffic!

  4. says

    I avoid busy streets if at all possible; but one of my strategies is to take the middle of the lane if there isn’t enough passing room — like you say, it discourages a dangerous pass. And I don’t feel like a jerk deciding for both myself and the driver behind me what constitutes “dangerous.”

    But, by the same token, if I’m going to regard myself as equally entitled to the road while on my bike, I’ll also regard myself as equally bound by the laws of the road. Don’t run stop signs. Don’t squeeze between cars stopped in traffic, etc.

    I don’t have any problems with this legislation; but I’d be interested to know from other jurisdictions whether it has been effective in making things safer.

  5. says

    The law says you have to stay as far to the right as safely possible. It is up to me, on my bike, to decide how far that is.
    Like you guys, I’ll take the lane when needed.

  6. Gary says

    As much as I want to protect bicyclist, as a rider myself I pick my routes for my safty and when needed to ride on narrow 2 lane roads I realize I am putting both vehicles on the road and myself at greater risk. Therefore, I go the extra mile to watch out for approaching traffic’s way, stopping off the road as needed. Both the bicyclist and the driver approaching a biker have the Common Sence obligation to put the other before themself and when an accident does happen, it needs to be investigated on a case by case issue (as is has been for a century.) I live in an Amish area where there are buggy lanes. It really bothers me when I see (professional bikers riding in the middle of the vehicle lane like all the resposibility rests on the drivers. This is my fear with this bill! More bikers will act as they are the only ones with the right of way on roads which will cause more accidents. Bike lanes are a better approach to the issue!

  7. says

    Gary, the point is to make sure the drivers see you when you have your back to them. After they don’t hit you, pulling over when it is safe is certainly the polite thing to do.

    I agree, bike lines should be everywhere. Personally, except for Interstates, I think state law should dictate that every road built must have at least sidewalks. If it is a road that goes over 30mph, it needs a bike lane. If it goes at or over 45, it needs a people trail.

    • Gary says

      Jason, I totally agree that approaching traffic needs to see the biker, but I still contend that it is vitally important that the biker is aware of all vehicles approaching him since he has the most to lose.

  8. Kellie Lockwood says

    My husband and I were taking a bike ride close to home yesterday afternoon when a woman driving a full-sized dual cab pickup truck passed us at an uncomfortably close distance, and she did not slow down while doing so. We were riding single file, and to the right of our lane. This was a two lane road, but we live in Switzerland County, Indiana, where two lane county roads tend to be a little narrow, but enough for two cars in opposing lanes to pass each other safely. My husband recognized the truck as belonging to someone who has a weekend place on our road, and sure enough, when we got to the top of the hill, she was getting mail out of her mailbox. I stopped to ask her if she was the one who passed us, and she replied, “I sure did! You need to get your ass all the way over.” I politely told her that bicyclists have the same rights to the road as cars, to which she replied, “Not in Indiana you don’t! I should know, I’m a lawyer!” I told her she needed to look it up, that it was nice talking to her, clipped back in and moved on. What’s ironic is that she passed us again a few minutes later, giving us a wide berth; I noticed she has Ohio license plates.

    I am in full support of a 3 foot law for Indiana. Will there be any further action on this? I saw that it included a compulsory helmet law for bicyclists under the age of 18. We have an Amish community in Switzerland County, and many of them, young and old, ride bicycles. There is even a bicycle sales and repair shop operated by a young Amish man. However, none of them wear helmets, and it’s not likely they would even if it were a law.

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