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Neighborhood Greenways
Bike Laws
Parks and Neighborhoods Committee
Councilmember
Sally Bagshaw, Chair
 

Neighborhood Greenways, SDOT
Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board
Bicycle Sunday
Bicycle Maps 2012
 

Seattle Greenways
Beacon BIKES

arena

Bike Laws
Questions and Answers

With so much attention being paid to infrastructure and accommodating more needs on our streets, the rules feel a bit confusing. What am I suppose to do at the new green box? Do I treat sharrows and bike lanes the same? These are the type of questions I hear on a daily basis.

So many questions! And this link at the Seattle PI provides some of the answers. I thought it was informative and hope others feel the same.

Q: Can someone riding a bike receive a ticket for speeding?

A: Yes. Police point to section 46.61.755 of the Revised Code of Washington. That states in part: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway……shall be subject to the same duties applicable to a driver of a vehicle by this chapter [46.61]…except as to those provisions in this chapter which by their nature can have no application." There is no specific speed violation for bicycles like there is for cars, so the speeding fine would be $103 for violating RCW 46.61.755, police say.

Q: Can someone riding a bike receive a ticket for speeding?

A: Yes. Police point to section 46.61.755 of the Revised Code of Washington. That states in part: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway……shall be subject to the same duties applicable to a driver of a vehicle by this chapter [46.61]…except as to those provisions in this chapter which by their nature can have no application." There is no specific speed violation for bicycles like there is for cars, so the speeding fine would be $103 for violating RCW 46.61.755, police say.

Q: What is the fine for riding a bike without a helmet in Seattle?

A: Seattle police give a $103 fine. Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said officers do write tickets for that offense, but the numbers weren't immediately available. The helmet requirement is outlined in the King County Board of Health Code, Title 9. Click here to read a PDF of that title. Seattle police and other agencies in King County can enforce the code. That authority is outlined in section 10.93 of the Revised Code of Washington.

Q: What is the fine if a car is too close to a green bike box?

A: $124 or $194 if there's an accident, according to Seattle police. The penalty is the same as when cars go too close to a sidewalk. Drivers are supposed to stop on the leading edge of the green bike box – the edge closest to a car – Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan said. This is covered in section 11.50.320 of the Seattle Municipal Code.

Q: Who has the right of way on sidewalks, bikes or people?

A: Every person riding a bike on a sidewalk or public path shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian and must give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian, Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel said. Riders who don't violate a city ordinance, though statistics on how often riders were ticketed were not immediately available. Kappel pointed out the right-of-way issue on sidewalks is specified in Seattle Municipal Code 11.44.120.

Q: Aren't bicyclists required to walk at crosswalks?

A: The law doesn't require that. Section 46.61.235 of the Revised Code of Washington states only that, “No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

Q: Is car-to-sidewalk switch on bikes legal?

A: Bicyclists in the street have to stop at stop signs and obey traffic laws just as motor vehicles would. But it's legal for bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk. They must, however, yield to pedestrians and make a sound signal before passing someone on foot. So in the case with the red light mentioned above, the cyclist is not doing anything illegal. Police point out that if there is a red light, there also likely is a well-marked crosswalk for the bicyclist.

Q: Can bicyclists legally ride two in a lane?

A: It depends on the lane. Doubling up in a lane, defined as riding two abreast in the Seattle Municipal Code, is outlined in section 11.44.060: “Persons operating bicycles upon a roadway or sidewalk shall not ride more than two (2) abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. (RCW 46.61.770(2))" Section 46.61.770(2) of the Revised Code of Washington states: “Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles." The fine is $103, police spokesman Jeff Kappel said.

Q: Is it legal for bikers 'riding the line' of bike lanes?

A: “There is no specification for where to ride in a bike lane," Bellevue Police spokesman Greg Grannis said. “Common sense and safety should dictate that the bicyclist would want to stay actually in the bike lane." He recommended bike riders ride as close to the right side of the right lane as safely possible on regular lanes. They can also ride on the left side of the far left lane, if desired, on a one-way street, he said. Grannis pointed readers to RCW 46.61.770 for further information

Q: Is it illegal to drive in bicycle lanes?

A: Yes, it is illegal, Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson said. His answer is spelled out in Seattle Municipal Code 11.53.190 regarding driving in a bicycle lane: “The operator of a motor vehicle shall not drive in a bicycle lane except to execute a turning maneuver, yielding to all persons riding bicycles thereon." Police did not have immediately have statistics on how often people are cited for violating this law, but said drivers who don't could face a $124 ticket.

Q: Can Vespas legally travel in bike lanes?

A: Only for turning, Seattle police said. Department spokesman Mark Jamieson referred to Seattle Municipal Code 11.53.190, regarding driving in a bicycle lane: “The operator of a motor vehicle shall not drive in a bicycle lane except to execute a turning maneuver, yielding to all persons riding bicycles thereon," the code states. If drivers get busted for traveling in the bike lane, they could face a $124 fine. Police say it doesn't matter how small the motor on the scooter may be. If it has one, police don't considered it a bike.

Q: Are bicyclists allowed on Aurora Avenue North?

A: Bicyclists are allowed to ride on Aurora Avenue North and the bridge. “It's not very smart," Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt said, “but it's not against the law." Some bicyclists, however, don't share that view. A bike map designed by the Seattle Department of Transportation does not list the bridge or Aurora Avenue North as a commonly used street. Lane width on the bridge from west to east is 10 feet, 9 feet, 9.5 feet, 9.5 feet, 9 feet and 10 feet. The speed limit is 40 miles per hour, though drivers often break that.

Q: Do bikes or people have the legal Burke-Gilman right-of-way?

A:  Bicyclists should yield to pedestrians, according to city spokespeople. Section 11.44.120 of the Seattle Municipal Code – as well as the county code and state code – states bicyclists are responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle, according to the city Department of Transportation Web site.

Q: Is there a speed limit for bikes on the Burke Gilman Trail?

A: There is no speed limit on the trail in Seattle – that's why there aren't bike speed limit signs on the trail here – according to Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Joelle Hammerstad. But there are signs for a 15 mph speed limit on some sections of the Burke Gilman Trial. That's regulated by section 7.12.295 of the King County Code, which Hammerstad said doesn't apply in Seattle, according to the City Attorney's Office

Q: Are electric bikes allowed on Burke-Gilman Trail?

A: No, city officials say. They're not allowed because the Burke-Gilman Trail is intended for people-powered transportation, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman Dewey Potter said. “It is a rule and not a law, and there is some expectation that people will respect their fellow pedestrians and cyclists," she said. Motorized foot scooters also are not allowed in bicycle lanes or on park pathways intended for recreation, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation. That includes the Burke-Gilman Trail. Someone busted for riding an electric-powered scooter on some public trails would likely get a $124 ticket for violating a Washington Administrative Code.

 

 

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