It would be nice if TV, radio, and newspaper reporters got the facts straight about bicycling laws. It can create a dangerous and hostile environment when they spread half-truths, as in this piece from KSDK-TV in St. Louis, Missouri:
Hey Heidi! Can cyclists ride in the middle of the road?
As gas prices continue to rise and the weather gets warmer, you’re bound to see more bikes on the road.
That got David Down from Ballwin wondering about the rules of the road, specifically, if cyclists can legally ride in the middle of the road. NewsChannel 5’s set out to answer that question in this week’s Hey Heidi! segment.
The answer is a no according to Mike Weiss, owner of Big Shark Bicycle Company.
“That is a no, no! It’s a vehicle, so it’s governed by the same laws. There are laws about how cars have to conduct themselves around cyclists as well. But you stay to the right, you ride single file unless there’s no one around you. You are allowed to ride double file when you’re not delaying traffic,” explains Weiss.
Here’s the video:
What Mike says is accurate for specific circumstances, but what he didn’t say, or perhaps what was edited out, is that cyclists are allowed to use the full lane in certain situations. Here’s the full rule (via MoBikeFed):
307.190. Riding to right, required for bicycles and motorized bicycles.
Every person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as safe, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction, except when making a left turn, when avoiding hazardous conditions, when the lane is too narrow to share with another vehicle or when on a one-way street. Bicyclists may ride abreast when not impeding other vehicles.
Just like in Kansas, if the lane is too narrow to share (as is the case on the vast majority of local streets), the cyclist should ride in the middle of the lane to be safe.
(Note also, that unlike Kansas, where cyclists may legally ride two-abreast under all conditions, in Missouri, cyclists must move into single file if they’re impeding other vehicles.)
If you watch the video, you’ll note that Heidi also reports as fact another oft-repeated lie: “you should ride as far right as possible”.
The wording of the statute in Missouri is “as near to the right side of the roadway as safe”. As far right as possible is not always the safest lane position. (In Kansas, the statute says “as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable”, again with the exception of “narrow width lanes”.)
And finally, why do people use the phrase “in the middle of the road” when they mean “in the middle of the lane”? Makes them sound really dumb!