Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2016 by Ed Harper


WPI 70.09 - Bicyclists – Statutory Rights and Duties

A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights of a driver of a motor vehicle and must obey all statutes governing the operation of vehicles except for those statutes that, by their nature, can have no application.

Pudmaroff v Allen, 138 Wn.2d 55, 977 P.2d 574 (1999)

Bicyclists are also entitled to some choices - three (3) options for bicycles

The case of Borromeo v. Shea, 138 Wn.App. 290, 156 P.3d 946, construes RCW 46.61.770 to mean that a bicyclist is allowed three options as to where to ride their bicycle:

1) Choose to ride in through lanes as near to the right side of the right through lane; or

2) On the shoulder; or

3) In a designated bike lane.Borromeo, supra, at 294-95.

The Borromeo v. Shea case raises another question about rules of the road for drivers and bicyclists. Here, the bicyclist was riding in a bike lane, but in the direction opposed to the flow of traffic. He was injured when he was hit by a car turning onto the roadway from a parking lot. The jury found the driver not negligent. Borromeo, at 292.

In Borromeo, the question pertained to whether a bike lane is part of the roadway. (Option #3) A bicycle is a vehicle. A roadway is “that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder even though such sidewalk or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles.” Thus, a plain reading of the statutes shows that unlike a multiuse trail or crosswalk, a bicycle lane adjacent to regular traffic lanes is both designed and ordinarily used for vehicular travel and is thus part of the roadway. Borromeo, at 296.

Therefore, the issue related to bicyclists using the far side or the right lane (option #1) indicates the court instructs the bicyclist to ride to the far right of the right through lane means the bicycle as the slowest vehicle, should ride as far out to the right hand side and out of the way as much as possible.

Option #2, riding on the shoulder, is self-explanatory. As a shoulder is an improved or unimproved portion of the roadway, where it can be expected cars will drive upon. A bicyclist at this location is out of the way at this location as well.

The conclusion here in Borromeo, the plaintiff lost this case on appeal because even though a bicyclist has options, once an option is chosen (here riding in the bike lane) the bicyclist must recognize “ordinary care” must still be exercised. The jury considered riding the wrong or opposite direction in the bike lane, as compared to all of the other traffic, was not sufficiently “ordinary” to allow the claim to be viable in this instance.

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