Rules for cyclists when riding on the road with others cyclists

Riding bicycles side by side

Bill 23 - 2023 has received first reading in the B.C. Legislative Assembly.

The bill is an attempt to bring a bit more order into the interactions between drivers of motor vehicles and the operators of various types of alternative transportation, including bicycles. It does not change the current prohibition on riding bicycles side by side.

I've been asked to comment on two situations, a left turn at traffic lights that resulted in an interaction with police and another where a cautious driver was unable to pass a group of cyclists riding two abreast for a considerable distance.

The cyclist was stopped by an officer who pulled him over for riding beside another cyclist while he was stopped at a red light in a left turn lane waiting to turn onto a bike lane. Prior to the red light they were riding single file.

After making a proper approach, they came to a stop to wait for the red light. The three riders moved to take up less room in the left turn lane and two could be considered side by side as they waited for the green light.

The officer warned him for riding side by side.

A group of cyclists in the Lower Mainland insisted on riding side by side for 60 kilometres, 30 kilometres of which involved one driver's route home. She is unable to pass safely due to a double solid yellow line and the cyclist did not follow the slow driving rules.

She related the incident, where an impatient driver behind her tried to pass in the face of oncoming traffic. The driver was unable to complete the pass safely and pushed his way into the middle of the cyclists to avoid a head-on collision.

The Motor Vehicle Act says that a cyclist "must not ride abreast of another person operating a cycle on the roadway." Remember, the "roadway" is the part of a highway designed for vehicular traffic and does not include the shoulder.

Some designated-use lanes (bicycle lanes or mixed-use trails) exclude vehicular traffic as well.

So, if one cyclist is riding on the roadway, another may not ride on either side of them. The only opportunity to ride two abreast is when both cyclists have room to do so using the shoulder or a bicycle lane and it is not otherwise regulated by a municipal bylaw.

This rule would not prohibit one cyclist passing another, subject to following the rules that govern making a pass.

I would also observe that the left turn situation described could be looked at as one rider passing another that was suspended in time by the red light. If they did not continue riding side by side after the green light, no enforcement would be necessary.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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