Letters to the Editor

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TRAFFIC: Bike lanes aren’t for pedestrians

Letter by Bonnie S. Kelly, University Place on Aug. 31, 2010 at 1:20 pm with 25 Comments »
August 31, 2010 1:30 pm

I have had it! Nearly every other night, my husband relates how someone is walking or jogging in the bike lane in which he is riding his bike.

These bike lanes are clearly marked by the universal bicycle symbol. On a recent evening, a woman was walking south on Grandview Drive, facing traffic. This was an area that also has sidewalks that she should have been using. She, like most of these bike-lane walker/joggers, did not move out of the bike lane when my husband approached on his bike. She selfishly stayed in the bike lane, forcing him out into the traffic.

There is no reason for someone to be walking or jogging in the bike lanes when there are much safer sidewalks and/or shoulder to use. Only use the bike lane for biking, as it is marked.

Leave a comment Comments → 25
  1. iamjimbo says:

    Funny, I feel the same way about bikes in traffic lanes.

  2. ctdrules says:

    iamjimbo, a common sense response, couldn’t agree more.

  3. Someone has their spandex in a bunch.

    Try driving between Steilicoom and University Place sometime. Joggers and bikes in traffic lanes. Blind corners. Oy Vey!

  4. FreeAmerica says:

    New law time… outlaw people in bike lane…$124 fine.

    Sorry Bonnie…. The public paid for the bike lane…take the blue pill.

  5. BlaineCGarver says:

    As a biker, let me say that there are some really inconsiderate bikers out there, as well as others. Seems like bikers and joggers feel they are so above the hoi poloi that they can do as they wish at all times. As a biker, I try my best, including riding off to the side in the gravel, to avoid squeezing cars or peds.

  6. BlaineCGarver says:

    For Heavens Sake, Bikers…this is Pierce County, not The Tour De Spanaway….

  7. scott0962 says:

    Cyclists can ride on sidewalks and in vehicle lanes but complain when a pedestrian dares to jog in “their” lane? Gosh, where’s a cop when you need one, huh?

    (Notice the cyclist swerved into the traffic lane, not up on the sidewalk?)

  8. lgcnelson84 says:

    I heard a pretty convincing argument the other day that bikers shouldn’t be allowed to ride on the roads, or have their own designated lane for that matter. Why, you ask? Because they’re not vehicles.

    However because they have been put in the same class as motorized vehicles, the bikes should be tabbed and licensed, bikers should have to by insurance, with taxes imposed on these bikers just as they are on drivers and motorcyclists.

    If we’re going to put bikes in the same category as motorized modes of transportation and allow them to “share the road”, then they should be fully within the same laws with teh same responsibilities, otherwise, they can ride on the sidewalks or bike trails.

  9. exSlacker says:

    “Free America” said “New law time… outlaw people in bike lane…$124 fine.
    Sorry Bonnie…. The public paid for the bike lane…take the blue pill.”

    First off…the public also paid for I-5…is it ok for pedestrian to walk down the middle of that? The public paid for the sidewalks in Tacoma’s business districts…does that mean it’s ok for cars and bikes to travel on them? (both of which are illegal, by the way). If there is a sidewalk, pedestrians and joggers should use it just as cyclists should use the bike lane when it’s provided for them. Also…..last I checked, the blue pill probably isn’t the one you had in mind…..especially for a biker in spandex! :-)

  10. smcelhiney says:

    Interesting complaint… The pedestrians are in violation of State Law.

    RCW 46.61.250
    Pedestrians on roadways.
    (1) Where sidewalks are provided it is unlawful for any pedestrian to
    walk or otherwise move along and upon an adjacent roadway. Where
    sidewalks are provided but wheelchair access is not available, disabled
    persons who require such access may walk or otherwise move along
    and upon an adjacent roadway until they reach an access point in the

    Don’t confuse this with cyclists on sidewalks… something I as a cyclist dislike. That is something that the local jurisdictions get to decide upon… can be illegal in places or legal. If a cyclist is operating on a sidewalk, the pedestrians always has the right of way.

    RCW 46.61.261
    Sidewalks, crosswalks — Pedestrians, bicycles.
    The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian or
    bicycle on a sidewalk. The rider of a bicycle shall yield the right of way
    to a pedestrian on a sidewalk or crosswalk.

    lgcnelson84 brought up the classic red herring that all anti bike comments fall back on. Here we have a pedestrian operating illegally in a bike lane (wouldn’t have mattered if the complaint was them being in the car lane, still illegal in this case). So under his premise, the pedestrians should be all forced to have plates, tabs, and insurance, cause you know we need a way to identify them when they get blood on our cars and run away. Oh, but no… he was attacking a cyclist operating legally, making the broad statement that all cyclists need to do these things. Also brought in the “same as a motorized vehicle” … try again, they have the rights of a VEHICLE and are defined as such.

    RCW 46.04.670 “Vehicle.”

    “Vehicle” includes every device capable of being moved upon a public highway and in, upon, or by which any persons or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway, including bicycles. The term does not include devices other than bicycles moved by human or animal power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. Mopeds shall not be considered vehicles or motor vehicles for the purposes of chapter 46.70 RCW. Bicycles shall not be considered vehicles for the purposes of chapter 46.12, 46.16, or 46.70 RCW.

    Notice the distinction between vehicle and motor vehicle, it’s important.

    They have the right to the road, but the rights are slightly different as would be expected since they are different. The rights and regulations of the motorists still pertain, if overtaking… pass in a safe manner when safe to do so. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mail truck, garbage truck, kid running out after a ball, a cyclist, someone in a wheelchair, a pedestrian… as someone operating a vehicle on the road motorized or not, YOU and I have the responsibility to operate that vehicle in a safe manner.

    Bonnie should call the non-emergency line at the UP Police Department and ask them to run some patrols down this road around the time the issue is happening so that they can educate the joggers/pedestrians. She can refer to the RCW I posted above.

    If others are interested in what the real laws, rights and responsibilities of cyclists are along with those of motorists interacting with them, learn the facts, don’t just invent your own.


  11. smcelhiney says:

    A followup for the registration, title, license,insurance types… the sentence “Bicycles shall not be considered vehicles for the purposes of chapter 46.12, 46.16, or 46.70 RCW.” is to specifically exclude bikes from those sections.

    Roads were first paved in this country FOR and BY cyclists. The fact that more dangerous vehicles became the majority does not eliminate their right to travel… YOUR right. Motor vehicles are registered, licensed, tabbed etc… not because of the cost of the roads, but because of the carnage their operators cause.

    In the case of this letter to the editor, I think the cyclist needs to chill out a bit, and either greet the pedestrian types and inform them politely that they are in violation of WA State law, or get a cop to do it for them.

  12. smcelhiney says:

    Oh and Ex-slacker… cyclists are not required to use bike lanes here in WA. Thank goodness for that as most of the existing bike lanes are death traps painted just to get cyclists out of motorist’s way. Put them directly next to parked cars where the cyclists can get doored, Don’t maintain them so all the debris, glass, metal etc from the cars ends up in the bike lanes. put them right over the storm grates that grab wheels and dump the riders while destroying the bikes, often tossing the riders out into traffic. Putting the utility covers there so the cyclists can crash on the metal covers in the rain/snow/ice. People park their cars there, put their various garbage cans, recycling, real estate open house signs there, forcing the cyclists out into the lane erratically in order to avoid the hazards.

    Motorists completely ignore the concept of giving 3 feet clearance when passing if the bike is in a bike lane… inch is as good as 3 feet until you clip one. Also they don’t process the existence of cyclists in bike lanes consciously, so they run into them while making turns.

    If I encounter a well designed bike lane, I’ll use it, otherwise you’ll find me cycling out in the lane where motorists will see me and pass in a safe manner and I have room on my right for evasive maneuvers if I so need. Check out Gravelly Lake Drive in Lakewood if you want to get an idea where the bikes should be… those Shared Lane Markings are commonly (for bike geeks) known as Sharrows. Get ready to see a lot more of them in the coming years.

  13. aislander says:

    “Cyclists can ride on sidewalks…”

    No, we can’t. First of all, it’s illegal. Secondly, I can hit 40mph on a flat road for a short time and do 30 all day long, as long as there’s no headwind. Do you really want me on your sidewalk?

  14. aislander, I wish you were right. I don’t think adults on bicycles belong on a sidewalk. Here’s the rule, however:

    WAC 308-330-555
    Bicycles — Riding on sidewalks.
    (1) No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk in a business district.

    (2) A person may ride a bicycle on any other sidewalk or any roadway unless restricted or prohibited by traffic control devices.

    (3) Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian.

  15. smcelhiney says:

    aislander, law is the law, cyclists are allowed on sidewalks outside of business districts. I believe state code allows local jurisdictions to regulate that further.

    As to your speed claims… go pro. Your claim of 30mph puts you right up there with the UCI hour record in a velodrome at high altitude. Or are you riding a velomobile? If so we need to meet.

    And there isn’t a chance in hell you can hit 40mph on a flat road without a hurricane pushing you along or drafting a semi. Why the wild claims?

    As to my calling BS, I do race recumbents and know the people on this coast capable of going over 40mph (and 50 and 60 and 70)… I’ve taped several of them into their streamliners, launched and caught them.

  16. aislander says:

    I went by one of those speed-indicating trailers while cruising around a flat, wide curve, and it indicated exactly 30, and my computer concurred. The pros cruise about seven mph faster. I can sprint to about forty. I will defer to you regarding the letter of the law on bicycles and sidewalks, but I know I won’t ride on one for any distance…

  17. aislander says:

    By the way, I use a 52-tooth chain ring with an 11-tooth rear sprocket and a 700/23 tire cruising at 80 pedal rpm (170mm cranks). Do the math…

  18. smcelhiney says:

    No need to defer to me on the law… I quoted it directly with the RCW number. To get the context go to the bike law link I gave and you can see how the different regulations and exceptions relate. I agree with you completely about not riding on one for any distance.

    You race at all or ride with any of the local groups? What do you ride? Maybe I can join you on a ride (unless you decide to drop me… I ain’t going that fast on a UCI legal bike :) At least I can give a wave if I see you on the streets.

    And yeah, your gearing choice adds up to 29.6mph (close enough) at 80rpm, 40 is up around 110… that’s spinning for a big gear. The reason the pro guys can hit those speeds is the pacelines along with being the best in the world. I was a course marshal for the Tacoma Twilight Criterium and the CAT1 group was clocked at 38mph on the slight downhill during the sprint in a pack. That’s with them in pacelines 4 or more wide, 10 or so deep… some of the best racers in the country, in a pack, going downhill.

    I hit 41mph this weekend… with a tailwind, down Vassault towards Pt. Defiance on my road bike spinning my arse off in that same basic gearing :) Dang, just admitted to speeding, I must be one of those scofflaw cyclists even though I stop at lights and take my place in traffic.

  19. I bet the woman was walking in the bike lane with a dog and did not want to use a poop scoop!

  20. olympicmtn says:

    scott0962 says:

    Cyclists can ride on sidewalks and in vehicle lanes but complain when a pedestrian dares to jog in “their” lane?


    I suppose we will force the tots and kids on their training wheels to now ride in the bike lane with 35MPH traffic next (vs. sidewalks). I will run and walk where I can, at least people are exercising. Regardless don’t be a road hog (bikers, joggers, etc..)

  21. This is the definition of audacity. Pay for it then carp about me using it.

  22. MarksonofDarwin says:


    Audacity might be appropriate, but I think there is a better word that describes this conundrum….Irony.

    Contrary to that stupid song from a while back, the definition of irony isn’t a “black fly in your chardonnay”….This is!

    That said, I don’t think it’s very smart (let alone legal) for a ped. or runner to use the bike lane where it will hold up “traffic”…..but then, that’s what bikers do regularly to cars.**
    Now all that’s missing is a “critical walk” movement, and the picture will be complete!

    Delicious irony!
    Funny, no?

    **yea, yea…I know. Not ALL cyclists do this. I’ll even say MOST cyclists don’t do this, but there are enough of them who aggressively get in front of cars and go s l o w on purpose.

  23. TRAFFIC: Bike lanes aren’t for pedestrians

    AND therefore: Vehicle lanes aren’t for bikes. Stay the hell out of my way mister bikeshorts.

  24. smcelhiney says:

    Bzzzt! And ItalianSpring gets a wrong answer. Try again!

    “TRAFFIC: Bike lanes aren’t for pedestrians”

    First word has nothing to do with the rest of the sentence… that wasn’t a definition. Bikes ARE traffic, just like cars/trucks/buses/garbage trucks/postal vehicles/motorcycles.

    The difference is they are non-motorized vehicles, but they are still traffic.

    “AND therefore: Vehicle lanes aren’t for bikes. Stay the hell out of my way mister bikeshorts”

    Ever take a logic class? By DEFINITION under motor vehicle code, bikes are Vehicles and bikes belong in the vehicle lanes. See my posts above quoting the laws.

    AND therefore. ItalianSpring doesn’t understand the rules of the road as they exist. Stay the hell off the road until you can share it safely with all users, even those in bikeshorts.

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