Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Is Indiana BIcycle Friendly?

I know I promised that the last post was the end of the series, but lets call this and addendum.

In 2013 Indiana was ranked 37 among bicycle friendly states by the league of American Bicyclists.

The Criteria for this ranking can be found at the following link Bike League of America Friendly State Attributes

In particular what I am dealing with today is legislation and enforcement. A major part of that is the legislation and how Indiana compares to other states in this matter.

The NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety administration) Says that,
"Bicycles on the roadway are, by law, vehicles with the same rights, and responsibilities as motorized vehicles."

Let's see how states above Indiana on the list rank on this aspect.
Much better, safer and more clearly
Stated than "Share the Road"

#1 Washington
Riding on the Road - When riding on a roadway, a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver (RCW 46.61.755).

I will call the following Full lane states
The following states on the list pretty much mirror Washington's laws-  Minnesota, Wisconsin, Delaware, Maryland, Utah, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont, Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Florida, Nevada, Texas, North Dakota and Indiana   .
 Then there is #5 Oregon - which has a pretty extensive and explanatory manual on recommended road use by cyclist, but made it impossible for me to find exactly what their laws are. 

Some states require cyclists
to stay as far to the right as
The can, but not Indiana
I will call the following right lane states because
 It looks like they are a stay to the right as far as reasonably possible state along with Tennessee, Michigan, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York (also requires the use of bike lanes when provided - if you have not seen this video click here and check it out , Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, Wyoming . 
The following states seem to be on both sides of this issue with the initial statement being on par with the NHTSA but then adding stipulations that encourage lane sharing.  Not only ambiguous but potentially dangerous. #6 Colorado , Ohio (extremely ambiguous), Iowa, Florida.
#37 Indiana - funny thing right up there on this mark with the top 5 and should be no further down that list than 18 by this criteria alone.

So Kudos to Indiana and great job on doing the right things in the legislature!

I know there has been a lot of  hoopla about needing more bike lanes and bike paths to make Indiana more bike friendly but legislation is Better than Bike Lanes, after all great cycling laws do not need to be repainted every few years and if enforced are more effective in my opinion.
The problem seems to be with people who are ignorant of what the laws and rules of the road really are.  We seem to have people on a regular basis who want to instruct us that we need to ride single file on the road.  Not in Indiana, we are able to ride 2 abreast just like motorcycles do.

IC 9-21-11-6
Lane use restrictions; riding two abreast

     Sec. 6. A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway may not ride more
 than two (2) abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for
the exclusive use of bicycles.
This is actually safer for all parties concerned because, it cuts the distance that a car needs to pass us in half and makes us more visable to cars approaching from either direction.

It also forces motor vehicles to use another lane to pass, instead of tempting them to share the lane and squeeze past cyclists, throwing caution to the wind and passing despite double yellow lines, blind corners or approaching the top of a hill. 

The whole reason the double yellow exists is because either
#1 visibility is limited or
#2 there is access from side roads that may make passing dangerous

My belief is that education of both motorists and cyclists will make Indiana a more bicycle friendly state in a couple of important ways.

First of all motorists will be less hostile to cyclists on the road and informed motorists are a lot less likely to hang out on the wrong side of a double yellow line (i.e. no passing zone) so they can yell, "Don't you FN people realize that there are cars out here!" - "You need to be on the sidewalk." - "You need to ride those FN bikes single file, so I can pass." - the last meaning so that I can squeeze by while faced with oncoming traffic. The people that do this would certainly not be classified as "Bicycle Friendly Hoosiers"  But they are mad because they just don't know any better,,,,,  at least that is my thought :) in all fairness, this is really the minority of the drivers out there, but they are unfortunately the ones that stick out, just like cyclists.

Second, if cyclists them selves are more aware of and more compliant with the law, they will be more likely to use the roadways properly.  In my neighborhood, I see lots of people riding bikes the wrong way on 2 way streets, using the sidewalks and the road interchangeably, not signaling anything and generally behaving in an unpredictable manner.  Last night, we had a cyclist pass us and then blow the 2 way stop sign that we were slowing for at a busy intersection.  He didn't just roll through, he went full speed and I couldn't tell that he even looked for traffic. This sort of behavior does not breed "Bicycle friendly behavior from motorists"

Double Yellow means no passing,
even if you can squeeze by
Third education can set the stage and diffuse the situation before it even happens, with proper interactions by both cyclists and motorists.  If everyone is behaving itself, it will create an atmosphere of social justification and people will likely go out of there way to behave.
You can learn more and ask questions about Indiana Bicycle law at a great web site provided by Caress Law Group at the following link indianabicyclelaw.com/
I promise some reviews and none legal stuff is on the way, I have just been busy riding while the weather is good!

See you on the Road!


Coming up!
The care and feeding of your hydration system
what to look for in cycling gloves
How to tell if your bike fits


  1. I think some questions about this topic should be in the Test for getting a driving license.

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  3. "I will call the following right lane states because it looks like they are a stay to the right as far as reasonably possible state: Tennessee, Michigan, California ..."

    You are a bit off with California law. The only time a cyclist must ride "as close to the right edge of the roadway as practical," is when the lane is "standard" and the pavement on the right edge of the road is in good condition. Under CA law, "standard" is 14 feet -- that is, wide enough so that an automobile and a bicycle can safely travel side by side in the same lane. You need to understand that this almost never applies. Not counting freeways where bicycles are permitted, more than 90% of roads in California are legally "substandard" in width. Most lanes on rural roads are about 10 feet wide. As a result, cyclists have the right to the full lane most of the time based on the road's width. But also, in my experience, most roads have pavement issues (e.g., potholes, cracks, broken glass, sharp rocks) which make it impractical to ride on the right edge. And any time that is the case, cyclists have the right to the full lane under California law. Additionally, if the cyclist is passing a slower vehicle on a standard lane, he has the right to the full lane. What is sorely missing in California are signs like the one you show from Washington state. Most drivers -- and probably most cyclists -- don't know the law in California. If we had lots of signs on all "substandard" roads informing drivers and cyclists that "Bicycles May Use the Full Lane," there would be fewer drivers who wrongly think cyclists should not be on "their" road.