Cyclists Riding Abreast
Mike asked: I live in a bike friendly community that has nice wide roads with well-marked bike lanes. The community is so bike friendly that riders often congregate here to ride in large pelotons, but those pelotons frequently ride three wide and outside the bike lanes. They do this not just for passing purposes. Is this legal?
No! There are many reasons that would justify a bicyclist being out of a bike lane or not at the rightmost side of the roadway, but this is not one of those. Bicyclists riding abreast may ride only in a single lane. A bike lane is a lane.
s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations
(6) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast …. shall ride within a single lane.
Thanks for answering my question. I didn’t think it was legal, but this is done so commonly I started to wonder whether a bike lane constituted a lane or whether peletons were legally allowed to take up the rightmost lane used for cars, is I didn’t know how to interpret the legal language. Tragically a cyclist was killed in my town recently, reportedly for suddenly swerving out of the bike lane in front of a car while he was riding in a peloton.
I’m not sure what the crash has to do with this. The problem there was (supposedly) swerving into the path of traffic, not being outside the bike lane. This could happen anywhere, even in a bike lane if a motorist is correctly entering the bike lane to turn right at the next intersection and a cyclist comes off the sidewalk into the bike lane at a driveway.
You’re right that it’s unfair to imply that the specific fatality that I mentioned was the result of riding in a peloton; I have no way of knowing that. That having been said, cyclists in small groups, i.e. in groups less than 5, tend to stay in the bike lanes, while those in large groups are almost always overflowing the bike lanes, at least where I live. The bike lanes in my town are relatively narrow, so two cyclists riding side by side would have difficulty staying in the bike lane, as required by law. Large pelotons want to stay together, and doing so is difficult if they ride single file and encounter a changing traffic light, so they tend to bunch up and overflow the bike lanes. Overflowing the bike lanes in turn creates an unsafe condition for motorists and for the cyclists and, all else equal, will lead to more accidents and fatalities.
I should also have included this section of the Bicycle Regulations:
(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
There are many exception listed following that section. Other posts cover them.