Narrow Lane Court Case Outcome
Thomas asked: So, I recently inquired about a case in which I received a citation.
I just got out of court, and the case was dismissed however it seemed to me that he felt I was wrong but didn’t want to get into it. So I’d like to pick your brain a bit.
What is the legal basis of taking an entire lane instead part of it? The judge told me that I’m not allowed to take the ‘other’ 6′ by riding in the center. His basic premise is that I shouldn’t claim the entire lane. I know this to be best practice but is there a legal basis for it? It is my understanding that if you go over the line at all, you must change lanes. If that is the legal basis I’d like to have that section handy for next time.
My other issue is he didn’t seem to be willing to listen to my case and all the facts involved and wanted to only give it a cursory review. What options would I have had if I had lost this case and wanted to contest that?
Thanks for following up and advising us of the outcome in your case. For other readers, this is the original post:
Your question and the citation are about a substandard-width lane, which is one of the specific situations in which cyclists are not required to keep right. The statute does not say how much of the lane may be used. I would be interested to hear the court’s legal explanation of the amount of the lane that you are permitted to use, if not the entire lane.
It shouldn’t matter since an overtaking motorist must, by definition, at least partially change lanes to pass since the lane is not wide enough for a motor vehicle and bicycle to safely travel side by side within the lane.
If the adjacent lane is not clear, the motorist must wait, no matter where the cyclist is in the lane. This post explains that principle in detail.
Your statement about treatment in court is a common experience. Traffic courts are rushed and the magistrate or hearing officer may not be fully versed in the laws and safe practices related to bicycling.
If you go to traffic court and lose your case, it is difficult to appeal. Instead of waiting to go to court, we recommend filing a motion to dismiss with the court before the court date. That requires the court to fully consider the case and reply in writing. Since everything is in writing, that also provides the necessary documentation for an appeal if necessary. That is difficult to get from a traffic court, since there is usually no written court report of the proceeding. A motion to dismiss can be filed without a lawyer, but we recommend retaining legal advice. Separately, I will forward to you a successful motion to dismiss about this topic from another jurisdiction.