Thursday, January 10, 2008
 

Passing vehicles in the same lane

One of the advantages of commuting by bicycle is knowing how long a trip will take. Most motorists don't; they must plan their trips with enough time to account for congestion due to any number of causes. Bicyclists aren't as affected by congestion as motorists, in part because we can maneuver between stopped cars during these tie-ups. But is this legal?

Yes it is, as stated in Virginia Code 46.2-907, Overtaking and passing vehicles:
A person riding a bicycle, ... may overtake and pass another vehicle on either the left or right side, staying in the same lane as the overtaken vehicle, or changing to a different lane, or riding off the roadway as necessary to pass with safety.
When people say that bicycling on busy roads is dangerous, I like to point out to them that motorists on these busy roads are often moving very slowly if at all. Try to drive through Tysons Corner on Route 7 or Route 123 at rush hour. The average speed on these roads is about 15 mph according to the Tysons Task Force transportation consultant, about the speed of a bicyclist. Often the speed is less. In these situations, it is legal to pass a vehicle in the same lane.

Speaking of Tysons, construction related to the planned Metrorail extension through Tysons is scheduled to begin this month. According the article in the Washington Post, Utility Line Relocations to Being in Tysons, the service roads parallel to Route 7 will be under construction:
Washington Gas will begin work in the westbound lane of the Route 7 service road between Gosnell Road and the first Route 7 entrance to the Pike 7 Plaza Shopping Center. The westbound lane of the service road will be closed to motorists until work is completed in that section, but the eastbound service lane will remain open.
This is a commonly used bicycle route through Tysons.

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