Lancaster Bicycle Club (LBC) Position Statements on Bicyclists’ Rights and Responsibilities

LBC endorses three positions to explain and clarify the rights and responsibilities of road bicyclists, so that club members and the public are informed about these issues as opportunities and challenges are encountered.

1. Cyclists’ Rights to the Road

A.         LBC supports safe and lawful use of bicycles on all roads. Throughout the United States, bicyclists have the rights and responsibilities of other vehicle operators. LBC emphasizes the accepted classification of bicycles as vehicles with respect to traffic law and the rights to the road. LBC also confirms that the right to travel the roads does not require licensing of cyclists or registration of bicycles.

B.         LBC opposes laws, policies and plans which in any way restrict bicyclists’ rights to the road by eliminating access or by forcing bicyclists to use special bicycle facilities. Normally, limited access highways are excluded for bicyclists without special permission. Where road width is limited and/or a road shoulder is insufficient for safe bicycling, the cyclist may use the full lane.

2. Cyclists’ Responsibilities and Law Enforcement

A.         LBC strongly encourages all cyclists to abide by vehicular traffic laws and to learn and use safe and proper bicycle handling skills. LBC supports fair and equitable enforcement of traffic laws on motorists and cyclists alike because cyclists’ rights to the road include the responsibility for using the roads in a safe and lawful manner.

B.         LBC feels that law enforcement against cyclists must be done in consideration of the innate operational characteristics of bicycles. Limitations of human power on acceleration and braking affect the operation. Cyclists need to keep a safe “shy distance” from parked cars and hazards near the edge of the road and with lanes too narrow for bikes and motor vehicles to safely share side-by-side.

C.         LBC supports the premise that enforcement against cyclists and motorists in bicycling related incidents should include a strong education component. Most cyclists have never had any formal training in proper cycling, nor are they aware that such training is available. Therefore, many of them commit violations out of ignorance. Many motorist infractions are also borne of ignorance of the law and an unintentional failure to see cyclists.

D.         LBC strongly encourages strict enforcement to the fullest extent of the law for blatant acts of aggression or hostility by motorists against bicyclists.

3. Bicycle Facilities (“Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles” – John Forester, author, Effective Cycling)

A.         LBC urges all bicycle facility designers to be trained in the League of American Bicyclists’ training program. The planning, design and installation of bike lanes should be contingent on a careful evaluation of all potential impacts of such facilities. Bike lanes should be part of an overall network and not merely isolated random installations.

B.         LBC believes that bike lanes are appropriate for specific situations. When designed and constructed in accordance with national and state standards, they can be tools to enhance mobility and safety for cyclists. Cyclists, as legal drivers of vehicles, should expect the same standards of design and construction that are applied for motorists.

C.         LBC opposes any road or bicycle facility feature that could endanger cyclists. It is difficult to design a SAFE separated bicycle facility in some locations. The reason, in addition to high cost, is that 80% of all bicycle-motor vehicle crashes occur at intersections. Every driveway or side road is an intersection, and side-paths greatly complicate those intersections in ways that impact safety.

D.         LBC supports rail banking and separate facilities that preserve and enhance bicycle access. Shared-use (non-motorized) paths may be used to provide bicycle access when no suitable road exists; to bypass barriers; to avoid more circuitous, less safe routes; and as trails in scenic recreational areas, particularly where there are few road intersections. The use of rail rights-of-way preserves a valuable rail corridor while also offering a recreational opportunity. These are also popular locations for beginning cyclists to learn basic bike handling skills without interacting with motor traffic. However, all cyclists must be aware that there are risks associated with separate facilities and not assume that these facilities are inherently safer.

E.         LBC believes that the best way to provide a safe bicycling environment is through well-designed and maintained roads. Bicyclists, like all other road users, need a complete interconnected transportation network. This network may include roads, bridges, tunnels and special bicycle facilities. All of these facilities need to accommodate bicyclists safely and conveniently. All roads, except for some limited-access highways, are bicycle facilities. Therefore, they should be designed with cyclists in mind.  Road features such as adequate lane and paved shoulder widths, smooth pavements, bicycle-responsive traffic signals, wheel-proof drainage inlets, and frequent maintenance are safe and effective ways to meet the needs of bicyclists and motorists.

F.         LBC believes that well-designed roads for bicyclists benefit all users. Building such roads is a very cost-effective use of tax dollars, because it does not take anything away from other users to provide for bicyclists.

(revised by LBC Board of Directors – January 2015)