Slower Traffic Keep Right(s)

01 Sep

What’s wrong with this picture? Hint: it’s the sign.


The sign is on the descent of Page Mill Road just uphill from Moody Road. There’s nothing wrong with the top part of the sign, warning cyclists that the hill steepens ahead. At 10%+ grade on a narrow road with tight turns, it’s a problem area for less skilled cyclists. The problem is the “keep right” at the bottom. It’s unsafe advice and not consistent with the California Vehicle Code.

The CVC 21202 states: “Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.”

Take a look at the width of this lane. It’s clearly not wide enough for a “bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.” So the sign is clearly inconsistent with CVC 21202. Furthermore, on a steep descent with tight corners like Page Mill, many cyclists, like my friends and I do not “operate our bicycles at less than the normal speed of traffic.” In fact, we sometimes ride faster. Then there’s passing another bike, making left or right turns–all legitimate reasons to not keep right regardless of lane width.

But the most dangerous aspect of these signs is that they not only encourage cyclists to hug the edge of the pavement on a technical descent, increasing their chance of running off it, but they also send drivers the wrong message that cyclists don’t have the right to use the full lane, a right granted per CVC 21202.

I suggest that the transportation official replace the “bicycle keep right” signs with signs with more “vehicle neutral” language, or simply post “may use full lane” signs that reflect what cyclists are truly entitled to.

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Are there bicycle-related road signs in your area that are inconsistent with your rights as a cyclist?


Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Backroads, Issues & Infrastructure


4 responses to “Slower Traffic Keep Right(s)

  1. ladyfleur

    September 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    FYI-I just sent an email of complaint to the Los Altos Hills Department of Public Works since I think it’s their sign.

  2. ladyfleur

    September 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    The Los Altos Hills DPW guy wrote back saying the County installed it and he’ll forward my email. Stay tuned as this story progresses.

  3. Brian

    September 2, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Actually, roads were paved originally for bicycle tires and so bicycles have a historical (common law) right to the roads and to full lanes. The section above does not grant a right but rather spells out the exception to it: you have to be going slower than traffic on a wide road with no driveways, parked cars, etc. This right is why cyclists (and pedestrians) don’t need licenses and why freeways have to be marked and meet very specific requirements to prohibit bikes and pedestrians.

  4. jay keehan

    September 27, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    They’re always doing stuff like this. Then play dumb.

    I have to admit though, I do use the Foothill College bypass and avoid the one section of El Monte about the parking lot. I’ll do that until/unless the bike path falls into disrepair–then I’d be back on El Monte.

    If you’re lucky enough to live where it looks nice to ride a bike–you should expect to see bikes!


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