Riding on Shoulders vs. Bike Lanes
Bicycles are faster than pedestrians, but they are usually slower than motor vehicles, so bicycles are required to keep as far to the right-hand side of the road as is safe, unless making a left-hand turn or overtaking another vehicle. If a bicycle is traveling on a one-way street, the left hand side of the road may be used as well. Bicycles may also use designated bikes lanes and the shoulders of the road if they are available, but may choose not to do so for reasons of safety.
Since bicycles have a very narrow profile, they may ride two abreast on the road, but no more than that, provided they do not unnecessarily block traffic.
Riding with Traffic
Because a bicycle is sometimes thought of as a pedestrian, some cyclists think that a bicycle is safest when it, like a pedestrian, travels on the left-hand side of the road toward oncoming traffic. In fact, the speed and poor visibility of a bicycle makes this extremely dangerous. This is particularly true at intersections where drivers don’t expect bicycles to approach on the left-hand side. Because of this, bicycles are required to travel in the direction of traffic.
Click here to order your free copy of Wheels of Justice: Washington State Bicycle Accident Law, written by Seattle bicycle and pedestrian accident attorney Christopher M. Davis.