The Arizona Department of Transportation recommends strengthening state laws and adding more questions about bicycle safety in driver’s license tests. Many people don’t know the existing rules. How well do you?
(note these are suggested questions; not in actual use. Also note they do not follow the standard format of 3 answers)
1. When is it OK for a bicycle to enter regular traffic from a bike lane or shoulder?
A. To pass another bike in a bike lane.
B. To avoid a hazard.
C. To prepare for a left turn into a driveway.
D. All of the above.
2. When are bicycles required to have their tail lights on?
A. At night only.
B. Never. The law only requires rear reflectors.
C. Between dusk and dawn.
A. Should ride facing traffic.
B. Must stay in the right lane.
C. Must follow the same laws as drivers.
D. May never ride on sidewalks.
4. When passing a bicycle, motor-vehicle drivers:
A. Must give the bicycle at least 3 feet of clearance.
B. Should sound the horn to warn the bicyclist.
C. Should do nothing different; cars have right of way.
D. May enter a center turn lane if one exists and it’s safe.
5. When a bicyclist approaches a four-way stop sign, the rider:
A. May continue through the intersection without stopping when there is no other traffic.
B. Must stop fully before continuing.
C. Should slow down, look in all directions and proceed with caution.
D. May turn right without stopping.
6. Which is legal for bicyclists
A. Riding with one hand on a grocery bag.
B. Riding with one hand on a grocery bag while talking on a cellphone.
C. Riding on a sidewalk at the posted speed limit.
D. Riding with one hand holding on to a car.
Answers: 1-D, 2-B, 3-C, 4-A, 5-B, 6-A.
Arizona MVD Driver License Manual
Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of vehicles, and they have the right of way under the same conditions as motorists.
— p.41 Arizona Drivers License Manual, revised April 2015
The modifier ‘motor’ was dropped several years ago, so that now the Manual correctly states “…as drivers of vehicles”. We want to be clear and consistent in this usage.
Arizona MVD’s Practice Driver’s Test
Arizona currently (spring 2017) has three (English) online sample practice tests, there are three tests, 30 questions each. (for convenience, here is the entire 90 question set, with answers; retrieved 4/24/2017). This is a fairly big update from a couple of years ago when there were two practice tests 10 questions each, with only one (one in total, there was one on one of the tests and none on the other) bicycling-related question.
Anyway, as of this writing (4/14/2017) there are three bicycling-related questions on practice test #3, and none on #1 or #2. Here are the three (my commentary in italics):
26. Bicyclists should:
A. Ride facing traffic
B. Ride with the flow of traffic
C. Ride on the sidewalk
27. When passing a bicycle traveling in the same direction, leave a distance of at least:
A. 3 feet
B. 6 feet
C. 10 feet
This question might leave the (wrong) impression that it’s always okay to pass with three feet(?).
28. Bicyclists must:
A. Stay in the right lane at all times
B. Obey the same traffic laws as motor vehicles (should say “…as a driver”, or more simply “…as drivers” as was the phrasing in the old practice test reproduced below, i.e. ‘motor’ should not be there)
C. Never pass motor vehicles
Correct answers are: 26-B, 27-A, 28-B
For posterity, here was the one question from circa 2015 practice test:
A. Should ride facing traffic
B. Must stay in the right lane
C. Should follow the same laws as drivers
I do like this question. I do wonder if the answer is more-correctly phrased as “Must follow…”, however in light of the fact this a test for drivers, it’s maybe even better the way it is. And I do like that they avoided ‘motor’. This question is conceptually similar to the current #28; however I think it gets the point across better.
En español — Arizona currently (spring 2017) has two Spanish language online sample practice tests, 30 questions each. There appears to be only one bicycling-related question, it is similar, but not identical, to question 28 on current practice test 3, the English translation, compliments of google, follows in parentheses:
5. Los ciclistas (cyclists):
Deben ir de cara hacia el tráfico (Must face traffic)
Deben permanecer al lado derecho del carril (Must remain on the right side of lane)
Deben obedecer las mismas leyes de tránsito que obedecen los automovilistas (Must obey the same traffic laws as motorist)
Arizona’s Driver License Test
Some historical minutia, as part of AZ’s 3 Foot Passing Law (passed in 2000), a requirement was added that MVD must add questions to test “Knowledge of safe driving practices and the traffic laws of this state, including those practices and laws relating to bicycles.” to the driver’s test, 28-3164C. In response MVD developed three questions; one of which is randomly chosen for every driver’s test.
These are the current pool (quite possibly the only pool back to 2000)(also note: this was current as of the mid-2000s and i have no way of knowing if it’s still current as I’m updating this in April 2017) of MVD bicycle questions; one is randomly chosen per test. The answers are not given (so you’ll have to study!):
1. When passing a bicycle traveling in the same direction, leave a distance of at least:
A 3 feet
B 6 feet
C 10 feet
2. Bicyclists should:
A Ride with the flow of traffic
B Ride facing traffic
C Ride on the sidewalk
3. Bicyclists must:
A Obey the same traffic laws as motor vehicles (should say “…as a driver”, or more simply “…as drivers” as was the phrasing in the old practice test reproduced above, i.e. ‘motor’ should not be there)
B Stay in the right lane at all times
C Never pass motor vehicles
I think it should be a question with a little graphic; similar to the one depicted, but would show the car behind the bicyclist. The proportions look about right — it should visually look like the lanes are “too narrow to share” and it should show a typical arterial configuration, like the graphic.
When passing a bicyclist traveling in the same direction, a motorist should:
A Activate horn until the bicyclist has moved to the right
B Change lanes, when safe, and pass
C Overtake with at least two feet of clearence
Other ideas to get more exposure
Practice Test 1 has three questions covering hand signals, each has a picture with a motorist signaling out the window of a vehicle. Any of these could be replaced with a picture of a bicyclist.
Practice Test 2 has a lot of signage questions; a BMUFL question would fit in here; but I’m not sure how to word it so it would be instructive.
Practice Test 1, in my opinion, has an inordinate number of “parking” questions — e.g. if you are parking uphill and there’s a curb you should…, if you are parking downhill and there a curb you should… etc. there are THREE such questions. This seems like too many.