Bicycle Passing Law Sign

r4-11 with Change Lanes To Pass placard

Despite availability of BMUFL/Change lanes to pass signs; there has been work ongoing to approve a whole new sign which would specifically refer to state passing law requirements in states with so-called numerical passing laws. According to NCSL as of April 2020, 34 states have such laws, almost all of them specifying a minimum of 3 feet, and most have some loopholes.

There are any number of home-brewed (non-standard) such signs in use all over the place (e.g. City of Phoenix has been using this sign since 2007); hopefully this will at least clean up that mess. Continue reading “Bicycle Passing Law Sign”

What’s wrong with sharing? What’s wrong with courtesy?


Bicyclist advocates have been pointing out for years that the “Share the Road” message is problematical for bicyclists — that nobody really understands what it’s supposed to mean — the meaning is, at best, unclear and therefore readily mis-interpreted. Continue reading “What’s wrong with sharing? What’s wrong with courtesy?”

No Excuse

There is no excuse for improperly engineered bike infrastructure. It takes on two forms, 1) simple straight-up wrong, and 2) “fake” facilities, those which masquerade as something they’re not; they’re in reality nothing more than shoulders, yet they are intentionally tarted-up to appear to be, and even be referred to as bike lanes (see e.g. Flagstaff, below). Continue reading “No Excuse”

Street Highway Sidewalk Roadway Shoulder Definitions

Dan Gutierrez’s graphic illustration (CVC are references to the CA vehicle code).

It seems as though I’ve had to look this up over and over. Finally, here are all the definitions, for the first time ever, together:




Continue reading “Street Highway Sidewalk Roadway Shoulder Definitions”

Should Warner Road bike lane have a “Combined” Turn Lane?

A standard sign with placard, “legalizes” thru-bike usage.

it is a common occurrence — familiar to every bicyclist — where you can be riding along a perfectly nice bike lane only to have it disappear for various reasons.

Bike lanes are highly prized for making cycling “more comfortable”; so I think it’s safe to say disappearing bike lanes would be considered quite stressful, and an impediment to cycling for many cyclists.

Disappearing Bike Lane; Warner Rd at Hardy Dr, Tempe, AZ

I have, over the past year, had occasion to regularly ride along Warner Road in Tempe (this area is sometimes referred to as “south” Tempe. Here’s a map of the general vicinity) between I-10 (the city limit) and McClintock Drive; it’s about 3.5 miles. The road is very much an arterial road with two fast through lanes (45mph, if i recall correctly) plus a bike lane each way plus some sort of middle lane throughout (it’s usually a TWLTL; two way left turn lane; it becomes a left turn lane at major intersections). The difficulty is at every intersection where there is a right turn only lane, the bike lane is dropped ~ 250′ from the intersection. This dropping occurs asymmetrically at some, but not all, of the major intersections. It is most prominent westbound: the lane drops at McClintock, Rural, Kyrene, Hardy, and Priest Drive. That is FIVE TIMES in three miles! Continue reading “Should Warner Road bike lane have a “Combined” Turn Lane?”

The MUTCD and A.R.S.

What is the MUTCD?

From wiki:

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) is a document issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to specify the standards by which traffic signs, road surface markings, and signals are designed, installed, and used…

Here is the MUTCD home page, where full versions of the document are published.

Most of what is of particular interest to bicyclists is in Chapter 9. has a webinar presentation that outlines the changes in the 2009 version of MUTCD.

H. Gene Hawkins, Jr., Ph.D., P.E. has an extensive history of the MUTCD.


Continue reading “The MUTCD and A.R.S.”

AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities

The AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, is a much-referenced work among bicycle planning and transportation professionals. The 2012 is the most recent final version; As of the time of this writing, the complete guide isn’t freely available; there are fragments below from both the previous (1999) edition, as well as the current (2012) edition.  The guide is a largish (2.5MByte) .pdf available from the here, via (Maricopa Assoc of Governments). You can purchase the book directly from AASHTO

This book gives the accepted guidelines for dimensions and usage of various bicycle facilities, i.e. bike lanes, wide curb lanes.

There is also a DRAFT revision dated February 2010: DRAFT AASHTO Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Bicycle Facilities which was superceded by the… Continue reading “AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities”

Is this a bike lane?

In a word, No. None of these are bike lanes. But someone sure went out of their way to make it look so. They even moved the not-bike lane stripe over to make more room in the not-bike lane (center photo). [See Fig 1, here, for a picture and description of how an actual bike lane is marked]

What is the correct — both legal and safety — position for a cyclist to assume in these not-bike lanes? Just try to get a straight answer out of the-powers-that-be (in this case, the City of Phoenix) on that one.

The law is refreshingly clear: “If the lane…is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane” a cyclist may ride anywhere in that lane, §28-815(A)(4).

See other articles on critical width; see AASHTO for dimensional guidelines for (real) bike lanes. Continue reading “Is this a bike lane?”

Bicycles May Use Full Lane, SLM; MUTCD updates

R4-11 Bicycles MAY USE FULL LANE

[Update 2017: please also see “Change Lanes to Pass placard R4-11aP available for use in Arizona]
Apparently I’m a little behind the times, a new version of the MUTCD was released in Dec 2009 and includes a couple of new items for cyclists:

Section 9B.06 Bicycles May Use Full Lane Sign (R4-11) , sometimes denoted as BMUFL  and

Section 9C.07 Shared Lane Marking. (known colloquially as a Sharrow)

The last time I wrote about Shared Lane Markings,  see Sharrow / Shared lane marking (SLM), they were “experimental”. Continue reading “Bicycles May Use Full Lane, SLM; MUTCD updates”

Photo Red Enforcement found ‘illegal’?

Well, not exactly. After an article in “” (“a journal of the politics of driving”… an anti-photo enforcement website), the local anti-photo enforcement blogosphere Camera Fraud has declared that a FHWA letter will be “will be sending shock waves through the insidious network of red light cameras across the country”.

Despite the camera-foes’ protestations to the contrary, the FHWA has no legal standing, can not make laws, and is not a legislative body (For Arizona, the Arizona state legislature is); the only tie to the law is through the MUTCD; and “violations” of the MUTCD are common. In any event the FHWA interpretation letter refers to the extra ground markings in use being dis-allowed, and not cameras.

An image of the FHWA letter is linked at that article, above (here is the letter). I don’t know who this guy, Paul Pisano, Continue reading “Photo Red Enforcement found ‘illegal’?”

Sharrow / Shared lane marking (SLM)

Sharrow on downhill side of a Seattle street

For the latest from the 2009 MUTCD and sharrows/SLM/BMUFL (bikes may use full lane); see bicycles-may-use-full-lane-slm-mutcd-updates …

A marking that has gained some attention lately is the so-called Sharrow (a contraction of the words shared and arrow), more technically named a Shared Lane Marking (SLM). They are currently not part of the MUTCD and as such their use is still considered “experimental” which means any use of them requires a wavier. I am not aware of any usage anywhere in Arizona — if you know of any please leave a comment or email me a pic. Their use was suggested as a possible mitigation of the light-rail-bike-lane mess between 7th and 24th street. Continue reading “Sharrow / Shared lane marking (SLM)”

Is a Bikelane part of the Roadway?

Is a bike lane part of the roadway?

Briefly, the accepted answer in Arizona as well as everywhere in the United States except OR, is simply ‘yes‘. What follows is a possibly interesting counter-point…

Borromeo V. Shea ( to read full case, search, supreme court decisions fo: Borromeo v. Shea) affirmed that the bike lane was indeed part of the roadway in the State of Washington. Washington’s definition of roadway is virtually identical to Arizona:

(WA) RCW 46.04.500 “Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder even though such sidewalk or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles.

(AZ) §28-601(21) “Roadway” means that portion of a highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder…

The definition of vehicle, though, is completely different — in WA bikes are explicitly defined as vehicles, and in AZ they are explicitly excluded from being vehicles:

(Wash) RCW 46.04.670 “Vehicle” includes every device capable of being moved upon a public highway and in, upon, or by which any persons or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway, including bicycles

(AZ) §28-101 “Vehicle” means a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway, excluding devices moved by human power…

The Washington Supreme Court reasoned from the plain meaning of their statutes that bike lanes are part of the roadway.

So, what about Arizona?

In Arizona, on the other hand, bicycles are clearly not vehicles and so bike lanes are clearly not “designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel” — vehicles are banned from them! [§28-815(D) ]. Thus the “plain meaning” of Arizona’s statutes indicate that bike lanes are not part of the roadway.

However, case law from the Arizona Court of Appeals found in Rosenthal v. County of Pima (local copy) that a bicyclist in a bike lane was required to follow the rules of the road (in this case, required to ride in the direction of traffic). The case seems pretty straightforward. I note that the definition of “roadway” or “vehicle” doesn’t even appear in the opinion (perhaps that is a shortcoming of the case as brought?):

(appellee’s argument that, which the trial judge agreed with) those who ride in bike paths, because they are not roadways, are not (subject to the rules of the road). The argument both defies logic and is contrary to the express statutory language of A.R.S. §§ 28-728 and 28-811.

164 Ariz. 98; 791 P.2d 365; 1990 Ariz. App.Rosenthal v. County of Pima (link to opinon on Leagle)

The twist here is that since the bicyclist was a minor, the  applicability statute cited was §28-811 , and §28-812 was not considered (also see Applicability Statutes – why are there two?). Confusingly, both say when and which statutes apply to bicyclists; 811 says that “this chapter [chapter 3 – Traffic and Vehicle Regulation] applies to a bicycle when it is operated on a highway or on a path“, whereas 812 says the rules, chapters 3, 4 and 5, apply to a “person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder” [this confusion is explained in applicability-statutes-why-are-there-two; and seems settled based on a 2013 Court of Appeals decision Arizona v. Baggett]

In any event, Rosenthal doesn’t shed any light on whether or not a bikelane is part of the roadway. Thus the “plain meaning” of Arizona’s statutes stands: bike lanes are not part of the roadway. This is not in conflict with Rosenthal, it just means that the appellee’s argument was mis-constructed from the beginning. They were apparently counting solely on 28-811, overlooking (presumably because it wasn’t helpful to the case) 28-812 entirely.

Would the outcome have been different had the cyclist not been a minor? I would think not — since the rider was definitely either “on a roadway” or “adjoining a roadway”, then 28-728 would definitely be applicable. Or another way to say it, is that it still wouldn’t matter whether or not a bike lane is or is not part of the roadway.

Tucson Bike Lane

This occurs to me later: Tucson had almost no bike lanes [as of the time this was written, in 2007. It seems it may have changed in the meantime]. They are often incorrectly called bike lanes; they are also referred to under various made-up terms like “bike shoulder”. But they are not bike lanes.

Would this matter to the case at hand? The opinion refers to a couple of times “bike lane” and other times as a “path”. But again, this doesn’t seem to have made a difference. It’s just sloppy terminology. Most likely, the collision occurred on a SHOULDER.