Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Two Abreast

On my most recent ride, I noticed rider after rider traveling along two abreast!

Not one of these folks would pull aside for following traffic. They were taking up the entire lane!

The most surprising thing was that no one seemed upset at this behavior, even though they were constantly slowing other drivers down. Why were they so tolerant of this rudeness?

Could it be because all of these folks traveling two abreast (Taking up the entire lane!) were sitting side by side in a motor vehicle?


(a) A person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle under this subtitle, unless:

(1) a provision of this chapter alters a right or duty; or
(2) a right or duty applicable to a driver operating a vehicle cannot by its nature apply to a person operating a bicycle.

Supposing a motor vehicle operator has the right to take up the entire width of a lane simply because he is operating a vehicle that is designed wide enough to allow for the passengers to ride alongside him- even if there is no other person in the vehicle with him. Is his first come, first right to the public space determined by the size of his equipment, or is it a right secured because he is an operator of a vehicle?

Sec. 551.103(c) Persons operating bicycles on a
roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway.

So operators of bicycles can legally ride two abreast on any road in the state where they are not "impeding the normal... flow of traffic". If they have a bike lane, or are traveling on a "roadway" that is wider than fourteen feet, the cyclists must single it up and move aside for overtaking traffic.

Because a solo cyclist may occupy any lateral position he chooses in a lane that is fourteen feet or less in width, riding two abreast in that situation would not be impeding the normal flow of traffic. Overtaking traffic would have to pass when it is safe to change lanes in either situation. (Solo or two abreast.)

So a cyclist has lesser rights on Texas roads than does a motorist because a cyclist may not control a lane under some circumstances, and may not travel side by side in those places either. The cyclist has no right to any part of the lane further from the edge of the roadway than seven feet, if the lane is greater than fourteen feet wide.

So on what basis is a cyclist's right to the full lane restricted? Is it because he is operating a narrow vehicle or a slow vehicle?

Do motorcycles have lateral lane restrictions? If someone had a motor vehicle that was designed with passenger seating in-line with the driver, would they have restrictions on lateral lane position? If a cyclist is keeping up with motor vehicle traffic, does he have more rights than when he is not keeping up? If there are ten slow cyclists and two cars on the road, what is "normal and reasonable flow of traffic"?


  1. If I saw a more of those "two abreast" vehicles, there'd be a lot less traffic to deal with. Around my neck of the woods, they're almost as rare as cyclists.

    Otherwise, post was 100% on target!

  2. cyclists suck.
    slow, arrogant folks who think they should own the roadways