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Sharing the Road

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As you may have noticed, there has been an increase in bicycle and vehicular traffic in Palos Verdes Estates in recent years.  Unfortunately, when the City founders designed the City’s streets in the 1920’s and 30’s, they did not take into consideration that 75 years later such a large number of vehicles and bicyclists would be using the roads. Since many of the main streets are not wide enough to accommodate bicycle lanes, bicyclists and motorists need to share the same roadway as outlined and authorized by the California Vehicle Code.  In order to mitigate the hazards of bicycles and motor vehicles using the same roadways in Palos Verdes Estates, bicyclists and motorists should keep in mind the following rules of the road:

  • Bicycles and motor vehicles need to stop at all posted Stop Signs (22450(a) CVC)
  • The speed on the roadway needs to be safe for conditions (22350 CVC)
  • Bicyclists riding on the roadway need to ride as close to the right of the roadway as safely possible, unless special circumstances such as passing another bicyclist, a parked vehicle or some other roadway obstruction (21202(a) CVC)
  • Prior to turning, use your vehicles turn signal (100 feet prior).  If your vehicle does not have turn signals, use the appropriate hand signals (22110(a) CVC)
  • Headphones and cell phones are unlawful to use while driving as they cause distraction, so don’t use any kind of headphones or cell phones when driving a motor vehicle or riding a bicycle (23123(a) CVC).  Bicyclists may use one earbud, but must keep one ear open.
  • Before passing a bicyclist, motorists should make sure there is at least 3 feet of clearance between the motor vehicle and the bicyclist.  If there is insufficient space for a car to pass a bicyclist (3’) then the car must allow the bicyclist to take the full lane and the car must follow the bicyclist until such a time when it can pass safely.
  • Check blind spots prior to changing lanes or turning.
  • If parked, motorists should check their mirror before opening their car door to prevent causing a collision with a bicyclist approaching from behind.

Most importantly, share the road.  Share the road does not mean that the car gets the whole lane except for a small sliver of asphalt along the curb.  Rather, it means that bicyclists may take the whole lane if conditions warrant.  The California Vehicle Code equally applies to motor vehicles and bicycles alike.  Drivers and bicyclists must equally adhere to the rules of the road, which means that everyone needs to abide by the same laws and be tolerant of one another.  If everyone is respectful and works together, it will be a safer and more enjoyable experience for all. In order to understand this concept, we have posted some answers to common questions below in addition to making additional information available.

Do the same rules apply to bicyclists and motorists?

With limited exceptions, rules of the road apply equally to bicyclists, motorists and motorcyclists. According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC) 21200(a), “Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division.”  Bicyclists may ride on any road in California unless it is specifically prohibited. These restrictions are limited to particular freeways, tunnels and bridges.

Bicyclists can ride in or move into the travel lane to stay clear of the door zone (where they are at risk of being hit by opening car doors—aka "doored") and to avoid other hazardous conditions like potholes, glass and debris. Bicyclists generally make left turns like motorists and can move into the travel lane in preparation for a left turn. 


What does it mean to "Share the road?"

Most bicycling is done in shared lane situations (since bike lanes are not possible in PVE due to the narrow roadwayShare the road widths which in most cases cannot be widened). Bicyclists and motorists can safely share the road (or the travel lane) by responding to the particular roadway configuration. The CVC states that bicyclists must, generally, ride to the right, but there are a number of exceptions that have relevance in PVE, an older and constrained urban environment. The most important exception is CVC 21202 (a) (3) which states that bicyclists do not need to ride to the right “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.


What is the "3 feet" Law?

3 foot lawThere are few roads in Palos Verdes Estates where it is safe to share a single lane side by side. Thus, in many locations bicyclists can legally ride in the middle of the travel lane.  Motorists must exercise caution when passing. If there is one lane in a direction, motorists must wait until it is safe to pass, and bicyclists traveling below the prevailing speed should allow motorists to pass at the first safe opportunity. When there are two lanes in a direction, a motorist can safely pass by entering the adjacent travel lane. In both situations, motorists must leave sufficient space when passing—three feet is a good minimum—but more may be required when driving faster than 25 mph.


Additional information can be found in the following pamphlet:

Bike Guide