The signs are going up! Bicycles may use full lane!
So what does that mean?
Does that mean its safe for us to ride in the street?
Well, no, not really. Riding in general is kind of dangerous because of a lot of things, not the least of which is how far you are from the ground. Riding on the streets is dangerous doubly so because there are big metal things that can run into you. Be careful and aware always!
Does that mean it’s a bicycle lane?
Not exactly – a “bicycle lane” would be dedicated for bicycles. These signs mean the city is making it clear to both cyclists and motorists that the lane is defined as a Shared lane – motorists should expect and accept cyclists using the full lane just as a car would, but cyclists should expect car traffic in that lane as well. The theory is that cars would drive around cyclists that are moving slower just as they would drive around a car or truck moving slower.
What does this mean when there’s a lot of traffic?
It means bicycles may use the full lane. I spoke with the Chief of Police of McKinney to make sure we are all looking at this the same way. State law covers a whole lot of things and one of them is signs indicating how a roadway is expected to be used, so if the City says the lane is for shared use then that means always. HOWEVER – Common Sense doesn’t get thrown out! If you find yourself surrounded with cars trying to pass at 45 MPH at 5:10 rush hour, you might consider riding to the right of the lane (where the passenger tire is for cars) to allow traffic to get by and make your surroundings a little safer. There is still a chance that a police officer might ask you to ride to the right in situations like this since it’s the job of the Police to do what they can for the sake of “safety first”.
So what’s the bottom line?
The Bicycle may use Full Lane sign gives cyclists permission to use the full lane, but this permission is from the city. The guy in the car behind you probably wasn’t consulted when the city decided this, so the sign works as awareness and eduction for motorists – but it won’t make them less frustrated so don’t expect that to happen. As always Bike Friendly McKinney advocates cycling an a manner that makes your intentions clear – if the sign says Use Full Lane, then you should do exactly that. Be clear, be assertive. Don’t ride the shoulder if you intend to use the lane! Let drivers and riders around you know you are in the lane by being clear and consistent. The best way for everyone to learn how to behave with these new rules is to start using them regularly. Get out and ride!
and Be Safe!