Here’s a question from a reader:

Over a week ago I saw a group of about 20 cyclist heading north on Old Redwood in Windsor. This was a two-lane stretch near Hembree Lane with a clearly marked bicycle lane. About half of the cyclist rode in the designated bike lane, but the other half rode in the right hand lane, forcing traffic to use the left lane to pass. Is it legal for cyclists to ride in the right lane when a designated bike lane is present? Len

The answer comes from the California Vehicle Code, which is: Only in specific instances, none of which appear to meet the circumstance you described. Here’s what the code says:

21208.  (a) Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride within the bicycle lane, except that the person may move out of the lane under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane if the overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane.

(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(3) When reasonably necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) No person operating a bicycle shall leave a bicycle lane until the movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 22100) in the event that any vehicle may be affected by the movement.


Here’s another question from a reader:

I’ve got permanent California handicap plates and placard. Am I legal to use disability parking out of state, all states? Dave

The answer comes from DMV spokeswoman Jan Mendoza, who said she believed most, if not all, states do. But to be on the safe side, she suggested calling the highway patrol/state police or DMV of the state(s) you’re planning to visit.

She said the California DMV offers for free to state residents who have a permanent parking disabled placard or disabled person or disabled veteran license plates that they can use while traveling out of state. They’re good for 30 days.

Not only does California honor disabled placards and licenses from other states but also from other countries.


If you have a question for the Road Warrior, please email it to jim.fremgen@pressdemocrat.com


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  1. E Bike rider

    Speaking of bike lanes , are we still seeing a bike path next to the smart train tracks from end to end ??

    March 24th, 2012 8:13 am

  2. Steve Klausner

    E Bike rider

    Sorry you have been misled. There isn’t any plan to align the bike path along side the rail line between Petaluma and Novato. It is in SMART’s EIR, the issue is protection of sensitive wetlands. The bike path will align with Hwy 101 through the Narrows and be a part of some future CalTrans road widening project.

    March 24th, 2012 10:19 am

  3. Kate D

    On the Joe Rodota Trail I’ve which is used for walking and bicycling I’ve noticed rapidly moving cyclist who I hope look out for pedestrians but I have noticed a difficult situation where it parallels HWY 116 at various places for cars to turn in eg: Andy’s Mkt. When a car turns left to enter Andy’s parking lot the driver has to watch for oncoming 116 traffic as well as cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists move quite fast through there making this difficult. There was a near accident with a man on a recumbent bike a few weeks ago. The bike was traveling quite fast and down so low in visual field for a driver that the cyclist was nearly hit.
    In my opinion the recumbent cyclist who I’ve seen traveling on this regional park trail quite frequently should slow down at this intersection and refrain from screaming obscenities at the drivers since he is traveling above normal walking path speeds and out of expected visual range for a bike.
    Are there any laws that are appropriate in this situation?

    I will resubmit if this is OT.

    March 24th, 2012 12:15 pm

  4. Caligreeenhits

    I thought the CA code explained it quite well. These laws keep everyone safe. Apparently these cyclist have never seen what happens when a 4000 lb. solid object hits a 250lb. soft object.

    March 24th, 2012 12:21 pm

  5. glenellen

    Bennet Valley Rd and Warm Springs Rds are popular bike roads. Much of the roadway is narrow with no areas to pass around bicycles, and double yellow lines throughout the road.
    It is against the law to cross over the double yellow lines to get around the bicycles and sometimes the bicycles will not pull over and continue to go slow. There are many road situations like this in Sonoma County. So what does the driver do ? Stay in back at 5 MPH ?

    March 24th, 2012 12:55 pm

  6. Mark

    Unfortunately the Bike lanes are maintained even less than the road ways. So many of the bike lanes are full of debris, potholes, rocks, sticks, trash, and the most deadly of all…………..trash containers on trash day.

    Unfortunately no where in the California Vehicle Code does it say that bike lanes are to be used as a holding zone for trash containers and recycling containers.

    Unfortunately, many of the bike lanes are very close to street parked cars, and when someone opens their door, the bike riders life and safety is in danger.

    March 24th, 2012 12:56 pm

  7. Carlo Marx

    Suck it up, be patient and pass when safe. Your car will get you to your destination in ample time. Motorists act so impatient and privileged sometimes.

    March 24th, 2012 4:02 pm

  8. Danielle

    i think maybe it is time that people who bike take tests just like people who drive and maybe it is also time that they say taxes to keep bike lanes clean just like motorists

    March 24th, 2012 4:23 pm

  9. Itsme

    Bicyclists act so impatient and privileged sometimes.

    March 24th, 2012 5:18 pm

  10. Bike Commuter

    Carlo Marx – I have no problem waiting to pass in my car when safe. I have a major problem if a cyclist is riding in a manner that is at best inconsiderate that unnecessarily makes passing unsafe as the riders referenced in the article did. These riders also contribute to tension between drivers and cyclists which puts me at greater risk when I’m on the road biking.

    March 24th, 2012 7:47 pm

  11. Choirboy

    This is why “sharing the road” is a pipedream and the reason I ride on sidewalks as much as I can. Like it or not, roads were designed for cars and trucks and no white lines are going to protect you from drunks, stoners, texters, phone callers, or other drivers that are distracted. I’ll ride my bike in the bike lane when there is a curb separating me from those drivers.

    March 24th, 2012 10:28 pm

  12. ex-racer

    Dear RoadWarrior,
    I guess you’re not an experienced cyclist. The amount of information given by Len was not nearly descriptive enough for you to make the car-centric judgment that you gave. You would need to ask very pertinent follow-up questions that as a car driver, Len may have not have paid any attention to.

    Your answer would be correct if this large group of cyclists were inexperienced riders or just hanging out to chat while they were pedaling on a Sunday afternoon. But if they were experienced riders, as many local Sonoma County riders are, (we’re also a favored locale for the world’s professional teams spring training!) they might likely have been using a legal and time-honored peloton technique of drafting in a paceline to 1) save individual energy being wasted pushing against the wind; and 2)dramatically increase speed of the peloton (30 – 40%). If these were experienced or professional team racers, working in a paceline, they may have been traveling upwards of 35mph and even risked speeding on that flat as they entered Windsor.

    This paceline technique requires riders to take turns “pulling” at the energy-sucking front position for a short spell of time and then pull off to the side and allow the paceline to pass (with a fresh energy-expending rider pulling) and catch on to the end of the paceline. Then that rider will slowly arrive back at the front, resting as the others each pull and then pull off to be passed. I was a beginning racer, but participated in pacelines that averaged almost 30 mph on some long training rides!

    If they were riding in a paceline, they would have been constantly PASSING each other, and the first exemption (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane if the overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane , would likely have been operative.

    Of course, Len’s question did not include the pertinent details so it’s impossible to know what they were doing to judge its legality.

    March 25th, 2012 12:52 am

  13. Oneofthebobs

    What Bike commuter said.

    March 25th, 2012 9:19 am

  14. glenellen

    Thank You Bike Commuter, this is what I am trying to say. It is situations where it is very unsafe to pass, and double yellow lines as well. I am following for miles. and the bicyclist will not pull over. Share the road goes both ways.

    March 25th, 2012 12:38 pm

  15. Topcop53

    As a retired police officer who did a study on this I know for a fact that all states allow out of state handicap placards as well as permanent handicap out of state registration plates to utilize sign posted handicap spaces within their respective states as long as they are not expired.

    April 4th, 2012 9:09 am

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