1 Page 1 of 5 Bob Wachtel From: Sent: To: Cc: Subject: Jim Nugent Monday, November 28, :49 PM 'Bob Wachtel' Follow Up Flag: Follow up Flag Status: Red BOB: Phil Smith; Steve King; Kevin Slovarp; Gregg Wood; Mark Muir; Mike Brady; Chris Odlin; Scott Hoffman; Mike Colyer; Greg Amundsen; John Engen; Bruce Bender; Doug Harby; Wayne Gravatt; Brian Hensel; Dept. Attorney; John Weber RE: bikes passing on the right Thanks for both sharing comment that you have received as well as for raising important inquiries with respect to bicyclists, the rights of bicyclists pursuant to Montana traffic laws and most especially and importantly the duties and responsibilities of motorists toward bicyclists pursuant to Montana traffic regulations. Educational and informational endeavors pertaining to bicyclists and/or motorists duties and responsibilities communicated throughout the community are an important and great idea. However, there are several provisions of Montana state traffic law, which are discussed below that are important provisions of Montana state law with respect to ensuring safety for bicyclists and recognition of bicyclist rights pursuant to Montana state traffic laws. Initially, a couple of points that should be noted are that (1) the specific factual circumstances are generally going to be a primary controlling factor with respect to any factual scenario that is presented/described for discussion/observation/comment with respect to the law and interactions between motorists and bicyclists; and, (2) generally pursuant to Montana traffic regulations a bicycle is a vehicle, the same as a motor vehicle is a vehicle pursuant to Montana state traffic regulations. See definition of vehicle pursuant to subsection (90) and subsection (3)(b) MCA. Pursuant to Montana state law it is stated that safe and efficient highway transportation is of important interest to all of the people of the state and therefore integrated and adequate highways that do not endanger the health and safety of the citizens while ensuring safe and convenient transportation for the public peace, health, safety and general welfare are urgent and essential to the general welfare of the citizens of the state. See section MCA. Most importantly, bicyclists have traffic regulation rights pursuant to Montana traffic regulation laws and motorists have the same duties and responsibilities toward bicyclists and to respect bicyclist rights that they have toward other motorists. It apparently must be noted and emphasized that pursuant to Montana traffic regulations, it is not the law in Montana that any time a motor vehicle overtakes or is overtaking a bicycle, that the motorist has the right of way to turn in front of that bicycle and travel across the path of the oncoming bicyclist. This is especially so if the motorist overtaking of the bicycle is basically occurring simultaneously or nearly simultaneously; because of the safety issues that endanger the bicyclist caused by the motorist attempting turning movements immediately in front of a bicyclist that they have just overtaken less than 100 feet prior to making their turning movement. For example for reasons explained in more detail later in this , it is legally dubious whether a motorist overtaking a moving bicyclist in the final 100 feet prior to turning in front of an oncoming bicyclist can comply with the reasonably safe turning movements that Montana traffic regulations mandate for motorists with respect to both other motorists as well as bicyclists. Pursuant to Montana state traffic regulations, any and all
2 Page 2 of 5 turning movements by a motorist must be performed safely with reasonable safety without endangering the person riding the bicycle, the bicyclist. See for example subsection (1)(b) MCA. There likely are multiple provisions of Montana state law that are violated by a motorist overtaking a bicyclist and then within less than 100 feet of overtaking the moving bicyclist, making a turning movement across the oncoming bicyclist s travel path. This reasonable safety and/or endangerment of the bicyclist concern is generally especially going to be present as a concern whenever the motorist turning movement occurs within less than 100 feet of the motor vehicle turning movement if the turning movement is occurring in a business, residential or urban district. Pursuant to Montana state law every motor vehicle operator has a statutory duty and responsibility pursuant to Montana traffic laws to not move out of their lane of travel or make a turning movement unless the motorist is able to do so with reasonable safety. As I indicated at the beginning of this response, the specific factual circumstances are always going to be one of the primary influencing factors to consider with respect to motor vehicle turning movements in front of bicyclists resulting in vehicle/bicycle collisions or near misses at intersections with streets, alleys, driveways, etc.. The following are some of the important statutory duties and responsibilities of motorists operating motor vehicles that must be considered by everyone with respect to any motor vehicle/bicycle collision or near miss involving a motorist overtaking and then turning in front of a bicycle and then the motorist traveling across the travel path of the oncoming bicycle/bicyclist that has just been overtaken by the motorist within less than 100 feet of overtaking the oncoming bicyclist: (1) Pursuant to subsection (1) MCA an overtaking vehicle passing on the left must do so safely at a SAFE DISTANCE AND MAY NOT AGAIN DRIVE TO THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROADWAY UNTIL SAFELY CLEAR OF THE OVERTAKEN VEHICLE. (emphasis added). Motorist compliance with this state law is especially important for a motorist overtaking a bicyclist and then turning right across the path of the oncoming bicyclist less than 100 feet after overtaking the bicyclist; because a motorist turning right must approach their right turn as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway. (2) Pursuant to subsection (1) MCA, when a motorist is operating a motor vehicle on a roadway with laned traffic lanes, the motorist operating the motor vehicle is required to ensure that the motor vehicle movement out of the lane may not be moved from the lane UNTIL THE OPERATOR HAS FIRST ASCERTAINED THAT THE MOVEMENT CAN BE MADE WITH SAFETY. (emphasis added) (3) Pursuant to subsection (1) MCA pertaining to turning movements and required signals a motor vehicle operator may not turn a vehicle right or left UNLESS THE MOVEMENT CAN BE MADE WITH REASONABLE SAFETY AND UNTIL AN APPROPRIATE SIGNAL HAS BEEN GIVEN.(emphasis added) (4) With respect to the appropriate signal required by subsection (1) MCA; subsection (2) MCA statutorily establishes a standard, guideline or criteria that requires that a signal of intention to turn is to be given continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning into any business district, residence district or urban district.; so that others may have a 100 foot advance warning by the motorist of the upcoming turning movement and the direction that the turning movement is going to take. The Montana State Legislature considered this 100 foot distance to be a standard, criteria or guideline that should serve as a safety measure with respect to motor vehicle turning movements. However, a specific fact that must always be taken into account with respect to any motorist overtaking a moving bicyclist less than 100 feet prior to the motorist turning in front of the oncoming bicyclist and turning across the bicyclist s travel path is that the bicyclist has generally not had the opportunity to observe and/or be warned by the overtaking motorist s turn signal for 100 feet prior to the motorist turning. Generally, it likely is not possible for a motorist to turn reasonably safely across the path of a bicyclist without endangering the bicyclist if the motorist overtook the bicyclist less than 100 feet prior to the turning movement made by the motorist.
3 Page 3 of 5 (5) The most specific state law traffic regulation with respect to ensuring bicyclists safety with respect to overtaking motorists is section MCA entitled RIGHT OF WAY FOR BICYCLES. Pursuant to subsection (1) MCA the operator of a motor vehicle may not intentionally interfere with the movement of a person who is lawfully riding a bicycle; or OVERTAKE AND PASS A PERSON RIDING A BICYCLE UNLESS THE OPERATOR OF THE MOTOR VEHICLE CAN DO SO SAFELY WITHOUT ENDANGERING THE PERSON RIDING THE BICYCLE.(emphasis added) (6) All of the above cited and quoted provisions of Montana state law are applicable are applicable to the benefit of bicyclists whether or not there is a marked/designated bicycle lane on the roadway; because section MCA expressly and specifically grants to every person operating a bicycle all of the rights as well as the respective duties applicable to the drivers of a motor vehicle. (7) As just noted, all of the above cited provisions of Montana state traffic regulations are applicable to the benefit of bicyclists whether or not there is a marked/designated bicycle lane on the roadway. However, in those instances where there is a marked bicycle lane on the roadway, subsection (2) MCA specifically explicitly provides that: THE OPERATOR OF A MOTOR VEHCILE SHALL YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY TO A PERSON WHO IS RIDING A BICYCLE WITHIN A DESIGNATED BICYCLLE LANE. (emphasis added) (8) The fact that subsection (2) MCA specifically explicitly refers to designated bicycle lanes does not mean nor does it equate to motorists being exempt from yielding to oncoming overtaken bicycles/bicyclists pursuant to the several other provisions of Montana state traffic laws that I have identified and cited above. There are several other additional provisions of Montana state law that can be cited and relied on for citing a motorist for failing to yield to an oncoming bicyclist that the motorist has overtaken and then within less than 100 feet of the overtaking attempts to turn in front of the bicyclist and cross the path of the oncoming bicyclist. All of the Montana state traffic regulations cited herein are important to a recognition of the basic safety of bicyclists as well as state law basic rights of bicyclists with respect to interactions with motorists on City of Missoula streets and should be taken into account with respect to any educational endeavors. Likely the very best practice for bicyclist is to always bicycle defensively; because motorist violations against bicyclists do not seem to get cited into court; so the motorist is not made aware of their violation, motor vehicles are so much larger and more powerful that the motor vehicle is likely always going to inflict damage or death to the bicycle and/or bicyclist. Bicyclists must be alert and attentive; because it is such a life and death matter to the bicyclist compared to the motorist. I do not recall there ever being a motorist killed in a motorist bicycle accident; but unfortunately there have been numerous bicyclists killed by motor vehicles in the past two decades or more in Missoula. JIM NUGENT From: Bob Wachtel Sent: Wednesday, November 23, :47 PM To: Jim Nugent Subject: FW: bikes passing on the right Jim, The statement below from Sgt. John Weber seems to be in contradiction to your interpretation during our discussion of last March. I have attached a copy of that series of s for your convenience. I would like the BPAB to recommend a safety campaign regarding this issue but need to be sure that we would be recommending the lawful and safest behavior for cyclists. An education campaign emphasizing consistency would help promote improved relations between cyclists and motorists.
4 Page 4 of 5 Thank you for your considered response. Bob Wachtel, Chair, Bike/Ped Advisory Board From: John Weber Sent: Wednesday, November 23, :30 PM To: 'Bob Wachtel' Subject: RE: bikes passing on the right Bob, The motorist went past the bike, noted the bike was there and continued west on 5 th. The motorist came to the intersection with Higgins and while making a right turn the bike was struck. At this point with the absence of a bike lane the bike cannot pass on the right, which he did so. As it stands now we still have to rely on state law which is very particular as to when a vehicle can pass on the right and this wasn t a lawful pass. Hope I was able to help you. From: Bob Wachtel Sent: Tuesday, November 22, :46 AM To: John Weber Subject: FW: bikes passing on the right John, Can you provide any additional details on the crash indicated below? Given previous discussions with City Attorney, Jim Nugent, this would seem to be a practical example of how this issue is dealt with on the street. Thanks, Bob Wachtel, Chair, Bike/Ped Advisory Board Original Message----- From: Bob Giordano Sent: Tuesday, November 22, :14 AM To: Bob Wachtel Cc: Ethel MacDonald; Ginny Sullivan; Jean Belangie-Nye; Jim Sayer; JOHN WOLVERTON' Subject: bikes passing on the right Bob, I'm glad you still have the 'passing on the right' issue on bped infra meeting tonight. It is an important topic, as a cyclist was injured in the crash below. Since the biker was cited, they likely will not get money for injuries.
5 Page 5 of 5 VEH VS BIKE - INJURY (MC ) 10/5/2011 2:53 PM S HIGGINS AVE AND S 5TH ST E Bike and westbound car. Bike rider cited for improper pass on right. Messages and attachments sent to or from this account pertaining to City business may be considered public or private records depending on the message content. The City is often required by law to provide public records to individuals requesting them. The City is also required by law to protect private, confidential information. This message is intended for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you are not the intended recipient of this transmission, please notify the sender immediately, do not forward the message to anyone, and delete all copies. Thank you