That is the law here in Kansas for cyclists. It is a super good law. The only problem with the law is that nobody but cyclists know it.
I don’t know how many times in my lifetime I’ve had people yell “single file” to me. Probably 1000’s. The only time I’ve ever heard those two words in a phrase was when I was elementary school, walking in the hall to the auditorium or somewhere as a class and riding my bicycle. I don’t know where it got engrained into people’s brains that single file is how cyclists are “supposed” to ride on the street, but it is a common mistake.
I’ve been riding back and forth to Lawrence recently. Unless I’m riding on gravel down by the river, I have to ride on State Hwy. 40 for some amount of time. The road isn’t too busy and really not that dangerous. But, it doesn’t have a shoulder and rolls enough to make passing tricky. Cars passing each other and cars passing cyclists.
At least once, and usually more, when I ride the road, some yahoo will pass me, crossing into the opposite lane going up a hill. Inevitably, a car will be coming from the other direction and have to swerve, brake or something. It never ceases to amaze me that the guy in the other lane nearly always honks or flips me off when he comes by.
I just don’t get it. The car that was passing me is nearly always crossing a double yellow line on a blind hill and the other car blames the cyclist. What’s up with that?
It is even worse when I’m riding with someone else. The drivers of the cars think, mistakenly, that we’re breaking the law by riding two abreast. Somehow that mentality gives these people the need to try to enforce their mistaken thoughts by honking or coming by dangerously close, usually passing illegally themselves. It is super weird, like the law should even matter enough to endanger someones life.
I’ve had people actually stop a couple times and go into a tirade about the two abreast riding. Only a couple times. I used to carry a piece of paper in plastic that stated the Kansas State Law concerning riding bicycles two abreast. Each time a person stopped, I would show them the law and it was amazing how that would calm them down. It is like they thought they were the two abreast police and the realization that they didn’t know the law completely deflated them down to nothing.
Once we were riding over to Kansas City for a training race and got pulled over by the Douglas County Sheriffs near Lawrence. The guy was hassling us for riding two abreast. I happened to have the law with me and showed it to the officer. Next thing I know, the guy’s supervisor shows up. The officer had already called him since there were 6 of us. The officer goes and tells him that we were riding 4 abreast, when just 5 minutes earlier he had told us he stopped us for not riding single file. I was obviously pissed.
I had a conversation with the supervisor and told him that it was a much bigger deal having a sheriff lie to his supervisor, right in front of 6 regular citizens than whatever law the guy thought we were breaking to start with. It really didn’t go anywhere. The supervisor said that they had big problems with groups of riders “massing” on the county roads and thought this was one of those situations. Anyway, it goes to show that even the local law enforcement officers don’t know the law.
If that is the case, I don’t know why I would expect anyone else to. I went down and renewed my driver’s license in February. I thought that is would be a good idea to include a question on the renewal test about the two abreast law, but we don’t even take a test anymore. Just walk in, take an eye exam, get a photo taken, pay $25 and out. Maybe 5 minutes max.
I don’t know how to fix the problem. It sure would be nice if the drivers didn’t think that all us cyclists were law breakers when we ride side by side. I know that would alleviate a ton of the tension. But I don’t really see a way to do it.
Maybe some signs like this might help some. Funny, I got this off a website talking about riding in Tenerife and how it is a 1500 Euro fine to pass cyclists illegally in Spain. Weird coincidence