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Cyclist and truck in 12 ft lane. Red area is minimum that cyclist needs for safe operation.
Graphic by Keri Caffrey, Cycling Savvy

Ferguson is the first Missouri city to repeal the discriminatory “Far to the Right” (FTR) law applied specifically to bicyclists, so that now a bicyclist may either control or share the curb lane on a multi-lane road in Ferguson. This is important because, as noted in a previous blog, many, if not most, multi-lane roads have lanes too narrow for a bicyclist and motorist to share safely. This is especially true with large vehicles, such as trucks and buses, as illustrated at left.
         However, Ferguson’s new ordinance has some failings, as noted below, so it should not be used as a model for other municipalities to copy.
         Below is the existing state statute, followed by the new ordinance, and finally a recommended “Model ordinance” with explanatory notes. The text highlighted in white italics below is the subject of discussion in this blog.

         The state FTR law is the only remaining highly discriminatory law affecting bicyclists using public roads and its local repeal by the City of Ferguson demonstrates real leadership, which other Missouri cities and counties are urged to emulate.

Missouri Statute 307.190 states that:

Every person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as safe, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction, except when making a left turn, when avoiding hazardous conditions, when the lane is too narrow to share with another vehicle or when on a one-way street. Bicyclists may ride abreast when not impeding other vehicles.

         The original Ferguson Ordinance #96-2809 in Section 44-364 – Riding on roadways in the City Code, has identical wording to the above.

New Ferguson Ordinance #2012-3495 replacing the above, approved on June 26, 2012:

Every person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway may ride in the center of the right lane of travel or may ride to the right side of the roadway; such person may move into the left lane of travel only while in the process of making a left turn. Every person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle on a roadway shall exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction, when making turns, and when streets or lanes are too narrow to share with vehicles. Bicyclists may ride abreast only when not impeding other vehicles.

Note: The above may be found in the on-line Ferguson municode by entering “Sec. 44-364” in the Search box at top right, which offers a link to ARTICLE VIII. BICYCLES AND MOTORIZED BICYCLES – Ferguson, Missouri – Code of Ordinances, where section Sec. 44-364 – Riding on roadways is listed.

Proposed “Model ordinance” with explanatory notes:

Every person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway may ride in the center of the right lane of travel or may ride to the right side of the roadway; such person may use the left lane of travel to prepare for making a left turn, or when on a one-way street. Every person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle on a roadway shall exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction, when making turns, and when streets or lanes are too narrow to share with motor vehicles. Bicyclists may ride two abreast when also allowed for a solo cyclist.

Reasons for changes in “model ordinance” when compared to approved ordinance:

1. Controlling the inside lane only when “in the process of making a left turn” could be interpreted to mean that the cyclist must wait until the last moment to move into the left lane.
         This has been changed to “may use the left lane of travel to prepare for making a left turn

2. “Bicyclists may ride two abreast in the right lane of travel when also allowed for a solo cyclist.“ This replaces the wording in the new Ferguson ordinance “Bicyclists may ride abreast only when not impeding other vehicles.
         This makes the model ordinance consistent with permitted lane control, whether by a solo cyclist or a group of two or more cyclists.
         For example, it makes sense for bicyclists riding together to double up and ride as a group controlling the right lane rather than being strung out single file, when they are also more likely to get separated by a stop light, for example.

         

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