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Bicycle Law, Math, and the 198

Author: Malachai Miller

Bicyclists often claim to be “vehicles” and thereby entitled to roads and rights of motor vehicles.  Section 159 of NYS Vehicle and Traffic law define a vehicle.  “Every device in, upon, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”  That seems to exclude bicycles.  Section 1231 complicates the definition.  It says that Bicycles are entitled to rights of vehicles and subject to vehicles laws.  So a bicycle is NOT a vehicle but should follow vehicle laws. 

Section 1234 allows bicyclists to ride on roads.  But again the law is complicated. 

“Upon all roadways, any bicycle or in-line skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic”

So a bicycle is allowed on roads but not where it interferes with traffic.  

Bicyclists ask cars to give 3 feet of space when passing them.  The recommended width of a bicycle specific lane is 5 feet.  So it seems a bicycle needs 8 feet of road width to be safe.

The average road width is 12 feet.  Subtract 8 and you are left with 4 feet for cars.  The average SUV is 6.5 feet plus 16-20 inches on each side for mirrors.  The math doesn’t allow for a bicycle to ride on a road without “undue interference”.

Various groups have promoted traffic “calming” measures on the 198 Scajaquada Expressway.  Bicyclists have been vocal about including bicycle paths along the 198.  The roadway appears narrow already.  So the math above doesn’t allow for bicycles.  Other groups promote the scenic and historic beauty of Delaware park as reason for calming measures.  It appears that a 5 foot width of that green space would need be sacrificed, each way.  To add bicycle lanes to the roadway roughly 1.2 acres of grass would have to go.

Some may view this article as an opinionated or having bias.  The author applauds Buffalo Rising for courage to blog opposing views.  The author rather hopes to educate and enlighten readers.  The author has a bicycle and enjoys riding in the city.  The author has a solution.  A solution that already exists.  A solution that could save millions of dollars.  A bike path doesn’t need to be installed ON the 198.  A bike path already exists right next to the Scajaquada.  The Scajaquada Creek Jesse Kregal Path is a safer, scenic alternative for bicycles than the dangerous 198.  Explore Buffalo actually offers a tour using the trail July 22 – click here to learn more.

Here is a map of the bike path from the website.  You will see the bike path (RED) almost exactly follows the 198 Expressway route.  We don’t have to spend a hundred million dollars to dig up grass next to the expressway.  A bike path is already next door.  Technically if you refer to Section 1234 a usable bicycle lane has already been provided

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