On May 24, the Oklahoma City council approved changes to city ordinances relating to the operation of bicycles upon roadways. The vote, originally scheduled for May 31, was put on today's agenda due to a clerical error, according to Randy Entz, Oklahoma City Bicycling Coordinator.
Enacted is a new law allowing bicyclists full use of the travel lane when riding on designated bike routes. By the end of summer over 70 miles of bike routes will be marked with signs such as Bicycles May Use Full Lane , Change Lanes To Pass, and sharrows, Entz said. Motorists passing bicycles on the marked bike routes are required to completely change lanes or wait until it is safe to pass. On all other streets bicyclists are still required to ride as close as is safe to the right edge of the road, and motorists are still required to pass only when it is safe with no less than 3 feet of distance from the bicyclist.
Other amendments don't change existing laws, but do clarify those laws which should make them easier to enforce.
Those changes define a recumbent bicycle, limit the height of handlebars to 12" (recumbent bicycles are specifically excluded), and permit bicycle parking on sidewalks. Because Oklahoma City's Project 180 is adding bike lanes to downtown, when bicyclists are required to use a bike lane is also clarified, with certain exceptions listed in the revised ordinance.
The changes were previously approved unanimously by the Traffic Commission. The principal change relates to full lane usage by bicyclists on designated Bike Routes. In 2007 OKC voters approved a bond issue which included over 200 miles of designated bike routes. In 2010 "sharrow
" road markings and "Bicycles May Use Full Lane
" signs began to appear on those routes. Motorists and police expressed concern that the signs presented a confusing message since state and city laws required bicyclists to travel as "far to the right as is safe." The new ordinance corrects that issue.
On all other streets state and city law currently grant bicyclists the right to take the full lane for safety if the lane is too narrow for a motor vehicle and bicycle to safely share the lane.
The changes to Oklahoma City Ordinances approved today can be downloaded HERE