There have been a number of letters to the editor lately concerning bikes on the B-Line, and truth to tell, it is a difficult set of laws that must be perused to fully understand the proper procedures.
This where most of the confusion exists:
TRUE or FALSE
Bikes must stop/yield at the B-Line crossings.
TRUE! There are Stop signs as each crossing, and text that declares “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop”. These signs are for bikers only, but some people do not see them, or ignore them. Many bikers seem to think they are pedestrians, but they are not. In fact they are vehicles according to state law (IC 9-21-11-2) On the B-Line confusion seems to be that many people believe that motor vehicles should stop for both pedestrians and bikes when on the trail, but this is just not case in Indiana. If a pedestrian is on a curb at an intersection, then “…a person who drives a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if necessary to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching closely from the opposite half of the roadway. (IC 9-2-18-36)”
This sentence contains a lot of info. It may seem a bit strange, but motor vehicle operators are required to slow down or stop only once a person has stepped into a crosswalk on the side of the street on which the car is traveling. Once you closely approach the other half of the street (this is not an exact distance in this code), then cars are required to yield or stop. This not true for bikers, unless they dismount and walk their bikes across the street, as then they are pedestrians.
On the B-Line, I most often see cars stopping for pedestrians and bikers who are waiting to cross. This is great, Hoosier Hospitality at its best! However, it is not required by law unless the pedestrian has entered the crosswalk, so there is no reason to become annoyed or angry that people are not stopping for you. Better to take a deep breath and enjoy the beauty of life in the open air, and pity those stuck in their iron cages.
Bikers are not pedestrians, they are considered non-motorized vehicles, and should stop at the B-line crossings, and wait for traffic to clear. Even if you poke your wheel into the street, hoping the cars will stop, you could be cited for obstructing traffic, and if you were hit, you would be at fault.
Even pedestrians must be careful about stepping out into the street: “A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. (IC 9-21-17-5)
So pedestrians should not jump in front of moving motor vehicles! This seems rather self evident, but this codifies the concept. If you do this, the police can (and have in the past), follow the ambulance to the hospital, and issue you a citation.
All this being true, there is still this requirement for vehicle drivers:
Sec. 37. Notwithstanding other provisions of this article or a local ordinance, a person who drives a vehicle shall do the following:
- Exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or a person propelling a human powered vehicle, giving an audible signal when necessary.
- Exercise proper caution upon observing a child or an obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person.
Traffic control signals not in operation
So according to state law, cars do not have to stop for pedestrians unless they are in the crosswalk. This is not the case in all states, but it is here in Indiana, as well as Vermont and Florida. So it is polite to stop your car for pedestrians at the B-Line crossings, but it is not mandatory, it is not law.
Roadways; rights and duties (for bicyclists)
Sec. 2. A person riding a bicycle or operating a Class B motor driven cycle upon a roadway has all the rights and duties under this article that are applicable to a person who drives a vehicle…
On the B-Line, there are stop signs not on the roadway, but on the B-Line itself, and these are meant not for the pedestrians, but rather for the bikers. The signs on the road read “Cars must yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk”, the functional important parts being “pedestrians” “yield”, and “in the crosswalk”, (not on the sidewalk).
To say the least, this is not clear to most users, but it is the case. If you were to ride out into the intersection without first stopping (blow through the crossing) and get hit, you would be cited for the infraction, not the motorist, even if they had time to stop. Unfortunately that is the law, and the tradition; police often see themselves as the guardians of vehicular traffic, and like many motorists, can see pedestrians and bikers as impediments to motorized traffic, rather than seeing them as traffic itself. Of course we are all traffic, people trying to get from one place to another, but the culture is currently weighted to favor motorists. We are trying to change this balance, and in fact Bloomington has one of the highest percentage of non-motorized commuters in the US, nearly 5%.
Be careful out there!