It’s the Law

This is National Bicycle Month. Dan over at Albany Weblog has been rightly nagging about the need for bike lanes in this town.

Also, the Bicycle Commuter Act (H.R.807, S.2635) is before the U.S. Congress right now. If passed, the bill would provide a tax benefit to employers who offer cash reimbursements to employees to defray costs of riding to work. All it requires is an amendment to the Transportation Fringe Benefit of the tax code to extend the definition of “transportation” to include bicycles. Employers are given the flexibility to set their level of benefit payments, and the bike commuter can use the money to pay for a bicycle, accessories, safety equipment, insurance, and locker or shower fees. Click here for more information.

And there’s a new magazine out there dealing with practical cycling, with a free subscription. From the website: “It’s bicycling for transportation, be it on the daily commute, the run to Costco, or a trip around the world. . . We’re convinced it was a mistake to relegate the most efficient means of transportation devised by man to the aisles of recreation and sport alone.”

But that’s not (exactly) what I’m going to write about.

I came across a while back the Municipal Codes on the Internet for 20 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. OK, that may be overstating it a bit. For Illinois, there’s just the city of Crystal Lake; in Nebraska, Papillion; North Carolina, Henderson County; Tennessee, the city of Memphis; Wyoming, the city of Evanston.

Anyway, the city of Albany is there, and I was interested to see what laws apply to bicycles. Some are fine; some, ?

Chapter 246: NEWSRACKS
A newsrack placed in accordance with this chapter shall not be installed or maintained:
J. Near any bicycle rack if such placement interferes with the use of such bicycle rack
Hear, hear!
§ 251-5. Rules and regulations. [Amended 12-19-1983; 3-3-1986]
4) All persons are forbidden to drive over the paths devoted to pedestrians; to ride bicycles or tricycles on the paths or walkway; or to trundle barrows or obstruct the paths in any manner; or to ride, drive, propel or operate any wagon, vehicle or motor vehicle on any of the driveways of such parks, boulevards and avenues at a rate faster than fifteen (15) miles an hour.
Though, in fact, many of the paths are dual use, for people and pedalers.
§ 255-25. Public places.
It shall be unlawful for any person to ring any hand bell, beat or strike any pan, pail or other like article or sound any gong or blow any whistle or horn or other than musical instruments when used as part of a band of music except to give necessary signals upon a street car, motor vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle or similar vehicle or to hawk, cry or call out the sale of goods at auction or otherwise or to gain passengers for any cab, hack, taxi or other vehicle or to make, aid, continue, encourage or assist in making any other or unusual noise upon any street or other public place or in close proximity thereto so as to be distinctly and loudly audible upon any such street or place in the City of Albany.
I love the specificity of this.
ARTICLE I Bicycles and All Motor Vehicles [Amended 8-7-1995 by L.L. No. 6-1995]
§ 359-1. Alarm bells for bicycles.
All persons riding or propelling with the feet a bicycle, tricycle, velocipede or other vehicle of propulsion on the public streets or avenues or in the parks of this City shall attach to and carry on such vehicle an alarm bell, which said bell the persons shall ring or sound on approaching and within 30 feet of the intersection of any street or avenue proposed to be crossed.
A velocipede?
§ 359-2. Speed limit for bicycles.
No person using a bicycle, tricycle, velocipede or other vehicle of propulsion on the public streets or avenues or parks of this City shall propel such vehicle at a rate of speed greater than eight miles an hour, and all such persons shall observe the law of the road.
Eight miles an hour? Downhill?
§ 359-3. Number abreast limited.
No greater number of persons than two abreast shall parade or ride in the streets or avenues or parks of this City at any time on such bicycles, tricycles, velocipedes or other vehicles of propulsion.
§ 359-4. Riding on sidewalks prohibited; exceptions.
No person shall ride any bicycle, tricycle, velocipede or other vehicle of propulsion on or over any footpath in any of the parks, or on or over any of the sidewalks of any of the streets or avenues in this City, except if it is to go into a yard, lot or building; provided, however, that the foregoing provision of this section shall not apply to children under 10 years of age; and provided further that this section shall not be so construed as to prohibit the riding of any bicycle, tricycle or similar vehicle upon or over the unpaved portion of the sidewalk of any such street or streets outside of the thickly settled part of the City as shall be designated in writing by the Mayor. Every designation so made as aforesaid shall be filed with the Chief of Police and may be revoked by the Mayor at any time in his discretion.
I avoid riding on the sidewalk except when feeling imperiled. The aforementioned bike lanes would help.
This also shows the awesome power of our mayor.

Then, there’s this lengthy section 359-5. Operation of vehicles generally.
A. It is required that all vehicles operated within the City of Albany be in good and safe operating condition, and each shall be operated only:
(1) While having a valid New York State Certificate of Inspection affixed on the vehicle in the proper location.
This suggests, at least, that I need to get a sticker.

I love the law.
I don’t believe this (exactly), but it is interesting:

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments.
Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man.
And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became.
Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it,
and of no harm or irritation to others.
Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.

~Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills

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