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Yes, you can get pulled over for speeding & other infractions bicycling, even on e-bikes
e bikes

We were traveling downhill on a winding section of Highway 28 on Lake Tahoe’s eastern side.

I was concentrating on oncoming traffic and the travel lane ahead.

We were about a mile from Incline Village when the sound of the wind was pierced by the wail of a siren behind us.

As I started to hit the brakes, I looked down quickly at my speed.

We were going 43 mph.

Seconds later, the firm voice of a Nevada State Highway Patrol officer came over a loudspeaker ordering us to pull over.

The first thing the officer asked was if I knew how fast I was going.

I said 43 mph.

He replied it was 44 mph.

Then he asked for our drivers’ licenses.

As I reached for mine, Brian piped up.

He pointed out we weren’t doing anything wrong and that we were in a 45 mph zone.

Before the officer could reply, I admonished Brian — a 17-year-old at the time — to be quiet.

At one point, the conversation with the officer turned to my knowledge of the law regarding use of highway lanes.

I noted California law stated I could be in the middle of a lane as long as I was going at the flow of the traffic with my understanding the proviso I had to be within 5 mph of the posted speed limit.

The officer said that was the basic law in Nevada as well.

He then explained why he pulled us over.

The officer said he was behind us for several minutes.

Just prior to pulling us over, he noticed an oncoming driver of a southbound rented RV going uphill had drifted over the double yellow line when apparently he was looking in a rearview mirror at the lake.

The driver swerved back when he realized what he had done.

The officer then asked if I was aware of that.

I said I was and was prepared to take evasive action.

Like Brian, at that point, I was perplexed as to why we were pulled over.

Then the officer shared that a 10 year-old boy bicycling a few days earlier on a stretch of highway a mile or so ahead of where we were stopped had been hit by a car and was in critical condition.

He did not share whether it was the bicyclist’s fault or not.

The officer did say they had been instructed to make sure bicyclists they came across understood the rules of the road.

The officer told us to have a good day and we were on our way.

If you have not figured it out, we were both on bicycles and wearing helmets.

They were road bicycles weighing less than 18 pounds with the skinniest tires possible — 700cc — in order to reduce rolling resistance.

And for full disclosure, I didn’t always obey posted speed limits.

I was with Gary Pogue and two other cyclists when I hit 68 mph in a 65 mph zone heading downhill on the Mt. Rose Highway with a bit of help from the wind.

It was the second time I’d ever gone faster than 60 mph per a calibrated cyclometer while bicycling.

The first — and only other time — was 63 mph going downhill on the Beatty Cutoff Road in Death Valley.

It wasn’t by design. And it was one of two instances it took my heart two minutes or so afterwards to stop beating as if I was dancing the Charleston on speed.

The downhill on Mt. Rose didn’t get my heart thumping, as it was double lanes in my direction, I had a wide open view, traffic was minimal, the road smooth, and the fact, unlike in Death Valley, I was deliberately trying to top 60 mph

Believe me, I know insane that sounds.

I can say without a doubt back 30 or so years when I was racking up 10,000 plus miles a year — much of which was on rural stretches of state highways and county roads — I was extremely attentive to traffic, road conditions (potholes, glass, loose gravel, debris), and following the laws of the road to avoid doing anything that would come across as squirrelly.

And I was always irked when I’d see other cyclists flaunt the vehicle code.

It was a simple case of self-preservation.

I didn’t want some driver who had built a dislike of bad road manners from cyclists who had reached their snapping point coming up behind me at 25, 35 or 55 mph.

That said, I’ve had more than my share of aggressive behavior from drivers and their passengers, including having a slushy thrown on me to being hit in the lower back with an orange thrown from a car going at least 55 mph while pedaling 18 mph along the shoulder of a state highway.

Consider this as a long build up to understand why I believe a proposed law regarding e-bikes pending in the California Legislature should be passed.

Assembly member Tasha Boerner from the San Diego area wants to ban anyone under the age of 12 from riding any class of  e-bikes.

Those over 12 would be required to have a valid driver’s license or proof of issuing an e-bike safety course as well as carry a valid photo ID.

There are two classes of e-bikes.

One are low-speed versions.

They have top assisted speeds of 20 mph. They few allowed to go where regular bicycles go unless otherwise posted.

The other are high-speed versions.

It includes Type 3 electric bikes with a top assisted speed of 28 mph.

The rules that apply to them are the same as for mopeds and gas powered assisted bicycles.

Helmets are required. They cannot be operated by anyone under 16. And they may not be used on trails, bike paths, or bike lanes unless allowed by local authorities.

Bicyclists of all ages, contrary to popular belief, have to pretty much follow the same rules as drivers of vehicles.

That is made clear in California Vehicle Code Section 21200. The section spells out that for the most part, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers.

They can’t zip in and out of traffic in a squirrelly fashion.

They can’t use sidewalks although local jurisdictions will make exception for the youngest riders.

They have to obey red lights and stop signs.

In short, they are essentially vehicles in terms of how they can be operated on city streets, county roads, and along state highways.

Bicycling needs to be taken seriously.

More so in a day and age when drivers seem to take being behind a wheel while steering 4,000 pounds as being a distraction to their need to text, surf the Internet, or do whatever they find more interesting than paying attention to traffic and the road.

Boerner’s legislation clears up any misconceptions about how e-bikes should be operated.



This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at