Now that we have a shiny new bike trail in Providence, I thought it prudent that we take a few minutes and review what the RI General Laws Title 31 Motor & Other Vehicles section has to say specifically about bike lanes. This way, we can all be aware of our rights while pedaling through this area. Below I’ve paraphrased each section, click on the link to read the actual law:
- A bicycle lane is a portion of road designated for the exclusive use of bicycles. The operation and parking of motor vehicles is prohibited within the lane. Motorists may cross a bicycle lane when making a turn, entering or leaving the roadway or a parking lane, or when required in the course of official duty.
- Motorists about to cross a bicycle lane must yield the right-of-way to any person operating a bicycle or motorized wheelchair upon the bicycle lane.
- Persons operating a motorized wheelchair are permitted to use the bicycle lane for travel.
- No person shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle in a bicycle lane, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer.
- Motorists can not open a vehicle door unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including bicycles on sidewalks, shoulders, or bicycle lanes.
- Except as provided in § 31-15-17, no person shall operate any motor vehicle on a bicycle lane. In particular:
- Any person who operates a motor vehicle upon any bicycle lane, trail or path shall be punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100).
- The division of motor vehicles, upon receiving a record of the conviction of any person upon a charge of operating a motor vehicle on a bicycle lane, trail or path, shall suspend the person’s operator’s license for a period of six (6) months.
- Emergency vehicle and employees of federal, state, and local government shall be exempt from the provisions when acting in the scope of their official duties.