Gentlemen and ladies: Does your state classify the bicycle a vehicle according to law? Please respond directly to clwilliams. Any leads to an information source that has already compiled this information would be appreciated. Thank you!
However, the results may be overstated in favor of the vehicle classification as respondents may not be aware of an exclusion in the code. Respondents from two states, for example, were not aware of the exclusion in their state's code -- but others from those two states knew of the exclusion.
One suggestion was to check out the info on the web sites, such as http://www.massbike.org/bikelaw/. Considering the complexity of the issue, this is probably a good idea.
This summary is being provided because (1) many respondents asked for it, and (2) someone may be inspired to do a thorough search of the code in all states.
Six states -- AZ, CA, IA, IL, IN, MI, NY -- give bicycles the rights and responsibilities (or rights and obligations) of vehicles, but exclude bicycles as vehicles in the code. (This may be a first - the Three I League corn belt lined up with the guys from, or near, the coasts.)
Three - ME, MI, UT - don't seem to fit neatly in either category. Under Maine law on motor vehicles, i.e., passenger cars, are defined as vehicles. Every other type of vehicle is defined as itself. For example, trucks are defined as trucks, motorcycles are defined as motorcycles and bicycles are defined as bicycles. In Michigan, bicycles are defined separately from motor vehicles, and the bulk of the code relates to motor vehicles. In Utah, "Vehicle" and "bicycle" are both defined as "devices," and neither definition refers to the other term.
Also, classification as vehicle or not doesn't appear to be the whole answer. For example, In Ohio, there is a distinction between "vehicles," including bikes, and "motor vehicles." Rules applicable to Motor Vehicles don't apply to bikes, etc. Colorado also makes this distinction. These results may be overstated in favor of the vehicle classification as respondents may not be aware of an exclusion in the code. Respondents from two states, for example, were not aware of the exclusion in their state's code -- but others from those two states knew of the exclusion.
Ontario, Canada; Queensland, Australia; and Belgium also reported that bicycles were classified as vehicles.
Here are definitions of bicycle (please forgive the lack of citations and quotation marks):
"Bicycle" means a device propelled solely by human power, having pedals, two or more wheels, and a seat height of more than twenty-five inches from the ground when adjusted to its maximum height. For purposes of Chapter 8 (46.2-800 et seq.) of this title, a bicycle shall be a vehicle while operated on the highway.
340.01(5) *Bicycle* means every vehicle propelled by the feet acting upon = pedals and having wheels any 2 of which are not less than 14 inches in = diameter. 3340.01(24m) *In*line skates* means skates with wheels arranged singly in = a tandem line rather than in pairs. 340.01(43m) *Play vehicle*: (a) Means a coaster, skate board, roller = skates, sled, toboggan, unicycle or toy vehicle upon which a person may = ride. (b) Does not include in*line skates. 340.01(74) *Vehicle* means every device in, upon or by which any person or = property is or may be transported or drawn upon a high-way, except = railroad trains. A snowmobile shall not be considered a vehicle except for = purposes made specifically applicable by statute.
(5) "bicycle" means a vehicle propelled exclusively by human power upon which a person may ride, having two tandem wheels or three wheels in contact with the ground, except scooters and similar devices;
231. A bicycle is a device upon which any person may ride, propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears, and having one or more wheels. Persons riding bicycles are subject to the provisions of this code specified in Sections 21200 and 21200.5.
Maybe the most sensible approach is this: "According to the law here in Belgium, - if you ride on your bicycle then it is a vehicle; - if you don't ride on it then it is an object (which means, among other things, that it is not ruled by the vehicles parking rules, and that if you walk holding your bike by hand you are a pedestrian)."
California respondents had many reasons why they liked their current status.
From John Forester:
I do not know the purpose behind Craig's request, but I point out, again, that there are no advantages to defining bicycles as vehicles and there are some disadvantages. The only places where bicycles are legally defined are in the product safety regulation of the federal CPSC and in the traffic laws of the various states. So far as I know, there is no definition of bicycle in any of the highway laws. In traffic laws, bicycles had been defined as devices, but that had no effect so far as operation was concerned (had some effect on insurance and registration) because cyclists were defined as drivers of vehicles. So long as cyclists were defined as drivers of vehicles, everything worked properly in traffic law. I think that nobody has ever shown that defining bicycles as vehicles has a formal advantage.
The disadvantages of defining bicycles as vehicles are that this then prohibits century rides, racing, in theory any kind of hard physical effort, and pace lining. These are not necessary consequences, but they were deliberately made the consequences by the actions of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances when it changed the definition of bicycle to that of a vehicle.
California does not define bicycles as vehicles, and we who considered that project many years ago decided against trying for it.
From Jim Hasenauer: The bicyles as "vehicles" issue sometimes divides road and mountain bike advocates. I'm on the mountain bike side. There are too many parks that say "no vehicles" or "authorized vehicles only". These were obviously intended to ban cars, but they have been used too frequently to preclude bikes without any thoughtful discussion. In effect, it puts the burden of proof on mountain bikyclists to open parks, instead of on decision makers to close parks.
From Allan Forkosh: Redefining bicycles as vehicles in California would involve major revisions of the vehicle code (especially in equipment requirements). Ideally it would involve also defining motor vehicles separately and analyzing each use of the word vehicle as to whether it should be vehicle or motor vehicle. Since the current rule has been interperted to allow bicycles on all roads and to follow all rules of the road except where the vehicle code explicitly calls for something different, organized bicyclists in the state have decided that it is not opening up this can of worms.