Q: Was riding my bike on a two-lane road with bike lanes in each direction. A school bus approached in the opposite lane, stopped with red lights flashing and flag extended and kids got out. No kids were crossing the street, so I slowed way down and passed by the bus. Legal or illegal? Dave K., Federal Way
A: Dave, Dave, Dave. With great cycling comes great responsibility.
Let us go to RCW 46.61.755, titled, “Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.”
Subsection 1 states: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle …”
Those duties include compliance with RCW 46.61.370, which regulates what a driver should do when he or she overtakes or meets a school bus on the road.
Subsection 1 of that law states:
“The driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any schoolchildren shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on said school bus a visual signal … and said driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.”
Notice the word “shall” there? Yeah, that prohibits any wiggle room, including pedaling, no matter how slowly, past a school bus with its lights flashing and its “stop” sign extended.
Don’t believe us? Ask Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool.
“On a two-lane road, traffic in both directions must stop for the school-bus indicators,” Cool told us. “As bicyclists are the same as vehicles on the roadway, the same applies.
“The bicyclist should have stopped until the indicators were turned off.”
Long story short, it was illegal, Dave.