Driving vs Parking in bike lane

Teeming (California) masses,

Wow, is this the forum for me! Can’t wait to hit you w/ any number of Deep Questions - hope you’re ready. But first the mundane…

…QUESTION: I was recently cited for driving in a bike lane, but in fact I was stopped at the curb in a bike lane when the officer showed up. I didn’t drive in the bike lane, except to the extent needed to stop at the curb. And, the officer didn’t see me do even this. Am I screwed?


In a semirural area recently, I was lost and pulled over to the curb and stopped with my right flasher blinking to look at Thomas Brothers map. The curb was unpainted, but I hasten to add that I am not without sin: I failed to see that there was a bike lane adjacent to the traffic lane, and that I had stopped in it. I also failed to see the “No Stopping Any Time” signs. These failings were pointed out to me by the Sherrif’s Dept officer who pulled up behind me a few minutes later. He wrote me up for California Vehicle Code 21209 (A), which reads:

"21209. (a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207 except as follows:
(1) To park where parking is permitted.
(2) To enter or leave the roadway.
(3) To prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection. "

Now, I clearly deserve a parking ticket for stopping despite the signs, but what miffs me is that the rather snottily condescending officer wrote me up NOT for a traffic ticket, but for the above moving violation, which a) isnt’ what I did by any commonsense reading of the code, b) will put points on my driving record unless I opt for traffic school or successfully contest the citation. And apparently, I need to figure out *ahead of time *whether any contest is likely to succeed, because if I contest and fail, I lose the traffic school option.

So: If I contest this citation on the basis that I *wasn’t *driving in a bike lane, but rather was stopped at the curb, what are my a) rightful, b) practical prospects for getting the ticket withdrawn?

Welcome to SDMB. One of the first things you should know is that you can’t ask for legal advice here, thought to be honest, I’ve seen similar threads to this stay open. Either way, you should talk to a lawyer.

You did drive in the bike lane to stop at the curb; just being in control of a vehicle is driving it, and the wording is very clearly designed to include the very brief period spent crossing the bike lane. Since you’re not permitted to stop there, you violated this: “No person shall drive in a bicycle lane except to park where parking is permitted” (excess verbiage deleted for clarity and impact).

Yeah…uh I think they may frown on asking legal advice on this site. Good luck with fighting it though. Perhaps a judge will show leniency for your ingorance and drop it. Throw yourself at the mercy of the court perhaps?? And according to your own code cite you’re screwed by virtue of this: (1) To park where parking is permitted.

Sounds like parking was NOT permitted where you were parked so the officer appears to have cited you correctly based on that.

edit: ha! beaten to the punch!

As has been mentioned, unless you can show you carried your car over the bike lane, you are guilty of driving in the bike lane.

IME in traffic court, outcomes have little to do with the facts of the matter. I have been guilty as can be and have had charges summarily dismissed or dropped to a non points infraction. I have also been innocent and have had to argue that I did not just want my fine reduced, but rather to have the case seriously considered.

Traffic court judges tend to look like they are being punished for some indiscretion.

This is not legal advice, merely my perusal of your circumstances. I am not from California.

Hmmm. Not witnessing the event, your characterization may be true, but how are we to know the officer was the only one being snotty? “Officer, can’t you see my blinker is on and I’m sitting still and I’m looking at a map? Clearly I am not driving. :rolleyes:”

Oh well, more importantly,

Um, yes, you were in operation of the vehicle and in the bike lane. That the vehicle was not in motion does not preclude that you were in operation. I mean, was the engine off, so you were sitting in a parked car? No, so you were driving in the bike lane.

This strikes me as the root of your complaint. You think you should have been cited for some lesser offences rather than for something that requires traffic court. So you would be fine with fines, it’s the points and/or court hassles that are the real issue?

I do not know the legal consideration for parking in a bicycle lane - does that get rated as “driving” in a bicycle lane? I could see it legally being equivalent. The point of bike lanes is to provide a safe flow of traffic for bikes. Blocking the lane with parked cars violates that purpose. Plus, there was the other infraction that you admit he technically could have given you - stopped in front of “No Stopping Any Time” signs.

Perhaps you can find a traffic lawyer in California who can advise you on the merits of your “blocking” vs “driving” defense and the value of stopping in a “no stopping” zone vs pleading No Contendere and taking defensive driving.

As mentioned, we close threads seeking legal advice about a specific case. Thread closed.