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  1. #1
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    Is drafting legal?

    I know it is a bad idea to draft behind cars in the city. Please do not comment that this is a bad idea. I know that it is dangerous.

    However, I am usually able to catch a car or two and get a nice pull for my short commute through the city before I get to the bike path (4mi). This morning I was able to get behind the Sheriffs van. But it got me wondering if I could get in trouble for this. He did not seem to care as I was visible in his side mirrors.

    So does anyone know if drafting traffic is legal? Oh and by the way the street is designated as a biking route, but there is not a bike lane.

  2. #2
    AZ
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    Where I live you can be ticketed for following too closely , more likely to get brake check though .

  3. #3
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    Where I live it is illegal to attach yourself to another moving vehicle. So you can get a pretty hefty (I think around 500 or 700 dollar) fine.

    Gene

  4. #4
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    Why not just drive yourself?

  5. #5
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    In California, you are bound by the rules that apply to drivers of motorized vehicles. Following to close is technically against the law. If car drivers would respect our rights on the road equally...

  6. #6
    Rock and/or Roll
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    Its equally as legal as a car or motorcycle trying to draft someone. In other words, no. You ride on the road, you follow the same rules of the road.

  7. #7
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    Hence the bumper sticker, "I'm not tailgating, I'm drafting".

    Here in VT, and probably similar laws in other states...

    § 1039. Following too closely, crowding, and harassment

    (a) The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon, and the conditions of, the highway. The operator of a vehicle shall not, in a careless or imprudent manner, approach, pass, or maintain speed unnecessarily close to a vulnerable user [includes cyclists] as defined in subdivision 4(81) of this title, and an occupant of a vehicle shall not throw any object or substance at a vulnerable user.

  8. #8
    weirdo
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    Actually, you get a pretty good benefit from a vehicle in front of you even if you aren`t tail gating. I`m sure it would be "better" if you`re locked right on there, but you can be safe and legal and STILL draft. Positioning yourself in mirror view, like you said, is a good idea even if you`re back a ways. And since the blast from a passing vehicle gives such a huge boost sometimes, you could conceivably draft from the side- probably more legaler, but twice as dangerouser.

    PS: remember when asking legal questions that we all have it different, so even if nobody actually gives false info (no way, dude!), you need to check with your own state/provence/city, or whatever.
    Recalculating....

  9. #9
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    I do it all the time. Technically I don't think it is illegal unless they can prove that you were following to close. Since there isn't an actual distance associated with this, too close is situational. If you rear end them, you were following too close. A cop could cite you for it whenever though I'm sure but you can argue that you were safe in how you were following due to the braking ability of the bicycle, the slower rate of stopping of a car, the greater maneuverability of the bike, how far you were, what the speeds were, etc.

  10. #10
    NONDURO
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    Back in 1994 I was a bit of a drafting fiend, but I’d do it out in the country or the expressways, so speeds in excess of 50MPH were normal. I’d draft behind trucks since they made a huge hole in the air, keeping my eyes glued on their tailights. I never had any incidents (fortunately), but boy did I take some serious freakin’ chances!!! The most memorable experience was riding highway 32 out of Chico to Orland, I ran out of gearing such that I was spinning the cranks like a madman just to keep up with the obviously speeding truck I was behind. I had stuck behind that truck the entire length to highway 5.
    QUOTE from MTBR.COM: You have given out too much Reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later.

  11. #11
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    I guess I used to for part of the commute in my college years, but it was more a factor of the lousy aerodynamics of big American sedans and the traffic on that section of the route. I could see over them and be braking before they were. Leave any more room and the guy behind is trying to pass the d*** cyclist, ignoring the fact he is running with traffic. Sucking in behind a delivery van or semi was WAY out of my comfort zone since my X-ray vision seems to be defective. I'm no longer that fast to have to worry about it. .

  12. #12
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Legal or not, if the driver decides to slam on his brakes, you might end up paying for the dent your face makes in his trunk.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  13. #13
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    As the others have stated....

    most state and local laws do include statutes dealing with tailgating, following too close, drafting, whatever you want to call it. And enforcement it subjective. In most cases, if in the opinion of the law enforcement officer involved, you are or were following at an unsafe distance a citation will be issued. So check you local laws.

    But even if it is legal, as kapusta noted, if the driver checks up suddenly, not only will you end up paying for the dent in the deck lid of the car that you hit, you'll end up paying for the reconstructive surgery that will need to be done to your face! That's assuming that you survive the encounter. Not worth the risk by any stretch of the imagination IMHO.

    In terms of "risky behavior, I'd rate this somewhere between smoking crack and having unprotected sex with 100 women from the Bangkok red light district. It's very likely to catch up to you sooner or later.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  14. #14
    metrotuned WoS
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    BikePartPorn: LOL. I snotted out my nose when I read you drafted behind a sheriffs van. Drafting, if you gotta do it, just dont do it around law enforcement 'cause their job is to enforce the law. Consider yourself lucky the van was in a rush to the donut shop.

  15. #15
    NONDURO
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squash
    …and having unprotected sex with 100 women from the Bangkok red light district. It's very likely to catch up to you sooner or later.
    DAMN! I missed my calling in life!
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  16. #16
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    I think drafting as it you need a roller on the bumber of the car ahead like the high speed record holders use, is different from harvesting the vacuum behind vehicles at a stopable distances off their bumper. The difference between a drink when you get home and getting wasted. Getting an aero assist was WAY easier with big old 'Merkin' sedans. You could be a car length behind and get enough to stay with 30 mph traffic, or at least I could then. Allow more space and the bozo behind decided you weren't keeping up, despite all evidence to the contrary. So it was safer, though not risk free. But I doubt anyone reading here thinks that cycling, walking, or driving is risk free. Life is risky, it's all about tradeoffs. I can assure you I have a very finely honed fear gene.

  17. #17
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    I think mtbx's legal quote sums it up with reference to the OP's comment about "I know it is dangerous."

    As I read it, it is illegal because you know it is imprudent.... i.e. dangerous.
    you kinda answered your own question with a little help from legal jargon.

  18. #18
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    Could you be cited for being in a pace-line? All law enforcement personnel and judges are individuals, that's part of being human.

  19. #19
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    Wow, good responses! The roads I am drafting on have a speed limit of 25mph, and I am usually 1 car length behind the car. So it's not super dangerous. I am never so close I can't stop, or have some room to maneuver if I need to. And I always make sure the car in front of me knows that I am there.

    Thanks,

  20. #20
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    I would not follow the car in your avatar too closely - it looks dangerous!

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