Friday, December 4, 2020
Dec. 4, 2020

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What’s Up with That? Bike lanes are not parking spaces

By , Columbian Arts & Features Reporter

The Oct. 8 article about bicycle sharrows raises a question: Is it illegal for a car to park in a marked bicycle lane? There is a bike lane that runs down Franklin Street on the west side of the road from Franklin Elementary. On a daily basis, cars park in the marked bike lane. This is particularly notable at school release times. Was the lane put there to provide a safe corridor for students on bicycles? Anyone attempting to ride a bicycle in the bike lane must instead take to the road to navigate around parked cars.

— Nervous about complaining

Nervous, thanks for providing the accompanying photo, which substantiates just what you’re saying: The well-meaning parents who swarm Franklin Elementary to pick up their kids at the end of the school day do seem to treat the bike lane like a parking lot. That’s a definite violation, according to the city.

You can report parking violations to the Parking Complaint Hotline at 360-487-8653. You can review neighborhood-street parking rules at (While you’re at it, take a look at the city’s bike rules and guidelines at

Interesting to note that the city’s menu of possible parking violations includes state laws and potential fines — for example, parking closer than 20 feet from any crosswalk, marked or unmarked, can earn you a $30 fine, and it says so in RCW 46.41.570(1)(b)(iii).

Except, the only rule that’s mentioned without any such reference is the one about parking in bike lanes. It just says: “Do not obstruct traffic by parking in a bicycle lane, an alley or in any lane of traffic.” Which seems a little unspecific and, maybe, toothless?

Not according to Mike Merrill, the city’s parking manager. Merrill said Vancouver police and code enforcement officers have cited cars parked in designated bike lanes based on “Obedience to Traffic Control” (RCW 46.61.050) and “Unattended Vehicle” (RCW 46.61.590) laws. As with most of the other parking violations, the potential fine is $30.

Nothing to be nervous about, Nervous. Merrill points out that those naughty cars are disobeying traffic control devices while on the public street. In a word: illegal.