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Cycling Conduct: Right of Way

By USA Triathlon | Jan. 20, 2014, 5:27 p.m. (ET)

This week’s rule is 5.10c — Right of Way.

Right of way is granted when a cyclist is riding on the right side of the lane and is not in someone else’s draft zone. In other words, when a cyclist is riding in legal position, the cyclist has right of way. In that case, the cyclist may speed up, slow down, drink fluids, and eat without being required to ride at any set speed.

A cyclist with right of way does not relinquish right of way unless the cyclist moves left to pass or enters the draft zone of a leading cyclist. In practice, this means a cyclist who has the right of way does not have to slow down when being passed.

For example: let’s say that cyclist A is riding legally. Cyclist B is also riding legally 10 meters behind A. Cyclist B is riding faster and intends to pass cyclist A. When cyclist B either enters the draft zone of A or moves left to pass A, cyclist B relinquishes right of way and is in illegal position. Once cyclist B passes cyclist A, cyclist B regains right of way and cyclist A has lost it. Cyclist A must obey 5.10g and exit to the rear in order to regain right of way and once again ride in legal position.

Cyclist A, in the case above, could choose to speed up prior to being passed. Once passed, as defined by the leading edge of cyclist B’s front wheel passed beyond the leading edge of cyclist A’s front wheel, cyclist A loses right of way and cyclist B regains it.

Here’s the rule:

5.10c. Right of Way.
A participant is generally entitled to assume any otherwise proper location on the cycling course provided that the participant arrives in the position first without contacting another participant. When taking a position near another participant, however, a cyclist shall not crowd the other participant and shall allow reasonable space for the other participant to make normal movement without making contact.

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