Bike Laws

By: Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A.

Q: I recently purchased a road bicycle from my local bike shop and plan to take to the road.  What laws do I need to know?

A: During this time of year with the culmination of the Tour de France, it is common for people to become inspired and take up road biking with the hope of emulating their favorite rider or perhaps just looking to get more exercise.

When starting any new sport, a person should become familiar with the rules, and with road biking the laws of the road apply.  A cyclist should obey all traffic laws such as stopping at stop signs and red lights and using hand signals when making turns.

If you are under 16 years old and riding a bicycle on a bike path or road, you are required by law to wear a bike helmet.  If you are 16 or older, you are within your rights to choose not to wear a bike helmet, but a helmet is a wise choice for safety reasons and especially if you plan to ride with a group because many groups require their riders wear helmets.

If you are riding on a road with a bike lane, you must use the bike lane.  If there is no bike lane, then you must ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except (a) when overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle going in the same direction, (b) when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway, or (c) when reasonably necessary to avoid an impediment such as a parked vehicle, pedestrian, pothole, or “substandard-width lane” which is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side in the lane.

Cyclists may ride not more than 2 abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.  Furthermore, persons riding 2 abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.

If you plan to ride your bike late at night after sunset or early in the morning before sunrise, you must have a lamp with a white light on the front of your bike which is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet and a lamp and reflector with a red light on the rear visible from 600 feet.

If the driver of a motor vehicle overtakes you, the driver of the motor vehicle must maintain a safe distance of at least 3 feet between you and the motor vehicle.

Now that you know some of the basics, you are ready to get out there and enjoy your road bike.  Remember to be careful and educate your friends, fellow cyclists, and drivers about bike laws and bike safety.

The August 11th edition of “The Law” will discuss the risks and protections for businesses that use links and quotes to third party content on their websites and social media.

HOA Assessments when HOA Forecloses

By: Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A.

Q: Can a homeowner’s association foreclose on me even when I have a mortgage?

A: Yes.  One issue that I address in any community association law seminar or consultation with an association is assessment delinquency.  Most associations have at least a few owners who are delinquent, and some owners remain in default for years without any consequence other than a few demand letters.  The reason is usually financial.  The association might think it is simply not worth fronting the attorney fees for an enforcement action.  The legal cost and effort is of particularly questionable value when the property still has a mortgage, often in default, because the lender may have the superior right to come in and foreclose on the property at any time.  If the lender does not foreclose, the mortgage may stay in place and make the property unmarketable even if the association obtains the property by its own foreclosure.

Even so, associations should consider foreclosures under the right circumstances.  First, an association’s failure to enforce its own covenants, or its selective enforcement of the rules, opens the door in future lawsuits as to the validity of those rules.  (My colleague Kyle Jensen covered the concept of selective enforcement in the December 17, 2015 edition of this column.)  Second, while the association waits around for the lender to foreclose, the only loser is the association.  The owner enjoys the delay, often resulting in free housing, but the association continues to rack up delinquent assessments.  Under many circumstances, the bank will eventually take title, and the association will recover from the bank only a year of assessments, even if there are several years of delinquency.

If the association proceeds to foreclose on the property, one of three things will typically happen.  The bank might be motivated to foreclose, thereby curing the delay.  The association might get lucky and get a third party to buy the property at the foreclosure sale, thereby ensuring that the association gets paid for its claim.  Or the association might take title to the property subject to the mortgage.  The benefit here is that the association can begin to rent out the property and start to recover some of its losses from those rents while it awaits the lender’s foreclosure.  In certain circumstances, the association might even find it worthwhile to negotiate with the lender as to the proper resolution of the mortgage and debt.  For example, an association might be in a better (or more motivated) position to negotiate a short sale of the property to eliminate the mortgage and get the property into the hands of owners who will pay their bills.

Whether the association sells the property or the property goes to a new owner via the mortgage foreclosure sale process, the next owner is typically liable to the association for the assessments that accrued while the association held title in the property.  In reality, however, these amounts are not often recovered, because the association will usually feel forced to waive those past assessments so that a paying owner will get into the property and “stop the bleeding.”

The July 28th edition of “The Law” will cover the bike laws to keep you safe this summer.

Questions can be submitted online to thelaw@cclmlaw.com