Welcome back to "Hey Wait, Is That Legal?" where our experts guide readers through that maze, the California vehicle code:
>I spend a lot of time in downtown and noticed a surge in bike riders that position themselves in the center of a traffic lane. This impedes traffic flow and creates potentially hazardous situations. Before I start with the tsk-tsking, (are) they within their rights?
State law says cyclists shall ride in the lane with cars if there isn't room on the right, Dave Snyder of the California Bicycle Coalition points out. Cyclists are taught in safety classes the safest place in a lane is right in the middle, so cars won't sideswipe them. But if a cyclist can't keep up with traffic, the protocol is to move back over to the right when there is room.
>Having compact spaces in parking lots is great, but they're often filled with large vehicles, making it hard to park next to them. It also explains some of the dings in the side of my car. Is there a law against parking a non-compact car in a compact space?
The "compact car" signage is more of a suggestion than a rule. Cities typically require grocery stores and other businesses to put a certain percentage of compact spaces in their lots, but don't police it. Happily, the city of Sacramento recently expanded compact space widths by a half-foot.
>A DMV regulation was passed saying that if it's raining, to the extent windshield wipers are required, vehicle headlights should be on also. People should be aware of this safety rule.
Several drivers have called to remind us about this lately. If your wipers are on, or if visibility is restricted to less than 1,000 feet ahead, headlights must be on. We're talking daytime. Our "statisticians" vary, however, on how many Sacramentans disobey this law. One reader estimates half do, another says more than half. I did a couple of counts in recent weeks and found one or two out of 10.
>There seem to be a lot of cars out there these days without front license plates. Clearly not legal. Why not enforce it?
We did a count once on this one as well, and found 8 percent of cars out there don't sport a front plate, despite a state law requiring it.
Some car bumpers these days don't even have holes to attach the front plate. Rich had to have his dealer drill holes for him.
And some drivers of flashy sports cars prefer the way their cars look without a clunky plate on front.
Law enforcement tells us it's not a big enforcement priority for them, but officers not on emergency calls do pull over some drivers and give them "fix-it" tickets.