What does Share the Road really mean?
To some motorists, this may mean that I am ok with you riding on my road as long as you do not get in my way or slow me down of where I am going. To some cyclists, this may mean that I have the legal right to take the entire lane no matter what the situation. To some pedestrians, this may not mean much at all, unless they are walking on the street due to the lack of sidewalks.
In my opinion, share the road simply means be “nice” to others on the road so that all traffic can flow safely. This short video gives good idea of why you would want to be “nice” to all those that share the road.
In SC State Law SECTION 56-5-3435, a “driver to maintain safe operating distance between motor vehicle and bicycle. A driver of a motor vehicle must at all times maintain a safe operating distance between the motor vehicle and a bicycle.” Some states even define a specific distance (like 3 feet) and some other even increase the distance depending of the speed of travel. The best thing to keep in mind is the greater the distance when passing, the safer the cyclist and pedestrian (even motorist) feel while sharing the road.
In SC State Law SECTION 56-5-3420, it states that a “person riding a bicycle upon a roadway must be granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.” So, a person on a bicycle can “drive” like a car and take an entire lane and be within the law. In some instances this is very appropriate for the safety of the person on the bicycle, but this right should not be abused and when appropriate the cyclist should ride closest to the right side as they feel safe. Section 56-5-3430 (D), states “bicyclists riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.”
In SC State Law SECTION 56-5-3160 (A), it states “where a sidewalk is provided and its use is practicable, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.” This not only promotes safety for everyone sharing the road, but helps to keep the flow of traffic steady. In SECTION 56-5-3110 (A), “a pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device specifically applicable to him unless otherwise directed by a police officer.” So, when at a crosswalk, if the signals shows that you should not proceed, do not enter into the crosswalk. If you are within the crosswalk proceed as quickly as possible.
As you can see from the above examples, everyone has laws that they need to obey. These laws are not created to harass specific groups of people and gives higher rights to others, they are there for the protection of all and to encourage sharing the road.
This video created in Cambridge gives some good explanations about sharing the road from the points of view of motorist and cyclist.
In South Carolina, you can get a Share The Road license plate as seen on the Palmetto Cycling Coalition (PCC) website in which part of the funds go to bicycle safety programs and initiatives.