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Old 12-13-05, 09:04 AM   #1
Bekologist
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VC Puzzler 4

Rural road, 50mph speed limit, wide shoulder, swept surface. Where do you ride? And why?

Click on Thumbnail pic below as a visual aid. Picture actual, unretouched bicycling scenario from Saturday. Not vicarious observation from textbook while in armchair.
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Old 12-13-05, 09:26 AM   #2
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I'd ride in the middle of the shoulder. That's where I'll need to be anyway for people to get past me without doing a lane change, so if I'm there when they first see me and maintain a predictable course as they overtake, then I've got a sort of a "predictability record" established. And I'm a big fan of predictability

Visually, whether I'm the motorist or whether I'm the cyclist, it helps for me to be able to see "ok, he's on that side of the fog line, and I'm on this side, we're not going to overlap when I pass (or am passed)." On a 50mph highway with a shoulder that size, I'd still keep a pretty close eye on my mirror when I heard traffic overtaking me.
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Old 12-13-05, 09:43 AM   #3
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I'd ride on that beautiful, clean shoulder.
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Old 12-13-05, 09:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
Rural road, 50mph speed limit, wide shoulder, swept surface. Where do you ride? And why?
On the shoulder.

Why? Because I'm not an idiot.
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Old 12-13-05, 10:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
That didn't need clearing up.
I know; but I thought I'd suggest a preemptory reason for the alternate response I expect from one or two logic/reality challenged posters. Maybe they will think of another reason to not ride on the shoulder as described.
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Old 12-13-05, 10:07 AM   #6
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Right there I would prefer to be in the road a bit because of the driveway. This only if the traffic is clear from behind. After that you've about to enter a shaded area on a corner so I would get into that lovely looking shoulder. Drivers regularly enter a shift of light way too fast and you would be surprised at the amount of distance you travel without proper vision. Being in the middle of the road would put you in danger of not being seen whilst the vision adjusted. Being in the lane but to the right wouldn't help much because you could get nailed by oversteer.

The posted limit is 50mph but lets face it, this is a clear rural road so the driving speed will be closed to 65-70mph.

Finally, it's obviously a lovely day and you want to take the opportunity to enjoy your surroundings. Take to the shoulder and enjoy without having to consider every motor vehicle sound. Ride like you're a tourist, not a vehicle.
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Old 12-13-05, 10:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Seldom Kill
Right there I would prefer to be in the road a bit because of the driveway. This only if the traffic is clear from behind.
It is already obvious that the driveway IS clear. Which do you think would be more apparant to a cyclist if it were to become "unclear" and require change in position: the residential driveway or the public 50mph road behind the cyclist?
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Old 12-13-05, 10:45 AM   #8
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I would prefer the middle of the lane going the wrong way.
Just kidding.
50-80 is a bit much for my speed limit tolerance. I'd take that nice clean shoulder.
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Old 12-13-05, 10:47 AM   #9
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about a foot to the right of the white line, maybe further right if there is traffic passing and it sounds like a semi doing 65. Those are like roads I ride on all the time.

Why: because I do not like to be buzzed
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Old 12-13-05, 11:19 AM   #10
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This is a puzzler? On the nice shoulder of course, unless conditions dictate otherwise. (like a big ole dead deer)
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Old 12-13-05, 11:22 AM   #11
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I would be careful if there were alot of the repaving marks like you have in your photo, but I would be riding about one foot to the LEFT of the white line, until I saw/heard traffic coming up from behind me. The I would scoot over to the center shoulder like the rest of you. I ride out in the main lain because

(1) I have a better view of the road when I am out on the main portion.
(2) the road surface often has a better grade of tarmac than the shoulder.
(3) the road surface is usually cleaner thn the shoulder, even if the latter is swept.
(4) cars see me sooner when I am on the main lane; and when they see me respond, the become aware that I am aware of them.
(5) I can use my rear view mirror to monitor their response as I move back toward the right.

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Old 12-13-05, 11:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
Rural road, 50mph speed limit, wide shoulder, swept surface. Where do you ride? And why?

Click on Thumbnail pic below as a visual aid. Picture actual, unretouched bicycling scenario from Saturday. Not vicarious observation from textbook while in armchair.
Plattsburgh.

Why? Because that's where I work. Sheesh.
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Old 12-13-05, 11:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roughstuff
I would be careful if there were alot of the repaving marks like you have in your photo, but I would be riding about one foot to the LEFT of the white line, until I saw/heard traffic coming up from behind me. The I would scoot over to the center shoulder like the rest of you. I ride out in the main lain because

(1) I have a better view of the road when I am out on the main portion.
(2) the road surface often has a better grade of tarmac than the shoulder.
(3) the road surface is usually cleaner thn the shoulder, even if the latter is swept.
(4) cars see me sooner when I am on the main lane; and when they see me respond, the become aware that I am aware of them.
(5) I can use my rear view mirror to monitor their response as I move back toward the right.

roughstuff
Actually in this case I too would probably futher out to the left and listen for approaching traffic. Especially in the case of the approaching curve where I don't know what is up ahead... being further out would give me the chance to see what might be up there. I actually might even ride in the middle of the lane to scope out ahead... of course only after ensuring that there was no approaching traffic and that approaching traffic could be heard.

However in regards to roughstuff's comments I noticed that here like many of the city streets I ride, the shoulder is in better shape then the center of the road... I often see that as the case, not the ghetto situation that others portray bike lanes to be. The regular lane gets abused by traffic, and out in the country that often means loaded pickup trucks... thus, like the picture here, that portion of the road can be broken up and pose a greater threat to narrow cyclist's tires.
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Old 12-13-05, 11:47 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by genec
Actually in this case I too would probably futher out to the left...
How fast do you guys ride that need to be in the lane because you can't see far enough ahead of you on a gentle curve?

If you are going that fast, then yes you belong in traffic. If you are going at mere mortal speed ( under 25 mph) then the shoulder looks very reasonable to me.

As for me, I would be riding the shoulder, as I can see more than enough distance to take any actions necessary to avoid problems. In a situation where I couldn't, I would do the same thing I would in a car and slow down or adjust my position until the sight line and conditions allowed me to proceed safely.

I would only take the lane if the shoulder was unacceptable for some reason (narrowed too much, poor surface or hazards on it, etc.). But, I don't claim to endeavor to be VC any more than is necessary for safe riding, so my vote may not count in a VC Puzzler.
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Old 12-13-05, 12:02 PM   #15
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Wow, you get shoulders on this type of road? I ride 55 mph rural highways like this on my commute, with the road bed literally starting at the white line.

On a road like this, I tend to ride either just to the right (6 inches to a foot) or on top of the white line. This gives me adequate room to move around so I don't feel trapped on a substandard shoulder. If I were going faster than 30mph (down a hill perhaps), but less than 40mph, I would be about a foot to the left of the white line. Faster than 40mph, I am out in the lane (yes, I have a hill on my commute where I can regulary reach 50-55mph on my bike; sucks to go back up though and it doesn't have a shoulder).
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Old 12-13-05, 12:05 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
Wow, you get shoulders on this type of road? I ride 55 mph rural highways like this on my commute, with the road bed literally starting at the white line.
Same here - I wish more of our roads had nice pretty shoulders like the one in Bek's pic.
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Old 12-13-05, 12:11 PM   #17
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I'd ride about on the white line, unless wet. What a freaking fanstatic road to cycle on. Looks a bit like a downhill so I may even go further out into the lane and watch for vehicles behind - depends on the mood I was in and traffic volume. Actually it kind of looks like the shoulder disapears after the driveway (or become partly a gutter) so geting further to the left would be wise.

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Old 12-13-05, 12:16 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgregory57
How fast do you guys ride that need to be in the lane because you can't see far enough ahead of you on a gentle curve?

If you are going that fast, then yes you belong in traffic. If you are going at mere mortal speed ( under 25 mph) then the shoulder looks very reasonable to me.

As for me, I would be riding the shoulder, as I can see more than enough distance to take any actions necessary to avoid problems. In a situation where I couldn't, I would do the same thing I would in a car and slow down or adjust my position until the sight line and conditions allowed me to proceed safely.

I would only take the lane if the shoulder was unacceptable for some reason (narrowed too much, poor surface or hazards on it, etc.). But, I don't claim to endeavor to be VC any more than is necessary for safe riding, so my vote may not count in a VC Puzzler.

Frankly on the country roads I ride that look very similar to this... you can ride all over the darn thing most of the time as you are the only traffic on it. That is the nice thing about those back country roads... so little traffic... so you can pedal with a clear head and hear yourself think.

Of course just around the curve the shoulder may narrow to just a sliver, so while the "view" looks great here, it can and usually does change.

I have found my best method for the detection of traffic is sound... in quiet locations (wonderfully quiet) like this, road tire noise can be heard for quite some way off.

Now I know in some other areas, roads like this can carry quite a bit of traffic... so this is all very situational.
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Old 12-13-05, 12:26 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
It is already obvious that the driveway IS clear. Which do you think would be more apparant to a cyclist if it were to become "unclear" and require change in position: the residential driveway or the public 50mph road behind the cyclist?
Is it clear that one one approaching from the opposite direction around that blind corner isn't about to turn left across your path into the driveway?

Is it clear that no one approaching from behind isn't about to right cross you as they turn into their driveway?

Sure, odds are it isn't going to happen. Perhaps only 1 in 10,000 (or whatever) cars is going to do that. Of course, it's similar odds at the thousands of driveways our paths intersect per year...

You do the math. I wonder if there is any correlation between this math and the relatively high frequency of left and right cross bike-car collisions? Hmm...

I would be in the lane in my default centerish primary riding position unless there was someone approaching from behind who obviously was not turning into the driveway, in which case I would temporarily move aside to let them pass. While riding in the shoulder makes me more prone to a left cross, this is not applicable while I'm being passed by same direction traffic because they provide good cover. Oncoming traffic is extremely unlikely to turn left into that driveway while there is traffic in the lane (whether it's me in the lane, or cars in the lane) that they need to cross to get to the driveway.
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Old 12-13-05, 12:28 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by noisebeam
I'd ride about on the white line, unless wet. What a freaking fanstatic road to cycle on. Looks a bit like a downhill so I may even go further out into the lane and watch for vehicles behind - depends on the mood I was in and traffic volume. Actually it kind of looks like the shoulder disapears after the driveway (or become partly a gutter) so geting further to the left would be wise.

Al
Exactly.
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Old 12-13-05, 12:31 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by genec
Of course just around the curve the shoulder may narrow to just a sliver, so while the "view" looks great here, it can and usually does change.
This is my only concern with riding down the centre of the shoulder. It isn't uncommon up here for roads like this to have nice fully paved shoulders on inclines and on curves and partially paved shoulders (maybe one foot of asphalt, a couple feet of gravel) on the straights.

With a shoulder like the one in the picture, riding position for most people is a no brainer. But what about if the shoulder was narrowed to one or two feet? What do most people do with that? Personally, I don't have much experience with rural roads so I'm interested in hearing others' thoughts.

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Old 12-13-05, 12:40 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by dgregory57
How fast do you guys ride that need to be in the lane because you can't see far enough ahead of you on a gentle curve?
Well it depends... one one road I used to ride every weekend, I would race the autos down the hill... So I was moving at their same pace... probably 45MPH or so...
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Old 12-13-05, 12:43 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I would be in the lane in my default centerish primary riding position unless there was someone approaching from behind who obviously was not turning into the driveway, in which case I would temporarily move aside to let them pass. While riding in the shoulder makes me more prone to a left cross, this is not applicable while I'm being passed by same direction traffic because they provide good cover. Oncoming traffic is extremely unlikely to turn left into that driveway while there is traffic in the lane (whether it's me in the lane, or cars in the lane) that they need to cross to get to the driveway.
Is this from experience (by yourself, not on a group ride) on these types of roads, or is this a textbook answer? I ask because I ride these types of roads all the time, and while your situations can happen in theory, they don't really. Crossing accidents are really not an issue on rural roads; even Forster acknowledges that. Accidents from the rear are the biggest danger on rural roads, and it also corresponds to the most likely type of accident. The biggest threat is a blotched pass by a car. By experience and experiment, I can tell you that the best place to be on high speed rural roads is out of the lane, or failing that, as far off to the side as possible, excepting curves. In curves I always take the lane and always give a hand signal to keep the driver from passing. Of course, if you are alone, any part of the road is equally as useful. This is very different from how I ride urban streets, where the biggest threat is from crossing traffic.
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Old 12-13-05, 12:46 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jalopy
This is my only concern with riding down the centre of the shoulder. It isn't uncommon up here for roads like this to have nice fully paved shoulders on inclines and on curves and partially paved shoulders (maybe one foot of asphalt, a couple feet of gravel) on the straights.

With a shoulder like the one in the picture, riding position for most people is a no brainer. But what about if the shoulder was narrowed to one or two feet? What do most people do with that? Personally, I don't have much experience with rural roads so I'm interested in hearing others' thoughts.

Jalopy
I usually ride the line, to avoid precisely what you are talking about. If there is a shoulder and I am going significantly slower than traffic (up a hill perhaps), I will center myself in it, but only if I know the road fairly well and know when I have to adjust to a narrowing shoulder. Other than that, keeping a good look ahead, and knowing the road is the only way to keep from being surprised.
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Old 12-13-05, 12:47 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
Actually in this case I too would probably futher out to the left and listen for approaching traffic. Especially in the case of the approaching curve where I don't know what is up ahead... being further out would give me the chance to see what might be up there. I actually might even ride in the middle of the lane to scope out ahead... of course only after ensuring that there was no approaching traffic and that approaching traffic could be heard.
And WHAT might be ahead that would require scoping out from the left of the shoulder line? An approaching car doing a zillion miles an hour about to make a full speed left turn right through you into that driveway before you can respond in time? As suggested by another poster.

The question/scenario is simple; don't let an overactive imagination of unseen boogeyman cause you to take doofus (and unsafe) "precautionary" measures.
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