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Thread: Taking the lane

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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Taking the lane

    Aside from intellectual discussions about taking the lane, lane positioning, etc., and apart from any debate over how/where is safest to ride, I was curious how many people are here who, on a regular basis, ride far enough into the lane that motorists must cross into the next lane (or straddle both lanes) to pass?

    If you are one of these riders, what circumstances are present that influence your choice to take the lane?

    How often do you ride dead-center in a lane, and why?

    Other comments?
    No worries

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    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    I'm fortunate in that most of the area I ride in, the lanes are wide enough that it's safe to share the lane. For the most part, the only time I take full lane is approaching a stop sign or traffic light, and then I take the lane and wait my turn like everyone else. Other than that, there are times that I'll take the lane on narrow roads. One spot is entering the local downtown area, there's a blind curve and two one-way lanes. I'll take the full right lane to discourage drivers from squeezing me in the blind curve. There's a similar situation leaving the area on the other side.

    I know I'm fortunate in the area I live, and in that I can pretty much choose to ride during lower traffic times, both of which means that your mileage may vary.
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    I will take the lane, but usually just the right 3rd of it, when there's debris or potholes in the bike lane. If there isn't a bike lane and I absolutly, positively need to use that road, I'll take the lane.

    For the most part, I stay inside bike lanes. If I'm taking the normal travel lane, it's the exception.

    I've only had people get angry while I was taking the lane. I've never, ever had an incident of someone threatening me or getting angry at me while I was in the bike lane.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    If you are one of these riders, what circumstances are present that influence your choice to take the lane?

    How often do you ride dead-center in a lane, and why?

    Other comments?
    Every single day. I have a route that takes me on a two lane downhill with a 25mph speed limit. The road opens up from one lane into a left-lane-straight, right-turn-lane for a parking lot; after the lot entrance, the continuing right lane is a go-straight lane.
    From the first light, both lanes are go-straight (with a right-turn option in the right lane.) I take the entire right lane to go straight through the intersection so I don't get hooked. It's a two block sprint to the next light, and one block after the intersection the right lane becomes a right-turn-only at the light. Just past the light is where the bike lane begins. I sprint the two blocks to the light in the right-turn-only lane, and signal my way into the left lane just before the light so I can go through the light and cruise in the bike lane.
    I get about 6 blocks of the bike lane before having to make a left at a massive intersection, where I pick up the sprint again to move with traffic and signal my way into the left-turn lane.
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    Senior Member Road Rash's Avatar
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    I take the lane when approaching Stoplights, on blind curves, and when approaching and crossing bridges. It is important to plan when you take the lane to establish your position in the lane, I also believe that after you've been in the lane for an extended period or through a dangerous section of roadway it is good to look for places where you can let traffic Pass. Both for my peace of mind and to allow the traffic behind me to get through.
    Road Rash

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    Senior Member cooperwx's Avatar
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    I take the lane whenever I am going 25+mph (usually in a 35mph zone) down a hill, or whenever the speed limit is 20mph or less. In these cases I'm able to go so close to the speed limit that passing is not advantageous to the driver, and the passing car would be next to me for a few seconds on the way by.
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    I take the lane when it's in my interest to do so. Using a mirror makes this fairly routine. If I'm on a narrow or shoulderless road, and notice a vehicle approach from behind that's not moving over, I'll intentionally move a little left in the lane to force the overtaking vehicle to move left. It works quite well, and I hardly ever get yelled at.
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    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Aside from intellectual discussions about taking the lane, lane positioning, etc., and apart from any debate over how/where is safest to ride, I was curious how many people are here who, on a regular basis, ride far enough into the lane that motorists must cross into the next lane (or straddle both lanes) to pass?
    On most roads a cyclist can't avoid doing that even if he's hugging the curb. There is just physically not enough room to pass in the same lane.

    If you are one of these riders, what circumstances are present that influence your choice to take the lane?
    One situation is when lanes are too narrow to be safely shared and there is more traffic than gaps and cars have difficulty changing lanes. The reason is that if it's difficult to change lanes and I'm on the right, it's tempting for drivers to try to pass me without a lane change. Another reason is that when traffic is that heavy, there are usually long lines of cars forming at stoplights/signs all the way, and it's not really fair that I get pushed further and further back to the end of the line just because cars are capable of superior acceleration bursts: after all, my AVERAGE speed on that road is the same as cars': I catch up with them when they are stopped. (In fact, I recently realized this is probably one of my biggest problems on the road - NOT close passes, NOT left-right turners, NOT road rage - perhaps I should open a thread to exchange ideas on this...)

    On the other hand, when traffic is lighter, I find that people don't mind shifting their wheels over into the next lane and passing me safely - and with lighter traffic they'll just get through the stop sign/light long before I approach it, so no problems with long lines for me.

    How often do you ride dead-center in a lane, and why?
    - If I'm going with the speed of the rest of the traffic (e.g. tiny residential roads, downhills...).
    - If lanes are very narrow.
    - If I'm changing lanes preparing for a left turn.
    - Probably some other times I am not thinking about right now or can't quite accurately describe without much conscious thinking.


    I'd do it more often, but it certainly does invite aggression from and conflicts with motorists (I keep reading claims that it does not, and it doesn't jibe with my observations at all). So if on a particular stretch of road I find that keeping three feet away seems to be sufficient measure to ensure safe passing distance from the great majority of motorists - I'll do that.
    Last edited by chephy; 09-15-06 at 11:05 AM.

  9. #9
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    some roads are so well provided that no lane grabbing or powerswerving is warranted. this picture is an example from last weekends' 165 mile 36'er.

    i take the lane more than 99 percent of the bicyclists i see, and i also pull ahead of cars and take the lead position at lights if safe and reasonable for me to do so- sometimes in one of the middle lanes. Cars pass me, i pass them. screw 'em.
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    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    So you are only sharing if you are marginalized to the side?
    Um, "share the road" is one thing, but "share the lane" is different. I think if you're sharing a lane with some other vehicles, that means there are two of you in one lane, laterally speaking. In that situation the cyclist is usually "marginalized to the right side" of the lane and the motorist is "marginalized to the left side" of the lane, although in some cases that could be reversed. If a cyclist is in the centre, he's taking the lane, not sharing it. I thought that was an agreed-upon terminology.

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    I have a noarrow 2 way road near my work. Normally I ride close to the edge and cars always give me plenty of space when passing. If there is a car approching in the opposite direction, and I see in my mirror a car the same distance behind me, I move out into the middle of the lane to stop the car behind from thinking of squeezing through. This has never caused the following cars to get excited.

    Near my home there is a short stretch of busy 4 lane road that has a terrible surface. I move to the outside lane for a couple of hundred yards, where the surface is just marginally substandard. This is sometimes problematic for following cars

  12. #12
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy
    Um, "share the road" is one thing, but "share the lane" is different. I think if you're sharing a lane with some other vehicles, that means there are two of you in one lane, laterally speaking. In that situation the cyclist is usually "marginalized to the right side" of the lane and the motorist is "marginalized to the left side" of the lane, although in some cases that could be reversed. If a cyclist is in the centre, he's taking the lane, not sharing it. I thought that was an agreed-upon terminology.
    As far as terminology goes, so we are on the same page together, I define "sharing the lane" the same way you do. I define "taking the lane" as taking enough of the lane to induce overtaking motorists to cross the line into the next lane, not necessarily riding in the center of the lane. Not to argue, just clarifying how I use the terms personally.

    All comments are welcome.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 09-15-06 at 11:21 AM.
    No worries

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    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    There are very few places I take the lane for no reason. In other words, I stay to the right unless there is a real reason (a real object my path, a real need to change lanes, a real and present danger--not a hypothetical danger.)
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    The law in NY is that a cyclist has to stay right and share the lane unless there's not enough room to share, in which case the bike has the right to take the whole lane. That makes sense to me, so that's what I do. Of course, where there are obstructions in the way, I take the lane as well.

    It's better to have a slightly po'd driver who sees you then a happy one that's oblivious to your presence or tries to "squeeze by".

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    mac
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Aside from intellectual discussions about taking the lane, lane positioning, etc., and apart from any debate over how/where is safest to ride, I was curious how many people are here who, on a regular basis, ride far enough into the lane that motorists must cross into the next lane (or straddle both lanes) to pass?

    If you are one of these riders, what circumstances are present that influence your choice to take the lane?

    How often do you ride dead-center in a lane, and why?

    Other comments?
    I ride outside of the door-zone which puts me nearly halfway into the lane. In residential neighborhoods, I wait until cars get up behind me and there's a long stretch of no parked, then I ride in the parked-car space to let the cars pass, then get back to taking the lane.

    If I'm climbing up a mountain I'll stay more to my right. I'm not too concerned about the door-zone when I'm going under 10mph and can see inside each car. But if I'm going near to the speed limit, I'll take the lane. At night in the dark on a downhill where I can almost keep up with the flow of traffic, I take the entire lane even if the lane is wide enough to share a car and a bike. I'm not going to risk not being seen at night by riding to the right and not directly in front of a motorist.

  16. #16
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    I try to ride and drive defensively. I do not want to be the victim portion of a story where someone else is being tried for assault, attempted murder or vehicular homicide, or cited for behavior in traffic which causes an injury or death. I do not wish to assert myself and attempt to occupy the same space as a motor vehicle no matter which operator is legally behaving correctly.

    Sometimes I'm in the lane, sometimes in the bike lane, sometimes on a Multi-Use Path; whichever under the circumstances offers the least obstruction to the orderly flow of all traffic.

    In general, I drive and ride defensively rather than assertively. On the bike though I am far more defensive and far less assertive. So far, at least, I haven't been injured or killed and continue to enjoy riding.
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    Why I take the lane in Bek's picture

    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    some roads are so well provided that no lane grabbing or powerswerving is warranted. this picture is an example.
    This picture is also an example of the type of road that I picture when I read about tragedies like this:


    The Livingston County sheriff's office said that Dechau was riding westbound on the shoulder of route 20 approximately two feet to the right of the white line. A sheriff's spokesman said a westbound vehicle driven by Sharon Cameron, 61, crossed the white line and struck Dechau from behind at approximately 45-50 mph, and Dechau died at the scene.

    Cameron could not provide an explanation to police as to why her vehicle drifted from the travel lane to the shoulder. She freely submitted to a blood test as part of the accident investigation, and police do not believe she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Results of investigation will determine if charges will be filed against Cameron.


    http://gvcc.11net.com/

    Folks, I'm not making this stuff up.

    Maybe she couldn't provide an explanation as to why her vehicle drifted from the travel lane to the shoulder. But I can.

    1. For solo vehicles (not two or more vehicles) with drivers whose thoughts are elsewhere drifting into empty shoulders and bike lanes happens more often that most people realize (drivers that do it don't realize it because their thoughts are elsewhere)
    2. Cyclists to the right of the stripe have low cognitive conspicuity. http://www.visualexpert.com/Resource...blindness.html
    3. Inattentional blindness - so even though the cyclist is in the shoulder or bike lane, to the driver, cognitively, the shoulder is "empty". Being inattentionally blind to the presence of the cyclist in the shoulder or bike lane, they are just as likely to drift across the stripe as when it really is empty.
    4. Inadvertent drift.


    That's why I take the lane on roads like the one in Bek's picture except when I see faster approaching in my mirror, in which case I look over my right shoulder, then move into the roadway shoulder (or bike lane) about 5 seconds before they reach me (at a 30 mph closing speed that's over 200 feet), and stay there until they've passed me, then I look over my left shoulder and move back into the travel lane (until the next group of 1 or more vehicles is about 5 seconds behind me). It might seem like a lot of work, but, like anything else, once you get used to it it becomes effortless. And, I find it helps keep MY attention on traffic instead of drifting off...

    But the main reason I take the lane between intersections on roads like this is to increase the probability motorists approaching from behind NOTICE my presence sometime during the minute or so before they reach me, and therefore, are cognitively aware of my presence up ahead, are watching me and paying attention as I look back and move into the shoulder, and are therefore much less likely to inadvertently drift into the "empty" shoulder as they are passing me.

    Is this starting to make sense to anyone who thought it was completely crazy the first time they read me writing about it? Or am I wasting my time?

  18. #18
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Last edited by noisebeam; 09-15-06 at 12:08 PM.

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    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    My lane position varies almost constantly. A large part of the time I'm riding in the nice, decent, debris-free shoulder that we're priviledged to have around here.
    If I'm riding straight with no opposing traffic present or only opposing traffic, I ride in the right wheel track. If there's a car approaching from the rear AND from the front, I will move to just inside the white line IF there's room for a safe pass (almost always the case around here). Otherwise I stay left, but I'm ready to ditch if the guy coming up from the rear looks unwilling to slow down (I don't want to be dead right).

    If I'm turning left, then I move far left of the left turn lane (or leftmost lane, whichever). If I'm going straight through an intersection, and the light turns red, I move far left in the lane to allow right-turn-on-red cars to get past me without right hooking me.

    If there's an obstacle (construction, wreck, etc) I'll go into oncoming lanes when safe.

    There are probably a lot of other situations too. As you can see, depending on the situation, my normal riding position could be anywhere on the road surface.
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    Senior Member CTAC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSP
    I take the lane when it's in my interest to do so. Using a mirror makes this fairly routine.
    +1

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    Senior Member LCI_Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webist
    In general, I drive and ride defensively rather than assertively. On the bike though I am far more defensive and far less assertive. So far, at least, I haven't been injured or killed and continue to enjoy riding.
    I don't see the terms "assertive" and "defensive" as mutually exclusive. I consider being assertive by using the full lane (when needed) as good defensive riding.

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    taking the lane

    My experience on my most recent USA tour, and countless tours before that, is that the vast majority of drivers (especially truck drivers) are so remarkably courteous that they cut over into the oncoming lane (or into the 2nd, 'passing' lane, if there is one) 99% of the time, even if I am well inside the shoulder and many times even if the view of the road ahead is not all that clear. So I find 'taking the lane' is not that necessary in most cases.

    Now, when riding in cities or developed suburbs, I think I am much closer to many other readers on this board who say---if you are gonna take the lane, take the lane! and don't be subtle about it. I think this assertiveness is more professional, and understandable by drivers, than trying to 'squeeze enough to the left to get by a parked car but stay far enough to the right to let people pass.'

    roughstuff
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    Sorry Al, I'm with Chephy and Pete on the terminology.

    Sharing the road might be sharing the lane (side by side) or controlling the lane (a.k.a. taking the lane - cyclist is positioned centerish in the lane).

    By the way, the other big reason I control the lane on roads like the one shown in Bek's picture is so that I'm already positioned correctly (visibly, predictably) for any intersections (including driveways, dirt roads, entrances, alleys) etc. I might be approaching and crossing. So, again, the only reason I move right into the shoulder is if faster traffic is present or approaching, and then only until they've passed me.

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    Senior Member Pedal Wench's Avatar
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    On a group ride, I take the lane to 'block' as riders in front move into a left-turn lane. I take the lane when traffic is moving slowly and I'm just taking my place in the line of traffic approaching a light. I take the lane when the road is too narrow to share the lane, for example, a short bridge. I take the lane on steep/fast/curvy descents when I don't want cars to pass and I'm going the speed limit.

  25. #25
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    I want to avoid talking about other people's choices, and focus on what you do personally, and why. I'd prefer that people not feel they have to defend their choices.

    Pete
    Just a reminder. I've deleted more specific references in the interest of comraderie.
    No worries

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