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Old 09-16-06, 08:37 PM   #1
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Logging trucks, one bike, and a twelve foot shoulder.

here's a textbook lane positioning scenario right out of last weekend. without divulging the bicyclists demise or other particulars, i'd like to discuss riding positions on well accomodated roadways as described in this CASE STUDY

See photo below- actual roadway described


Highway speed, rural, two lane road with 12 foot shoulders. high amounts of logging truck and commercial large vehicle traffic. curves, hilly, rolling terrain. sun is low in the sky. The shoulder is swept as clean as the main travel lane.

A bicyclist is riding in one direction on the road. they are travelling 8 MPH on the uphills and 20-35 MPH on the downhills.

Truck traffic is passing frequently in both directions. two trucks appear to be closing from a considerable distance on the bicyclist at the same rate. where does the cyclist ride to maximize safety? does the bicyclist need to ascertain the trucks notice them by slowing noticably in the bicyclists rear view mirror? what does a bicyclist do if there is traffic spaced 40 seconds apart on this road and the bicyclist is travelling 8 miles per hour? if the traffic is 2 minutes apart? 15 seconds?


without any upcoming traffic hazards or driveways, is there any justifiable reason to take the lane to prevent a driver from drifting into the twelve foot shoulder?

would a bicyclists' visibility help to provide cognitive awareness more so than lane position on this road, to allow the drivers of the trucks near certain recognition of a bicyclist regardless of road position?
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Old 09-16-06, 09:02 PM   #2
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On a straight road where visibility is far, I'd stay in the shoulder. On curving roads with blind corners, I'd take the lane, even close enough to the double yellow lines, so as to be seen from a distance. If you hug the shoulder around a bend, motorists won't see you. And I've seen a lot of motorists cut corners on the bends - i.e. drive right where a bicyclist would be.

But on uphills where I'm huffing along at 5 mph, I hug the shoulder as far right as I can and pray. Prior to hitting a bend, I make sure there's no vehicles behind me that could overtake me in the time it takes to go around. If there is, I signal that I'm moving left. If the motorists respond by driving more to the left, I'll go. If not, I'll stop and wait until they pass, then jam around the bend.
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Old 09-16-06, 09:08 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mac
On a straight road where visibility is far, I'd stay in the shoulder. On curving roads with blind corners, I'd take the lane, even close enough to the double yellow lines, so as to be seen from a distance. If you hug the shoulder around a bend, motorists won't see you. And I've seen a lot of motorists cut corners on the bends - i.e. drive right where a bicyclist would be.
And I've seen motorists cross the double yellow lines. I'd never ride there or anywhere else in the lane on a blind curve.
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Old 09-16-06, 09:11 PM   #4
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Just me, but I would get as far over as I could, then take a look back to make sure there's nobody coming into the shoulder to avoid the trucks. I'd have been on the shoulder all along, though.
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Old 09-16-06, 09:15 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Blue Order
And I've seen motorists cross the double yellow lines. I'd never ride there or anywhere else in the lane on a blind curve.
I want to remain visible to the motorists behind me for as long as possible before disappearing behind the bend at which point I'll move over to the right of the shoulder.

Besides, you don't know what is on the shoulder behind the bend. You could end up riding right into some debris, stalled car, etc.
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Old 09-16-06, 09:27 PM   #6
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I'm not clear on whether the two trucks are both coming from behind, or if one's coming from behind and the other's coming head-on.

Truckers in my area aren't drift-prone, so whether they see me or not, they'll pass me safely if I'm on the shoulder. Trying to play mind games with them by getting out into their lane will make me into a damn nuisance, and cause them to waste fuel by dropping speed and then having to accelerate again, and/or possibly attempting a full lane-change passing maneuver, when it turns out that HAHA SIKE, I was planning to move onto that nice perfectly-good shoulder after getting a reaction out of them. Sorry... homie don't play dat game.

My advice for riding that road would be to use at least one daytime-visible superblinkie, at least one daytime-visible headlight if practical, and a bright white or neon-lime outer layer. Stay on the right half of the shoulder consistently, so the truckers in particular can see as they approach that the cyclist is predictable, and not in any danger from their truck since the cyclist's line is well clear of the truck.

Me personally, you know by now what I'd be using here The Nova, backed up by a SuperFlash or two, plus my kewl ANSI Class III neon-lime vest. And I'd be using the right half of the shoulder. Would it provide more "cognition power" than lane position? Heck yeah

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Old 09-16-06, 09:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mac
I want to remain visible to the motorists behind me for as long as possible before disappearing behind the bend at which point I'll move over to the right of the shoulder.

Besides, you don't know what is on the shoulder behind the bend. You could end up riding right into some debris, stalled car, etc.
Or a car hitting you head on if you're in the lane.
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Old 09-16-06, 09:43 PM   #8
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roads graded and engineered for highway speed travel with twelve foot shoulders usually have no 'blind curves' that a bicyclist cannot see safely around. Maybe at 50 miles per hour? naw, even then.

I was considering the trucks as approaching from opposite directions, Mechbgon, but i like your variation in the case study a valuable point-

i find, on highways you usually cannot see behind a semi in your bicycling rear view mirror at any distance and see what is behind the first truck- a semi behind another semi from a distance looks like an edge out of salvador dali painting or picasso's cubist period -just an edge abberancy.

but i like the variation on the case study- what if a series of semis were approaching from the same direction?what if there were a couple of trucks coming at the bicyclist from both directions?

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Old 09-16-06, 09:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
roads graded and engineered for highway speed travel with twelve foot shoulders usually have no 'blind curves' that a bicyclist cannot see safely around.
Well in that case, I'd always stay in the shoulder.
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Old 09-16-06, 09:57 PM   #10
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There is no way I would not be riding on the shoulder on that road. It's gorgeous, and you have it all to yourself. It's wider, smoother and cleaner than almost any street I ever ride on.
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Old 09-16-06, 10:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
but i like the variation on the case study- what if a series of semis were approaching from the same direction? what if there were a couple of trucks coming at the bicyclist from both directions?
My answers would be boring and short. In either case, I'd recommend going up the righthand side of the shoulder, checking one's mirror periodically, and mostly enjoying the ride and that lovely scenery (and consuming snacks!)

Remarks In the scenario where the truckers are both overtaking a cyclist, put yourself in the driver's seat of the rear truck. What position on the roadway will make the cyclist visible the soonest, on the road in this photo? The one that's furthest to the right, since the second truck's driver can't see directly up the road because of the truck in front of him.

In the scenario where the trucks are going opposite directions and will intercept eachother in the immediate vincinity of the cyclist, I'd advise the cyclist to move to the rightmost edge of the shoulder if he/she recognizes that the situation is developing, and do so well in advance if possible. If there's enough time that the truckers can become confident the cyclist is going to hold that line, they'll undoubtedly breathe a bit easier when they pass, feeling some assurance that the cyclist has a decent safety buffer, even if they can't move across the centerline to provide more room themselves (since they're coming head-on at another truck).

Maybe it sounds strange to worry about easing the anxieties of pro truckers, but they've treated me well Name anyone else who's thoughtful enough to dim their high-beam headlights when overtaking a cyclist with a 0.6W Union generator taillight in the middle of pitch-dark countryside (that was me in my younger days). You'd think they considered me a fellow human or something

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Old 09-16-06, 11:18 PM   #12
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I frequently ride on roads such as the one in the example with a mix of logging trucks and large double and single dump trucks. I ride on the shoulder near the right edge. For the most part, truckers give me way more room than I need. In addition to watching the truck approaching from behind in your mirror, it is also a good idea to listen for a broken belly chain dragging on the ground or the rhythmic thumping of a re-tread about to depart from the tire. Either of these noises is cause for a little extra caution.
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Old 09-17-06, 12:00 AM   #13
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For the road shown, ride the shoulder if there are log trucks. People, even it cars, do not realize how much load these trucks haul. They cannot stop quickly, cannot swerve to avoid a cyclist, and sometimes cannot pass. Don't put them in a bind by riding in the roadway, as they may not have a choice in where they drive.

On uphills, many of these roads in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest have curves. Log trucks can be very long, and can cut across the shoulders on hard right turns. Be aware of this, and be prepared to bail if you see one coming up behind you with a tight curve ahead to the right.

If the roadway is one-lane (yes, we have those, and they are called "logging roads," but many cyclists use mountain bikes on them), be aware that on a downhill, a fully-loaded log truck simply cannot stop within about a quarter mile of initiating the breaking and maintain control. Look up the roadway, and see if you can see a dust cloud on the road--that is a log truck headed your direction. Look as far up as you can, and if you see one, get off the road, preferably on the inside of any curve. If the truck looses control, it will go on the outside of the curve (and maybe over the edge--that has happened.

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Old 09-17-06, 12:22 AM   #14
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That picture looks like a large percentage of the major thru-ways in VT.
Why would you not take advantage of it ? The only trucks that give me
problems are the ones who do it intentionaly so why would I give them a
better target by being further out on the road ? As J. Ratliff says above,
a lot of these trucks cant avoid you for various reasons. A lot of them
are dangerously under maintained and in disrepair. I would guarantee that
if it came to sideswiping an oncoming car or clipping a bicyclist who was taking
the lane, the bicyclist would be the one who suffers the truck assault. Why
would you invite this situation when there is a clearly more reasonable and rational
way to be riding that stretch of road ?
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Old 09-17-06, 05:06 AM   #15
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Shoulder, staying to the right of center as much as possible.
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Old 09-17-06, 09:51 AM   #16
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As a truck driver, all of you show good instincts about trucks. For all their height, the visability out the windows is pretty miserable. They rattle and shake so much that the mirrors are sometimes almost useless, especially in the rain or darkness. Dawn and dusk are the worst times for visability. Here in the Pacific NW, rain and spray can cut down reaction time significantly.

When I ride, I stay over to the right unless taking the lane at intersections. I wear ANSI lime, use flashers and pray when having to zip around those trouble spots. My fenders are taped reflective yellow and so is my helmet. My winter gloves have reflective strips on the back side for hand signals. I still got clipped but it wasn't a truck, it was a gabbing girl in a Jetta. Hit and run, too.

99.9% of the time I get all the respect I need and ask for no more.
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Old 09-17-06, 11:50 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogbait
I frequently ride on roads such as the one in the example with a mix of logging trucks and large double and single dump trucks. I ride on the shoulder near the right edge. For the most part, truckers give me way more room than I need. In addition to watching the truck approaching from behind in your mirror, it is also a good idea to listen for a broken belly chain dragging on the ground or the rhythmic thumping of a re-tread about to depart from the tire. Either of these noises is cause for a little extra caution.
I have the same conditions here, Your suggestion about the broken chain is a good one. I've seen them whipping wildly from side to side. If I hear that sound its time to bail. I'll add that all chains can't be heard some are just a few inches from the ground and can swing out as far as 5' or more depending on where it broke.
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Old 09-17-06, 11:59 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by jcm
As a truck driver, all of you show good instincts about trucks. For all their height, the visability out the windows is pretty miserable. They rattle and shake so much that the mirrors are sometimes almost useless, especially in the rain or darkness. Dawn and dusk are the worst times for visability. Here in the Pacific NW, rain and spray can cut down reaction time significantly.

When I ride, I stay over to the right unless taking the lane at intersections. I wear ANSI lime, use flashers and pray when having to zip around those trouble spots. My fenders are taped reflective yellow and so is my helmet. My winter gloves have reflective strips on the back side for hand signals. I still got clipped but it wasn't a truck, it was a gabbing girl in a Jetta. Hit and run, too.

99.9% of the time I get all the respect I need and ask for no more.
jcm, to get this right from an actual truck driver... if a truck driver came around the corner onto this straightstretch and saw a cyclist dead-center in the traffic lane about 1000-2000 feet ahead, and the cyclist was holding that line, how would the driver's decision-making process go, what would the mental walkthrough be?

I've been figuring that with a long stopping distance, limited acceleration, a very long vehicle to pass with, and his job on the line, the truck driver is going to be at a "commitment point" when he's still quite a ways back. Either commit to a pass, or else begin to slow down to bike speed if it's not definitely safe to pass in the left lane (as with that corner ahead in the picture), since there's no way of knowing for certain what the cyclist might do.

Am I warm? Would the driver be annoyed at the cyclist if, after being put through this scenario, the cyclist then pulled onto the shoulder when the truck was 5 seconds away?
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Old 09-17-06, 12:30 PM   #19
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I see no reason to take the lane in such a situation, no matter which direction the trucks were coming from. Unless there was a hazard to avoid, I'd be staying right of center on the shoulder just about all the time. Why wouldn't I? I'd also be wearing some kind of ANSI color/reflective something from the safety supply store and most likely be running a verbatim checklist of lighting from one of you experienced lighting gurus.

I don't have a lot of practical cycling experience on roads like these. To be honest, I can see myself just pulling off to the right edge of the shoulder at first if a long line of trucks went by. That would allow me time to observe and process. I've got a little bit of hearing damage and I also have to keep my ears covered while riding. Some of the cues about a situation others would hear, I don't pick up on right away. Makes me extra cautious in unfamiliar territory.
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Old 09-17-06, 12:47 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mechBgon
jcm, to get this right from an actual truck driver... if a truck driver came around the corner onto this straightstretch and saw a cyclist dead-center in the traffic lane about 1000-2000 feet ahead, and the cyclist was holding that line, how would the driver's decision-making process go, what would the mental walkthrough be?

I've been figuring that with a long stopping distance, limited acceleration, a very long vehicle to pass with, and his job on the line, the truck driver is going to be at a "commitment point" when he's still quite a ways back. Either commit to a pass, or else begin to slow down to bike speed if it's not definitely safe to pass in the left lane (as with that corner ahead in the picture), since there's no way of knowing for certain what the cyclist might do.

Am I warm? Would the driver be annoyed at the cyclist if, after being put through this scenario, the cyclist then pulled onto the shoulder when the truck was 5 seconds away?
I am having a hard time seeing me coming around a blind curve at 60mph.

That said, as a truck driver I can tell you that scenario could be unpleasant.

If I were to come around a corner at 60mph with a load, and see a bicycle in the center of the lane 1000ft away,
First I **** my pants
Now I am down to 800 ft
Next I apply brakes.
Then I ask myself, is this a drunk
Now I am down to 700 ft
Will he fall in the middle of the road?
Is that really a bike?
Now I am down 600 ft
I wonder if itís a Carbon fiber frame
Apply more brakes
I wonder if he has DA or Campy
Now I get out a calculator and determine that I need at least 300 feet to stop
Check my mirrors
I wonder what kinda wheels he has
By now I figure I am down to 500 ft
If he still hasnít moved I start looking for my emergency rout to keep from hitting him if I cant slow down fast enough.

Now if I had 2000ft things change.
I just lift of the pedal and begin to slow down and see what he will do next.
And check out his wheels as I go by.
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Old 09-17-06, 02:58 PM   #21
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Yup, definitly take the shoulder.
When i was on tour this summer a road like that meant the day was going be a good one.
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Old 09-17-06, 04:56 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
here's a textbook lane positioning scenario right out of last weekend. without divulging the bicyclists demise or other particulars, i'd like to discuss riding positions on well accomodated roadways as described in this CASE STUDY

See photo below- actual roadway described


Highway speed, rural, two lane road with 12 foot shoulders. high amounts of logging truck and commercial large vehicle traffic. curves, hilly, rolling terrain. sun is low in the sky. The shoulder is swept as clean as the main travel lane.

A bicyclist is riding in one direction on the road. they are travelling 8 MPH on the uphills and 20-35 MPH on the downhills.

Truck traffic is passing frequently in both directions. two trucks appear to be closing from a considerable distance on the bicyclist at the same rate. where does the cyclist ride to maximize safety? does the bicyclist need to ascertain the trucks notice them by slowing noticably in the bicyclists rear view mirror? what does a bicyclist do if there is traffic spaced 40 seconds apart on this road and the bicyclist is travelling 8 miles per hour? if the traffic is 2 minutes apart? 15 seconds?


without any upcoming traffic hazards or driveways, is there any justifiable reason to take the lane to prevent a driver from drifting into the twelve foot shoulder?

would a bicyclists' visibility help to provide cognitive awareness more so than lane position on this road, to allow the drivers of the trucks near certain recognition of a bicyclist regardless of road position?
Personally I would take the shoulder, the trucks should stay within the lane, except when there is a breakdown, truckers are usually smart enough to not try passing on the right. Having said this though, the average car driver isn't

While I would stay on the shoulder, I would also make sure that lights are on, and reflectors are clean, and I am wearing something bright and reflective.
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Old 09-17-06, 06:34 PM   #23
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I'm glad to see so many non-lane takers. Is there anything NOT suicidal about getting in front of a truck moving at highway speed when you have a 12-foot shoulder?
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Old 09-17-06, 06:51 PM   #24
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I'd ride right against the curb. And why not? There's nothing inherently dangerous about the curb in that picture. I'd prefer to be as far from logging trucks as possible. If they were some other kind, I'd probably ride a little closer to the white line so as to catch the wake a bit.

As someone who actually drives on a freeway where bicyclists also ride (and where I also sometimes ride) I prefer when the cyclists are as far to the right as they can be. It makes me nervous to pass them when my speed is so much greater than theirs. They don't have to hug the curb, but I appreciate it when they aren't right against the white line. That's just too close for my own comfort zone as a driver.

Yesterday I was driving the 101 and had to pass a hand-cyclist. I admit I was pretty nervous. He was a pretty big target and I couldn't change lanes so I did the best I could to increase the distance between us. Distance is a good thing.
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Old 09-17-06, 06:54 PM   #25
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That's not a shoulder. That's a slow truck lane. Sometimes, a trucker winds up cranking up a hill at very slow speeds, and they can't do anything about that once the momentum is lost. Sometimes, they need to brake for oncoming traffic passing in thier lane, animals in the road, or for tourist type drivers that don't keep a truck friendly pace. Then they need a slow lane to use, because maintaining the traffic lane at ten or twenty miles an hour causes a lot of danger to other traffic. Oncoming traffic is more likely to attempt a pass in the oncoming lane through the gap created. Trailing traffic is much more likely to pass in the oncoming lane when being stuck grinding along behind a slow truck trailing diesel smoke for the next ten minutes is the only other option. The slow truck lanes prevent head on accidents.
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