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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Traffic Cycling Survey

    This is in the spirit of LittleBigMan's post on "Taking the Lane." I want to know how the experienced riders of this forum ride in different conditions which are relevent to them. No random hypotheticals here, no criticizing cycling technique or style, no extrapolating from studies, no value judgements allowed on this thread. Say your piece about what you do, ask questions to clarify another's post or ask them to expand on their explanation if you want, but no value judgements. I want this to be a "safe" area for people to explain exactly how they ride and how they came to ride in that manner.

    In traffic cycling in particular, much of the learning process is through direct experience - very little beyond general ideas (i.e. destination lane positioning, vehicular cycling, etc.) are found in books, and direct classroom/instruction opportunities are few and far between (not to mention expensive in time and money). With this, I want to capture this experience from everyone who rides a bike in traffic.

    This comes about because I am worried that many of the little tidbits about very specific cycling techniques which can be helpful to cyclists, new or experienced, are lost in amongst all the highly "theoretical" discussions in other threads. The loud people tend to drown out the not so loud in this forum, leaving us without their contribution to our collective knowledge. Also the conversations tend to focus on hypothetical roads, which may or may not have any relevence to a specific person here.

    Everything which a person deems relevent to his or her cycling experience is allowed. If you don't have intersections between 6 lane arterials, don't feel the need to elaborate on how you would treat such a beast. If you only cycle for fitness on rural roads, feel free not to mention anything about the urban environment. You get the picture. I only ask you limit yourself to topics of cycling in traffic (as opposed to mountain biking or cyclocross, etc.)

    BTW, in the interest of keeping this a value neutral discussion, if someone starts responding to a post in a "...you shouldn't do what you are suggesting..." type of way, DON'T REPLY IN RESPONSE. Simply let the unwelcome post die a lonely death. In particular, Helmet Head and Bekologist must restrain themselves or be restrained in this manner. Even if you disagree, hold your tongue. Just grimace and post your own thoughts about your own techniques and riding styles without expressing an opinion on another's.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
    "If you’re new enough [to racing] that you would ask such question, then i would hazard a guess that if you just made up a workout that sounded hard to do, and did it, you’d probably get faster." --the tiniest sprinter

  2. #2
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    For me:

    - I use lighting whenever I'll be riding in the dark, sometimes complemented with a bicycle safety vest and reflective ankle rings.

    - I ride the left line of RTOLs if there is a shoulder to be had once past the end of the RTOL, otherwise I take the right lane left of the RTOL.

    - At intersections, I take the lane if there is no shoulder. When traffic has stopped at a control signal, I filter up when the circumstances feel right.

    - For left hand turns, I move over as soon as practicable and safe to do so, slowing down, if necessary, to get the timing right.

    - Always use hand signals

    - Always obey traffic controls

    - Always attempt to be predictable and visible


    .
    If there's a bike lane or wide shoulder, I'll ride it, otherwise:

    - 1 inbound/1 outbound lane: I stay as far as to the right as practicable--meaning I won't ride in the gutter or where the debris collects. This is usually storm drain's distance from the curb whether there's a drain or not.

    - 2 inbound/2 outbound lanes or more; road posted at or under 50 MPH: I take the right lane.


    <------------ Use common sense upon exception --------------------->
    Last edited by NoRacer; 09-22-06 at 11:32 AM.
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

  3. #3
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    OMG, I was just thinking of how this forum has helped me to expand my strategies to manage my risks, but how tired I was of all this bickering and how many babies are being thrown out with the bath water.

    Many, many people here have provided worthwile and legitimate input, including Helmet Head and Bekologist. Situations vary from moment to moment even on the same road and so should our responsses to them. By having access to different experinces and throughts, each of us can have the opportunity to better manage our risks.

    I hope this thread works, but I would rather this spirit permeate the entire Advocasy & Safety forum.

  4. #4
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Mkay......

    Being an 'old guy' (49) my first cycling experiences were in the neighborhood of my youth. I had a 3 speed Columbia (Raleigh knockoff house brand) as my first real bike. In my neighborhood back then, kids rode bikes all the time, in the street, on sidewalks - any place they would go. I can't recall my parents (or any other authority figure) every telling me to stay out of the street and on the sidewalk. Like everybody else I gave up riding when I got my drivers license. When I re-entered the bike world at age 28, I had several years of motorcycling under my belt, so I brought with me the knowledge of the differences between single track vehicle steering and double track (car) steering characteristics (knew how to counter-steer and brake). I also realized the relative vulnerability of transit 'out side of the cage'.

    All I can say (and I can envision some BF'rs cringing) is it takes a certain 'attitude' to ride in traffic - heavy or light, country or city. Lane position and body language impart the cyclist's attitude to other vehicle operators. Riding in the gutter = submissive. Riding out in the lane (does not necessarily mean taking the entire lane) = assertive. Does that mean every driver will not buzz or close-pass you? Nope, but if you ride assertively, it will cut way down on the close pass. As I have stated in previous posts, since becoming a BF regular, I have begun using a mirror and taken an even more pro-active and assertive riding style - blocking on narrow roads and using hand signals. It works for me.

    With regard to the roads I ride, I find in many instances, metro-area (city and inner suburbs) 4 lane arterial roads are quite easy to ride. The speed limits are low (40 or less) and motorists are much more used to encounter a cyclist than in the exurbs or country. There are virtually no bike lanes where I ride and I rarely have a problem with urban cycling. It's more the rednecks and long-commuting (during the week day) motorists out in the country who pose a hazard.

    So, I would say the roads here suite my VC style: assertive and traffic director when necessary. In thousands of miles of riding, I have never had an accident with a motor vehicle. And the traffic is only getting worse.

  5. #5
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galen_52657
    Mkay......

    So, I would say the roads here suite my VC style: assertive and traffic director when necessary. In thousands of miles of riding, I have never had an accident with a motor vehicle. And the traffic is only getting worse.
    +1 from another Marylander.
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

  6. #6
    genec genec's Avatar
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    For me:

    If there's a bike lane, I'll generally ride it, otherwise:

    Exceptions however include BL next to parked cars... and BL on approaches to freeway on and off ramps... I generally move out of the BL and take the lane in those cases. I tend to ride just to either side of the BL stripe... IE not next to the curb. I do this to be more visible at intersections. I ride out of the BL on quiet roads and on approach to intersectons/driveways and at stoplights. I move back in as other traffic approaches.

    - 1 inbound/1 outbound lane: I tend to take the lane... only one lane... and unless it is a WOL... I don't readily share. I do move over when and where I can to allow other traffic to pass.

    - 2 inbound/2 outbound lanes or more; road posted at or under 50 MPH: I take the right lane unless it is a WOL... then I ride as far to the right as practical.

    - Over 50 MPH I tend to try to avoid... but I treat them no different than a slower street.

    - 3 or more lanes either way... with parked cars... I take the rightmost lane... motorists have two others to play in. I don't expect them to argue. (but they do)

    Generally in San Diego, WOL have bike lanes... or rather any road that would be a WOL, is a road that has a bike lane and generally no parking along that road.

    - I use lighting whenever I'll be riding in the dark, sometimes complemented with a bicycle safety vest and reflective ankle rings. I wear a helmet.

    - I ride the left line of RTOLs if there is a shoulder to be had once past the end of the RTOL, otherwise I take the right lane left of the RTOL.

    - At intersections, I take the lane if there is no shoulder. When traffic has stopped, I don't tend to filter... but I do filter at a couple of locations typically because I am taking advantage of being a bike and I don't want to wait for long traffic delays while in the middle of a bunch of cars.

    For left hand turns, I move over as soon as practicable and safe to do so, slowing down, if necessary, to get the timing right. Timing is everything... I tend to time approaches to any light such that I can just keep rolling.

    - I usually use hand signals... Always when changing lateral position. Never when just making a right turn from the right side of the road.

    - I always obey lights... and usually stop signs... however some neighborhood stop signs are just a bit ridiculous and if I can see any and all potential traffic for a long way... those I treat as yields.

    - Always attempt to be predictable and visible.

    - Use common sense upon exception.

  7. #7
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    First, a general description of my local geography and roads. Maine is still very rural, although I live the most populous county. We have one small city, Portland (the largest in the state), with some surrounding towns which, although close enough to be called "suburbs", are more like small towns in character and layout. The roads I ride are either (1) streets in town, with lots of driveways and parking lots entrances/exits, or (2) roads between towns, which are still largely two-lane (one each way) with moderate traffic travelling at moderate speeds and not many turnouts. Listening to you SoCal and NYC people talk, I realize how relatively nice the riding conditions here are.

    Here are some of the specific varieties that I frequently encounter:
    1. Two-lane, moderate traffic at moderate speeds, 8-10' shoulder: This is the half of my commute nearest home. The shoulder is in pretty good shape, and usually pretty clear of debris. I therefore ride in the shoulder, but within the left 2' of it, for visibility. Approaching intersections, I move out of the shoulder and take the lane. I can usually find a gap in traffic in which to easily accomplish this. In a traffic jam, I continue to pass on the right in the shoulder, which I feel fairly safe doing because (1) it is so wide, and (2) there are hardly any turnouts.
    2. Same as above, except no shoulder: This is the half of my commute nearest the office. In one section, the paved shoulder extends only a foot or less, with a dirt shoulder beyond; in the other, it is terminated by a curb. In both sections, the lanes are narrow, and I ride 1-2' inside the car lane, keeping a straight line. (While I appreciate the DLLP theory, I think the volume of traffic here is a little too high for that to be practical, and/or I'm not really comfortable doing it. ) If I encounter a traffic jam here on the way home, I'll pass on the left near the double-yellow line until I reach the wide shoulder section described above, after which I'll go back to the shoulder, which gives me more room and insulation from opposing traffic, which is usually not jammed!
    3. Narrow lane, no shoulder, heavy traffic: I have a bad section of this if I go to downtown Portland from work. Sometimes it's jammed, sometimes not. Hard to find a consistent style in this case. I try to take the lane at intersections, but not always possible if I've been passing on the right (carefully). To make matters worse, there are also interstate ramps. At the end of it, however, I always move out into traffic in preparation for a left turn. (Map here, I'm heading south under the highway to turn east at the 4-way.)
    4. Narrow 4-lane with median, bridge: Same behavior as #2, although automobiles travel closer to highway speeds, but at least there's two lanes each way, and not usually both occupied at once. The pavement is bad within 1-2' of the curb!
    5. Downtown Portland streets: Closer to the center due to door zone, cars are slower anyway so I'm usually not holding anyone up for long, if at all.

    That's a pretty complete summary. Notice that no bike lanes were mentioned; we hardly have any. In the few places I do encounter them, I pretty much treat them as a shoulder. Ironically, none of them are as wide as the shoulder I have on that half of my commute.

  8. #8
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    I ride farther left whenever possible, use destination positioning and centerish lane position at all intersections, and take lanes when necessary. In my area I have never seen a cyclist do this so I can only assume that most motorists haven't either. This forces drivers to take notice (What's a bike doing in the middle of the lane!) and occasionally take issue. (wtf....beeeeep...#%@)) I understand that as long as they can see me, drivers are unlikely to run me down. Still, I like to try to do what ever I can to not piss drivers off. I follow all the rules, (when they're looking *) won't cut out in front of them, always try to signal, and won't hog the lane when it's not necessary.

    On narrow roads (unsharable lane) with light traffic, moving slightly right when allowing a car to pass is seen as being courteous. After all, I expect them to move left for me, why shouldn't I also move right? As long as my default position leaves me plenty of space to do so, there is no danger in doing this, and actually results in more space between us. If traffic is steady, or we're coming to a blind curve, I'll hold the lane.

    When riding on high speed narrow roads with steady traffic I stay centered in the right lane and pedal my butt off. Even if motorists get pissed, at least they can see I'm attempting to go as fast as I can. Plus, the extra speed helps me feel safer in this situation. I avoid these roads as much as possible, but my work place is on one, so I need to ride it for a short distance each way.

    On four lane roads with wide clean shoulders, I ride near the fog line. Sometimes left side, sometimes right. If traffic is light I'm farther left and will move right if necessary, but found that I hardly ever have to. The few cars that approach will usually easily move into the open left lane. If I see two or more vehicles coming from behind side by side utilizing both lanes I will usually move right as a courtesy. I won't make them change lanes because in this case I feel there is no need to. If traffic is heavy I ride slightly right of the fog line, and rarely have reason to move either way. Even when they stay in the wide right lane, drivers tend to give me plenty of room in this situation.

    Everything I stated works well for me in my location at my riding times and speeds etc. I don't believe there is a one size fits all solution for all riding conditions. There are just too many variables.

    ( * I'm not stopping at a stop sign when there's not a soul around.)
    Last edited by AlmostTrick; 09-22-06 at 10:08 PM.
    Have Bike, Will Travel

  9. #9
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Good responses so far!

    This seems to be a good way to lead up to a thread where we can actually discuss aspects of various riding styles respectfully and with a better basis of shared experiences. Not here though. This thread is only for surveying, as we are doing now. We can pair it with other threads later.

    I want to encourage the more vocal posters around to post a summary of how they ride as well (I will, but later when I have time to compose a good post). I know that, especially with a few said posters, we've been going round and round on other threads, but I would like to invite them to post here as well so that everyone gets a good summary without wading through 9 pages of stuff.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  10. #10
    Enjoy
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    My ride looks like this:

    Road conditions
    Commute 3 towns away in rain, snow and sun.
    Temps ranging from 20-90F
    Traffic Inbound: Buses, wideloaders, bumper to bumper, cell phone bound. Cagers: 10-30mph Self: 7-22mph
    Traffic Outbound: Cellphone bound Cagers 35-45mph Self: 15-22mph
    Street: Ranges from 2 lane, 4 lane divided w/bike lane, bike path

    Rig
    Trek 5200 10sp Ultegra
    Strobe Front and back on one circuit
    35V headlight, 3-M Red reflectant on all fenders. 3" Yellow Construction stripe on Bike bag
    Side: White reflectant on Front of Frame, Red on the back

    Self
    Retro-tec reflectant stripes on helmet
    Reflectant on pant legs
    Yellow or pink jersey

    Style
    Aggressive rider at high cadence
    Signals at intersection about 10 seconds, maintains hand slignal while well into the turn if possible
    Will allow cars 'curtesty pull out'
    Occassionally blows a yellow or red light
    Trips traffic signal as often as possible
    Converses with other riders at lights
    If lead rider is substantailly slower, passes when safe to do so
    If lead rider is about 2mph slower than self, follow at reasonable distance
    No power-weave BLT, DLLP

    Edited:
    I ride in the real or imaginary bike lane, until it's time to turn left. If is is poor, I'll take the lane
    Positive Driver Responses
    Street: 90% i.e., once every 4 months, I encounter a near miss where driver did not see me
    Bike trail forces onto the sidewalk: 45% i.e., At least once a day.
    Last edited by vrkelley; 09-22-06 at 01:46 PM.

  11. #11
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    My basic rule of thumb - whatever you are trying to do on a bike, do it the same way you would in a car, consistent with the "stay as far right as practicable" standard under the law (that's the standard here in California, anyway). The key word in the "keep right" phrase is "practicable," which does not mean as far right a "possible". That word "practicable" is what allows you, legally, to avoid riding through piles of broken glass, or right next to parked cars just waiting to "door" you, or any of a bunch of scenarios where hugging the gutter or shoulder would be a really bad idea. It basically allows you to do what common sense dictates anyway.

    The other major rule, already mentioned by another poster - be visible and predictable. I am fortunate to live in an area where there are lots of riders and the drivers are pretty familar with us being on the road, but I have found it to be true other places with fewer places, too: if you hold your line, ride with confidence, signal your turns, and obey traffic laws, the number of car-related traffic problems drops dramatically. Not to zero, but a bunch.
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    I'll list roads by design and in order of how frequently I ride them.

    2 lane, NOL roads (speed limits 25-55 mph): Default centered position. If I see a close pass coming, I will move right to increase my space but otherwise I hold steady in my position for the typical motorist pass. I don't want anyone behind the guy getting the idea that I'm moving over because I want them to pass me. I want them to be forced to think about it first. If a large truck is behind me and has a clear sightline to pass, I will move to within a foot of the edge of the road to allow them to get by safely. I've done this several times this week to let both school buses and landscaping trucks by on a long climb on my way to work. For motorcycles and cyclists moving faster than me, I will move far enough right to allow them to pass within the same lane.

    4-6 lane, NOL roads with inconsistent shoulders (speed limits 45-55 mph): I consider an inconsistent shoulder to be a shoulder/bike lane that either turns into a RTOL every few blocks or that is not of consistent width. There are no consistent shouldered roads that I normally ride. On these roads, I default to the center of the right lane. In light traffic, I will generally hold the right lane regardless of what room I have to my right. Most people change lanes with issue although some need me to wave them around on my left before they get the idea that I'm not pulling over for them. In heavier traffic, I will move over between intersections when there is enough clear pavement ahead that the traffic behind will make it past me before it runs out. If not, I'll let them wait and pass me on my left. At speeds over 20mph, I stay off the shoulder unless I know I'll be slowing down soon due to a hill. I will move right to let motorcyclists/cyclists pass on my left in the same lane (never had a cyclist do this though as they are all always in the shoulder/turn lane).

    4 lane, NOL roads (speed limits 35-50 mph): centered in lane and generally hold that position except for moving left when stopping at lights to let people turn right on red or to let motorcyclists/cyclists pass. I find these roads the easiest to ride as due to their narrow nature, traffic is calmer and motorists understand why I need the space I am using. Honks are very rare on these roads. Honks on roads with a shoulder are probably 1 per mile.

    WOL lane roads or 2 lane roads with shoulder/bike lane (speed limits 25-55mph): Default center, move right to allow faster traffic to pass. If I see no indication that the passer will be turning right at the intersection, I will let them pass as we cross but usually, I hold the lane through intersections.

    I make vehicular left turns which usually means merging into the left lane at least 1/4 mile before the intersection although if the left lane is clear earlier than that but I see a large pack of traffic coming, I will merge left sooner and let them pass me on the right (I will signal left continuously whenever I do this which seems to be quite often when turning into my neighborhood).

  13. #13
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I don't have experience driving on roads such as the ones Al showed in that picture a while back. The picture had very heavy traffic on vary narrow lanes, with about 3 or 4 lanes each way and no shoulder whatsoever. I went to Atlanta last year and the roads there were also very narrow with no shoulder and heavy traffic, but also with a lot of long hills. Roads like that do not exist in my area. I don't think I would have the courage to ride on roads like these, especially on my recumbent bike and definitely not on my recumbent trike. I don't offer anybody advice on how to use those roads as I would probably use the sidewalk.

    Where I ride, not counting residential streets or streets in the downtown area, most roads have one or two lanes in each direction and usually have a bike lane. Most of the time there are very few intersections or driveways on at least one side of the road. Riding in bike lanes is a safe operation under the conditions in which I ride. And there are tons of cyclists here because of the weather and the 4 or 5 colleges and universities here.

    In the downtown area we have one-way, one-lane streets where half the street is a bike lane. That is also safe to use. We also have two-way, two-lane streets with bike lanes, but they are few. Otherwise, almost all downtown streets have no bike lane at all and many are very narrow. It is customary for bikes to ride as far to the right as practical, staying out of the parking lane. It's not customary for bikes to take the lane, and motorists seem to be pretty polite about passing you even when you are over to the side. Overall people are very aware of cyclists around here.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  14. #14
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    Personally, I avoid high-speed multi-lane arterials in favor of WOLs, quiet neighborhood streets and bike lanes/routes where they exist. I do ride on sidewalks where it is safe... and it is legal here for cyclists to do so. on the quiet streets that I do ride I am as far to the right as practicable, which probably puts me in the lane or in the right tire track. when I hear or see a car approaching from the rear I will move over if I am in the way and it is safe for me to do so.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  15. #15
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    My approach is fairly simple. This is what I do on streets where the speed limit is no more than 30-35 MPH

    My first rule is I assume every car I encounter may try to kill me. So I always try to be aware of each car approaching me and I make a contingency plan for avoiding cars that, for example, may left hook me, right hook me, run lights, stop signs etc. This means that I ignore traffic control devices at intersections. Even if I have the green or the right of way, I assume that cross traffic at the intersection will not stop,even though they have the red or the stop. This doesn't mean that I will stop to let them go by, but I always am aware they may run the light and I leave myself a way out.

    My second rule is always take the lane and only move over when a car approaches from the back and its safe to let them by. I try to ride on streets where the speed limit is no more than 30 MPH, so that I am traveling at close to the speed of cars. If there is one lane in my direction, unless its really wide, I take the center of the lane, but I move over to let traffic by when there is no oncoming traffic. If there are 2 or more lanes in my direction, I take the lane. At intersections, I take the lane well before I get to it.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  16. #16
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    For recreational cycling, I select my routes and timing according to time of day, weather conditions, traffic volumes, speed limits, and road/intersection geometries. For transportation cycling, I choose what I perceive to be the safest route, even if it is not the shortest. I choose an early work schedule partly to avoid the morning rush hour, although I do catch the front end of the afternoon crush.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
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  17. #17
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    I went to Atlanta last year and the roads there were also very narrow with no shoulder and heavy traffic, but also with a lot of long hills. Roads like that do not exist in my area. I don't think I would have the courage to ride on roads like these, especially on my recumbent bike and definitely not on my recumbent trike. I don't offer anybody advice on how to use those roads as I would probably use the sidewalk.

    Where I ride, not counting residential streets or streets in the downtown area, most roads have one or two lanes in each direction and usually have a bike lane. Most of the time there are very few intersections or driveways on at least one side of the road. Riding in bike lanes is a safe operation under the conditions in which I ride. And there are tons of cyclists here because of the weather and the 4 or 5 colleges and universities here.

    In the downtown area we have one-way, one-lane streets where half the street is a bike lane. That is also safe to use. We also have two-way, two-lane streets with bike lanes, but they are few. Otherwise, almost all downtown streets have no bike lane at all and many are very narrow. It is customary for bikes to ride as far to the right as practical, staying out of the parking lane. It's not customary for bikes to take the lane, and motorists seem to be pretty polite about passing you even when you are over to the side. Overall people are very aware of cyclists around here.

    Kind of funny. I'm 5 hrs from Altanta and your Atlanta experience is my everyday life. I would feel equally uncomfortable in your cycling world.

    Almost all of my riding is on rural 45-55 MPH 2-lane roads with little to NO paved shoulder, and usually a very low shoulder. Some have NO Lines whatsoever. Our "flat roads" are really just grades of less than 2% and while not literally true, you seem to be usually either going up or down. Steeper hills are usually short (1/4-3/4 miles) and somewhat steep (6 - 16%), and curvey but not insanely so. I try to spend little time on the "major" roads, where motorized vehicles might pass at a rate of one every 15 seconds or so.

    Regardless, there is no practical way to be out of the lane. Used to ride just inside the white line (when available). Got buzzed somewhat frequently. Moved over to solidly in the right half of the lane this year and it's great. People move over earlier and clear into the other lane. (I use a glasses mounted mirror. Without it I don't think I would have been able to detect most of the change in response of other vehicles.) Amazingly less aggression from them too, which I never would have anticipated!

    Sb - I think you have good intuition on recumbents in these parts. I've thought about a bent, and others do ride them here, but I'd be concerned about the lower position limiting the vision / visability of both rider and other vehicles.

    There are some very wide (10-12') shoulders on the major 4-lane (+2/-2) roads outside of town. They are full of gravel, glass and horse *****. And they are next to vehicles travelling 65+MPH in some areas. And they sometimes end in rude locations. I recall seeing a sign indicating that they were bike lanes. It was posted in the grass to the side of the road and had been mashed flat by something large with 4 or more tires. I try to stay off these roads, but when on them I will take the lane until I see that someone won't / isn't likely to move over. They are really not that crowded. I won't impede at all.

    I do commute a little in this small (15,000) town. I stay off the busy 4 lane as well as the very busy and very narrow 2 lane that is my car route. This means my commute is 50% longer on bike.

    In a 2-lane street (1/1) with a decent 6' shoulder and light traffic I take the lane when there is no traffic, mainly due to debris and horse *****. I move onto the shoulder in time to let cars know they will not have to even slow down, then will move back if I can. I'm only on this for less than a mile and at 6 AM there are 0-3 cars that pass me. The Southbound side has an erratic shoulder going from 6' to 0 (and I mean ZERO). This side would move me in and out of the lane regardless of what I wanted so in the evening I have to take the lane or risk getting curbed. I stay off most of that side on the way back by using alternative streets.

    Most of my commute though is on lightly travelled side streets. There may be parking (both legal and illegal) and there may be room for parking, or not. But definately just enought room at best. But it's not a lot of parking either. I take the lane because there's really not much choice. If a car is approaching nicely (has adjusted speed accordingly) and would need the lane to pass, and there is reasonable room to move over, I will. Mind you, there may not be another car for another 1/8 mile or even more. I avoid darting in or out either my staying out, or even pulling over and stopping (rare). Again, all light traffic.

    I wear a reflective leg band and have lights in front and back, plus dorky reflecters on my spokes - on my commuter.

    I carefully run stop signs, except when there are other people at the intersection.

  18. #18
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    I choose an early work schedule partly to avoid the morning rush hour, although I do catch the front end of the afternoon crush.
    One of my favorite things about commuting by bike is not having to think about rush hour.
    By bike my commute time is constant; independent of how much traffic there is.
    By car it can vary by 100% depending on traffic.

  19. #19
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho

    My first rule is I assume every car I encounter may try to kill me. So I always try to be aware of each car approaching me and I make a contingency plan for avoiding cars that, for example, may left hook me, right hook me, run lights, stop signs etc. This means that I ignore traffic control devices at intersections. Even if I have the green or the right of way, I assume that cross traffic at the intersection will not stop,even though they have the red or the stop. This doesn't mean that I will stop to let them go by, but I always am aware they may run the light and I leave myself a way out.
    +1

    I was a motorcycle safety instructor for 6 years and have over 250,000 miles on road motorcycles. We teach a system for people to do exactly what you do. Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute. It's part of me now. It starts from the time I decide to ride (route decisions) and continues throughout the ride as I make decisions to minimize my risks.

    I feel my experience on motorcycles plus formal safety training have helped me tremendously in bicycling.

  20. #20
    yes
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    Great thread. Here's my two cents:
    1. Residential streets. Take lane, move over when car is coming and it is safe for them to pass. If it's downhill, I don't move over, b/c I'll be near or over the speed limit.
    2. 1 land each way, 45-50mph, slight or more downhill, so that I can go 25mph. Ride just left of right wheel well. Signal when it is safe for people to pass, and move over.
    3. Same as 2, but if uphill, I ride further to the right.
    4. Up steep hills when I'm going slow, I'll ride to the right of the white line regardless of width of shoulder. It's always 6" or more, and going uphill, it's easy to toe the line. It's also easy to bail if needed.
    5. 2 lanes each direction - 11-12 ft lanes. I'll generally take a good portion of the lane forcing people to switch lanes, but monitor traffic actively.
    6. 2 lanes Wide Outside Lane. Keep pretty far to the right, so that cars can pass safely without switching lanes.
    7. Middle shared left turn lane. I ride further to the right, knowing that people have some extra room to pass.
    In general, if the road merits, I do dynamically move left and right over a 2 ft area based on traffic. I like to be out in the lane causing people to slow down from a distance. If I know it is safe to pass, I move over in advance to facilitate the pass. Hopefully, they have slowed a bit.
    A small percentage of drivers are rude. A couple seemingly intentional close passes a week, a honk every month or so, a couple instances of tailgating over the last year. More often, people are overly nice, and that causes as many problems, but they are never scary.

  21. #21
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sam83
    Sb - I think you have good intuition on recumbents in these parts. I've thought about a bent, and others do ride them here, but I'd be concerned about the lower position limiting the vision / visability of both rider and other vehicles.
    I think I was worried more about how slow you go on uphills on recumbents and not wanting to hold up so much traffic on so many very long hills. On the trike I do worry about visibility. It is very low. When I visited Atlanta I didn't have a trike yet so I wasn't even thinking about that.

    People who don't ride recumbents don't really understand, but recumbents make riding such a joy. So when I saw conditions that made me think I couldn't ride a recumbent it made me sad. I don't know if I'd be so much of a bike enthusiast if all I had was a regular bike.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  22. #22
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    1. Behave like a motor vehicle.
    2. Always be aware and on the alert. My closest calls have always came when my thoughts had drifted off and I wasn't paying attention.
    The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. M.L.King

  23. #23
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    I think I was worried more about how slow you go on uphills on recumbents and not wanting to hold up so much traffic on so many very long hills.
    Haha you guys can be sloooow! Seriously, I see 5-7 MPH regularly around here. Seen less than 2 MPH on a looooooooong 17-19% grades.

    The good thing is that for the most part drivers in these areas seem to realize the "pattern" and are prepared to slow for things out of their vision (even of poorly prepared), and most also realize it's pretty easy and quick to get around someone going 5 MPH. (unless there is a lot of traffic)

    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    People who don't ride recumbents don't really understand, but recumbents make riding such a joy. So when I saw conditions that made me think I couldn't ride a recumbent it made me sad.
    You are absolutely right. But my "wedge" brings me much joy too.

  24. #24
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yes
    Great thread. Here's my two cents:
    1. Residential streets. Take lane...
    More often, people are overly nice, and that causes as many problems, but they are never scary.
    Yes! I pretty much agree with your entire post.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
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  25. #25
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    One of my favorite things about commuting by bike is not having to think about rush hour.
    By bike my commute time is constant; independent of how much traffic there is. ...
    True, but my 0600-0630 morning commute would be less enjoyable an hour or two later (been there ... done that), with more auto exhaust to inhale and fewer nice long traffic gaps for left turn merges or for evasive maneuvers when the bike lane is obstructed by a disabled vehicle or construction sign. I can and do ride in heavy traffic from time to time, and extremely congested traffic can actually make certain free merges and diverges quite safe and easy for a bicyclist, but I still prefer riding at off-peak times.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
    Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069

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