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Old 09-22-06, 12:01 PM   #1
Helmet Head
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Does same-direction traffic matter in your riding?

Main question:
On your regular commute and/or routes, please tell us to what extent, if any, does the role of same-direction faster traffic play in your decisions about where to ride in the road?

Clarifying questions:
Do you decide where to ride entirely based on factors and conditions independent of faster same-direction traffic?
Or is the presence of faster same-direction traffic the biggest factor?
Or is it somewhere in between?

If you're between intersections on a quiet road with a wide lane and there is no faster same-direction, do you ride a few feet to the right of where faster traffic would be if it were there?
Or do you ride further left than you would if traffic was there?
If further left, how much further left?

When approaching an intersection where you're going straight, do you stay where you are near the right edge, or do you move left? How much of what you do depends on the presence of same-direction faster-traffic?

While in most threads the convention is to offer opinions and challenge them, and I'm one of the biggest "challengers", I request that this thread be an exception and for everyone to observe the following guideline:

[tt]Asking clarifying questions is okay, but, please, no debates or evaluations of others' posts in this thread.[/tt]

Thank you.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 09-22-06 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 09-22-06, 12:16 PM   #2
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There's a short section of road right near my office that I really hate. It's high volume, high speed (55+ mph), with a very narrow "shoulder" that varies between 18 and 24" wide. Fortunately, it's only about 1/4 mile long and the rest of my commute is either in-town (where I'm on multi-lane streets with streetside parking and I just take the lane), or on boulevards with very wide outer lanes.

I ride with a mirror and try to be assertive and for the most part it works. If I see an overtaking vehicle is not moving left, I'll move left into the roadway to force them over and then move back right as they pass.

But, this had no effect yesterday evening on an overtaking 18-wheeler. The *sshole driver didn't budge an inch as he approached at 50+ mph. I squeezed to the right and held my breath as a vast wall of truck sailed by less than 2' off of my left shoulder. That really scared me, and really sucked. Not sure what else I could do about it, but there is a driveway on that stretch that I may just bail out into when there's a semi coming up from behind.

WRT your questions - I think it depends on the roadway design. With wider outer lanes and/or bike lanes, I normally ride about 18" to the right of the white line. Close enough to be conspicuous (and avoid road debris that accumulates further right), but not so close as to get a "shave" from passing vehicles. If the road is narrow or has no outer lane, I'll normally ride about 24" to the left of the white line (i.e., about where the right tires travel).

At intersections I'll move to the left side of the lane if there's no right turn lane to allow right turners to get through. Otherwise, I'll hold my regular roadway position.

Last edited by SSP; 09-22-06 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 09-22-06, 12:21 PM   #3
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On a wide lane with no intersections and no traffic, it makes no difference where I ride. But where would such a road exist outside the velodrome? In a wide unobstructed lane with steady or continuous traffic, I will ride to the right so cars can pass me. On a steady-trafficked narrow lane, I'll ride to the left so they cannot pass me.
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Old 09-22-06, 12:28 PM   #4
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if there are 2 lanes same direction the left ones all mine no budging I want to get seen not hit
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Old 09-22-06, 12:31 PM   #5
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Asking clarifying questions is okay, but, please, no debates or evaluations of others' posts in this thread.




????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 09-22-06, 12:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomcryar
Asking clarifying questions is okay, but, please, no debates or evaluations of others' posts in this thread.




????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Same as my instructions in the other thread. Prevents a survey thread from becoming a debate.

Don't have time now, but I'll post on these two survey threads later in the day.
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Old 09-22-06, 12:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomcryar
Asking clarifying questions is okay, but, please, no debates or evaluations of others' posts in this thread.




????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You, of all people, are asking this??!
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Old 09-22-06, 01:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomcryar
You, of all people, are asking this??!
Hey, shush.

This is a far better tone than most threads have been in the last few months. Just answer the question so we can construct a good basis of shared experiences.
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Old 09-22-06, 01:48 PM   #9
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Asking clarifying questions is okay, but, please, no debates or evaluations of others' posts in this thread.




????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!![/QUOTE]


How arrogant and hypocritical is this?? After almost getting one thread shut down, after ACTUALLY getting one thread shut down, after numerous threads that he has dominated and taken way off point, he has the nuts to ask this??
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Old 09-22-06, 02:14 PM   #10
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My position depends both on my absolute speed (higher = farther from curb) and on my speed relative to motor traffic (greater differential = closer to curb). (Yes, I see the inherent potential conflict; read on.)

For a concrete (asphalt, actually ) example, consider La Costa Av. just west of Rancho Santa Fe Rd. On this stretch of road, there is a several-percent grade with 1.5m/5-foot bike lanes on both sides, and a posted 45mph/72kph speed limit. Going east/uphill, I grind up in the bike lane at about 7mph/11kph, and have no desire to experiment with dynamic lane positioning. However, when descending westbound at 25mph/40kph, I find staying in the bike lane extremely uncomfortable and disconcerting, particularly, but not only, when I approach a side street intersection. I don't grab the center of the right lane, but I am probably on that lane's right tire tracks.
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Old 09-23-06, 12:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Main question:
On your regular commute and/or routes, please tell us to what extent, if any, does the role of same-direction faster traffic play in your decisions about where to ride in the road?
Of course same-direction matters in my decisions when I ride. But it matters in a totally situation dependant way. It mostly involves a tradeoff between my need of space and the effect on traffic flow caused by me blocking the way. Another strong influencing factor is the road striping.

On rural roads with no shoulder and fast, somewhat dense traffic (which is my main concern) the tradeoff is completely dependent on how the road looks and what kind of traffic there is. Some case studies:

1) If there is no traffic, it doesn't really matter where I ride; I just ride out further in the lane so I don't have to be worried about the edge of the road so much. When cars approach, if the traffic is light, I simply move over and let them pass.

2) When traffic is heavy (perhaps momentarily, as you frequently get large packs of cars on these types of roads), I need to control the passing behavior of the cars as they approach. I move further out and drift right as the car is passing. (all these drifts are just a few inches to a foot or two) Just before the pass is complete (i.e. before the next car gets to me), I drift left again slightly to encourage a swing wide before drifting right again. This is important because cars many times follow very close to each other and they simply follow the leader. On long lines, I stagger my drift left, drifting further left between each car as the line passes. This is because, with close following, the car behind the current passing car will usually give me a bit less space than the car preceding it. Obviously, if the line is long, I get squeezed before too long, so I stagger a bit to avoid this effect.

3) As cars are approaching from behind and a concerning road situation is coming up (such as an uphill 'S' curve) I will squeeze over and encourage passing before the dangerous section, at the expense of my space. This is also important because many drivers on these types of roads will only follow for a limited amount of time. If I hold them up too long, they will pass in dangerously blind situations, such as that uphill 'S' curve. I've seen cars pass me around curves and nearly drive straight into a head on collision with a car coming the other way. Since I am also a losser in a head on crash of two cars, I give up some space to encourage passing before the dangerous stretch.
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Old 09-23-06, 01:38 PM   #12
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Traffic density will have an effect on if I’ll move to the right as courtesy to allow cars to pass more easily on narrow lanes.

I’m generally comfortable with a 35mph speed differential between me and the cars except during peek evening rush hour times (2:30-3:30 & 5-6) (in which case I will pick a different route or stay off the road for a bit.)

In WOL with low traffic I usually stay in the right tire mark till a car comes along. (Unless it’s a straight road and no intersections then I’ll stay to the right on faster roads.)

At a light I usually merge with traffic as most of our intersections lose any extra width for a cyclist.
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Old 09-23-06, 08:37 PM   #13
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What Brian said in paragraph 2.

I have pretty steady traffic rolling by me most days. I'll add that I ride further out and often take the entire lane in good weather on my road bike, but on my (slower) mountain bikes, uphills, or other conditions that drop my speed to less than 50% of average traffic flow I move over closer to the curb when cars are passing.
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Old 09-23-06, 09:25 PM   #14
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I have two diiferent roads with faster same direction traffic.

One is narrow, so passing traffic must move into the opposing traffic lane to pass me. I ride about 18" from the edge, but if it looks like a car will be passing me at the same time as a car approaching from the front I pull out into the middle of the lane so he will slow down an d wait for the other car to pass before he passes me.

The other road is wide enough for cars to pass me without pulling out into the opposing traffic lane. If there is no traffic coming behind me I ride about 3 ft from the edge so I avoid the storm drains, which although reasonably level with the pavement are not comfortable to ride over. As cars approach from behind I move towards the edge, so they can pass easily, even though this means I have to take some weight off the saddle as I pass over the storm drains.
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Old 09-24-06, 07:28 AM   #15
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Usually, I ride the shortest route from origin to destination without regard to traffic. Not to say that traffic doesn't scare me. It definitely does, but I try to keep the fear from controlling me. Sometimes, I will take a detour to avoid the scarier areas when I am riding at night though. However, where I live, there aren't a lot of route options. If my destination is on the other side of the river, I generally have at most two route options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
If you're between intersections on a quiet road with a wide lane and there is no faster same-direction, do you ride a few feet to the right of where faster traffic would be if it were there? Or do you ride further left than you would if traffic was there? If further left, how much further left?
In a wide lane, I would ride in a position where the tip of my right handlebar is about one foot to the left of the shoulder line. If there is no shoulder, than the tip of my right handlebar would be about two feet from the edge. This is independent of traffic conditions. Wide lanes are rare in Western Massachusetts though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
When approaching an intersection where you're going straight, do you stay where you are near the right edge, or do you move left? How much of what you do depends on the presence of same-direction faster-traffic?
If I am approaching an intersection that I intend to go straight though, I move to the center or near the center of the lane, assuming that there is not a speeding car close behind me. I do this for two reasons. (1) If I have to stop at the intersection, I don't want a car pulling up next to me. (2) Many intersections are slight offset or tapered. So if I go straight through the intersection from the right edge of the lane, I will end up not being in the lane at all when I get to the other side.
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Old 09-24-06, 12:04 PM   #16
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Faster traffic is the major factor in deciding what path to take. I try to avoid streets where the speed limit is more than 30-35 mph. Not that I won't ride on faster streets if I have to.

I always take the lane, and stay aware of traffick in back of me, moving over or waving them by, when and only when its safe for me. I take the lane well before all intersections. To cower to the right curb at an intersection is inviting a car to pass you at the most dangerous place on any road, at an intersection.
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Old 09-24-06, 12:17 PM   #17
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After thinking and more closely watching my riding today the answer is no. I seem to ride in about the place, between the edge of the road and the right wheel car track. Now that is about a two foot zone and other factors then come in to play where exactly I ride.
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Old 09-25-06, 08:35 PM   #18
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Choice of roads while cycling for utility (i.e. commuting, shopping, etc.) is generally done on the quickest road available. Factors that I consider:

– Same-direction traffic does not bother me at all. That's what a rearview mirror is made for. A couple of exceptions include riding against sunset (solution: wait 15-20 minutes) and a few other things like that.

– Narrow lanes are a bit of a problem, but not much. In that case, sharing the road means wearing a reflective vest, slowing down or accellerating to avoid the "two trucks and abike at the same time" scenario, and keeping a very straight predictable line. That's it!

– In dense traffic, I may avoid left turns from the left turn lane (2-step turns are good for that), or streets with "right lane must turn right" scenarios (a left turn signal is effective there). This is the only traffic-related situation that I don't like.

– I will avoid streets filled with stop signs and will avoid especially streets that cross arterials. Especially if I have to stop and they don't.

- If I want to relax or tune off, I may use a very scenic road. But it won't be one where I have to stop for arterials very often, because I really don't like that!
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