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Old 01-29-07, 11:33 PM   #1
Eriol
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what am i doing wrong

No matter where my lane position is cars, trucks, and busses feel its ok to buzz me at 40+ miles per hour less than a foot away.
If I hug the curb they dont even try to change lanes, if I take the entire lane then they move over only enough so I can feel their sideview mirror whish by my head. Am I just thinned skinned or is this abnormal, its starting to scare me.
Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 01-29-07, 11:43 PM   #2
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What kind of traffic are you riding in?

I have three criteria for choosing routes:

Speed of traffic
Volumn of traffic
Width of road

If a road or street is narrow and crowded, it's generally OK if the traffic is moving slow (as it should on a narrow road or street.)

If the road or street has a lot of fast moving traffic, it's ok if there's a good bike lane or shoulder.

And if a road is narrow and fast, it's ok a car only comes by every few minutes rather than every few seconds.

If you are on a road where there's a lot of fast moving traffic and very little bike lane or shoulder to ride on, then you're screwed. Cars generally give you a wide berth if no one is coming in the opposite direction. But with lots of oncoming traffic, they will try to squeeze by you rather than slow from 50mph to 20mph.
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Old 01-29-07, 11:48 PM   #3
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I would say its more narrow and fast, however there are two lanes in both directions so I try and take the entire right lane. Maybe I should move completly over 2/3s into the right lane?
The traffic comes in spurts a bunch of cars for 30 seconds then nothing for 30. I would pull over but it would take me forever to get home from work if I had to stop every 30 seconds.

EDIT: so far this is the best route I have found, the alternatives are much worse
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Old 01-30-07, 12:24 AM   #4
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I ride on a street with 2 narrow lanes in each direction almost every day. I mostly ride in the center of the outer lane. I don't have the problem with getting buzzed like you do. Try riding further to the left, if it makes sense to you and you feel OK about it.

Maybe you could find a more experienced cyclist to ride the route with you and give some pointers. Or you might be interested in a vehicular cycling class. Check with the League of American Bicyclists or ask around at the local bike shops.
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Old 01-30-07, 07:06 AM   #5
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Do you have a mirror? if not, get one. That way you will be able to check on rear-approaching traffic and won't be taken by surprise when vehicles pass you. If you don't have a mirror then I think part of your problem may be that you are simply startled when a vehicle overtakes you.

Once you have the mirror try this technique: On the road you are having problems with, ride roughly centered in the narrow lane or a little right of center, giving yourself 4-5' of space to the right edge of road or curb. When cars approach, stay put until you see the vehicle slow and/or move left to pass. When the vehicle moves left, you move right a foot or two to give more clearance. Once the traffic has passed, resume your center-ish lane position.
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Old 01-30-07, 09:27 AM   #6
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Sounds like hostile conditions to ride in. A lot of people have conditions like these. They choose to drive.
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Old 01-30-07, 09:30 AM   #7
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I used to ride on a similar road. 45mph with no shoulder, and the traffic would come in sourts as they caught the light a quarter mile back, like cattle being herded. I swear they would buzz me purposely, no matter what position I took in the lane. I never really found a solution, my job there ended not long after I started bike commuting so the problem was over. But it did seem that these people thought I was invading their space so they would purposely pass me very closely to convey their frustration.
Did I mention that I hate people?
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Old 01-30-07, 09:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galen_52657
Once you have the mirror try this technique: On the road you are having problems with, ride roughly centered in the narrow lane or a little right of center, giving yourself 4-5' of space to the right edge of road or curb. When cars approach, stay put until you see the vehicle slow and/or move left to pass. When the vehicle moves left, you move right a foot or two to give more clearance. Once the traffic has passed, resume your center-ish lane position.
This will only work with the first car. OP said that the traffic comes in spurts, likely from a light. So the first car in the line will have sufficient space, but the others that follow will just buzz closely as they usually do.
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Old 01-30-07, 09:38 AM   #9
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This is why I try to avoid the road when riding alone.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrosseyedCrickt
This will only work with the first car. OP said that the traffic comes in spurts, likely from a light. So the first car in the line will have sufficient space, but the others that follow will just buzz closely as they usually do.
Exactly. Especially if the first driver maintains speed and does not move left until very close to the cyclist. Following drivers may have very little time/space to react. Makes me think that the poster of such advice does not have much practical experience cycling on such roads. That is why I use lights mounted very high so that I can be seen by the following cars.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:07 AM   #11
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What kind of colors do you wear? You must be wearing the bright flourescent lime-green-yellow highway worker construction vest in your situation. No ifs and or buts.

Do you run strong rear lights? Several of them?

I agree - try to avoid single-lane in each direction, narrow, high-speed, high volume, without shoulder or bikelane. Those are the worst.

Especially at night or in the rain.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:12 AM   #12
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try to find a different road. Carry a u-lock, start bashing windows.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:29 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Exactly. Especially if the first driver maintains speed and does not move left until very close to the cyclist. Following drivers may have very little time/space to react. Makes me think that the poster of such advice does not have much practical experience cycling on such roads. That is why I use lights mounted very high so that I can be seen by the following cars.
I agree. (Except that I have no idea how much experience the other poster has.) It's important to realize that trailing drivers in a "pack" don't have much time to react to you.

Another factor is that when you are riding further left from the curb, drivers tend to pass you with more space. I don't know why, but I imagine it has something to do with perception as they tend to judge your location relative to the lane edges. At any rate, if the lead driver passes you with more space, it also gives trailing drivers more time/space to notice you and respond. Furthermore, drivers have a tendency to follow the leader. If the lead car pulls way out to the left, following drivers will sometimes do the same, even if they haven't seen the cyclist yet. So, in dealing with a pack of cars, my first strategy is to get the lead driver to give me lots of space. Short of brandishing a golf club, the best way to do this is usually to ride a little more to the left when you're being chased by the pack.
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Old 01-30-07, 12:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrosseyedCrickt
Quote:
Originally Posted by galen__52657
Once you have the mirror try this technique: On the road you are having problems with, ride roughly centered in the narrow lane or a little right of center, giving yourself 4-5' of space to the right edge of road or curb. When cars approach, stay put until you see the vehicle slow and/or move left to pass. When the vehicle moves left, you move right a foot or two to give more clearance. Once the traffic has passed, resume your center-ish lane position.
This will only work with the first car. OP said that the traffic comes in spurts, likely from a light. So the first car in the line will have sufficient space, but the others that follow will just buzz closely as they usually do.
Funny how this claim/concern usually (always?) seems to come from those who do not engage in the practice of using a mirror to fine tune their lane position in narrow lanes in order to encourage all those approaching from behind to slow down and/or change lanes completely to pass, including everyone in the pack.

This is what I observe in my mirror very consistently in these situations on countless roads: Before the lead car in the pack moves completely aside to change lanes to go around the cyclist, the driver of the 2nd car also sees the cyclist, and, like a lemming, tends to follow the car in front of him in the exact same track. If traffic is too busy to allow for both cars to change lanes, then the driver of the 2nd car slows down to the cyclist's speed, thus causing all those behind him to slow down too. Sometimes the 1st and 2nd car change lanes, but the 3rd car (and everyone behind him) are forced to slow down, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Especially if the first driver maintains speed and does not move left until very close to the cyclist. Following drivers may have very little time/space to react.
This typical "following drivers may have very little time/space" hypothesizing ignores several factors:
  1. Usually (not always), the driver of the 2nd car can see the cyclist ahead of the car in front of him, especially if the cyclist chooses to stand precisely for this purpose (see #5 below). Even in the saddle in the crouched "road bike" position, a cyclist's head typically sits higher than the height of the average car. Windows of the front car are usually transparent.
  2. The 2nd car is usually several car lengths behind the 1st car, thereby increasing the time/distance the 2nd driver has to notice and slow down for (or pass) the cyclist, once the first car is moving aside and the 2nd driver notices the cyclist.
  3. Even if the driver of the 2nd car does not notice the cyclist before the 1st car moves, he can see the cyclist before the 1st car has moved completely out of the way.
  4. The 2nd motorist does not have to come to a complete stop to avoid hitting the cyclist. Any slowing increases the time he has before he reaches the cyclist, the time he has to also change lanes, and the time the cyclist has to move aside to help the 2nd driver pass him, all during which those behind are forced to slow down too. Even if slowing does not buy him enough time to pass the cyclist, he still has to slow down only to the speed of the cyclist, not come to a complete stop.
  5. In order for this to happen, as ILTB notes, the first driver would have to maintain speed and not move left way past the point where the prudent lane-controlling cyclist would be taking notice and reacting accordingly (standing up to be more visible, using the slow/stop signal to encourage the 1st motorist to slow down long before he reached this point - which would force the 2nd motorist to slow down - being extra alert, moving aside, etc.)
  6. Are there any known incidents of someone hitting a slower vehicle or bicycle in front of him because he didn't notice him until too late: when the car in front of him moved aside to pass at the last possible instant?

Quote:
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Makes me think that the poster of such advice does not have much practical experience cycling on such roads.
Interesting. Your hypothesizing makes me think you don't have much practical experience controlling lanes and "herding traffic" while cycling on such roads.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 01-30-07 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 01-30-07, 12:54 PM   #15
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In keeping with ILTB's suggestions, I'm sure the Support Our Troops ribbon helps. You may consider adding an American Flag. I've heard that helps gain respect. So does a bumper sticker that says "Divorced, Wife got Car" or something like that.
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Old 01-30-07, 12:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Exactly. Especially if the first driver maintains speed and does not move left until very close to the cyclist. Following drivers may have very little time/space to react. Makes me think that the poster of such advice does not have much practical experience cycling on such roads. That is why I use lights mounted very high so that I can be seen by the following cars.
Is that your bike? My annual mileage is 7000-8000 with whats yours? I ride roads with 45-50 MPH speed limits all the time - both multi and single lane. The technique is the same for dealing with overtaking traffic. Block the lane. Force the car to slow and merge left. Leave yourself some bailout space. If cars are tightly packed, as soon as the brake-lights come on for the lead car, everybody behind is going to be hard on the binders. If the second car is going to hit anything, it would be the lead car and so on down the line. It's not that hard to herd the cars.
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Old 01-30-07, 01:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galen_52657
Is that your bike? My annual mileage is 7000-8000 with whats yours? I ride roads with 45-50 MPH speed limits all the time - both multi and single lane. The technique is the same for dealing with overtaking traffic. Block the lane. Force the car to slow and merge left. Leave yourself some bailout space. If cars are tightly packed, as soon as the brake-lights come on for the lead car, everybody behind is going to be hard on the binders. If the second car is going to hit anything, it would be the lead car and so on down the line. It's not that hard to herd the cars.
I dunno, ILTB, that sure sounds like practical experience cycling on such roads to me.
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Old 01-30-07, 01:19 PM   #18
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I have heard of one instance where a guy was hit by the second car in a pack after the first waited until the last second to change lanes. I believe he had a blog or something and someone posted a link to it in this forum. Anyone with a better memory than me want to fill in the blanks in my story?

I'm not one to defend ILTB too often, but from pictures of his commute and distances he's quoted, he has plenty of experience on the types of roads he's talking about. That's not to say that everyone who rides even the same exact roads will have the same experience, as we've discussed before.
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Old 01-30-07, 01:21 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galen_52657
Is that your bike? My annual mileage is 7000-8000 with whats yours? I ride roads with 45-50 MPH speed limits all the time - both multi and single lane. The technique is the same for dealing with overtaking traffic. Block the lane. Force the car to slow and merge left. Leave yourself some bailout space. If cars are tightly packed, as soon as the brake-lights come on for the lead car, everybody behind is going to be hard on the binders. If the second car is going to hit anything, it would be the lead car and so on down the line. It's not that hard to herd the cars.
Bingo. First of all, as soon as you push cars out, the ones behind tend to follow. The second thing is that if you can get in the way, you can slow ALL the cars down. Even after you shift right, it takes them awhile to speed up.

I believe that if you are properly lit and wear high visibility clothing, motorists will treat you with more respect.
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Old 01-30-07, 01:29 PM   #20
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does anyone have a suggestion on a type of mirror that works best for visibilty. The colored jacket is a great idea, currently im just using the td-1000 for my rear light.
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Old 01-30-07, 01:47 PM   #21
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First of all, as soon as you push cars out, the ones behind tend to follow. The second thing is that if you can get in the way, you can slow ALL the cars down. Even after you shift right, it takes them awhile to speed up.
This too sounds like the words of someone with ample practical experience effectively "herding" fast/busy traffic while cycling on roads with narrow lanes.
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Old 01-30-07, 01:49 PM   #22
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What are you wearing?
I find a bright vest works wonders.
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Old 01-30-07, 01:51 PM   #23
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In keeping with ILTB's suggestions, I'm sure the Support Our Troops ribbon helps. You may consider adding an American Flag. I've heard that helps gain respect. So does a bumper sticker that says "Divorced, Wife got Car" or something like that.
Im thinking of a sign or bumper sticker on my camelbak that says "Rider carries no more than $20 worth of ammunition". Angry drivers around here understand that kind of statement.
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Old 01-30-07, 01:55 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriol
does anyone have a suggestion on a type of mirror that works best for visibilty.
I use a Take-a-look attached to my sunglasses which I got at REI for $15 a few years ago. But it's the only one I've ever tried. It's rectangular. There are also oval designs by other brands.

Give it at least a week or two to learn how to use effectively. It takes time for your brain to adjust, and to get it tweaked just right. But like with anything else it becomes much easier after you give it some time.

The main thing with mirrors is to NEVER rely exclusively on a mirror to check back prior to moving laterally (more than a few inches) - be sure you retain the habit of ALWAYS looking back by turning your head to look over the shoulder on the side to which you are turning before you move over more than a few inches. The main reasons to make sure you retain this habit are:
  1. Two eyes are more reliable than one.
  2. The over-the-shoulder look back serves as a signal to others about your intent to move laterally. It's good to have that habit in case someone is looking at you that you have overlooked.
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Old 01-30-07, 02:11 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriol
does anyone have a suggestion on a type of mirror that works best for visibilty. The colored jacket is a great idea, currently im just using the td-1000 for my rear light.
I have a helmet-mounted mirror for fast training rides. On my utility/grocery getter bike I have a bar-mounted mirror that attaches to the end of the flat bar. The bar-mounted mirror gives a more stable and wide view of what is going on behind, plus, it takes my old eyes a second to refocus using the helmet mirror and on rough roads the view is bouncing all over.
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