The purpose of this is not a flame thread, just a question. And I don't intend this as a vc/VC/ac debate, either. If the mods feel differently, they're welcome to move this to the VC subforum.
My question is about taking the lane. I often take the lane, so I'm not averse to the idea. And it is ultimately the individual cyclist who ought to decide the safest method for him, as long as it does not put the other users of the road in danger or unnecessary delay.
But here's my scenario:
Let's say we have a 10' wide right lane in a multi-lane road. Even with a compact car, I think most of us would not want to be passed quickly by a driver who stays entirely within the lane.
Some people advocate taking the middle of the lane.
The take-the-lane argument is often, "If you stay too far right, you're only encouraging drivers to buzz you."
I imagine that if we were to hug the curb (or ride really close to a row of parked cars) we might encourage people to pass quickly and more closely. (I think this is not just because they think they have enough room, but also because they feel they can count on a cyclist that hugs the curb to stay there.) But this doesn't affect me much, because my default is to give myself at least 2-3' from the curb. (There are exceptions. I will allow less space if I am filtering slowly forward, and allow more space if I am going fast downhill, and I will usually take the lane or allow at least a car-width to my right at intersections. But 2-3' is my general default).
So my response to the argument "If you stay too far right, you're only encouraging drivers to buzz you.":
1 - You have at least 2-3' to your right which you can move to if a driver is about to buzz you. I see the driver approaching too closely in my mirror, I hold my place at a safe distance from the curb, and if the a55hat doesn't move over before passing, I have space to the right to avoid getting buzzed or clipped. I memorize the license plate, and keep riding.
2 - What exactly prevents a driver from buzzing you if you take the lane? The driver just do a partial lane change and buzz you. It's happened to me as often as I've been buzzed not taking the lane. I find that most drivers do not buzz me.
You might say that this strategy is not remarkably different from taking the lane. In fact, in 10' wide lanes with parked cars, it's almost identical behavior. However, what happens when the lane gets a little wider, and is now hard to evaluate as "too narrow" to share? As roads get wider, the second cyclist continues to ride at least 2-3' from the curb. The take-the-lane cyclist may have a tendency to continue this habit, even when it is not entirely necessary. And then the cyclist gets slapped with an unfair ticket that is difficult to defend.
To each his/her own. Do what you believe is safest.