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Old 03-15-09, 05:43 PM   #1
Square & Compas
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Enough of this "As Far to the Right as Practicable" Crap!

Read this, then give your thoughts if you'd like;
http://bicycleadvocacyandsafety.blog...-right-as.html
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Old 03-15-09, 05:49 PM   #2
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You have just discovered the Mediterranean. Congratulations.
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Old 03-15-09, 05:52 PM   #3
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Its funny to see you guys in the US discover things that have been common knowledge in countries with more cycling culture for 20-odd years...
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Old 03-15-09, 05:58 PM   #4
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What I mean by take the lane is ride in the right hand tire track of the travel lane. This will mean I am about 3' to 4' off of the curb instead of 1' to 2'.
Freemason Cyclist has figured out to ride in a manner that prioritizes his safety instead of hugging the gutter. That is good.
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Old 03-15-09, 06:15 PM   #5
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It's never practicable to ride to the right of the right hand tire lane for precisely the reason you outlined. The law is fine, it just took you a long time to realize its practical implications.

When I used to hug the curb I got passed too close, honked at, and occasionally harassed. Now I ride farther out and I rarely get anything more than an engine rev and the occasional honk. It may be that I simply exude more confidence (which scares off the weak monkeys) or it may be that they feel less afraid of what I'm doing.

"Taking the lane" for me means riding a couple feet right of the line. Riding there absolutely says in no confusing terms: "You must change lanes first."
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Old 03-15-09, 07:19 PM   #6
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Taking the lane means you will be butting heads with motorists that feel they own the road... Welcome to America, where the "car is king."

I am not against taking the lane, but detest the ongoing battle that tends to ensue, and that I have dealt with for years and years... it just gets old "swimming upstream."
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Old 03-15-09, 07:43 PM   #7
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(snip) "...it just gets old "swimming upstream."
Well, Gene, you know why Salmon swim upstream!
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Old 03-15-09, 08:11 PM   #8
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Well, Gene, you know why Salmon swim upstream!
...to get harassed by impatient motorists?
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Old 03-15-09, 08:43 PM   #9
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I've always interpreted "as far right as practicable" to mean riding in the right-hand tire track of the the right lane, unless there's a bike lane, or a clear, wide shoulder. (And don't get me started on the stupidity of some bike lane designs..) I don't think it's a good idea to idea to ride amongst gravel and other debris in the gutter, and riding in the "door zone" is just asking for it. There have been at least a dozen occasions over the last few years where a car door flew open just as I was passing; it could be that all the drivers looked in the mirror before opening the door, and decided I was safely out of range, but I doubt it. Taking the lane does annoy some drivers, usually more on principle than because you're actually slowing them down all that much, but an occasional 3-second conflict is still way better than eating asphalt.

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Old 03-15-09, 09:10 PM   #10
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Ride where you feel safe. That law is silly in many (not all) cases.
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Old 03-15-09, 09:19 PM   #11
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Well, Gene, you know why Salmon swim upstream!
Yeah, but Salmon only do it ONCE!
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Old 03-15-09, 09:34 PM   #12
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As far as I'm concerned I have no problem with riding as far to the right as practicable because it allows for a varied interpretation. Sometimes, for example when I'm about to make a left hand turn, the most practicable place to be is the left hand lane of a three lane road. Sometimes if the road is narrow and busy and lined with parked cars it's right in the middle of the lane. And sometimes on high speed roads with lots of traffic traveling at 50 mph+ and no shoulder it's most practicable to be right on the white line if need be- I know there are some who will disagree with that choice on-line (no pun intended) but I'd really like to see those sentiments put into practice on certain roads.

BTW my computer dictionary defines practicable like this-

practicable: able to be done or put into practice successfully

what's so crappy about that? push for something more specific and you could regret it.
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Old 03-15-09, 09:46 PM   #13
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I've grown to believe that "as far right as practicable" ought to apply to motorists as well as bicycles. If your tire isn't six inches from the edge of the road, we're gonna ticket your ass!

Seriously, the biggest problem with this advice, as I teach my students in my classes, is that it is *not* a safety directive, and is a weak third to 1) stay far enough to the left to avoid road hazards, and 2) stay far enough to the left that motorists do not attempt unsafe passes.

"As far right as practicable" is a *courtesy tip* and should never be observed when it places safety at risk.

Last edited by dogbreathpnw; 03-15-09 at 09:46 PM. Reason: formatting
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Old 03-16-09, 03:37 AM   #14
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Seriously, the biggest problem with this advice, as I teach my students in my classes, is that it is *not* a safety directive, and is a weak third to 1) stay far enough to the left to avoid road hazards, and 2) stay far enough to the left that motorists do not attempt unsafe passes.

"As far right as practicable" is a *courtesy tip* and should never be observed when it places safety at risk.
Who are the "students" in what "classes" of yours? How old are the students ?Are your teachings part of the approved course material/lesson plan, or are your own improvisations on the approved course and local law?
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Old 03-16-09, 04:15 AM   #15
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Now I ride farther out and I rarely get anything more than an engine rev and the occasional honk. It may be that I simply exude more confidence (which scares off the weak monkeys) or it may be that they feel less afraid of what I'm doing.
I think the fear factor is it. Commute Orlando recently did a survey of cyclist and motorist attitudes about bicycles on the road, and one of the most common comments from motorists is about being afraid of hitting a cyclist. Perversely, it seems to be a common reason for motorists to rush past them, sometimes unsafely, because they just "want to get the bicycle behind me", in their words.

I admit I'm getting into amateur psychology now, but I have heard that anger is called a "secondary emotion", which I guess means that anger most often arises out of some other emotion, not directly from the situation. The "primary emotion" that leads to the anger might be helplessness, frustration, or fear. For example, racist attitudes often arise from any or all of these primary emotions.

So you take an unpredictable cyclist alternating between apparently trying to stay out of the way, but then suddenly darting out to take a turn, or riding the wrong way, and the motorist response is "What they hell are they doing, they're going to get hit, they shouldn't be on the road!" Confusion and fear leading to anger.

Take a cyclist that is "acting like a car", riding in a straight line, signaling moves, stopping for red lights, and dressed visibly, and even if they delay a motorist for a few seconds, it is clear to the motorist what the cyclist is about to do, and the motorist has been given sufficient time to respond in a safe manner. No surprises, no confusion, possibly still some trepidation (after all, most motorists unfortunately have been conditioned to expect the unexpected from cyclists), but at most minor irritation, far less outright anger.

At least that has been my experience, and the experience of many others who ride this way.
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Old 03-16-09, 04:21 AM   #16
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Who are the "students" in what "classes" of yours? How old are the students ?Are your teachings part of the approved course material/lesson plan, or are your own improvisations on the approved course and local law?
Don't take the troll-bait, dogbreathpnw! If you are an LCI teaching LAB-sanctioned courses, he will slam you for drinking the VC kool-aid, and if anything else, he will slam you for passing off your own ideas as official recommendations. You can't win.

(Maybe you're outside the U.S., in which case I don't know exactly what he will say, but you still won't win.)
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Old 03-16-09, 06:04 AM   #17
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One of the few advantages of living in a state with a 3 foot law is, in a 12 foot or narrower lane, the "as far right as practicable" doesn't apply. There is an exception for lanes too narrow to safely share and a lane that narrow can not be safely shared with most cars. Most states have a similar exception even if they don't have a 3 foot law. If your state doesn't have a 3 foot law, you might be able to make the case that you need that minimum clearance based on other states laws and/or bike safety publications from advocacy groups or your state departement of trasportation.

Of course even if I wasn't covered by these laws, I would still ride where I need to ride to be safe.

I say one of the few advantages because the 3 foot law is almost never enforced.
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Old 03-16-09, 07:02 AM   #18
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I think the fear factor is it. Commute Orlando recently did a survey of cyclist and motorist attitudes about bicycles on the road, and one of the most common comments from motorists is about being afraid of hitting a cyclist. Perversely, it seems to be a common reason for motorists to rush past them, sometimes unsafely, because they just "want to get the bicycle behind me", in their words.
I admit I'm getting into amateur psychology now, but I have heard that anger is called a "secondary emotion", which I guess means that anger most often arises out of some other emotion, not directly from the situation. The "primary emotion" that leads to the anger might be helplessness, frustration, or fear. For example, racist attitudes often arise from any or all of these primary emotions.

So you take an unpredictable cyclist alternating between apparently trying to stay out of the way, but then suddenly darting out to take a turn, or riding the wrong way, and the motorist response is "What they hell are they doing, they're going to get hit, they shouldn't be on the road!" Confusion and fear leading to anger.

Take a cyclist that is "acting like a car", riding in a straight line, signaling moves, stopping for red lights, and dressed visibly, and even if they delay a motorist for a few seconds, it is clear to the motorist what the cyclist is about to do, and the motorist has been given sufficient time to respond in a safe manner. No surprises, no confusion, possibly still some trepidation (after all, most motorists unfortunately have been conditioned to expect the unexpected from cyclists), but at most minor irritation, far less outright anger.

At least that has been my experience, and the experience of many others who ride this way.
You've hit the nail on the head. I have seen this in practice, where car driver will be driving very calmy, and not in the least bit aggressive, but as soon as they approach a bicyclist from behind they will go into what seems like an attack mode, crowding the cyclist and then making a crazy, aggressive and dangerous pass, putting the cyclist, themselves and oncoming traffic in harms way. Anything to get ahead of the cyclist.

Continuing in your pop psychology analysis, I think the driver reaction comes from a very basic animal instinct, fight or flight. Whenever an animal, including human beings, are afraid, they basically have to pick between two options, running away, or becoming aggressive. The unsafe passes are merely the animal part of the human brain choosing to be aggressive.

Of course, I'm not justifying drivers behavior, I'm simply trying to explain it, since if you know what a person's motivation is, you can more effectively adapt a strategy to deal with it.
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Old 03-16-09, 07:05 AM   #19
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I try to stay as far right as possible and always will. I understand that we are truly guests of the public roadways. We are not capable of maintaining most speeds limits unless it's on a downhill and we don't pay taxes for the roadways since we don't use gas or get tags for our bikes. If we are to be considered the same as cars then vehicles passing us on a double yellow is technically illegal. But if cops enforced the double yellow law then we'd be impeding traffic which would mean we'd get a ticket too. Also we scream we want to be treated the same as cars but how many of us while riding on roadways lane split to the front of the line? We don't even need a license or insurance to ride our bikes on a roadway.

As for wearing high viz clothing. At my work I am required to wear high viz safety vests and we have a saying. "The yellow is so they can find the body". Don't get a false sense of security with a yellow vest.
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Old 03-16-09, 08:31 AM   #20
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I try to stay as far right as possible and always will. I understand that we are truly guests of the public roadways.
No more and no less than car drivers are.

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We are not capable of maintaining most speeds limits unless it's on a downhill
...
If we are to be considered the same as cars then vehicles passing us on a double yellow is technically illegal. But if cops enforced the double yellow law then we'd be impeding traffic which would mean we'd get a ticket too.
Slower speed does not mean we have less of a right to use the road. Riding slower than prevailing traffic basically brings you under the wording of the Slow Moving Vehicle and/or Bikes on the Right laws, both of which usually say you should be as far right as "practicable", which basically means "able to be practiced by a reasonable person". If riding too far to the right means you are passed too closely by motorists trying to squeeze by you in the same lane, that is not a reasonable way to use the road because it is not safe.

Traffic impedence laws vary from state to state, and I'm not familiar with them. In at least some states, I have read that it explicitly applies only to motor vehicles, and in other cases, applies only when the vehicle is intentionally operating slower than it is capable of. These don't apply to bicyclists. However, as I said, I don't know too much more about this. Certainly, I too have heard stories of cyclists getting such tickets. However, I'd rather get a ticket than be killed by a too-close pass, especially if there's a chance I can do some legal research and get it thrown out in court, with some education of law enforcement happening as a result. Consult your local bicycle coalition.

That said, certainly be courteous and pull over for a bit if traffic is piling up behind you.

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and we don't pay taxes for the roadways since we don't use gas or get tags for our bikes.
Most local roads are not 100% covered by gas and vehicle taxes. In most places, other general funds also go into it, which cyclists pay into as much as other people -- sales tax or property tax. (Even if you rent, you are helping your landlord pay his/her property tax). In addition, many cyclists also own and operate cars anyway.

Besides all that, even if local roads were 100% paid for by motor vehicle users, that still does not legally diminish the rights of users of other modes on them -- bicycles, pedestrians, horseback-riders, Amish buggies, etc.

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Also we scream we want to be treated the same as cars but how many of us while riding on roadways lane split to the front of the line? We don't even need a license or insurance to ride our bikes on a roadway.
My personal feeling about this is I will filter up on either the right or left, very slowly and carefully, if traffic is congested and either stopped or moving extremely slowly for a long distance. I do not filter up at intersections under normal conditions. In fact, if traffic is slowing to a red light, I signal and move into the center of the appropriate lane for my destination (not always the right-most) to control the lane when stopped. Under those conditions, I am not moving less than the prevailing speed of traffic, so any Slow Moving Vehicle, Bikes on the Right, or Impeding Traffic laws do not apply. Technically, I suppose you might be cited for splitting the lane. But I doubt you would.

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As for wearing high viz clothing. At my work I am required to wear high viz safety vests and we have a saying. "The yellow is so they can find the body". Don't get a false sense of security with a yellow vest.
But you have to make some kind of assumption that you are seen, in order to interact predictably. Hi-Viz and being further into the lane, where people are concentrating, both help a lot. Of course nothing is guarenteed. "Trust but verify" is the phrase that comes to mind.
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Old 03-16-09, 08:36 AM   #21
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I thought this was just common sense. Doesn't everyone do it?
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Old 03-16-09, 08:39 AM   #22
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trust but verify is a worthless cold war propaganda slogan that is not applicable to defensive bicycling...

that operating directive for bicycling into potential conflict is more like "trust and go; if not, then slow"
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Old 03-16-09, 08:42 AM   #23
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As far as I'm concerned I have no problem with riding as far to the right as practicable because it allows for a varied interpretation...

practicable: able to be done or put into practice successfully

what's so crappy about that?
Yeah. I think the problem lies in the bloggers ignorance of what practicable means.

Practicable does not mean hugging the curb. What is practicable in one block and situation may not be in another. It means the cyclist can choose where to ride in the lane based on the potential safety of riding in that space.
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Old 03-16-09, 09:28 AM   #24
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Yeah. I think the problem lies in the bloggers ignorance of what practicable means.

Practicable does not mean hugging the curb. What is practicable in one block and situation may not be in another. It means the cyclist can choose where to ride in the lane based on the potential safety of riding in that space.
And I live by the motto " when in doubt, take the lane".

If the lane is not wide enough so that a car can pass me while giving me 3 feet of room when I am a couple of feet from the right edge of the road, I take the lane.

When I approach an intersection, I always take the lane well before I reach it. Intersections are some of the most dangerous situations a cyclist will encounter, I don't want a car trying to pass me in my lane right before or in an intersection.
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Old 03-16-09, 09:36 AM   #25
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You've hit the nail on the head. I have seen this in practice, where car driver will be driving very calmy, and not in the least bit aggressive, but as soon as they approach a bicyclist from behind they will go into what seems like an attack mode, crowding the cyclist and then making a crazy, aggressive and dangerous pass, putting the cyclist, themselves and oncoming traffic in harms way. Anything to get ahead of the cyclist.

Continuing in your pop psychology analysis, I think the driver reaction comes from a very basic animal instinct, fight or flight. Whenever an animal, including human beings, are afraid, they basically have to pick between two options, running away, or becoming aggressive. The unsafe passes are merely the animal part of the human brain choosing to be aggressive.

Of course, I'm not justifying drivers behavior, I'm simply trying to explain it, since if you know what a person's motivation is, you can more effectively adapt a strategy to deal with it.
Hmmmmm Elephant and mouse scenario??
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