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  1. #1
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    Two-abreast back to single-file - opinions, please

    (also posting this on Road Cycling Forum)

    Here's the scenario: Two-lane country road (one each direction), fairly level. Two riders sharing a route and a sunny day, cruising along at 14 or 15. Hardly any traffic. Second rider pulls up abreast and to left of first rider so they can chat while riding. They become aware that a motor vehicle (piloted by a civilized human) is overtaking them from behind.

    Question: What should be done?

    Option A: Cyclists remain two-abreast until motorist honks. (Downside of this: Motorist may have sidearm and short temper.)

    Option B: Second rider (nearer center of road and on the left of first) speeds up and pulls in ahead of first rider, making a single file again. (Downside of this: The lead has changed.)

    Option C: First rider speeds up so that second rider can tuck in behind him. (Downside of this: First rider must be aware of the "threat" and voluntarily accelerate.)

    Option D: First rider maintains speed and second rider slows and then gets back behind first where he was previously. (Downside of this: You're slowing in front of the car you're blocking.)

    Option E: Other. (Tactics involving one-finger salutes not acceptable.)

    What's the Forum's consensus on the appropriate tactic here -- safety-wise and etiquette-wise?

  2. #2
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Option normal: Motorist overtakes cyclists easily as there is little traffic.

  3. #3
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    If one choses to ride two abreast communicate before there is a car and decide who is going to go forward/back whatever. It's not essential but it is nice. I usually plan for the faster rider to go forward and depending on how far away the car is the other rider can soft pedal or coast a little. Also, if the other rider does not have a mirror I put myself closer to the center of the road as I can see a car a long way off in my mirror and react early if needed.
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  4. #4
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    OP, with little traffic, why is it so much harder (or impossible as you present) for the motorist to move into the oncoming lane and quickly pass 2 cyclist (same as the motorist would do for a slow tractor on the road)?
    Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.

  5. #5
    dirt merchant dorse's Avatar
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    What should be done, is change the law, and educate cagers. That two abreast should be allowed. So, the passing vehicle slows changes lanes and proceeds to pass the two abreast cyclists. If two abreast is not allowed, Cyclist form single line in some fashion??? and stay in the middle of the lane until the wanting to pass cager slows, Then and only then is it safe to pull over into the gutter and let the cager pass. or the cager can slow, change lanes as before, and pass. Remember you do not have to ride in the gutter all the time. You only have to let faster vehicles pass when you feel it is safe. Unless there is a bike lane. Which is just funneling cyclists into the kill zone.

    I case you have not guessed, bike lanes are not for bikes. The main reason for bike lanes is so auto traffic can speed by you while ignoring you.
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  6. #6
    dirt merchant dorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    OP, with little traffic, why is it so much harder (or impossible as you present) for the motorist to move into the oncoming lane and quickly pass 2 cyclist (same as the motorist would do for a slow tractor on the road)?
    This is my point.
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  7. #7
    Je pose, donc je suis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    OP, with little traffic, why is it so much harder (or impossible as you present) for the motorist to move into the oncoming lane and quickly pass 2 cyclist (same as the motorist would do for a slow tractor on the road)?
    This becomes even more of an issue when there are, say, eight riders. VA law basically requires the cyclists to ride single-file, FRAP when a vehicle approaches from behind. It doesn't take long, however, to realize that it's a lot easier for a car to pass 4 x 2 than 8 x 1.

  8. #8
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    In my state it is illegal to continue to ride two abreast when there is a car following. I don't have the time or the motivation to try and change the law. Way too much work.
    Of course if there is a good reason to stay in the lane and keep the lane then do it single file (where I live). Going from two abreast to two in line is no effort or trouble.
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  9. #9
    Godfather of Soul SBRDude's Avatar
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    I'm surprised this is even a question. Without a doubt, the right thing to do is for the cyclists to make room for the car and then return to their two abreast when convenient. I'm not talking about what is legal or not, but what is courteous and responsible as a civilized human being. You want motorists to give bikes respect, start by showing some respect for motorists.

  10. #10
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBRDude View Post
    I'm surprised this is even a question. Without a doubt, the right thing to do is for the cyclists to make room for the car and then return to their two abreast when convenient. I'm not talking about what is legal or not, but what is courteous and responsible as a civilized human being. You want motorists to give bikes respect, start by showing some respect for motorists.
    Why do they have to make any more room if there is a full lane available with zero on coming traffic? How does 1.7 lanes help more than 1.5 when 1.0 is there already?

  11. #11
    snob rogwilco's Avatar
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    Imo, B or C would be corteous and probably also safest. All other options are dangerous.

  12. #12
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    Courtesy must be shown by all. If you simply ride casually along in two-abreast fashion, there is an implied statement to the motorist that he/she is a piece of dung. If the motorist passes too closely or rides on your backside too closely, there is similarly an implicit statement. It's important to behave like the intelligent species we supposedly are.

  13. #13
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Option B because, Option A is just downright dangerous and, the way Options C n' D are done, it is like shuffling a deck of cards.

  14. #14
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    Low traffic? They can wait (as if there will be a wait) for the oncoming lane to clear.

    Traffic, so they've had to slow and wait? You yell "single file" (if it's more than two) and the rider currently shielding the cross wind goes ahead (I think). No cross wind, I'd say right goes forward left goes back.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
    In my state it is illegal to continue to ride two abreast when there is a car following. I don't have the time or the motivation to try and change the law. Way too much work.
    Of course if there is a good reason to stay in the lane and keep the lane then do it single file (where I live). Going from two abreast to two in line is no effort or trouble.
    Lucky you. In my state it's just illegal. Not that it's ever enforced.

  16. #16
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    In the time it takes to go from double to single file the passing motor vehicle will be long gone.

  17. #17
    dirt merchant dorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBRDude View Post
    I'm surprised this is even a question. Without a doubt, the right thing to do is for the cyclists to make room for the car and then return to their two abreast when convenient. I'm not talking about what is legal or not, but what is courteous and responsible as a civilized human being. You want motorists to give bikes respect, start by showing some respect for motorists.
    The chance of getting even noticed, let alone respect, by cagers around here, is slim. Besides, cagers turn off the polite switch, as soon as they get behind the wheel. By the way how is your SUV. Texas Aeeeee…

    But seriously, getting folks on bicycles respecting 2000lb 4 wheeled monsters is not that tough. The return respect goes something like this. ...........GET OFF THE ROAD YOU MORON!
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  18. #18
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    The appropiate response is to wave (WITH ALL FINGERS) as the car passes in the other lane, traffic permitting. Only if its busy and there's room should the cyclists be considering singling up to allow a share.

  19. #19
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    I thing the onus belongs on the leftmost cyclist to decide what he or she wants to do. The rightmost cyclist shouldn't need to do much of anything. (In those states where cyclists are expected to operate as far right as practicable within a lane, the rightmost cyclist is probably already there.)

    If the leftmost cyclist believes that it's helpful to drop to single file, then the leftmost cyclist would normally reduce speed and drop behind the rightmost cyclist, as is if they were rotating off a paceline.

    The leftmost cyclist may decide that the lane is too narrow to facilitate same-lane passing, but that a single file formation will improve sight lines for the driver preparing to pass. In this case the leftmost cyclist could drop back but not move all the way to the right in the lane - just far enough to improve sight lines.

  20. #20
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    D:

    Outside rider feathers brakes to tuck behind is usually the smoothest.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  21. #21
    Godfather of Soul SBRDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    Why do they have to make any more room if there is a full lane available with zero on coming traffic? How does 1.7 lanes help more than 1.5 when 1.0 is there already?
    Because we're all sharing the road and moving aside to let a motorist pass, even if you don't have to and even if you believe it is unnecessary, is good manners and communicates to the motorists that cyclists actually care about them.

    I do the same thing as a pedestrian when I'm crossing the street - if there is a car waiting for me, even though I have the right to take my sweet time, I always make an effort to show the motorist that I'm trying to get across quickly. That does't mean I have to run, but it's easy to walk at a brisk pace or otherwise demonstrate to others that you are aware of their presence.

  22. #22
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBRDude View Post
    Because we're all sharing the road and moving aside to let a motorist pass, even if you don't have to and even if you believe it is unnecessary, is good manners and communicates to the motorists that cyclists actually care about them.

    I do the same thing as a pedestrian when I'm crossing the street - if there is a car waiting for me, even though I have the right to take my sweet time, I always make an effort to show the motorist that I'm trying to get across quickly. That does't mean I have to run, but it's easy to walk at a brisk pace or otherwise demonstrate to others that you are aware of their presence.
    I believe that polite society follows a pragmatic approach to the golden rule: If the effort that must be expended is equal to or less than the effort you would save the other person, you make the effort. If the effort required by you is obviously, substantially greater than that, both parties recognize that it would be silly to bother. Unless, of course, your ultimate objective involves getting into the other person's pants.

    I apply this metric when deciding whether to hold a door open for another person (always do so for my wife) or deciding to pull to the right. If I'm still making the calculation after the other driver has already changed lanes, then it obviously wasn't even worth the CPU cycles.

  23. #23
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    If the lane is wide enough for lane sharing then I'd expect the cyclists to be aware of traffic approaching and the inside rider will pull behind the outside one when they see an approaching vehicle (perhaps waiting for a sign they have been noticed). It should be timed such that the approaching driver would not need to considerably slow down. If the riders have waited until the approaching driver is at their speed they have already failed at being considerate.

    However in this particular case there is little traffic and most importantly the OP indicated that the driver had already started overtaking. So the cyclists should do nothing but hold their line side by side as the overtaking driver will be soon past them.

  24. #24
    dirt merchant dorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    If the lane is wide enough for lane sharing then I'd expect the cyclists to be aware of traffic approaching and the inside rider will pull behind the outside one when they see an approaching vehicle (perhaps waiting for a sign they have been noticed). It should be timed such that the approaching driver would not need to considerably slow down. If the riders have waited until the approaching driver is at their speed they have already failed at being considerate.
    This is wrong. Moving over, before causing the vehicle to slow down, allows them to pass you at an unsafe speed. Putting the cyclist in serious risk. The law does not say you have to ride in the gutter. It says you must let faster traffic pass. But please let them pass after they have slowed to a reasonable speed. If they wish to change lanes and speed by There is nothing you can do about that.
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  25. #25
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorse View Post
    This is wrong. Moving over, before causing the vehicle to slow down, allows them to pass you at an unsafe speed. Putting the cyclist in serious risk. The law does not say you have to ride in the gutter. It says you must let faster traffic pass. But please let them pass after they have slowed to a reasonable speed. If they wish to change lanes and speed by There is nothing you can do about that.
    Note the word 'considerably' and note my parenthetical comment before the sentence of mine you bolded. You agreed with me which is puzzling as you said I was wrong. Read more carefully before you rant on.

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