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Old 12-26-04, 12:13 AM   #1
JohnBrooking
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Passing line of cars on right?

I've been commuting (10 mi round trip) for a few years now, and I'll admit I haven't been through an official bike safety course, but I've done some reading and think that I generally do everything the way I am supposed to. I'm thankful that I ride in a fairly small-town area and don't have half the problems I read about in these posts I've seen here debating CM in NYC.

The one thing I continue to do, that I think that I read somewhere is wrong, is passing a line of cars on the right at a red light, to move up to the front of the line. There is no bike lane where I ride, shoulders on some open stretches, but that narrows to nothing at most intersections.

My general practice is, if the light is red, I'll go all the way to the front and stop just ahead of the front car so I'm sure s/he sees me. (I'm talking about going straight or maybe turning right.) If the light turns green before I get there, I then try to glide past the still-stopped cars until I get to ones that are moving at about my speed, then choose one to stay just in front and to the right of until I can't keep up anymore, by which time we're usually at the intersection. I must say, many times the driver I just moved ahead of hangs back to be careful of me, which is nice, but I hope I'm not pissing them off.

Is this wrong? I have a feeling there may be different schools of thought on this. I just can't resist taking the initiative as a smaller vehicle to not have to wait in lines, especially long ones at rush hour. What do you all think?
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Old 12-26-04, 12:28 AM   #2
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If you can do it safely then I see no problem with it. If you are squeezing though cars like some motorcycles do then no. I am not the who is playing with fate though.
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Old 12-26-04, 04:50 AM   #3
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Well, traffic safety types and bicycle safety advocates would condemn your behavior.

However, I have noticed that motorists object strongly to any cyclist who gets in their "way". I have been upbraded by motorists for doing what is legally proper at an intersection. That is pulling up to the last car and taking the lane and then moving over to the right after I start losing speed compared to the traffic.

I think passing on the right is actually safer if it gets you away from the motorists faster such as you get a jump on the light and get through it before the motorists wake up. Going through an interection in the midst of traffic can be risky because motorists think they ALWAYS have the right of way over cyclists no matter what. The other case is where you are turning right. You pass on the right and turn right and get out of their way. Most motorists, even hostile ones, would approve.
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Old 12-26-04, 04:53 AM   #4
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I find nothing wrong with what you're doing. It's called filtering.

I don't filter in the middle of cars but usually on the right side which is what I hope you're doing. When I filter, I'm always looking at the traffic light and doors because you never know if someones' getting ready to exit. You have to be very careful when filtering because the law may not be on your side should an accident happen. In fact, the police may very well report YOU as being the cause of the accident.

The "Art of Urban Cycling" states the following on Filtering.

"Filtering to the front of the line comes with certain obligations. The ethics of sneaking up front, past vehicles that arrived at the light before you, suggest that you should allow the trailing vehicles to pass once the light turns green and traffic starts moving again. If there is not enough room for them to pass here, then you should have stayed at the back of the line in the first place. There is really no way to justify filtering up to the front of the line and then blocking the lane after the light turns green.

Even if you have beaten everybody to the light and are rightfully first in line, it may be a good idea to drift slightly to the right, into the void of the intersection, when the light turns green. "

I consider "filtering" a safty technique because you do not want to remain behind a dirty car/bus breathing in all that exhaust. Furthermore, staying in the back of a bunch of cars during a red light does NOT make you safter because once the light turns green, the worse place to be is in the middle of a pack of cars.
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Old 12-26-04, 05:54 AM   #5
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What a great thread! So the guilty pleasure (See Serge on passing stopped or slow moving cars on the right) I've been enjoying all these years, not only is considered all right if subtlely & sensitively done, but it has a name!...& it's in a book! It might even be legal some places! How can you get more credible than that? I always try to see myself as others see me, which to me seems to be a major principle of vehicular cycling.


Serge, please weigh in.
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Old 12-26-04, 08:21 AM   #6
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Aha! Just as I suspected, 99. A variety of opinions exists!

To clarify: Yes, I always stay as far to the right as possible, and always leave enough room for vehicles to pass. The only time I ever ride anywhere other than as far right as possible is if I need to change lanes to turn left or avoid a right-turn only lane.

I have to admit, it sure feels good to not have to wait for 3 cycles of the light, like I know the cars at the back of the line are going to. (Sometimes it's backed up the better part of a mile!) There's even a little feeling of entitlement, since I believe that bike commuting is a better choice in so many ways, but I can see how a little attitude could also be a dangerous thing.
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Old 12-26-04, 08:27 AM   #7
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I think it comes down to lane width. If the lane is wide enough for cars to pass bikes in it, then it is wide enough for bikes to pass cars in it. On the other hand, any cars you "filter" past are going to have to do at least a partial lane change to pass you.


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Old 12-26-04, 10:53 AM   #8
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The other side of the coin.

Technically, it's an etiquette faux pas. It forces the cars that managed to pass you once to do it again. This is akin (but not as irritating or dangerous) to cars that use the right turn lane to get to the front of the pack, then jack rabbit back into the travel lane when the light turns green (sorry- rant). Personally, I suck it up and wait my turn through the light. We claim to be vehicles, let's act like one. That said, I do live on the wild side by filtering when I'm making a right turn at the next intersection.

Last edited by Hal Hardy; 12-26-04 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 12-26-04, 11:12 AM   #9
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Yes its OK.

Cyclists are saving gas for the SUVs and cars to burn up.

Its not a lot to ask of drivers as they sit in their plushed out cages.
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Old 12-26-04, 02:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal Hardy
The other side of the coin.

Technically, it's an etiquette faux pas. It forces the cars that managed to pass you once to do it again. This is akin (but not as irritating or dangerous) to cars that use the right turn lane to get to the front of the pack, then jack rabbit back into the travel lane when the light turns green (sorry- rant). Personally, I suck it up and wait my turn through the light. We claim to be vehicles, let's act like one. That said, I do live on the wild side by filtering when I'm making a right turn at the next intersection.
I have tried both, waiting and filtering. And decided on filtering. The drivers haven't expressed any more anger either way.

Different vehicles have different capabilities. We are disadvantaged in so many other ways by the law. Bicycles do great favor to the cities, less pollution and traffic. Why not take advantage of the bicycle's capabilities?

By going to the front, in a long line of cars stuck in traffic, the bicyclist is protecting himself with visibility. And, it may inspire one of those drivers to think about biking. Wishfull thinking on the latter thought.
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Old 12-26-04, 03:20 PM   #11
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This is a good question for a lot of localities. My area has bike lanes almost everywhere, so this makes it basically a moot question here. A local paper had the CHP answer a question about bikes going between the lanes to move up to the front for a left turn, and they said we could do it just like motorcycles. I haven't seen it in print yet, but if we're allowed to do it for left turns, I believe we'd be allowed to do it for going straight through, although I've yet to find a place here in California where the right lane isn't very wide anyway, and doesn't have a bike lane painted to within 150 feet of the intersection.
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Old 12-26-04, 04:32 PM   #12
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I "filter" quite frequently whenever the swing bridge is open for water traffic. I sometimes find myself getting enough jump on the gates to outrun traffic to the bike lane on the east end of the bridge.
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Old 12-26-04, 08:38 PM   #13
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Wouldn't you look silly if you didn't "filter"? In my area you certainly would.

Sometimes, like if the lane is narrow and there is no bike path, I stay behind the first car.

As for what motorcyclists do, last time I looked it is not illegal to go down the middle and get up to the front.
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Old 12-26-04, 09:22 PM   #14
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It's called lane splitting. Do it with pleasure.
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Old 12-27-04, 12:41 AM   #15
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as long as there is room. but also you need ot check the tailights. I would never get in front of a car that could turn right. they may take off without looking right. been there dunit got the teeshirt. if I have room I will get just at the bumper or back of the front car or car that has a right turn signal. so the car behind can see me before they take off. but I am very careful of getting right hooked.
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Old 12-27-04, 11:03 AM   #16
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I think what your instincts have told you are right.

Here's what my local advocacy group has said on the subject:

Passing vehicles on the right between intersections, especially in
congested city traffic, is a topic of debate, even in the courts.

Under appropriate circumstances, case law suggests that cyclists
should be able to legally pass slower moving traffic on the right where
the curb lane is wide, provided they are cautious.

Most often it is best to shoulder check, move into the middle of the
lane and line up with the rest of traffic. This will also prevent motorists
from making a right turn into you as you enter an intersection.

When cycling in narrow-lane traffic where many motorists attempt to
squeeze past you before each traffic light, some cycling instructors
suggest the following:

Rather than moving up to the first car, which will likely re-pass the
cyclist, it may be more strategic for the cyclist to place themselves
only as far up the line as the last cars likely to make the next green
light.

It is legal to pass on the right:
* when you are in a bike lane; or
* when the vehicle is turning left or indicating a left turn.

When NOT to pass on the right:
* when traffic is moving;
* when there is a street, driveway or parking spot
a car can turn into; or
* when there is less than 1.5 m between traffic and the curb.
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Old 12-27-04, 11:34 AM   #17
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They lane share me so I lane share them. I do try and give them extra room to pass for the first 100 yards or so after the light while I am getting up to speed though. Seems to have worked OK for me over the last 13000 miles.
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Old 12-27-04, 04:27 PM   #18
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The Hiles chapter that Serge just posted in the thread A Critical Look at One-Sided Claims Made by Cycling Advocates addresses this:

Overtaking between traffic and curb
This is another maneuver that even Forester does not universally condemn. The danger is that a motorist will turn right and slam the bicyclist riding in the motorist’s blind spot. The official Effective Cycling text says it’s all right to pass on the right “when motorists are stopped, or are barely moving with no place to turn into” (p. 313). In a vehicular cycling manual distributed by Bicycling magazine, Allen (1988) gives several paragraphs of instructions for riding through stopped motor traffic, then advises cyclists to “wait behind the first car at the traffic light.”
Sounds reasonable to me.
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Old 12-27-04, 06:39 PM   #19
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Filter if you're comfortable doing so. In my opinion, if there is a right turn only lane, its okay to filter between that and the straight ahead lanes if there's enough space. To the front of the line, ahead and on the side of the lane of the first car. If traffic gets rolling and you are in the pack, leave space between you and the car ahead, don't ride alongside a car through an intersection. Take the lane. And sometimes I follow none of this advice.
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Old 12-28-04, 10:06 AM   #20
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If a car can pass me when it is convenient for them (ie: when I am going slower than they are), why should I be able to pass a car when it is convenient for me? Simple as that. How you do it is up to you. Be safe.
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Old 12-28-04, 10:24 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilymildew
If a car can pass me when it is convenient for them (ie: when I am going slower than they are), why should I be able to pass a car when it is convenient for me?
I do find it infuriating when motorists complain that cyclists illegally pass on the right when traffic slows down, yet motorists pass on the right of other traffic equally illegally, just as often.

I'd even argue (maybe I should count this) that even with the traffic back ups that I encounter on a daily basis, that more cars pass other cars on the right than I pass cars on the right at back ups.
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