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Old 04-30-02, 06:42 AM   #1
Spire
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Handling narrow laned bridges

How do you guys handle the following situation. You are on a 6 lane divided road with most cars travelling about 50km/h. You come to a bridge where the lanes narrow (to cheapen the cost of the bridge) which goes over a highway (so there are freeway style entrances and exits on both sides of the bridge). There really is not enough space for a cyclist and 3 cars to fit across. There is a side walk, but it is about 8 inches high, illegal to use and goes around with the freeway style entrances and exits.

Usually I just go over on the extremem right and hope, but I'd say about one time in 3 a car comes really close trying to squeeze by. Should I move over and occupy the entire lane, even though I am in fact going slower? Get on the sidewalk (which will require me stopping twice, once to get on it and once to get off in additiion to waiting time).

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Old 04-30-02, 06:47 AM   #2
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I've been in similar situations on a dual carriageway (two lanes each direction) and the impression i got was you can't win either way Cars cut too close when I pulled right to the edge of the lane, and split lanes to overtake (too closely) when I tried to take the whole lane...

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Old 04-30-02, 08:32 AM   #3
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If this is a regular journey, fit one of those orange plastic sticks to your rack. When you reach the bridge, swing it out to make your bike wider and cars will give you wider clearance. If they do cut it close, they will clip the flexible plastic rather than you.
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Old 04-30-02, 08:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by MichaelW
If this is a regular journey, fit one of those orange plastic sticks to your rack. When you reach the bridge, swing it out to make your bike wider and cars will give you wider clearance. If they do cut it close, they will clip the flexible plastic rather than you.
That sounds like an excellent idea. How long are these sticks, what should I do in the case where a car hits it? Grab his liscence plate number and report him?

My scenario occurs whenever I want to go from the south side of the West Island to the north side (which is fairly frequent), for those of you who know Montreal, I classify the split highway 40. Most stuff is on the North Half and I live on the south.

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Old 04-30-02, 09:01 AM   #5
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The stick is about 50cm of slightly flexible plastic moulding with a large area (7x7cm) "paddle" at the end, usually with a reflective material.
If a car hits, it will probably damage the paintwork, which is a good deterrant.
You can get them in some UK bike shops. If you cant find one, they are pretty easy to make (try plastic plumbers piping). When not in use, they can swivel in over the rear wheel.
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Old 04-30-02, 01:51 PM   #6
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Actively worshipping the god of your choice may be your only chance. You know, we need a saint of cycling. Who's the saint of lost causes again?

I have a fabric basket on the left side of my backrack. On it I put an obnoxious safety triangle, front and back. It gives the impression of that being the center of the bike, so people give me more room. They'll practically run head-on into oncoming traffic just to give me six feet, that's all I know. They didn't budge for me before.

I like the idea of the stick with the flag off the left side--I've heard of people using them, but I don't know where they got them. I did read a comment once by a tourer who said teenagers like to see how close they can come to the flag with out hitting it. They found they were harrassed far more often with it. In fact, they had it clipped off by a driver once while riding with a large group. They still use it though from what they said.
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Old 04-30-02, 01:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Oxymoron

I like the idea of the stick with the flag off the left side--I've heard of people using them, but I don't know where they got them. I did read a comment once by a tourer who said teenagers like to see how close they can come to the flag with out hitting it. They found they were harrassed far more often with it. In fact, they had it clipped off by a driver once while riding with a large group. They still use it though from what they said.
That sounds entirely possible, however I would only have it visible for the short periods of time when it is necessary.

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Old 04-30-02, 02:43 PM   #8
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Some people rig up extra downtube gear shifter on the seat-tube to move bottom bracket generators into position. Im sure you could rig one to move a stick out.
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Old 04-30-02, 05:44 PM   #9
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I drop down a gear and spin like hell.
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Old 04-30-02, 07:38 PM   #10
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It's a very annoying situation to be in, hug the gutter and get buzzed, take the lane and get abused.

There is a small bridge I have to cross that is only 1 lane in each direction, I always take the lane and the cars can wait behind me, but it is only for ~30 seconds. After doing this for years I have just found a new road that has been opened, that crosses at the end of the waterway so there is no bridge, because it is not a main road it is empty. Sorry, unless you can avoid the bridge (probably can't) then taking the lane is the best option.

CHEERS.

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Old 04-30-02, 07:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dutchy
...I always take the lane and the cars can wait behind me, but it is only for ~30 seconds.

Sorry, unless you can avoid the bridge (probably can't) then taking the lane is the best option.
I agree, this also applies to any lane that is too narrow.
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Old 04-30-02, 09:05 PM   #12
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My daily commute takes me over the Story Bridge here in Brisbane. It has three lanes in each direction, all of which are 3m/10' wide. See photo



On the way in traffic is often moving at or below the speed I can ride over it, so I claim the lane when I'm in the flow, and move over to the left to lane split if I'm going faster than the left lane (which is often clogged with traffic turning off left at the other end of the bridge. If the traffic is lighter, I'll move over to the left of the lane, but not too far - maybe about a metre from the kerb.

On the return leg, traffic is usually lighter as well. Even though I'm keeping left, there still isn't room for cars to share the lane, but since there is room in the next lane over they generally (with a few exceptions) pass with plenty of room. I keep left a bit rather than claim the lane since, despite it being too narrow to share, motorists find it easier and smoother to pass if they don't need to do a full lane change. It's no skin off my nose. I want to get home with minimum fuss, and I see no reason why others shouldn't either.

The rule of thumb I use is: The closer I match speed with traffic, the more I move into the lane. If I can see traffic slowing up front I move over to the inside of the lane ready to pass if I need to. Sometimes the traffic speeds up again and I slow down a bit and stay in the lane. I'll only move into the next lane if I'm likely to pass a reasonable number of cars (about 6, minimum 4).

I've just this week bought a mirror, and I've been watching what happens behind me on this bridge. Every car I've observed so far has sat behind me until they can pass safely. I think riding as fast as I can on this bridge helps most motorists stay patient with me. I usually sit on about 30km/h+ (occasionally 40) on the uphill/citybound/busiest leg, and about 45km/h (occasionally 60) on the downhill/outbound leg. the speed limit on the bridge is 60, but traffic speed is more typically 70.

Riding narrow lanes can be daunting at first, but it I find them fine as long as I stay alert and assertive. Hugging the gutter is just asking for motorists to blow by with minimum room to spare. Riding the footpath is an option if this freaks you out too much, but I'd be surprised if it was any safer or convenient than the road. And since you say it is illegal, I'd say it's definitely a last resort.
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Old 04-30-02, 10:29 PM   #13
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Allister you win the "Captain Courageous" award. You definitely have more courage than me. There is no way I would tackle that bridge, I would have to yield and take the footpath. I won't post a photo of the bridge I was talking about, it would be too embarrassing.

CHEERS.

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Old 05-01-02, 07:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dutchy
There is no way I would tackle that bridge, I would have to yield and take the footpath.
I used to use the footpath, but I gave it up since I never felt particularly safe doing so.

Firstly, there isn't any easy access on and off the path, although I did develop some pretty good high speed kerb hopping skills, but hopping off the footpath, and across a lane of 70km/h traffic to the lane I needed with only a 100m window in which to do it was interesting to say the least. It's much easier to change lanes when I'm already on the road.

Secondly, it's liberally littered with pedestrians and slow cyclists, which limited my speed considerably compared to what I can do on the road. Not necessarily a safety issue, but it certainly factored into my choice.

Thirdly, in the wet, the path gets that nice glossy look that suggests that the slightest divergence from a perfectly straight line would mean a neat spill, and possibly an impromptu swim.

Fourthly, on the outbound side, the path crosses a couple of streets once you're off the bridge, with the obligatory accursed 'cyclists must dismount to cross road' signage. When I'm on the road, the cars have to give way to me (and pretty much always do).

I get the occasional dodo telling me I'm supposed to use the footpath (which I'm not), but I just ignore them.

I feel much safer on the road than on the footpath, and it's quicker too. Call it couragous if you will, but I see it as the safest option. No footpath ever built can ever be as useful for cycling at a reasonable speed as the road, even one with narrow 10' lanes.
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Old 05-01-02, 09:21 AM   #15
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A 3m/10-foot lane is too narrow to share side-by-side with a car, and you do not want to get squeezed between a car and the guardrail. Instead of hugging the curb, I prefer to take the passenger-side tyre track.

I really like the bright orange paddle and offset triangle ideas.
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