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  1. #1
    Senior Member bamacrazy's Avatar
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    Rules of the Road?

    I have a tricky intersection that I have to deal with on my daily rides. I'm going to try to describe it and ask if someone can give me a little advise on how best to cross it. As you approach the intersection the two east bound lanes split to three. Left is turn only, center is straight only, right is right turn or straight. If you wanted to go straight across, which would you take and how would you cross?

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    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I would take the right lane as soon as possible, left tire track most likely, then proceed through intersection.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    I start looking over my shoulder well before the intersection. When it is clear, but still allows me to completely cross the turn lane, I move over to the line splitting the straight ahead lane with the right turn lane. If traffic is too heavy to move over safely, you can possibly go straight from the center of the turn lane,thereby preventing them from passing you and turning in front of you. Do not hug the shoulder, or someone could easily misinterpret your intention, and think that you mean to turn. There is not a perfect solution, and the best advice I can offer is to be very careful and do not put yourself in a position that endangers you.

  4. #4
    Goathead Magnet aley's Avatar
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    In most cases, if there's only one lane going straight, I'll go straight from that lane. It would be an exceptional intersection to get me to go straight from a lane marked for turning only.

    How you get into that lane and control it is another story. At most intersections, the lanes are not wide enough to facilitate sharing, and even if they are, it is often unsafe to share a lane in an intersection. Depending on traffic volume, taking your place in the queue waiting for the light may be an option; if the light is already green and traffic is moving at a good clip, that can be a bit dicey. I'd probably take the lane early, go fast to minimize the chances of an irritated driver getting impatient and doing something stupid, and ride in the center of the lane that's marked to go the direction I wanted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aley View Post
    In most cases, if there's only one lane going straight, I'll go straight from that lane. It would be an exceptional intersection to get me to go straight from a lane marked for turning only.

    How you get into that lane and control it is another story. At most intersections, the lanes are not wide enough to facilitate sharing, and even if they are, it is often unsafe to share a lane in an intersection. Depending on traffic volume, taking your place in the queue waiting for the light may be an option; if the light is already green and traffic is moving at a good clip, that can be a bit dicey. I'd probably take the lane early, go fast to minimize the chances of an irritated driver getting impatient and doing something stupid, and ride in the center of the lane that's marked to go the direction I wanted.
    That is an excellent idea as well, however it depends a great deal on the road and the intersection. If it is a city intersection, that would be how I would proceed, but in my case, most of my intersections are on well traveled 65 MPH roads with 50 mph zones thru the intersection, that would make it exceptionally bad to try to take the lane, with traffic closing in behind you. Most of mine allow me to run the line, as there are no islands, and then there are acceleration lanes for me to move into as I pass thru, allowing me to minimize my exposure. It leaves room for drivers to motor past me, drivers to turn right, and a place for me to move into as soon as I clear the intersection.

    It all amounts to just making sure your intentions are obvious, and that you proceed with extreme caution. The technique that works best at one time of day may not be appropriate or safe at another, and it could vary greatly depending on if the light is red or green.

  6. #6
    Female Member KitN's Avatar
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    If you are in the far right lane, start looking over your shoulder well before this intersection to see if you are clear to move into the CENTER, straight through, lane. Take the whole center lane if it's dangerous to do otherwise!

    Moving into the center lane eliminates the chance of getting right-hooked. You also want to be as visible as possible to cars coming from the opposite direction trying to make a left turn.

    When you look behind you and see no cars coming up on you then you can stay in the far right lane, if you choose, but you are still at a disadvantage for a left hook.

    Remember to signal your intentions in advance and during any transition. You want to make sure the cars on the road around you know what you're doing and don't run into you.
    Last edited by KitN; 08-03-09 at 12:52 PM.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    You want to use the rightmost (in countries that drive on the right) lane that serves your destination, which in this case is the right lane. To avoid being cut off by right-turners, first look for signals, but since some do not signal in advance, position yourself if the light is red in the center of the lane. You can move further right as traffic starts moving if the cars ahead of you are travelling straight. If cars are stopped to turn right, you can pass them to the left side of the lane.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KitN View Post
    If you are in the far right lane, start looking over your shoulder well before this intersection to see if you are clear to move into the CENTER, straight through, lane. Take the whole center lane if it's dangerous to do otherwise!

    Moving into the center lane eliminates the chance of getting right-hooked. You also want to be as visible as possible to cars coming from the opposite direction trying to make a left turn.

    When you look behind you and see no cars coming up on you then you can stay in the far right lane, if you choose, but you are still at a disadvantage for a left hook.

    Remember to signal your intentions in advance and during any transition. You want to make sure the cars on the road around you know what you're doing and don't run into you.
    It is always unsafe to take the lane if the traffic closing in on you is running 50 mph and up. While I have no qualms about taking a lane to protect myself, I will not do it just because I can. There is nothing you can do to eliminate the chance of being left hooked, except watching for it and expecting it. This is true regardless of the type of intersection.

    The difference here is the right turn lane, and how it is handled depends almost totally on the volume and speed of traffic. You can't always just move over and take the lane well back from the turn, but you can take the turn lane as you get into the turn, and the cars behind you will be slowing for the turn at that point. You have to position yourself so that the car immediately behind you can read your intention, remembering that technically you are in the wrong, and unless you are totally sure they see and will yield, you just have to stop. There is nothing that allows you to safely or legally cross in front of them to go straight at that point.

    Again, there is no one right way to do it, and you can quite easily get yourself killed while following the letter of the law. If there is no island to obstruct your path, the easiest way is to split the lanes. If the traffic is sparse, slow or stopped, you can certainly take the straight lane, but while that is legal, it is not always the safest way thru, especially if traffic is bearing down on the intersection trying to make it thru before the light changes.

  9. #9
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I deal with a few intersections like this, and I treat them all the same:

    The right lane is mine. People who need to turn can wait behind me. People going straight through can use the lane to my left if they feel it's necessary to pass me.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  10. #10
    Female Member KitN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KitN View Post
    If you are in the far right lane, start looking over your shoulder well before this intersection to see if you are clear to move into the CENTER, straight through, lane. Take the whole center lane if it's dangerous to do otherwise!
    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    It is always unsafe to take the lane if the traffic closing in on you is running 50 mph and up. While I have no qualms about taking a lane to protect myself, I will not do it just because I can. There is nothing you can do to eliminate the chance of being left hooked, except watching for it and expecting it.
    Huh??? I guess putting text in italics didn't register for you in my initial post so I put it in BOLD and italics above. Do you notice it now?? No? How about all caps: TAKE THE WHOLE CENTER LANE IF IT'S DANGEROUS TO DO OTHERWISE!

    If you can share the lane safely, BY ALL MEANS, do so. But if it puts you into a dangerous position with cars trying to squeeze by you then take the lane.

    Do not read more into my statement than I made abundantly clear. No where did I say anything about just taking any lane, center or otherwise, for the hell of it or "just because you can". Ugh.

    Lastly, there are a bunch of things you can do to help stave off a left-hook. If you think only "expecting it" is enough then you are, again, mistaken.
    Last edited by KitN; 08-03-09 at 02:23 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    I deal with a few intersections like this, and I treat them all the same:

    The right lane is mine. People who need to turn can wait behind me. People going straight through can use the lane to my left if they feel it's necessary to pass me.

    That works very well when they are already there and moving into the intersection while decelerating from 50 mph. Just going to take the lane from them, huh?

    What do you mean they can pass you if they feel the need to? You are in the turn lane. What earthly reason would they have to yield to you if they think you are turning?

    I treat all intersections differently. I don't want to be right. I want to remain upright.

  12. #12
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    I wouldn't adjust my position at all. I'd stay in the right lane a comfortable distance from the edge of the lane.


    --------

    I have to wonder about the people who are going to take the lane - ESPECIALLY the left or center lane - every time you reach an intersection.

    This sounds like every lighted intersection I pass through.

  13. #13
    Senior Member bamacrazy's Avatar
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    Very good points! I omitted to mention that this particular intersection involves one way traffic crossing 4 lanes. When I have tried to stay to the far right of the right turn and straight lane, I have right turners coming around me and cutting me off. If I stay on the right side of the center (straight) lane, I end up with cars on my right and I have to work my way back right. I have been choosing the left wheel side of the turn or straight lane to cross, but was recently cautioned by a car bound local racer that the left side of the turn lane was a dangerous choice and that I should only ride on the far right side of the lane that goes the way I'm traveling. Thanks for you help. I sure don't want to appear stupid or anger other drivers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KitN View Post
    Huh??? I guess putting text in italics didn't register for you in my initial post so I put it in BOLD and italics above. Do you notice it now?? No? How about all caps: TAKE THE WHOLE CENTER LANE IF IT'S DANGEROUS TO DO OTHERWISE!

    If you can share the lane safely, BY ALL MEANS, do so. But if it puts you into a dangerous position with cars trying to squeeze by you then take the lane.

    Do not read more into my statement than I made abundantly clear. No where did I say anything about just taking any lane, center or otherwise, for the hell of it or "just because you can". Ugh.

    Lastly, there are a bunch of things you can do to help stave off a left-hook. If you think only "expecting it" is enough then you are, again, mistaken.
    What if it is dangerous to take the center lane. I see no reference to that. I can assure that if there is traffic flying downhill at 50 mph, you will not try to merge your bike into it at 20. You wouldn't do it in a car either, because in that point, you are not in the traffic pattern and have to yield to those already in it. It is not black and white. Sometimes you are not in a position to "take the lane" and to do so would be both unsafe and illegal. If a car is on the shoulder, waiting to get into the traffic flow, he can't just pull out. What makes you say that you can do it on a bike.

    And no, there is absolutely nothing you can do to control the car that might or might not turn left in front of you. You can't do it in a car, on a motorcycle, or on a bike. If they do it, the only thing you can do is react to it. You can make yourself visible, you can do everything right, and invariably some moron will turn in front of you. It happens all the time. In fact, I'd say that probably 30 percent of accidents in intersections are just that. Some moron thinks he can "make it" and turns right in front of a car or motorcycle that is plainly visible. The only way to avoid that for a certain, is to be very aware of what you are doing. Nothing you do will prevent an idiot from doing something stupid, so the only way to avoid it is to be ready to maneuver or stop in an emergency, or at the very least bleed off enough speed to prevent you from being killed in an impact.

    I don't mean to argue with you, but all circumstances are different. I travel a lot on 4 lane roads with turn lanes in the center, that are freeway speeds, with intersections. I already stated that in slow traffic, then my way might not be best, and I do ride regularly in city traffic. but if you do what you are saying on my roads, you will be road kill. You do not "take the lane" from an 18 wheeler running thru an intersection at between 50 and 70 miles an hour, and you do not have any control over the idiot that is trying to turn left in front of you so he can beat that monstrosity.
    Last edited by dahoyle; 08-03-09 at 02:43 PM.

  15. #15
    Female Member KitN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    That works very well when they are already there and moving into the intersection while decelerating from 50 mph.
    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    It is always unsafe to take the lane if the traffic closing in on you is running 50 mph and up.
    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    If it is a city intersection, that would be how I would proceed, but in my case, most of my intersections are on well traveled 65 MPH roads with 50 mph zones thru the intersection, that would make it exceptionally bad to try to take the lane, with traffic closing in behind you.
    No where does the original poster (OP) mention anything about "50 mph" (or greater). Heck, the OP didn't even mention ANY speed so stop saying "50 mph". Let the OP tell us the speed of the cars traveling around him. Don't assume it's "50 mph and up".

    Also, you seemed to miss the OP's post right above yours stating, clearly, that he gets cut off by right turning cars (right-hooked) by staying in the right lane. If this particular intersection causes the OP near misses with the wheels of right turning cars then the OP needs to do whatever it takes to stay alive including moving to the center through lane -- and taking it if necessary.

    Fun Fact: Did you know that one of the most common bicycle-car accident is... Guess???

    THE RIGHT-HOOK!

    If at all possible, and clear to do so, get out of the right lane if there's turning traffic.

    Educate yourself: http://bicyclesafe.com/
    Last edited by KitN; 08-03-09 at 03:18 PM.
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  16. #16
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    That works very well when they are already there and moving into the intersection while decelerating from 50 mph. Just going to take the lane from them, huh?
    Yes, I will. Come for a ride with me some time on I-90 and I'll teach you how to make a tractor trailer give you a full lane's clearance while you cross an exit ramp with a couple angry drivers pointing cars at your arse.

    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    What do you mean they can pass you if they feel the need to? You are in the turn lane. What earthly reason would they have to yield to you if they think you are turning?
    The right lane in the situation listed by the OP is a right turn or straight through lane. IF someone wants to go straight through the intersection faster than me, then by all means they can use the other straight through lane, to my left.
    My distinct lack of hand signals, head turning, lean of the bike, etc. when travelling through such an intersection should be enough of an indication that I have no intention of turning.

    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    I treat all intersections differently. I don't want to be right. I want to remain upright.
    Same here. I just happen to ride through enough intersections with a similar lane setup that I thought my approach would be relevant. Curb-hugging the right lane invites right hooking when you continue straight through. Trying for the center lane puts you in the worst position (IMO) because you've got the potential for traffic to pass you on both sides.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamacrazy View Post
    I have been choosing the left wheel side of the turn or straight lane to cross, but was recently cautioned by a car bound local racer that the left side of the turn lane was a dangerous choice and that I should only ride on the far right side of the lane that goes the way I'm traveling.
    I wonder why car bound racer sees this as a dangerous choice. I feel best in this position, or in the exact center of the right turn/straight lane in these types of intersections.

    As you pointed out, having to merge back into the right lane after the intersection can get pretty hairy; you've got a line of straight-only cars behind you all mad cuz you're only doing 15mph by the time you cross the intersection and then you've got to try to merge into a lane that could possibly be full of cars that also went straight, going about 30mph (if from a red) by the time they're through the intersection. Fun!
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    Quote Originally Posted by KitN View Post
    No where does the original poster (OP) mention anything about "50 mph" (or greater). Heck, the OP didn't even mention ANY speed so stop saying "50 mph". Let the OP tell us the speed of the cars traveling around him. Don't assume it's "50 mph and up".

    Also, you seemed to miss the OP's post right above yours stating, clearly, that he gets cut off by right turning cars (right-hooked) by staying in the right lane. If this particular intersection causes the OP near misses with the wheels of right turning cars then the OP needs to do whatever it takes to stay alive including moving to the center through lane -- and taking it if necessary.

    Fun Fact: Did you know that one of the most common bicycle-car accident is... Guess???

    THE RIGHT-HOOK!

    If at all possible, and clear to do so, get out of the right lane if there's turning traffic.

    Educate yourself: http://bicyclesafe.com/
    The only assumption I made is that all intersections are different, and I stated such. I quite clearly agreed with aley on his method of clearing city intersections. I responded with the type that are most common to me, and agreed with a differing opinion as it relates to different conditions. You are the one who is steadfastly insisting that the safest way thru any intersection is to take the lane. You can argue your side all you want, but you simply can not merge into traffic at will, on any road you wish. Sometimes you can, and sometimes you can't, so it is ridiculous to insist that is the best course of action. On occasion, I find myself simply parked, because it is the safest.

    I never advocated taking any one approach, but rather stated that it depended, and sometimes I take the right lane, sometimes I split the right and center, and sometimes I take the straight lane.

    Yes, a right hook is a very common occurrence. No argument there. The fact remains that you can not simply move across a line of traffic that is exceeding your speed by a significant amount, so I tend to try to get over early, in a gap. Just because I am able to move over to the left of the turn lane does not necessarily mean that I can take the straight lane, in freeway or city traffic. If the flow allows it, absolutely, but I will not ease over into fast moving traffic just to prove a point. I take the route that I decide exposes me to the minimum risk at that particular point in time and space. I would guess that your technique is very much the same.

    By the way, if you are going to reference an article as reinforcing your view, you should read it.

    The article makes no distinction among the most common types of accidents, as to which one of them is more common.
    Last edited by dahoyle; 08-03-09 at 04:27 PM.

  19. #19
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    The fact remains that you can not simply move across a line of traffic that is exceeding your speed by a significant amount, so I tend to try to get over early, in a gap...

    If the flow allows it, absolutely, but I will not ease over into fast moving traffic just to prove a point. I take the route that I decide exposes me to the minimum risk at that particular point in time and space. I would guess that your technique is very much the same.
    Again, I invite you to come ride I-90 with me. Or SR-20, SR-2, SR-202 or any of the other 4-lane divided highways open to bicycles. I'll teach you how to get people to back off your position and give you the lane on a 60mph roadway while you cross an exit ramp without getting taken out.

    Flow allowing or not, it works the same way a-hole drivers do it: Signal your intention, look where you plan to go, and start to slowly move over while maintaining your speed. Eventually, just like with a-hole drivers, people realize you're not going to back down and there are 2 choices; slow down to let you in, or risk hitting you. Normal people, no matter how angry they may be, don't want to risk the legal repercussions or damage to their car so they won't hit you.
    I don't do this to "make a point". I do this so a driver doing 45mph doesn't pass and hook/lane-block me at an intersection because I'm only doing 18 or 20mph, or so I don't get flattened while crossing an exit ramp on the highway.
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    Thanks, but I'll have to pass on that.

    Just because it is legal, doesn't mean a damn thing if you are dead.

    You make the assumption that the only people you have to worry about are those that see you.

    What about the moron who is 2 lanes to the left, realizes he just about missed his turn, and comes right on over in front of the cars that 3 seconds ago were completely obstructing his view of you, and hits the ramp at 65, with you right in the middle of it. Or the ******* who doesn't know why the exit traffic is moving slow, and decides to blast around it. Don't tell me that you haven't seen it happen, and don't tell me that there is anything you can do at that point.

    You can certainly make it as safe as possible, but you can't make it safe.

    "Normal" people might not want to hit you, but that doesn't prevent them from acting without thinking, and as a whole, "Normal" people are completely oblivious to their surroundings.
    Last edited by dahoyle; 08-03-09 at 04:41 PM.

  21. #21
    Female Member KitN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Again, I invite you to come ride I-90 with me. Or SR-20, SR-2, SR-202 or any of the other 4-lane divided highways open to bicycles. I'll teach you how to get people to back off your position and give you the lane on a 60mph roadway while you cross an exit ramp without getting taken out.

    Flow allowing or not, it works the same way a-hole drivers do it: Signal your intention, look where you plan to go, and start to slowly move over while maintaining your speed. Eventually, just like with a-hole drivers, people realize you're not going to back down and there are 2 choices; slow down to let you in, or risk hitting you. Normal people, no matter how angry they may be, don't want to risk the legal repercussions or damage to their car so they won't hit you.
    I don't do this to "make a point". I do this so a driver doing 45mph doesn't pass and hook/lane-block me at an intersection because I'm only doing 18 or 20mph, or so I don't get flattened while crossing an exit ramp on the highway.
    +1,000,000!!!

    BINGO! Spot on. Dahoyle keeps missing this and is arguing for the sake of arguing.

    Anyway, you kick butt, Clifton! I'd ride with you down I-90 any day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KitN View Post
    +1,000,000!!!

    BINGO! Spot on. Dahoyle keeps missing this and is arguing for the sake of arguing.
    Haven't missed a thing.

    I do however steadfastly insist that is not a guarantee of a safe passage. I will also go on record and say that nobody, and I mean nobody puts themselves into a lane of traffic that is flowing bumper to bumper at 50-60 miles an hour. The cars you are allegedly signaling to haven't even gotten to you, so the signal is a moot point. By the time a driver sees you or the signal, he is past you. There is simply no way to move over. Cars don't yield to what they don't see. Most of the time, they don't yield to what they do see.




    There is not a single thing in that statement that is even remotely related to how to ride a bike safely. It sounds nice, but it is just plain bull****. Now if it was followed with something like "when an opening appears that you can move into safely, then do so carefully" I will go with it. If you say that you signal and move over, and all the drivers will yield because it's in their interest to do so, then I call call bull****. These are the same drivers that run into parked cop cars on the shoulder, and drive into clearly marked construction vehicles in clearly marked construction zones. These are the same drivers that left hook in front of cyclists because they didn't see them, and they are the same people who run down pedestrians in crosswalks for the same reason. Don't get me wrong, they really don't see them. Because they are too busy with the cell phone, or the Ipod, or the GPS, or whatever the excuse of the day is. They may just be in a hurry because they want to hit McDonalds before work, and they really really thought they could make it. Whatever the reason, signaling your intention is important, but if you live anywhere like where I have been, all that does is ensure that the door will be slammed on you whether you are in a car, a bicycle or a semi truck. I drive all three, and I know that to be the case.

    Some will yield. some wont. They are just as likely or more likely to pass you as closely as they think they can. Oops, forgot about that mirror. Sorry.

  23. #23
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    The 1st answer, from Lester, is correct. Simple. Left tire track, right lane. Keeps the right hook from happening from a right-laner, makes you a bit more visible to some idiot who may try a right turn from the center, and makes your intent to go straight known.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    What about the moron who is 2 lanes to the left, blah blah blah...
    If all I worried about when I went out and rode my bike were all the "what ifs", I'd never get back on it again.

    What if I'm ripping down Novelty Hill at 48mph and I have a front tire blowout?
    What if someone pulls out in front of me from a driveway while I'm tearing down Main?
    What if yet another dill-hole hillbilly throws a golf ball at me?
    What if the guy who was mad that I was faster than the traffic jam so he scooted over into the bike lane with his SUV so I kicked it as I squeezed past sees me again tomorrow?

    There's a lot of what ifs every time you walk out the front door of your house. Worrying about the 1 in a million chance takes the fun out the other 999,999 things. Roll the dice and take your chances; but don't ride around afraid.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  25. #25
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dahoyle View Post
    I will also go on record and say that nobody, and I mean nobody puts themselves into a lane of traffic that is flowing bumper to bumper at 50-60 miles an hour.
    You wanna put a wager on that? I've got 2 stretches of my commuting routes that have me on hills where I routinely top 45mph. The shoulder is narrow and/or strewn with gravel and sticks. The speed limit is 45mph and traffic moves at 50 - 55mph. People don't necessarily like that I do it, but I sit my arse in the middle of the lane.

    BTW, since you've brought up "if you live anywhere like where I've been"... Where are you riding? The only place I've seen literal bumper-to-bumper traffic moving at speeds of 60mph (in the slow lane) is on I-75 south heading out of Detroit (with good reason.) In most metro areas I've been, bumper-to-bumper traffic is at a crawl.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

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