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  1. #1
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    Ever have this happen?

    Yesteray afternoon, I was riding on a country road just entering a small town (think I had just hit the 35mph zone). I was pretty close to the right side of my lane when a car came up from behind and passed me while simultaniously meeting another car. This was just a two lane road and the car passing me (white chevy blazer) skimmed by me with perhaps 12 inches of clearance. My question to all of you more experienced than me....Should I have been closer to the middle of my lane, thereby forcing that vehicle to wait the 2 or 3 seconds to properly pass me? I seem to be getting this a lot. Cars pass me so closely even when no-one is coming from the other way. Rather than swing wide they skim right by. This points out the value in the previously discussed mirrors and not swinging out to avoid a pot hole or something about the time you're being closely passed.

  2. #2
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkijohn
    Yesteray afternoon, I was riding on a country road just entering a small town (think I had just hit the 35mph zone). I was pretty close to the right side of my lane when a car came up from behind and passed me while simultaniously meeting another car. This was just a two lane road and the car passing me (white chevy blazer) skimmed by me with perhaps 12 inches of clearance. My question to all of you more experienced than me....Should I have been closer to the middle of my lane, thereby forcing that vehicle to wait the 2 or 3 seconds to properly pass me? I seem to be getting this a lot. Cars pass me so closely even when no-one is coming from the other way. Rather than swing wide they skim right by. This points out the value in the previously discussed mirrors and not swinging out to avoid a pot hole or something about the time you're being closely passed.
    I take the full lane whenever I feel that there would be significant danger as you describe above, except if I might be on a high speed highway (which I wouldn't, as I refuse to ride in such an environment - narrow road with no shoulders and high speed cars).
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  3. #3
    Senior Member marmotte's Avatar
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    If you take the full lane, it may be very dangerous: In 2003 there was a car overhauling an other car (they both came from below), when I was riding down the Galibier. I had not enough time to brake and I was lucky to have chosen the small track near the guard rail.
    marmotte

  4. #4
    Senior Member turtleguy54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    I take the full lane whenever I feel that there would be significant danger as you describe above, except if I might be on a high speed highway (which I wouldn't, as I refuse to ride in such an environment - narrow road with no shoulders and high speed cars).
    I agree that you should take the full lane when you feel the alternatives would be dangerous but, unfortunately, here in West Texas, once you leave the city you are going to be riding on two lane FM roads with no shoulders a majority of the time.

    If there is traffic, I will usually ride a couple of feet from the edge giving the passing cars plenty of room. Even so I can hear plenty of them speeding up and running by me as close as possible. This really takes a lot out of the fun of cycling. Are we really that subversive or dangerous to these 4x4 grill-guard wielding drivers or are we just easy prey.

    By the way, it is just not us cyclist but motorcyclist have the same concerns. A very dear friend of mine was riding home on these same roads when a truck with trailer passed him (speeding) and cut back in front of him too close. He has been in the hospital since Christmas day with internal injuries and severe brain damage.

    I'm not out to change the world of these people, I just want to enjoy riding!

  5. #5
    Pat
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    There are hazards to riding too far over to the right.

    1) Motorists tend to look at the center of the lane for traffic. If you are way over, people pulling out from the driveways and turning may be less likely to notice you.

    2) If you ride a bit out in the lane (about 18" from the side of the road), you have some room to manuever if there is a road hazard like a pothole or a road kill. Otherwise, if you approach a hazard on the side of the road and you have several options a) run off the road (not good), b) ride through the hazard and hope (not good) or c) swerve into the traffic and hope the motorists are on their toes (not good).

    3) The other thing is something you have noticed. I have noticed this also. When I am riding far to the right and if a motorist can squeeze by me without moving over into the oncoming lane (even a little) he will always seem to choose squeezing by me rather than giving me a reasonable amount of room even if nothing is coming.

    I will often move farther into the center of the lane than is my custom in special circumstances. One is if someone is pulling out from a driveway or parking lot. If I am in the center of the lane, they are more likely to see me and if they pull out, I have more room to manuever. I also move farther to the left at intersections. I do this to try to avoid primarily "right hooks". A right hook is when a motorist passes you and turns right either right in front of you or right into you.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    My perception is that from the motorists perspective, if you are riding on the very far right, you don't exist. That's probably okay most of the time - it'a problem when there's a large pothole or hazard, though.

    Most of the time, I don't consider this to be a sign of animosity. Even when I'm in my car, I notice that everyone else (especially on high-speed multi-lane roads), thinks "I own this lane, and I will ignore everything else". How many times have you been driving in the right lane of an interstate, and the person merging in from an on-ramp doesn't even look to the left because "it's their lane"?

  7. #7
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    The law says the cars and bikes may share a lane (I'm not forgetting the 'safely' qualifier, but most motorists do.) My experience is that if you leave them *just* enough room to squeeze by, they will often do just that, especially if you're riding a fairly straight line and they can forget for a moment that you need that maneuvering room to maintain balance. The solution is simple in principle but harder to implement. If the lane is wide enough to safely share, then ride to the right so cars can easily pass. If it's not, then stay to the left just far enough to force the drivers to cross the lane line in order to pass you. This isn't something to do whenever a car comes up on you, it's where you should be at all times. Once their tires go over the center line, it's not so hard for them to figure out the Right Thing to Do. Of course, if there is oncoming traffic and you are out in the lane, they will be temporarily inconvenienced. The danger is, if you ride too far to the left, you risk making them think you're trying to block them unnecessarily.

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals
    My experience is that if you leave them *just* enough room to squeeze by, they will often do just that, especially if you're riding a fairly straight line and they can forget for a moment that you need that maneuvering room to maintain balance.
    Two types of driver- Those that are out to get you- and those that will.
    For me it depends on the volume of traffic. Plenty of traffic and I ride near the kerb, not much and I am out a bit. But then as a driver I see several types of rider aswell. "Some" of us are out to make things awkward for the motorist, perhaps not intentionally but I always give them plenty of room. They may be new riders or just pigheaded, but I don't want my car in the body shop getting the dents out. Then there are the riders that to me are doing everything right- not causing a problem but the car driver just has to get past. These are the ones to watch out for. I saw one driver last year get his mirror knocked off by a car and a big pedal scrape down the side from a rider that was doing everything right. I stopped as a witness, and the driver was swearing like mad- this was the third bike that had hit him in 2 years.

    Enough Said!!
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  9. #9
    Roadie
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    12 inches - that's quite a lot of clearance. Trucks and buses as well as cars regularly leave me half of that on high speed roadways, particularly where the shoulder is narrow. If I took a full lane (or fraction thereof) I probably would not be writing (or breathing) now. As I have pointed out in other posts, the drivers here are totally inconsiderate of cyclists - that would also explain the high car/bike accident rate and fatality rate of cyclists. My defense is going out Sat mornings when car traffic is light, early in the morning during weekday commutes and riding as much with a group as possible with the perhaps faulty concept of safety in numbers.

    So the answer to your question if asked here would be a big NO never ride in the middle of the lane, it means you want to commit suicide.

  10. #10
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    I can put my wheel on the the white line and keep it there. But I understand, if I do that, that's all the room I'm going to get. If there's a pothole and I move to avoid it, then I'm the one swerving and will be at fault if something happens. It's better to ride 12-18 inches to the left of the white line and force cars to go left of center when passing you.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    About 2.5 years ago a wonderful young woman was killed while riding in one of our beautiful, quiet canyons, a canyon frequented by cyclists for that very reason. Josie Johnson (the victim) was a cancer researcher and had a bright future. She was just inches from the fog line at a place where the road was very wide with 4 lanes at this point, and no traffic in sight from either direction. It was a beautiful, clear day, and Josie was dressed in bright colors. The sun was behind both Josie and the automobile. Regardless, Josie was hit from behind by the driver of an SUV at about 50 MPH. Unbeliveably, the automobile driver actually ran her vehicle partially off of the road, so Josie was hit more or less in the middle of the front of the vehicle. She was instantly killed.

    The local cycling community was extremely upset by this accident, and other recent fatalities. We lobbied our legislature and a law was passed last year, called Josie's law, requiring motorists to leave a minimum of 3' (1 meter) from cyclists. Of course, laws are only laws, and not necessarily followed or enforced. However, I have noticed what seems to be an attitude change by (many) motorists as my wife and I ride; An attitude that seems to be more considerate. It also could be that the woman who killed Josie was convicted of automobile homicide and will probably spend some serious jail time and be subject to a very stiff fine. She hasn't been sentenced yet, she was just convicted in late December.

    On the anniversary of Josie's death, we have a well-attended memorial ride and this receives a lot of press. Last year, Dave Zabriskie even rode with us. It's our objective to keep Josie's (and others') deaths in front of the motoring public. My point of telling you this story is to advise you that you too can make a difference by becoming active with your law makers, your community, and any other officials that might be helpful. OHB

  12. #12
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    No easy answer here. Hug the shoulder and drivers take no action to go round you and, in heavy traffic, you're stuck in pothole, road garbage & tire puncture hell unable to swerve. Riding where they notice you and the pavement is better can be an assertive "I'm riding here" message....except for the half-awake day-dreamers who wouldn't see an elephant and still don't notice you until they hear a thump and see you coming through their windshield.

    I cherish my mirror, stay as alert as possible, when traffic thickens I try to stay alert to escape routes, and hope for the best. A few weeks ago a cattle truck skimmed my left knuckles. No place for me to go at 20mph: no paved shoulder, road side was loose shale slanting down into a ditch filled with cow-piss pasture run-off....and a cowboy type at the truck's wheel. These things will happen...I sometimes wonder that there aren't more serious cycle car accidents. I'm a great believer in getting rider/driver eye contact for drivers ready to turn in front of me.
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
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  13. #13
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    If there is plenty of room, I usually ride closer to the far right. As the roadway narrows I will ride further into the lane to avoid having cars "think" they can squeeze by. So far it works. As others there are times when cars and trucks have come uncomfortably close (less than 6" once). It doesn't seem to matter whether or not there is plenty of room or whether I am on the far right or out in the lane, so I chalk it up to jerk drivers.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene James
    I can put my wheel on the the white line and keep it there. But I understand, if I do that, that's all the room I'm going to get. If there's a pothole and I move to avoid it, then I'm the one swerving and will be at fault if something happens. It's better to ride 12-18 inches to the left of the white line and force cars to go left of center when passing you.
    Today I actually had a stretch of road with a paved shoulder...perfect, right? Hardly, it had all kinds of broken glass and sharp stones. So if I ride on the traveled portion, and make motorists wait on me, what are they to think of me? I took my chances on the glass and stones and survived without a flat.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Bugtussle's Avatar
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    I live in a rural area and commute daily (10 mi RT). A few miles down the road from where I live is a rock quarry. I will ocassionally have the same situation happen with two trucks meeting at the same time.. I use my mirror and ears to figure out long ahead of time whats going to happen and I shoulder dive. I come to a stop and get as far over as I can and give them a freindly wave. Im also a professional dump truck driver at work(county road dept)and would never even think about passing a bike until I can see that it is safe. I would just follow a bicycle rider to the end of the earth if nessesary before passing. Most of the local drivers know me now and give me lots of room on my bike. I often see road bike riders hogging the lane and willing to challange approaching cars from the rear for the road(dumbsh**'s I say). While driving a vehicle I myself would never pass a rider until it was safe, but many of the drivers around where I live will never even slow down. If they happened to meet another car in a tight spot they would take a rider out faster than a cat can lick its ass! So I say keep your eyes and ears open(one advantage we have over cars)and pull over and stop. It only takes a few seconds. The general public is really in need of alot more education about bicyclists and our rights to the road. Until then play it safe.

  16. #16
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    From reading all the posts there are many schools of thought, might as well add one more. I always ride as close to the right shoulder as possible. My theory is, a glancing blow from a car is better than a full rear end collision that will run me over. The chances of survival are better being thrown into the shoulder than thrown under a vehicle. Yes, drivers try to squeeze by while traffic is coming from the other direction, and I have been hit by a rear view mirror on more than one occasion, but I'm still here to tell about it. If I was out in the lane, I may not be.

  17. #17
    rck
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    Like others have experienced, it seems to me that the closer I get to the shoulder of the road, the closer the car gets to me. If I ride out in the lane (not the middle) the cars seem to give me a much wider berth. Maybe because I'm more visible, although I don't know how a foot or two can make much of a difference. Also,like GrannyGear I'm learning to cherish my mirror.

  18. #18
    sdr
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    Misanthropic Miscreant sdr's Avatar
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    personally, i would prefer to risk a flat by riding in debris-strewn gutters than to be flattened by some distracted inattentive conversationalist who thinks they're driving a phone booth.

    i respect the weight to right ratio -- i may be right, but i'll defer to the weight every time.

    i find a mirror to be an indispensable MUST for a bicyclist -- at least for this cyclist.

    *sdr*
    “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world” Gandhi

  19. #19
    bobkat
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    The situation you describe is all too common! There are good bicycle aware and bad don't give a crap drivers. Then there are drivers that truly don't see you and could hit you with no malevalece intended. I ride a lower more difficult to see recumbent on a lot of roads like this and wear bright colors (blaze orange deer hunting jacket in the winter, etc) and also trail a fairly large American Flag so as to be noticed. The occasional redneck usually goes out of his way to leave you alone, and I've even had them salute me numerous times both passing and at corners.
    As previous people pointed out, used the mirrors and try to figure out what to do before the overtaking car gets there. Keep your eyes moving, ears uncovered, and brain in gear. There's always a risk, so all you can do is minimize it.
    Sometimes better to cross the white line, sometimes better to pull over in the center of the lane. Always a judgement call. Drive defensively cause autos are bigger than you! You may be legally in the right, but it's a hollow victory if you are legally dead!

  20. #20
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    I have been riding in NYC for over 35 years and about 2/3 of my current annual 5k+ is riding the streets. I usually ride about the length of a car door from parked cars which puts me about 1/4 to 1/3 into the street lane. 90% of the cars that pass me generously go around me. IMO NYC drivers tend to respect an reasonably aggressive but unselfish bicyclist doing 15 to 20 mph. There is the occasional auto and bus driver that thinks bicyclist don't belong on the roads and may drive as close as 18 inches but no one has ever come any closer. I was even a full time bike messenger for 6 months 1970, in the thick of NYC traffic and was not in any traffic accident.

    I think luck probably plays an important role in our road survival.

    SG

  21. #21
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Hawkeye,

    It's tough because most roads are not wide enough for cars and bikes. I usually ride about 12 inches from the right. This gets me out of the debree and lets considerate drivers pass by crossing over the center line. However, there are always those zombie drivers who would not blink at creaming you. I finally had to break down and start using mirrors. If I see a zombie, I pull over or stop. A few seconds longer is better than hours/days/months in hospital.

    If you get a regular zombie, note license plate and report to police/highway patrol. Sometimes a friendly call from an officer will break the zombie haze.

    Good luck. Oh, and work on conditioning. Drivers are about twice as forgiving if you're going 18-20 mph instead of 8-10 mph.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  22. #22
    Senior Member Bearbig's Avatar
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    I ride from 18-24" to the left of the right white lane marking. This is where our legislature ( Vermont) tells us to ride. If I am on a long decent which will get me up to 30-40 mph I tend to move to the center of the lane. I ride mostly on secondary town roads with posted limits of 35-40 mph.
    I have been saluted (middle finger) by lots of drivers, have been screamed at to "ride on the shoulder where you belong"! I have had folks look me in the eye, pass me then turn right in front of me!! I am 6'1" 250# and wear bright clothing but it seems that I'm invisible.
    I don't have these problems on my motorcycle as the cages can't catch me!

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