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Old 04-15-08, 09:01 PM   #1
Catweazle
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Does it make you feel 'inferior' to move out of the traffic lane?

Topic is inspired by some of the comment in A&S, and whilst I don't want to kindle controversy and argument I'd certainly like to reflect on the views of people here who've been riding for many years.


I responded to an A&S topic where it was being advocated by some that moving out of the traffic lane was akin to 'apologising' for being a cyclist:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Catweazle, in A&S View Post
Since taking up cycling as an older fella a few weeks back I've been interestedly reading stuff here in A&S and VC sections, and don't mind admitting that I've been a bit bemused by much of it. I don't ride in the traffic lane unless I need to, and that has nothing whatsoever to do with 'apologising'. Far as I'm concerned it's just common sense and courtesy.


On the highway I'll travel the shoulder the whole way, moving into the traffic lane only when I absolutely need to. The shoulders are wide and smooth, for the most part. About the only thing which requires me to move over are the occasional patches where roadworks have left the shoulder a bit rough to ride.

On secondary roads where there is a narrower shoulder I'll ride that, for the most part, moving into the lane when vehicles are approaching from both front and rear and making myself visible, but staying there and waving the approaching vehicle around if it's behind me only.

On narrow rural two lane farm roads I ride the traffic lane because there's no shoulder at all, but be more cautious of traffic. If trucks are approaching from both directions I'll slow down and get off onto the gravel, if cars are travelling too fast for my comfort I might do the same, but for most waving the rearward vehicle back suffices.

On narrow rural roads with only a single lane of bitumen I'll ride that, but I'm prepared to, if need be, head bush or into a ditch! **** getting dead just to prove a point if it's an idiot approaching!




Guess what? Pretty much all drivers (other than those occasional idiots) give me a wide berth, and a fairly substantial proportion of them give a wave of acknowledgement as they go past.

That was merely a comment dropped in. I wasn't really interested in pursuing debate amongst folk who often seem to go hard at each other in a manner akin to rabid dogs, but I gained further insight after googling the name 'John Forestor' when a subsequent post mentioned it. I found this on the Sheldon Brown website:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cyclist_inferiority.html


Hang on a bit! Here's me thinking this is to do with expediency, rather than inferiority/superiority! Anyways......




I see some absolutely wonderful cycling tracks amidst the photos which accompany many of your ride reports. Paths and tracks which I could only dream of riding on, because there's nothing remotely like them anywhere around here. But surely they're not everywhere you ride, so how do you approach riding on the road or road shoulder?

From a personal point of view, were one of those narrower, no-shoulder rural roads to be for some reason or other very busy with vehicle traffic I'd simply find a better route to travel. Wouldn't make sense to me to ride on it amongst traffic so thick that vehicle drivers had less chance of seeing me because their attention was already taken by the idiots in other cars! I can see the point being made, but I consider it to be an idealistic rather than a realistic one!

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Old 04-15-08, 09:08 PM   #2
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Nope, it makes me feel like I have not been run over by some redneck in a pickup truck!
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Old 04-15-08, 09:13 PM   #3
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The only roads I will ride are those with a marked bike lane. Those are becoming more and more prevalent in Wisconsin, even on rural roads that are miles from cities. They frequently add a bike lane when they resurface a road.
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Old 04-15-08, 09:26 PM   #4
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When I'm in my vehicle, I want to get where I'm going and don't want to be delayed or poke along behind someone, cyclist or motorist. I try to be aware of that when I'm on the bike. Shoulders tend to be littered with gravel, glass, and various and sundry metallic debris. I ride in traffic lanes most of the time, but I'll get over to the side as close as possible in order not to delay motorists. If I'm on a narrow road, I'll pull completely off the road and stop if there are large vehicles in both lanes. If I'm the first to arrive at an intersection, I take the lane. I don't feel inferior at all if I pull over. I put myself in the place of the motorist and ride in a way that, hopefully, keeps traffic moving.
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Old 04-15-08, 09:29 PM   #5
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What doctor j said.
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Old 04-15-08, 09:34 PM   #6
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The ancient Taoist said, "Yield and conquer."

The modern pragmatist says, "Never argue with several tons of rolling steel."
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Old 04-15-08, 09:38 PM   #7
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I tend to be courteously assertive when riding on roads. I find that in most situations, if I stake out a reasonable portion of the road to ride safely, car drivers will give me room to ride. I believe that in most things, acting with reasoned assertiveness is safer than being overly cautious. But sometimes drivers are too hurried and aggressive for that approach. Then I will get out of the way or find a different route. I will also pull over to avoid causing several cars to back up behind me, unable to pass.

I will use a shoulder in some situations, but I try to minimize it. Having to move out into the lane when there is trash or other obstacles in the shoulder lane can be more dangerous than riding in the traffic lane consistently. But you have to use good sense.
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Old 04-15-08, 09:42 PM   #8
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Stay out of A&S - it is more dangerous than riding in the lane you spoke of.

To answer your question,

"At times it makes me feel alive to move out of the traffic lane."

It all depends.
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Old 04-15-08, 10:02 PM   #9
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The way I see it, "share the road" works both ways. I figure it's just common courtesy.

If I'm in a stretch where I can safely move out of the traffic lane, I do. If the shoulder is full of potholes, gravel, glass or crap, I move back into the lane.

That said, most of my riding is in the city, so most of my riding is in the lane.

I also choose my routes. Where there's a way that's less traveled, I'll take it. One of my commutes is 3 miles direct, but 4.6 by my usual route. Instead of mostly four-lane (narrow too) with no shoulder and six-inch granite curbs, I tool quietly through a park and pick up a two-lane with a wide, marked shoulder. When I have the time and the weather is fine, I ride 11 miles to the same location, via two MUPs.

Another thing I do is, coming out of downtown there's a narrow four-lane I could use, or wide two-lanes (with on-street parking) that parallel it one tenth on either side. I use the two-lanes, staying well out of the door-zone, which puts me way into the lane, but with less traffic. It's not a problem for anyone.

In the published world, my strategy is closest to what Robert Hurst (a BF member) describes in his book, Art of Cycling (previously published as Art of Urban Cycling).
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Old 04-15-08, 10:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
Stay out of A&S - it is more dangerous than riding in the lane you spoke of.


Too true...
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Old 04-15-08, 10:11 PM   #11
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My position (so to speak) is very similar to BluesDawg's. If there is a wide, clean shoulder or bike lane, I'll use it, but I tend to move into the travel lane when approaching an intersection, to improve my visibility and to reduce my chances of being right-hooked. I am not shy about taking the center of the right lane through downtown Encinitas, where Coast Highway 101 has four unsharably narrow 30mph lanes and diagonal parking.
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Old 04-15-08, 10:11 PM   #12
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Only a moron would ride in the traffic lane if he doesn't have to, and making it an issue of macho pride is idiotic. A cyclist is going to lose every collision with a car or truck, guaranteed, so why put yourself in that position?
Where I live (Reno, Nev.) was a decent cycling town for years, until Lance made bikes huge again and more and more people started riding. The extra awareness is helpful, but it's cancelled by the flood of testosterone crazies who ride in the traffic lane, not just to get around obstacles, but literally for MILES, three and four abreast, chatting as they go. I live near the turnaround of a popular 25-mile loop from Reno, on a two-lane rural road, and even though I'm a 40-year cyclist and 100 percent sympathetic to bikes, sometimes even I want to run the sonsab!tches down.
At least around here, cyclists bring 90 percent of their problems on themselves, and about 90 percent of THAT is caused by guys who are too macho to stay to the right where they belong.
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Old 04-15-08, 10:50 PM   #13
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Most all of the cyclists I see around here scramble to stay "out of the way" of motor traffic, even when it may be detrimental to their own safety. It does seem they are apologizing for being a cyclist on roads that (they feel) only are for motorists. Why should they? The law is clear that cyclists have just as much right to use the road, and even take an entire lane when conditions render it necessary. I certainly won't apologize for doing that.

If someone expects to never be held up by another legal road user, maybe they should consider building their own roads.

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Old 04-15-08, 10:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
Only a moron would ride in the traffic lane if he doesn't have to
Speaking as one of those morons, I always ride in the travel lane. Well to the right, whenever practical, but I'll take the whole lane when circumstances require it.

I'm just as irritated by cyclists hogging the lane, riding two abreast for miles, as most motorists. But I don't think riding on the shoulder is the right response. In point of fact most motorists actually don't want to run over cyclists...I'm much more concerned about being hit by the motorist who didn't see me and I believe being in the lane I'm more likely to be seen. So far it's worked out pretty well....I'll keep you posted
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Old 04-15-08, 11:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
Stay out of A&S - it is more dangerous than riding in the lane you spoke of.
+1
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Old 04-16-08, 12:07 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catweazle View Post
...whilst I don't want to kindle controversy and argument ...
That might well be vain hope, but the use of emotive and insulting terms doesn't help





I'd like to add some qualifications to my comments above. Roads around here certainly sound to be quite different to what others elsewhere encounter, if the forum postings are anything to go by.


The major highway which runs through my region from one end to the other has a very wide shoulder of about six to eight (in places) feet and is mostly as good a road surface as the traffic lanes. It generally remains quite clean, as the region has a reasonably high annual rainfall, and the 'obstacle' most likely to be encountered on it is the odd patch of gravel which has resulted from vehicles which stop and then take off again. In some patches roadworks have left the shoulder too rough to ride, and along those stretches like any other sensible rider I'm most mindful of my tyres. I definitely wouldn't stick to the shoulder there 'on principle'.

Secondary sealed roads quite often have similarly smooth and clean shoulders which are around three to four feet wide. Again, the contention I'm making here isn't that they should be ridden even when stretches have a surface which isn't really amenable to comfortable cycling.

On unshouldered roads I'm quite happy to move to the left (Not right. I'm in Australia) so that motorists approaching me from behind need only move over to straddle the lane divider rather than completely enter the oncoming lane. It's comfortable for me and it's comfortable to the vehicle driver when that happens.



I'm also mindful in my comments that I ride on 40mm (1 5/8") tyres, whereas a lot of other people ride on much narrower tyres.
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Old 04-16-08, 12:28 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
Stay out of A&S - it is more dangerous than riding in the lane you spoke of.

To answer your question,

"At times it makes me feel alive to move out of the traffic lane."

It all depends.
I agree! It is better to be safe vs. right than dead = dead right! Riding on surface streets in a congested area like S. California is a challenge and not a safe one at that. Then again, learning about "Cagers" in the A&S thread is like negotiating with radical terrorists. You just can't appease them. I don't think there is a middle ground over there.
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Old 04-16-08, 12:54 AM   #18
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Move over for cagers!!! never

with my huge wind blown flag on the trailer I ride where I feel safe, and that is a couple of feet away from all the trash, glass and debris in the gutter.

george
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Old 04-16-08, 05:07 AM   #19
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Yes I move over or even off at times. When I am on the road I expect to be treated like any other vehicle on the road. However, I feel that I should behave like a slow vehicle (farm tractors, mowers etc.) As such I will take the lane when necessary for my safety, stay as far to the right as practical and if I see that I am in a position to impeed significantly faster traffic I will move over. If however I am on a road where I am as fast as the cars, then I behave like a car. (ie: when at a stop sign, I take my place in line)
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Old 04-16-08, 06:26 AM   #20
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Yes I move over or even off at times. When I am on the road I expect to be treated like any other vehicle on the road. However, I feel that I should behave like a slow vehicle (farm tractors, mowers etc.) As such I will take the lane when necessary for my safety, stay as far to the right as practical and if I see that I am in a position to impeed significantly faster traffic I will move over. If however I am on a road where I am as fast as the cars, then I behave like a car. (ie: when at a stop sign, I take my place in line)
I agree completely.

There isn't much traffic where I usually ride unless I'm riding to work, which is rare.

If the road is too narrow due to a one-lane bridge, construction or other constriction, I ride in the middle of the lane and move over when I decide it's safe for a motorist to pass. I've been forced into the ditch in a situation like this when I assumed the motorist would know better than to pass.

At age 19, I spent a year having my leg repaired in 8 surgeries for riding next to parked cars at the side of the road. One pulled out and hit me. In situations like this now, I stay in the center of the lane, regardless of traffic behind me. If it's convenient to pull over at some point and let them pass, I do.
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Old 04-16-08, 07:48 AM   #21
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madmaxx and borgagain raise good points. I always stay at least a meter away from the parked cars. I also make speed-related adjustments to my lateral position -- if I am climbing slowly on a clean shoulder, I ride closer to the curb than when descending fast on the same street. At speeds much over 15mph / 25kph, a bike lane or shoulder can get pretty dangerous, because of visibility and right hook issues.
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Old 04-16-08, 07:50 AM   #22
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I'll occasionally ride on the shoulder, but it's at my convenience, not the cars'. Sharing doesn't mean "get out of the cars' way;" it means the vehicle in front has the right of way. The problem is, the fog line is treated as a curb - when you move to the right of it, you are officially off the road and have no right of way.
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Old 04-16-08, 07:53 AM   #23
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I spend time in the A & S forum, and it's nice to come back here for simple common sense. Of course you say to the right except when it's safe not to. Of course when you're driving you should slow for cyclists and provide plenty of room when passing. Gaining sense and wisdom is a significant benefit of getting older.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:08 AM   #24
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Where and how I choose to ride has little to do with feelings of superiority. Rather, I try to think about riding in traffic as an exercise in advanced awareness and bike handling skills.

Yesterday I heard an interview with a banker in New Orleans who made unsecured loans to people right after the hurricane two years ago. All of the records for his customers were lost. So, they didn't have any way to know who was a "good risk" and who was a "poor risk", but they made the loans anyway. His bank lost a bit over 1 million the first year on bad loans. But now two years later, his bank has made over 3 million. When asked why he did this, he responded that his father or grandfather (sorry, I don't remember which) said that "97% of people try to do the right thing, and only 3 % don't. Always plan for the 97%." He tries to live his life this way. OK, so that's how I see the folks in cars and trucks. 97% will try to do the right thing, and I ride with this in mind. I also keep my eyes open for the 3% who don't, and if one of them is coming at me, I'll jump out of the traffic lane in a heartbeat. It has nothing to do with feeling superior or inferior.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:17 AM   #25
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Quote:
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The problem is, the fog line is treated as a curb - when you move to the right of it, you are officially off the road and have no right of way.
That contention I WILL dispute, at least as regards the situation here in Australia. Outside of that 'fog line" (which is really the outer edge of the vehicle traffic lane) I have absolute right of way. I'm allowed there. Vehicles are not! Unless:
  • They are pulling over to park.
  • They are travelling slowly with hazard lights flashing.

And in both those circumstances they must give way to both pedestrians and cyclists. any vehicle in motion outside of that line, except under those specific circumstances, is in violation of what it is legally and rightfully allowed to do!
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