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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

View Poll Results: Do you take a prominent position in a lane when needed?
Yes, I take a prominent lane postion when I need to for my own safety. 56 83.58%
No, I do not ever take over a lane. 11 16.42%
Voters: 67. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-15-18, 02:06 PM   #1
AlexanderLS
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Controlling the lane!

Somewhere on this forum I saw somebody mention that they like to take a prominent position in a lane.

NOTE: Rant section below.
I live in a rural area and many of the byways are very small and have any number of potential hazards. While I've been living here for the last few years I've been skirting that tiny byway as a courtesy to motorists. Also, I knew that I needed to be as far right as safe and I didn't know the exceptions to that requirement. It has at times been quite nerve racking. Then recently one of my neighbors who I informed of his legal obligation to give me 3 feet when passing, agreed, said we should have 5 feet, then stopped me in front of his house some days later to show me a 3 foot wire. He insisted he had given 3 feet and I think he was trying to convince me how small 3 feet is. It was at this time abundantly clear to me that he knew what 3 feet looked like but was unable to gauge 3 feet while in his vehicle.
NOTE: Rant over.

So I checked yesterday the state laws and confirmed that it is in fact legal for me to not be far right if the lane is too narrow for a cyclist and vehicle to safely be side by side on the lane. Today I took a prominent position in the lane. I'm sick of getting my nerves racked because of close passes from motorists who have no idea how close they are getting. It felt quite good to be on the road being taken seriously today. How I see it, my change in riding style will only affect the jerks who never gave proper overtaking distance, the courteous people were already partially changing lanes to pass anyways.

Do you guys take a prominent position on the road? When you are driving(for those who also drive a vehicle) do you find it more irritating having to fully change lanes instead of being in the middle of lanes when passing?

Last edited by AlexanderLS; 04-15-18 at 02:21 PM. Reason: Added: Also, I knew that I needed to be as far right as safe and I didn't know the exceptions to that requirement.
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Old 04-15-18, 02:16 PM   #2
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I'll take a prominent position in the lane, BUT only if I can match the speed of traffic, which is only in the city.

Doing that in a rural or suburban area, where the speed differential with other road users is high, is asking for trouble.
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Old 04-15-18, 03:02 PM   #3
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Likewise here. I just learned from all knowing Wikipedia, that something like 1/4 to 1/3 of all car accidents are rear-enders, which means that nobody is safe in a traffic lane.
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Old 04-15-18, 03:12 PM   #4
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I think there is a lot of confusion over using the part of the lane you have to and "control". If you put the bike where it needs to be to avoid hazards, you may be "controlling" the lane at times, but it is more or less incidental.

I don't see how it would be possible to never "control the lane" unless you pull over and stop every time a car isn't going to be immediately able to pass.
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Old 04-15-18, 03:34 PM   #5
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Rear endings are overwhelmingly slow moving traffic. People get bored and start doing things on their phone and then bam, they rear ended somebody else.

I don't really like cycling on the streets. I do it mostly on Sunday to get to and from my hiking location. My road bike/rack are by far the safest place to put my dog in his cage. Sunday is a really low traffic day. Then I do it in small snippets during weekdays to get from different trails. I always attempt to travel during low traffic times.

I appreciate these opinions you guys are giving. At the end of the day though I'm still far more afraid of some close passer clipping me than somebody rear ending me. From my experiences in my area people don't like to give proper overtaking distance. I need the space to my right for when that happens. Also being in the lane is likely to cause the overwhelming majority of motorists to simply switch lanes to pass which is exactly what I desire.

Last edited by AlexanderLS; 04-15-18 at 03:42 PM. Reason: Changed "shared opinions" to "opinions" as it was redundent as written.
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Old 04-15-18, 04:40 PM   #6
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Having been rear-ended by a driver, albeit a drunken one, I am not a big fan of riding on multi-lane roads without a shoulder because it means I have to take the lane. Don't get me wrong, if I need to ride on such roads I will and I will take the right tire track or further out if I deem it necessary. However, I'd much rather ride on side streets with much wider single lanes and less traffic, as well as trails and roads with bike lanes. These multi-lane roads usually have a higher speed limit as well, and riding on them without some kind of bike lane or shoulder just causes a lot of anxiety and stress, as noted in OP. I'll even take the sidewalk if I think it necessary.
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Old 04-15-18, 04:43 PM   #7
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It's all situational.
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Old 04-15-18, 04:47 PM   #8
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It's all situational.
So...it depends?

This is the answer to every question ever asked here on BF.
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Old 04-15-18, 06:21 PM   #9
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What if you took the lane successfully and that is what your headstone says?


Already been through that situation and got a stern warning from a local policeman.


And he had a point. It was taken.
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Old 04-15-18, 07:11 PM   #10
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What if you took the lane successfully and that is what your headstone says?


Already been through that situation and got a stern warning from a local policeman.


And he had a point. It was taken.
What does that even mean?


You can ride on the right side of the lane or the middle of the lane and a car that does not see you is going to kill you either way. All of the best cycling roads I've ever used didn't have paved shoulders - they're country roads.
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Old 04-15-18, 07:26 PM   #11
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Perhaps your want to review the LAB online bike training videos. Brief but helpful place to start in my opinion https://www.bikeleague.org/ridesmartvideos
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Old 04-15-18, 07:49 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by AlexanderLS View Post
Somewhere on this forum I saw somebody mention that they like to take a prominent position in a lane.

NOTE: Rant section below.
I live in a rural area and many of the byways are very small and have any number of potential hazards. While I've been living here for the last few years I've been skirting that tiny byway as a courtesy to motorists. Also, I knew that I needed to be as far right as safe and I didn't know the exceptions to that requirement. It has at times been quite nerve racking. Then recently one of my neighbors who I informed of his legal obligation to give me 3 feet when passing, agreed, said we should have 5 feet, then stopped me in front of his house some days later to show me a 3 foot wire. He insisted he had given 3 feet and I think he was trying to convince me how small 3 feet is. It was at this time abundantly clear to me that he knew what 3 feet looked like but was unable to gauge 3 feet while in his vehicle.
NOTE: Rant over.

So I checked yesterday the state laws and confirmed that it is in fact legal for me to not be far right if the lane is too narrow for a cyclist and vehicle to safely be side by side on the lane. Today I took a prominent position in the lane. I'm sick of getting my nerves racked because of close passes from motorists who have no idea how close they are getting. It felt quite good to be on the road being taken seriously today. How I see it, my change in riding style will only affect the jerks who never gave proper overtaking distance, the courteous people were already partially changing lanes to pass anyways.

Do you guys take a prominent position on the road? When you are driving(for those who also drive a vehicle) do you find it more irritating having to fully change lanes instead of being in the middle of lanes when passing?
Good for you, you have discovered the secret to bicycling safely. And nobody told you what to do or shoved it it down your throat you. You tried it the way that automobile drivers try to dictate how bicyclists should ride, hugging the right side of the road and riding and fear and it didn't work . Everyone should read your testimonial and learn from it, because there are so many namby-pamby cyclists who always say oh I have to ride as far to the right of the lane as possible because they mistakenly think it's the law.

You really brought up a great subject.
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Old 04-15-18, 07:53 PM   #13
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Perhaps your want to review the LAB online bike training videos. Brief but helpful place to start in my opinion https://www.bikeleague.org/ridesmartvideos
Thanks for that.
The video "where should I ride" confirms the idea I set out with this morning.
The lanes around here are simply too narrow for a motorist to safely pass on the lane. If I was on the 1 foot wide hazardous byway they would still need to be about half on the left lane.

As far as death from taking the lane. Like another person mentioned, if the driver runs me over at a speed sufficient to kill me they would've killed me by clipping me if I was on the side anyways. If anything being on the side of the road makes me less visible and increases the chance of a vehicle going at that speed hitting me. I'd rather not live my life in fear. If I die, I die. Death is the only thing that is absolutely not optional for all of us.

Last edited by AlexanderLS; 04-15-18 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 04-16-18, 04:46 AM   #14
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I always take the lane when I'm coming up on a redlight/stop sign. I know it pisses a lot of motorist off when I'm sitting in the middle of the lane at a stop light on a roadway with a speed limit of 45-mph, but if they observe me doing this enough, soon they will see there is a very good reason for doing this...
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Old 04-16-18, 05:49 AM   #15
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I always 'take the lane'.
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Old 04-16-18, 12:20 PM   #16
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take the lane when the situation dictates....but there are a lot of factors involved, including lane position I take. So no absolutes. What is the average speed of the road? the faster the less likely I am to take the center, huge difference in my mind between a 25 to 35 mph road and a 50 to 70mph road.
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Old 04-16-18, 12:48 PM   #17
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An aside: a rear-facing camera is great, if you get "buzzed" (or worse, wake up in the hospital), the video can be reviewed.
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Old 04-16-18, 12:57 PM   #18
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I always take the lane when I'm coming up on a redlight/stop sign. I know it pisses a lot of motorist off when I'm sitting in the middle of the lane at a stop light on a roadway with a speed limit of 45-mph, but if they observe me doing this enough, soon they will see there is a very good reason for doing this...
I do the same thing because 1) I don't want to be right hooked, and 2) I don't want to be squeezed as I go through the intersection. I will over to the right as so as there is enough room to do so. As far as I can recall I've been honked at twice by motorists in doing this.
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Old 04-16-18, 12:58 PM   #19
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An aside: a rear-facing camera is great, if you get "buzzed" (or worse, wake up in the hospital), the video can be reviewed.
And a rear-view mirror.
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Old 04-16-18, 01:10 PM   #20
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As far as death from taking the lane. Like another person mentioned, if the driver runs me over at a speed sufficient to kill me they would've killed me by clipping me if I was on the side anyways.
Probably not. Generally (not always), it's likely less energy is going to be transferred with a clip than a full-on rear end collision. There is some data that indicates that rear-end collisions are especially deadly but don't occur very often.

In any case, I don't think that should figure prominently in your decision.

Do you use a flashing rear light?

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Also being in the lane is likely to cause the overwhelming majority of motorists to simply switch lanes to pass which is exactly what I desire.
I think "close passes/clipping" occur for different reasons than rear-end collisions (it would seem rear-end collisions occur due to not being "seen").

Last edited by njkayaker; 04-16-18 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 04-16-18, 02:37 PM   #21
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SMIDSY (sorry mate I didn’t see you) is really SMIDL (sorry mate I didn’t look).

They can’t see if they don’t look. And we can’t make them look.

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Old 04-16-18, 02:45 PM   #22
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I'll take a prominent position in the lane, BUT only if I can match the speed of traffic, which is only in the city.

Doing that in a rural or suburban area, where the speed differential with other road users is high, is asking for trouble.
In my experience, it is more important to take the lane in a rural area with high speed limits. Cars need to see you from as far away as possible so they can make the appropriate adjustment in their own speed and course.

The only close passes I have on rural roads are when I'm riding too close to the side. When I'm in the middle of the lane, they move to the other and and give me wide berth.
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Old 04-16-18, 02:51 PM   #23
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In my experience, it is more important to take the lane in a rural area with high speed limits. Cars need to see you from as far away as possible so they can make the appropriate adjustment in their own speed and course.

The only close passes I have on rural roads are when I'm riding too close to the side. When I'm in the middle of the lane, they move to the other and and give me wide berth.
Just wanna be clear exactly what's going on here:

You are choosing to place yourself directly in the path of a motorized vehicle travelling at a speed much greater than yours; you're completely exposed and unprotected, on a bicycle; you're relying on them to "make the appropriate adjustment in their own speed and course".
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Old 04-16-18, 03:16 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by AlexanderLS View Post
Somewhere on this forum I saw somebody mention that they like to take a prominent position in a lane.

NOTE: Rant section below…

Today I took a prominent position in the lane. I'm sick of getting my nerves racked because of close passes from motorists who have no idea how close they are getting.

It felt quite good to be on the road being taken seriously today. How I see it, my change in riding style will only affect the jerks who never gave proper overtaking distance, the courteous people were already partially changing lanes to pass anyways.

Do you guys take a prominent position on the road? When you are driving (for those who also drive a vehicle) do you find it more irritating having to fully change lanes instead of being in the middle of lanes when passing?
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It's all situational.
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
So...it depends? This is the answer to every question ever asked here on BF.
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I’m a decades-long, year-round cycle commuter in Boston, lucky to have a reverse commute from downtown to a outlying suburb. In general I don’t ride sidewalks in busy commercial districts, and I use bike lanes when available.

However, riding venues for me are situational, and I use my judgement……
In the recent past (about a year), I have “come over to the dark (left) side”:
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Regarding the question of taking the lane, I’ve always felt it is a question of pragmatism, though I probably too obsequiously favor keeping the drivers happy by staying FRAP. Recently I posted on this thread:
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My usual routes are pretty safe…early morning or after rush hour in the evening, in the reverse commuting direction, on residential(though somewhat busy) and light commercial thoroughfares.

On a few rides over the past few days I have tried out the more aggressive position, in the right tire track, with very good results. I can easilymonitor the driver's responses in my rearview mirror...so far no aggressive maneuvers or honking.

I also like your strategy of gently nudging towards the center, then relenting towards the right. And I always give a wave to the cooperative driver, either before or after their pass.


So this morning I employed the above-described strategy again with excellent results. My routes are particularly amenable since passing cars are sporadic,not continuous; and if any drivers are to be impatient, they likely would be morning commuters.

It is still a bit unsettling to take the lane, though my rearview mirrors keep me aware, and I now scan them more frequently, a good thing.I soon determined that at about 30 yards behind me, the driver probably has noticed me, but is not yet impatient. So at that point I veer rightward to acknowledege the car’s presence and show my cooperative “share the road” attitude.

I did notice that I became so focused on what was happening in front and behind, I had on a couple of occasions to remind myself to watch out for side drives and street intersections.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 04-16-18 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 04-16-18, 03:20 PM   #25
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Just wanna be clear exactly what's going on here:

You are choosing to place yourself directly in the path of a motorized vehicle travelling at a speed much greater than yours; you're completely exposed and unprotected, on a bicycle; you're relying on them to "make the appropriate adjustment in their own speed and course".
On which part of a shoulderless road is this not the case?

Please point to the safe spot where cars don't travel:

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