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Don't try to ride like Serge

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Don't try to ride like Serge

Old 11-04-05, 08:13 PM
  #1  
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Don't try to ride like Serge

...unless you are willing to do it right.

This is a letter to the total dork this evening who was trying to ride using Serge's methods but failing badly.

I'm all for Serge's method of riding so long as I'm not required to do it. I think it's a silly way to ride if:
1. The bike lanes are clean and safe
2. You don't have a mirror
3. You're not willing to stick to your bias (your center lane bias that is)
4. You aren't faster than the people who use bike lanes

I don't often catch up to and pass white male cyclists on road bikes, but I caught up to this guy and passed him twice because he wasted so much forward momentum turning his whole body to look behind him every 5 seconds. Get a mirror dude!

When I caught up to him, because I ride smooth and steady in the bike lane, it was really unclear how to pass him. Every time he thought he saw somebody approach behind him he'd veer back into the bike lane. So I'd have to slow down so he wouldn't crash into me. Dude, if you're going to change lanes make sure it's clear on BOTH sides!

Pass him on the left you say? Where the heck is his left? He kept veering all over the road! Stick to your bias, dude! Ride steady! Pick the center and stay there. If there's so much traffic you can't stay there, just stay on the right. The constant lane changing is totaly stupid!

I really think that if you are going to use Serge's techniques on a road with a perfectly good bike lane you should have a mirror and you should be fast enough that people in the bike lane won't need to pass you and you should just stay out of the bike lane completely. If you need to pull right to let cars pass, then pull just to the left of the bike lane. That way when people like me come along--people who can ride smooth, steady and fast in the bike lane--you won't cause us a problem. After all, how many lanes am I going to have to cross in order to get by this guy? It's just not clear where he was headed.

Honestly, I think the biggest problem motorists have with cyclists is when they don't ride a straight line. You can't ride a straignt line if you're veering in and out of a center-biased lane position and the bike lane. That guy caused a lot of confusion to motorists and fellow bikers with his shoddy technique. I swear I thought he was trying to cross the street until I finally figured it out.
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Old 11-04-05, 09:05 PM
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Was he standing up on his pedals and throwing his bike side to side?

If a driver in a car did that, the police seargent would be out with the Breathalyzer.
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Old 11-04-05, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
I don't often catch up to and pass white male cyclists on road bikes... That guy caused a lot of confusion to motorists and fellow bikers with his shoddy technique.
--- Yeah, those white guys.
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Old 11-04-05, 09:28 PM
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2 thoughts:
  1. Maybe you dropped him because you're faster than you used to be.
  2. Maybe he wouldn't have seen you even if he did have a mirror, if you were to his right.
  3. Maybe you should have rode circles around him while you politely explained what his problems are!
Guess that's 3 thoughts. No extra charge.
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Old 11-05-05, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
...unless you are willing to do it right.

This is a letter to the total dork this evening who was trying to ride using Serge's methods but failing badly.

I'm all for Serge's method of riding so long as I'm not required to do it. I think it's a silly way to ride if:
1. The bike lanes are clean and safe
2. You don't have a mirror
3. You're not willing to stick to your bias (your center lane bias that is)
4. You aren't faster than the people who use bike lanes

I don't often catch up to and pass white male cyclists on road bikes, but I caught up to this guy and passed him twice because he wasted so much forward momentum turning his whole body to look behind him every 5 seconds. Get a mirror dude!

When I caught up to him, because I ride smooth and steady in the bike lane, it was really unclear how to pass him. Every time he thought he saw somebody approach behind him he'd veer back into the bike lane. So I'd have to slow down so he wouldn't crash into me. Dude, if you're going to change lanes make sure it's clear on BOTH sides!

Pass him on the left you say? Where the heck is his left? He kept veering all over the road! Stick to your bias, dude! Ride steady! Pick the center and stay there. If there's so much traffic you can't stay there, just stay on the right. The constant lane changing is totaly stupid!

I really think that if you are going to use Serge's techniques on a road with a perfectly good bike lane you should have a mirror and you should be fast enough that people in the bike lane won't need to pass you and you should just stay out of the bike lane completely. If you need to pull right to let cars pass, then pull just to the left of the bike lane. That way when people like me come along--people who can ride smooth, steady and fast in the bike lane--you won't cause us a problem. After all, how many lanes am I going to have to cross in order to get by this guy? It's just not clear where he was headed.

Honestly, I think the biggest problem motorists have with cyclists is when they don't ride a straight line. You can't ride a straignt line if you're veering in and out of a center-biased lane position and the bike lane. That guy caused a lot of confusion to motorists and fellow bikers with his shoddy technique. I swear I thought he was trying to cross the street until I finally figured it out.
Hear! Hear! In order to ride safely in any kind of traffic, whether it be motor vehicles or other bicycles, one of the things you must be is predictable. You cannot be predictable if you're all over the road, bouncing from lane to lane. Pick your line (lane) and stick to it. Preparing to turn is a reason to change your line, avoiding an obstacle or hazard is a reason to change your line, passing is a reason to change your line, being passed is not. Changing your line because you are being passed makes the pass more hazardous.

Edit-The onus for passinging safely is always on the passer, not the passee, except for Rule 9 situations which don't apply unless you're riding your bike in a ship channel. That being said, to make things safer for both, the passee should always maintain course (line) and speed.

Last edited by CommuterRun; 11-05-05 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 11-05-05, 09:40 AM
  #6  
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LOL Rule 9! Watch for fishing vessels and tugs in tow too.
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Old 11-05-05, 10:18 AM
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Speaking of dorks... if you must ride on the sidewalk, then stay on the bloody sidewalk!

I was heading out to the mall yesterday to pick up some victuals. This twit on a poorly-sized BMX bike (no doubt a cheap imitation) had the following wonderful cycling method: ride on sidewalk, blindly hope off the curb at random places, then ride on the street. At the next intersection, ride through the crosswalk (illegal here, as is sidewalk riding) and get back on the sidewalk. At some random point later, hope off again. He didn't seem to have a mirror, and never shoulder-checked. He almost ran me off the road the first time, and seemed blissfully oblivious to my shouted commentary.

With any luck he'll Darwinise himself before killing someone else.
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Old 11-05-05, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by patc
Speaking of dorks... if you must ride on the sidewalk, then stay on the bloody sidewalk!

I was heading out to the mall yesterday to pick up some victuals. This twit on a poorly-sized BMX bike (no doubt a cheap imitation) had the following wonderful cycling method: ride on sidewalk, blindly hope off the curb at random places, then ride on the street. At the next intersection, ride through the crosswalk (illegal here, as is sidewalk riding) and get back on the sidewalk. At some random point later, hope off again. He didn't seem to have a mirror, and never shoulder-checked. He almost ran me off the road the first time, and seemed blissfully oblivious to my shouted commentary.

With any luck he'll Darwinise himself before killing someone else.
Ive had these sorts ride in to me before. Thankfully i was on my old beater mtb at the time. Heavy steel rims huge nobbys etc. They provided lots of giro scopic forces to keep me upright to bad the idiot on the bmx didnt have such a advantage. He went down hard and i barly wobbled. He jumps back u catches up to me and starts cussing me out. I pretty much just said not my fault you dont know how to ride and road away.

Now back in my bmx days i did use to side walk ride all the time the nastyer and more beat up the side walk the better. Nothign funner than hitting a ramp on the walk where a tree root has cracked the pavement and raised it up. You can get some nice air off them

But i also wastn stupid when doing it i kept a eye out for other people aroudn me cas etc.
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Old 11-07-05, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by patc
(illegal here, as is sidewalk riding)
Not to nitpick, but isn't the Sidewalk bike bylaw only for wheels over 24"? A BMX is actually fine by the letter of the law in Toronto. Not sure about Ottawa. Not that this helps....
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Old 11-07-05, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
Not to nitpick, but isn't the Sidewalk bike bylaw only for wheels over 24"? A BMX is actually fine by the letter of the law in Toronto. Not sure about Ottawa. Not that this helps....
No, Ottawa city by-laws prohibit any and all bikes from using the sidewalks. It doesn't matter if its a road bike, a 24" BMX bike, or a kid's tricycle. Over the last few years by-law enforcement officers have done several ticketing blitzes in areas with many complaints about sidewalk cyclist.
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Old 11-07-05, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
...unless you are willing to do it right.

This is a letter to the total dork this evening who was trying to ride using Serge's methods but failing badly.

I'm all for Serge's method of riding so long as I'm not required to do it. I think it's a silly way to ride if:
1. The bike lanes are clean and safe
2. You don't have a mirror
3. You're not willing to stick to your bias (your center lane bias that is)
4. You aren't faster than the people who use bike lanes

I don't often catch up to and pass white male cyclists on road bikes, but I caught up to this guy and passed him twice because he wasted so much forward momentum turning his whole body to look behind him every 5 seconds. Get a mirror dude!

When I caught up to him, because I ride smooth and steady in the bike lane, it was really unclear how to pass him. Every time he thought he saw somebody approach behind him he'd veer back into the bike lane. So I'd have to slow down so he wouldn't crash into me. Dude, if you're going to change lanes make sure it's clear on BOTH sides!

Pass him on the left you say? Where the heck is his left? He kept veering all over the road! Stick to your bias, dude! Ride steady! Pick the center and stay there. If there's so much traffic you can't stay there, just stay on the right. The constant lane changing is totaly stupid!

I really think that if you are going to use Serge's techniques on a road with a perfectly good bike lane you should have a mirror and you should be fast enough that people in the bike lane won't need to pass you and you should just stay out of the bike lane completely. If you need to pull right to let cars pass, then pull just to the left of the bike lane. That way when people like me come along--people who can ride smooth, steady and fast in the bike lane--you won't cause us a problem. After all, how many lanes am I going to have to cross in order to get by this guy? It's just not clear where he was headed.

Honestly, I think the biggest problem motorists have with cyclists is when they don't ride a straight line. You can't ride a straignt line if you're veering in and out of a center-biased lane position and the bike lane. That guy caused a lot of confusion to motorists and fellow bikers with his shoddy technique. I swear I thought he was trying to cross the street until I finally figured it out.
Just to be clear, whatever the heck Diane is describing above, has very little to do with the approach I advocate.

First of all, a cyclist should move aside, into the bike lane, whenever faster traffic is approaching from the rear (and it's safe and reasonable to move aside), and that would include faster traffic comprised of a single cyclist. The faster cyclist doing the passing should be the one to then leave the bike lane and pass the slower cyclists on his left. In general, cyclists should not pass anyone, including other cyclists, on the right - it's generally an unexpected move and is prone to collision. I do agree a mirror is highly recommended for anyone who uses a centerish lane position as his primary riding position.

I agree that riding a straight line is very important to convey intent, but my technique is not a violation of this guideline. If you are riding in a straight line, then look back over your shoulder, verify that it is clear, then move into a new lateral position where you continue riding in a straight line, there is no confusion being caused for anyone.

Serge
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Old 11-07-05, 05:15 PM
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The problem is Serge, that:
1. The constant looking over the shoulder appears to convey a desire to continue moving further and further left. I felt I could not pass him on his left.
2. I don't want to go around him into the left lane in order to pass him. Am I stuck behind him forever even though my path is clear as a bell in the bike lane?
3. If there is a perfectly clear, safe and clean bike path and someone chooses to use this center lane technique, what is the point exactly? Either the bike lane is safe to use or it isn't.

What do you do if someone who uses bike lanes wants to pass you Serge? What does the person passing you end up doing?
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Old 11-07-05, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
The problem is Serge, that:
1. The constant looking over the shoulder appears to convey a desire to continue moving further and further left. I felt I could not pass him on his left.
2. I don't want to go around him into the left lane in order to pass him. Am I stuck behind him forever even though my path is clear as a bell in the bike lane?
3. If there is a perfectly clear, safe and clean bike path and someone chooses to use this center lane technique, what is the point exactly? Either the bike lane is safe to use or it isn't.

What do you do if someone who uses bike lanes wants to pass you Serge? What does the person passing you end up doing
?
Can't speak for Serge, but for me the concept of moving over for faster vehicles when it is safe would apply to other cyclists as well as to cagers.

Course I wouldn't know because nobody around here can drop me!
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Old 11-07-05, 06:09 PM
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Well sorry but I interpert as close to the right as practicable as being in the bike lane. Why should I risk my life in the left lane of traffic when the bike lane is perfectly safe. I don't agree with the center lane biasing technique so why should I be forced to assume it just to get around a dork who by the way keeps using the bike lane as a refuge from traffic? I prefer to stay in the refuge all the time instead of veering in and out of it.
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Old 11-07-05, 06:13 PM
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I don't agree with the center lane biasing technique so why should I be forced to assume it...
You're not being forced, so relax. Everything will be alright.
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Old 11-07-05, 06:19 PM
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If you really believe it's safer there, then why are you whining here? Just stay in your safe refuge, and pass him on the safe right side of that safe white lane that dangerous traffic won't cross.
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Old 11-07-05, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
The problem is Serge, that:
1. The constant looking over the shoulder appears to convey a desire to continue moving further and further left. I felt I could not pass him on his left.
We both agree that this comes from not using a mirror. Anyway, if he is doing this without a mirror, he should also be checking over his right shoulder, about every other time.


2. I don't want to go around him into the left lane in order to pass him. Am I stuck behind him forever even though my path is clear as a bell in the bike lane?
If some numskull is out in the lane, then yeah, go ahead and pass him on his right, with vigilance, of course.


3. If there is a perfectly clear, safe and clean bike path and someone chooses to use this center lane technique, what is the point exactly? Either the bike lane is safe to use or it isn't.
First, note the Freudian slip of using the term "bike path" when we were clearly talking about bike lanes. This may just be a meaningless mistake, but I think there's more to it. There is a certain traffic-free mentality that comes with bike path riding that unfortunately people take with them when they ride in bike lanes, which is the false sense of security problem with bike lanes. It's easy, and dangerous, to forget that bike lanes are not bike paths. In particular, cars are driven into and across bike lanes all the time. Where paths intersect roads is also very dangerous, but that's much less often than the hazard points of bike lanes, which is at every intersection with every street, driveway, alley, and mall entrance, and their approaches, not to mention whereever it is legal (and sometimes illegal) to park in the bike lane.

Anyway, this false sense of security problem of bike lanes only magnifies the significance of how they make you less safe because you are less visible in a bike lane to:
  • Traffic potentially pulling out on your right, perhaps out of a driveway, alley or side street? Did you read about what happened to Robert Hurst, author of The Art of Urban Cycling in your other thread? Classic example of why it's dangerous to ride in a "perfectly clear, safe and clean bike lane".
  • Traffic potentially pulling out on your left. In one of my VC Puzzlers I shared the story of the cyclists riding through an intersection (that had no traffic signals or stop signs) in a "perfectly clear, safe and clean bike lane" when someone pulled out from the left right in front of them. Another classic example. All I can tell you is you don't realize how often this ***** happens to you until you adjust your lane positioning and it just stops happening...
  • Oncoming traffic that might turn left across your path, or into you. Remember the thread a few weeks ago about the cyclist who rammed into the side of a bus as it turned left in front of him?
  • Traffic coming from behind, who is not aware of you "off to the side", and inadvertently drifts into you. We've had a number of these examples on this forum, including a CO woman killed on a country road, someone else hit in Canada, and the more recent example near Brian Ratliff. Those are off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more.

To reduce the likelihood of reducing all of the above, I advocate riding outside of "perfectly clear, safe and clean bike lanes", except to allow faster traffic to pass, by pulling aside into the bike lane when they are 5-8 seconds behind you, and are extremely unlikely to be unaware of your presence. In fact, this entire approach is based on the premise that motorists from all sides are significantly more likely to be aware of a cyclist's presence when that cyclist is in the traffic lane, than when he's in the bike lane. This approach also has the advantage of increasing your buffer zone and "escape space", of which there is precious little when you're riding just a few feet from the curb inside a bike lane. Riding outside of the bike lane is about taking control and responsibilty for your own safety while cycling on roads.


What do you do if someone who uses bike lanes wants to pass you Serge? What does the person passing you end up doing?
Again, if faster traffic is approaching from the rear, including faster traffic that is comprised of one or more cyclists riding in a bike lane, by the time they are 5-8 seconds behind me, I'm back in the bike lane, and they pass me on my left. Remember, besides the faster cyclist(s), there is no other same direction traffic (or I'd be in the bike lane already), so there is no reason why they can't temporarily merge left to pass me.

Does that make sense?

Last edited by Helmet Head; 11-07-05 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 11-07-05, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head

First, note the Freudian slip of using the term "bike path"
Oh puleeze. Are you a psychologist/psychiatrist now? I am a web developer you know and write/use the word "path" about a million times a day.
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Old 11-07-05, 07:07 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by lws
If you really believe it's safer there, then why are you whining here? Just stay in your safe refuge, and pass him on the safe right side of that safe white lane that dangerous traffic won't cross.
Some people feel as passionately about their cycling techniques as you do yours. If you don't have something to contribute, why post?

Who are you, anyway? Where are you from, and what is your experience? You provoke these questions by your recent comment.
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Old 11-07-05, 07:44 PM
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Diane... I hope you read past my Freudian slip remark. I spent a lot of time on it...
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Old 11-07-05, 08:16 PM
  #21  
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I'm sure you take a lot of care in what you write but as soon as I detect an insult (either to me or to others no matter who is slinging it) I stop reading.

My point is, the message sent when a cyclist is in the right tire track is pretty clear, but over toward the center it isn't so clear. It looks like the cyclist is trying to move even further left than he already is. It would look that way even if he used a mirror.

And when there is plenty of usable space on the right, bike lane or no bike lane, it is even more confusing to any vehicle behind the cyclist. Why would he be riding there if he wasn't trying to get further left when it's perfectly clear and there's plenty of space over on the right. There's even proof it's clear as every single other cyclist is already riding on the right and has been day after day, year after year.

I really think it's way way safer to hold your line on the right than to do like that guy was doing--riding in the center until faster traffic comes up behind him. I can see using the center if the right is truly unsafe or there is no right to use. But otherwise it's truly pointless and more than that it's dangerous and confusing.
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Old 11-07-05, 08:21 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
And when there is plenty of usable space on the right, bike lane or no bike lane, it is even more confusing to any vehicle behind the cyclist.
Again, for someone approaching me from behind, what they would see is me looking over my right shoulder and moving to the right, to let them by.

What if the cyclist is keeping up with the speed of traffic? Do you think a centerish position, when there is plenty of usable space on the right, looks confusing to a motorist behind the cyclist?

What if the cyclist is a motorcyclist? What's the difference?
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Old 11-07-05, 08:37 PM
  #23  
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Even I ride down the center on some residential streets, and I also ride way out in the lane when it's not safe on the right. But this one was posted at 40mph and it's very safe on the right. It's also very popular with cyclists. Why would anybody choose to ride in the center when there's pleny of clean, safe room on the right? I just do not understand that at all. And if I sit here day after day and listen to you and still think it appears confusing then just imagine what the typical motorist is thinking.

If he was a motorcyclist it would be illegal for him to be in the bike lane and being in the center is where you are supposed to be on a motorcycle.
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Old 11-07-05, 08:55 PM
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So this cyclist riding in the center of the lane bothered you because. . . . ?
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Old 11-08-05, 12:31 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
Even I ride down the center on some residential streets, and I also ride way out in the lane when it's not safe on the right. But this one was posted at 40mph and it's very safe on the right. It's also very popular with cyclists. Why would anybody choose to ride in the center when there's pleny of clean, safe room on the right? I just do not understand that at all. And if I sit here day after day and listen to you and still think it appears confusing then just imagine what the typical motorist is thinking.
Can you tell us the name of the street you're thinking of, and perhaps the cross streets of the particular section you have in mind?

Once again, the reason one might choose to ride in the center is to be visible to others. You keep asking the same question, I answer it, you ignore my answer (you have no comment or response to it), then you ask your question again. I answered why one might ride centerish in #17, in great detail. If that answer does not satisfy you, please answer why, instead of just ignoring it and asking your question again.


Originally Posted by sbhikes
3. If there is a perfectly clear, safe and clean bike path and someone chooses to use this center lane technique, what is the point exactly? Either the bike lane is safe to use or it isn't.
...
[The] false sense of security problem of bike lanes only magnifies the significance of how they make you less safe because you are less visible in a bike lane to:
  • Traffic potentially pulling out on your right, perhaps out of a driveway, alley or side street. Did you read about what happened to Robert Hurst, author of The Art of Urban Cycling in your other thread? Classic example of why it's dangerous to ride in a "perfectly clear, safe and clean bike lane".
  • Traffic potentially pulling out on your left. In one of my VC Puzzlers I shared the story of the cyclists riding through an intersection (that had no traffic signals or stop signs) in a "perfectly clear, safe and clean bike lane" when someone pulled out from the left right in front of them. Another classic example. All I can tell you is you don't realize how often this ***** happens to you until you adjust your lane positioning and it just stops happening...
  • Oncoming traffic that might turn left across your path, or into you. Remember the thread a few weeks ago about the cyclist who rammed into the side of a bus as it turned left in front of him?
  • Traffic coming from behind, who is not aware of you "off to the side", and inadvertently drifts into you. We've had a number of these examples on this forum, including a CO woman killed on a country road, someone else hit in Canada, and the more recent example near Brian Ratliff. Those are off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more.

To reduce the likelihood of reducing all of the above, I advocate riding outside of "perfectly clear, safe and clean bike lanes", except to allow faster traffic to pass, by pulling aside into the bike lane when they are 5-8 seconds behind you, and are extremely unlikely to be unaware of your presence. In fact, this entire approach is based on the premise that motorists from all sides are significantly more likely to be aware of a cyclist's presence when that cyclist is in the traffic lane, than when he's in the bike lane. This approach also has the advantage of increasing your buffer zone and "escape space", of which there is precious little when you're riding just a few feet from the curb inside a bike lane. Riding outside of the bike lane is about taking control and responsibilty for your own safety while cycling on roads.

If he was a motorcyclist it would be illegal for him to be in the bike lane and being in the center is where you are supposed to be on a motorcycle.
It's not illegal for a cyclist to be in the same centerish position as the legal position for a motorcyclist when he is traveling the same speed as traffic, or there is no other same direction traffic.

Are you telling us you believe someone riding a human powered cycle in a certain lane position will be confusing to others, while another person riding a motor powered cycle in the same position at the same speed would not be confusing?
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