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What to do when curb parking changes every few blocks

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What to do when curb parking changes every few blocks

Old 11-06-05, 03:06 PM
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What to do when curb parking changes every few blocks

I'm relativly new at this, but if I didn't know better I'd swear some of the streets were designed as booby traps.
For example, a street may be no parking for several blocks, making it safe to get closer to the curb. Then the next block up it's packed with cars which means I have to either swerve out to be clear of them- which could put me unexpectedly in someone's path. The alternitive, riding further to the left (regardless of whether parked cars are there), solves the swerve problem, but I'm techinally not "riding as far to the left as possible" for that specific part of the street.
(I'd be happy to take the lane as my own, but where I live you're not supposed to do that if there's any way you can ride to the right.)

How do you experienced guys/gals deal with these inconsistancies?

Thanks in advance
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Old 11-06-05, 03:26 PM
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I would ride at least 4 feet to the left of parked cars. I want to avoid the "door zone," meaning the area where a car door opening would hit you. I also want to give myself some space (which equals reaction time) to maneuver if a car pulls out of a parking spot or driveway on my right, or into my path from the front or left.

If there are no parked cars, I still want at least 3 or 4 feet of space on my right, so I have some place to swerve if I need to move out of the way quickly. I also want to avoid debris, cracked pavement, and sewer grates that are usually found in the rightmost part of the roadway.

Practically speaking, this means that most of the time I am riding in the middle of the traffic lane -- in other words, in the same space where the cars go. Before you get all upset and worried, let me explain that when a car approaches from behind me, I will move to the right as soon as it is safe for me to do so.

I find this to be the safest and easiest positioning for myself in almost all circumstances. The cagers also like it, because they can see that I am riding carefully and predictably. They rarely mind being held up for a short time, since they can see that I will allow them to pass as soon as practicable.

BTW, I would never "swerve out to be clear of them." Always do a good head check before you swerve out into traffic. If you don't know how to do a head check, practice until you can. And if you ever do have to "swerve out" suddenly, swerve to the right, away from traffic, never to the left into traffic.

"Think Outside the Cage"
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Old 11-06-05, 04:24 PM
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Roody, well said.

Namowal, as to the design issue, many (most?) roads are laid out by traffic engineers who do not ride bikes, and rely on guides written by others who do not ride (such as the AASHTO guide).

The California code ( https://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/di...le=21200-21212 ) uses the phrase 'shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand
curb', with practicable meaning practical & able.

Ride like an alpha user of the road and you will be treated like an alpha user. Cower in the gutter, and drivers will not respect your legally granted rights to space on the roads.
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Old 11-06-05, 04:42 PM
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Surely you can see a block ahead of you. In the clear section, ride a couple of feet left of the curb. As you approach the parked cars, prepare to merge left by looking to your rear, signalling if you feel it is safe and appropriate to do so, and then change your line so that you are now three (or four) feet left of the parked cars. You begin this maneuver well in advance of the parked cars so that you have room and time to find a safe point to do so, without getting squeezed in between overtaking traffic and the parked cars. In practice, that would be about eight seconds, plus or minus two depending on how heavy the traffic is. before you reach the parked cars.

What this implies is that you should not move right unless you can ride in that position for at *least* fifteen seconds. Alternatively, if you want to move right to let faster traffic pass, you should be prepared to slow way down and just wait there for thirty seconds to a minute before you try to go left again.
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Old 11-06-05, 05:52 PM
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+1 on Roody's post.
The one thing that I do is I don't go back over to the right very much when between parked cars. Since there's usually enough room for the moving traffic to pass the parked cars, I only move about a foot or so to the right in between them, even if they are a block or so apart. That way, drivers coming up behind me won't think I'm darting left all the way across the road when I signal and move left in an opening to go by parked cars again. If possible, pick a "line" and stay as close to it as you can. That way, you're more predictable to traffic.
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