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Holding up motorists by taking the lane

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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: How long is any one motorist stuck waiting behind you for a safe chance to pass?
I would never hold up a motorist
4.88%
Less than 10 seconds
22.56%
30 seconds tops
37.80%
Not more than one minute
7.93%
More than one minute
1.83%
I don't care how long I hold them up
25.00%
Voters: 164. You may not vote on this poll

Holding up motorists by taking the lane

Old 12-03-07, 11:05 PM
  #1  
AlmostTrick
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Holding up motorists by taking the lane

In some recent threads there has been discussion about cyclists blocking traffic unnecessarily.

On a typical ride, how long is any one motorist stuck waiting behind you for a safe chance to pass?
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Old 12-03-07, 11:21 PM
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I never take a lane unecessarily, and I don't consider it 'blocking' traffic when I do. I merely hold my line and expect them to pass only when it is safe to do so, like it says in the rules. At most it takes 30 seconds for them to find a safe time to pass, but it's usually under 10, even in heavy traffic.
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Old 12-03-07, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Allister View Post
I never take a lane unecessarily, and I don't consider it 'blocking' traffic when I do.
Some think it to be more unnecessary than others, which is what prompted this thread. I only wish to get a better idea of how long motorists are actually being held up by BF members who take the lane.
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Old 12-03-07, 11:52 PM
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Does 30 seconds at 20mph in a 30mph zone count as 30 seconds or 10?
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Old 12-04-07, 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Allister View Post
I never take a lane unecessarily, and I don't consider it 'blocking' traffic when I do. I merely hold my line and expect them to pass only when it is safe to do so, like it says in the rules. At most it takes 30 seconds for them to find a safe time to pass, but it's usually under 10, even in heavy traffic.
What he said.

I will add that in the really heavy traffic, it's usually me passing the motorists.
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Old 12-04-07, 06:34 AM
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I don't keep track of how long they are back there.

Just like when I am driving the car, and am stopped to turn left waiting for traffic to clear before turning. I don't care how long people behind me have to wait. Waiting is part of driving. If you don't like waiting, build your own road.
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Old 12-04-07, 07:21 AM
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I don't take the lane unless I have to, and if I do, I really don't care how long I hold someone up... if my need for safety requires I take the lane, and there is only one motorist waiting... they can continue to wait.

Now that said... of course I will work to be courteous and move out of the way when possible, but I am not going to compromise my safety for their convenience.

The reality is that any delay is usually only a few seconds, and any delay hardly ever even amounts to one minute. A motorist is likely to experience a longer delay at the next traffic light.
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Old 12-04-07, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by CaptainCool View Post
Does 30 seconds at 20mph in a 30mph zone count as 30 seconds or 10?
Exactly! What exactly is "delay."

Is it the time spent that the motorist may only drive at the speed limit?
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Old 12-04-07, 07:35 AM
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I make it a point to inconvenience (i.e: get in the way of) motorists as little as possible. It's a survival thing - you just don't know what they're going to do.

I must say, however, that I have never had any real problems with motorists. My technique is to stay to the right as far as possible (and safe). I only "take the lane" if I am making a left turn, or to avoid a hazard like broken pavement near the shoulder. I signal 99% of my turns.

If making a left at a "four-way" intersection, I usually ride straight through the intersection on the green light, pull to the side at the far curb, then wait for the light to change for the cross street and continue on on the green. This seems to work best for me in the traffic conditions in which I ride - fairly high-speed two-lane country roads.

I also never ride in groups.
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Old 12-04-07, 08:50 AM
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Less than 10 seconds..... if they don't know what they're doing and can't merge into the other lane when a hole comes up... then it'll take longer.... that's their fault not mine. In fact... if they were paying attention... they coulda merged before they got to me
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Old 12-04-07, 09:04 AM
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Typically not more than 30 seconds. I take the lane for turns and at intersections, and for that, more than 30 seconds is excessive. "Holding up" one or two motorists is something I'm not really concerned about either, however, if any kind of queue were forming behind me, I'd pull over. It's what I'd expect any other slow moving vehicle to do.
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Old 12-04-07, 09:12 AM
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The only time I have to take the lane on my route is downtown where the speed limit is 15 (I'm not holding them up unless they are speeding) and when I come off/go up one bridge about halfway through my route. The road splits into one lane on each side with a wide median in the center, and it is very curvy/wind-ey with big white domed reflectors on the right side (speed limit 25). There is no room for a car to pass safely and after being buzzed and seriously having some close calls a few times I just take the lane now even though I always get honked at and it takes me about a minute to get through to the part where the road widens.
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Old 12-04-07, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
I don't take the lane unless I have to, and if I do, I really don't care how long I hold someone up... if my need for safety requires I take the lane, and there is only one motorist waiting... they can continue to wait.

Now that said... of course I will work to be courteous and move out of the way when possible, but I am not going to compromise my safety for their convenience.

The reality is that any delay is usually only a few seconds, and any delay hardly ever even amounts to one minute. A motorist is likely to experience a longer delay at the next traffic light.
Sums it up for me, on two-lane total roads. Lots of NOLs on four-lane roads around here, so I'll usually take the right lane then. Typical wait time for passes in either case is probably less than 10 seconds, unless they weren't paying attention.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by CaptainCool View Post
Does 30 seconds at 20mph in a 30mph zone count as 30 seconds or 10?
This is a very good point. While a motorist might be "stuck" behind me for an average of 10 seconds, they are being slowed down insignificantly due to the fact that I am going say, 20 in a 30 zone. And if they were going faster than the speed limit to begin with, that's their problem.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:47 AM
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If motorists want to get somewhere faster they should leave earlier or ride a bike. I ride on Multi-lane roads during rush hour and I'm not what's slowing motorists. The only folks that I notice hanging out behind me for any length of time usually can't get it through their head to change lanes and pass or we're all stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, both not my problem.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:48 AM
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Thing is, if the wait is approaching anything more than about 10 seconds, they're going to do something dire.

I voted 30 seconds tops because that's about the max I think I've ever found I had to do it. But I don't think anybody ever actually waited 30 seconds behind me. They will never wait that long. They'll drive right into oncoming traffic and force it to veer out of the way rather than wait behind you.
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Old 12-04-07, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Allister View Post
I never take a lane unnecessarily, and I don't consider it 'blocking' traffic when I do. I merely hold my line and expect them to pass only when it is safe to do so, like it says in the rules. At most it takes 30 seconds for them to find a safe time to pass, but it's usually under 10, even in heavy traffic.
Same for me.
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Old 12-04-07, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Allister View Post
I never take a lane unecessarily, and I don't consider it 'blocking' traffic when I do. I merely hold my line and expect them to pass only when it is safe to do so, like it says in the rules. At most it takes 30 seconds for them to find a safe time to pass, but it's usually under 10, even in heavy traffic.
I often take the lane "unnecessarily" (that is, even though there is room off to the side to be in a lane sharing position, and it's relatively safe and reasonable to ride there), but never when it would unnecessarily hold someone up, because as safe and reasonable as it might be to ride off to the side, it is even safer and more reasonable to ride "centerish", for at least the reasons stated below.

And by "centerish", I mean riding within the 3-4 foot swath of pavement centered between the two tire tracks on the road, which is generally biased left (towards the center of the road), rather than the middle of the pavement, which (say in a 15' WOL) could easily be to the right of the right tire track. This is what John Franklin refers to as the "primary riding position" in his book, Cyclecraft. Anyway, the advantages of riding centerish vs. further right are:
  • Makes the cyclist more conspicuous sooner to potential cross traffic conflicts up ahead, as well as to faster motorists approaching from behind. Riding in the middle third, where most drivers are paying most of their attention most of the time, is attention-grabbing. We wear bright clothing for the purpose of getting attention; it's only logical to use conspicuous lane positioning for the same purpose.
  • Improves the sight lines between the cyclist and potential cross traffic conflicts up ahead. It allows the cyclist to notice and plan for potential conflicts up ahead sooner.
  • Gives the cyclist more space from sudden right side hazards.
  • On roads with relatively light faster traffic and frequent junctions (including intersections with streets, driveways, alleys, mall entrances, etc.), positions the through cyclist appropriately for his destination (going straight) at each of the junctions and their approaches.
  • Edit: As derath points out below, the pavement is often just nicer (smoother, cleaner, give you more room to maneuver) out towards the center of the road than it is closer to the roadway edge.
Having said that, I maintain rearward situational awareness with a mirror, and know when I'm holding someone up. Again, if there is room to move aside, I won't unnecessarily hold them up, and will move aside as much as is safe and reasonable. Even though the law says I don't have to pull aside unless I'm holding up five or more vehicles, if I'm really holding someone up for longer than 10 seconds, and the lane is too narrow to safely share, I start looking for a place to pull aside, which exists almost everywhere for a bicyclist. But that situation almost never occurs, except maybe on busy narrow rural 2 lane highways. And I can't imagine actually holding someone up for more than 30 seconds, which is why I selected "30 seconds tops" in the poll.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 12-04-07 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 12-04-07, 01:50 PM
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my route choice makes it so I rarely hold anyone up for any length of time.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
Long quote snipped, read it above
I am really interested to hear how that explanation can be twisted into some fear based armchair paradigm. It pretty much sums up how i ride. I will add one thing to the list.

* Typical i just like the pavement out in the center of the lane. Especially when I am blasting downhill at 40+mph I like having plenty of road to manoever.


I have rarely found the need to hold up someone for longer than 30sec.

-D
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Old 12-04-07, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by derath View Post
I am really interested to hear how that explanation can be twisted into some fear based armchair paradigm. It pretty much sums up how i ride. I will add one thing to the list.

* Typical i just like the pavement out in the center of the lane. Especially when I am blasting downhill at 40+mph I like having plenty of road to manoever.


I have rarely found the need to hold up someone for longer than 30sec.

-D
Thanks, and I too wonder how that explanation can be twisted into some fear based armchair paradigm.

Also, thanks for the additional item for the list, which I added as follows:
  • Edit: As derath points out below, the pavement is often just nicer (smoother, cleaner, give you more room to maneuver) out towards the center of the road than it is closer to the roadway edge.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Treespeed View Post
If motorists want to get somewhere faster they should leave earlier or ride a bike. I ride on Multi-lane roads during rush hour and I'm not what's slowing motorists. The only folks that I notice hanging out behind me for any length of time usually can't get it through their head to change lanes and pass or we're all stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, both not my problem.
While all of what you have said is true... somehow that point just doesn't seem to get through the windshield... somehow some motorists wish to make it your problem... even though we are in fact part of the solution. That is the issue that really sticks in my craw.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
While all of what you have said is true... somehow that point just doesn't seem to get through the windshield... somehow some motorists wish to make it your problem... even though we are in fact part of the solution. That is the issue that really sticks in my craw.
Just noting that you're choosing to put it in your craw in the first place, much less let it stick there.

To each his own...
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Old 12-04-07, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
Again, if there is room to move aside, I won't unnecessarily hold them up, and will move aside as much as is safe and reasonable. Even though the law says I don't have to pull aside unless I'm holding up five or more vehicles, if I'm really holding someone up for longer than 10 seconds, and the lane is too narrow to safely share, I start looking for a place to pull aside, which exists almost everywhere for a bicyclist. But that situation almost never occurs, except maybe on busy narrow rural 2 lane highways. And I can't imagine actually holding someone up for more than 30 seconds, which is why I selected "30 seconds tops" in the poll.
This is not pointed at you specifically... this is dealing with expectations of motorists...

That "pull over place" that you deem safe may not be the first place that a motorist deems safe... Therein lies one issue. A motorist may feel that you can pull over in the first empty parking spot along the side of the road, and technically we could. But the problem with that is you are now stuck in that spot and wanting to merge back into the flow, which may not be quite accommodating. So the real question is how to manage the expectations of motorists who might expect you to pull over in the first available opening in a line of parked cars, when in fact this would really screw you traffic wise? Personally I don't do it... and I don't consider that I am "holding up a line of cars" no matter how many are behind me... if another lane exists.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
Just noting that you're choosing to put it in your craw in the first place, much less let it stick there.

To each his own...
Nah it's usually thrust there by some arrogant motorist... I just have to deal with it.
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