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Statistical question related to "taking the lane".

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Statistical question related to "taking the lane".

Old 01-01-11, 09:19 PM
  #1  
009jim
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Statistical question related to "taking the lane".

I went out for a casual ride yesterday and just followed my nose. 99% of my cycling is to/from work and I have dedicated cycle paths almost all the way.

Anyway, yesterday I was riding along a suburban main thoroughfare which was devoid of any designated cycle lane. Cars were parked on the side. I rode along passing a number of parked cars and staying out of the door-zone. Traffic was negligible. Then I heard a car coming up behind me. There were double center lines and not enough room for both of us to pass the parked car in front of me. I made a split second decision not to risk it, so I just stopped. The alternative was to "take the lane".

My question is:- If I had taken the lane, what would respondents rate the probability the driver would've plowed up my ass? (Just to clarify this - I don't mean that I would plunge into the lane without fair warning - but given that there were double center lines I had not been taking the lane continuously as there were only a few parked cars to get around and I was dawdling along because it was uphill somewhat).

I know a few of the folks on this forum think I am a troll (i.e. trying to antagonize everyone). It's just a realistic query guys.
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Old 01-01-11, 09:41 PM
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Depends on the driver and if there's oncoming traffic.
Most people are reasonable and would cross the center
line to go around you. On the other hand, if there was
oncoming traffic some a-holes would try to squeeze in
the same lane.
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Old 01-01-11, 09:51 PM
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Over time I've learned to gauge a rear approaching motorist's speed and the time I will be reaching a parked car, and depending on the situation, I either slow up considerably so as not having to stop, or I'll take the lane well in advance of the parked vehicle if I deem that the motorist and I will reach the parked vehicle at the same time.

No motorist has plowed into me, but a few have closed in on me as to be as close as possible to my rear fender as an act of intimidation.
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Old 01-01-11, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by 009jim View Post
My question is:- If I had taken the lane, what would respondents rate the probability the driver would've plowed up my ass
Only a true sociopath would intentionally "plow up your ass", which I assume means run you over from behind? And true sociopaths in the wild are exceedingly rare -- they're likely in jail or dead now.

If you give him time to avoid you, he will avoid you. He may not be happy about it, he may burn rubber as he passes you or pass you at six inches or maybe even throw his drink at you, but he will NOT intentionally hit you -- that could get him in trouble, perhaps damage his car.

The only reason that he'd run you over is if you didn't give him time to avoid you, or he didn't see you (and really, a cyclist right in front of you is hard to miss.) Well, he could also be distracted or drunk.

Last edited by dougmc; 01-01-11 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 01-01-11, 11:54 PM
  #5  
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My experience is that if a motorist sees you not taking the lane and then sees you take it in front of them, the motorist gets upset and passes unnecessarily close. It's as if they think you moved out just to get in their way. If you are already taking the lane, then more of them seem to be okay with it. They really don't like seeing a bike move into their way, but if you were there all along then they manage to deal with it better. I believe that crossing a double yellow to pass a cyclist is generally legal in most places, but I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will correct me if I am wrong.

When I find myself in a situation where I am taking the lane and know there are no safe places for an overtaking motorist to pass me for quite a while I will often pull off the road (preferably into a paved mailbox area) and wave an overtaking car past me. I usually get a friendly toot and wave for this little gesture.
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Old 01-02-11, 12:25 AM
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Were you riding in a straight line or were you weaving left and right to avoid the parked cars? If you are hugging the curb when there are no parked cars, then swerving left to get around the cars, perhaps it would be best to stop and let cars go by instead of swerving into their path. If you are riding a straight predictable line, staying the same distance from the curb whether or not there are parked cars, then just hold your line and passing cars will go around you.
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Old 01-02-11, 01:40 AM
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Imo you'll get passed close a lot of times in that situation, but I'm sure rear end collisions of that sort must be very rare.
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Old 01-02-11, 06:42 AM
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"taking the lane" is not a last-ditch measure to prevent a close pass. Taking the lane is something that you should do at the outset, unless conditions permit you to safely share the lane. It would be foolhardy to pull out in front of a car coming up from behind you with all intents to pass you. However, if you had been riding in the lane to begin with, the dangerous situation would have never arisen in the first place. That is the true intent behind advising cyclists to "take the lane." To the degree that it is possible, you control the traffic situation in your immediate vicinity, inhibiting the possibility for these types of events to occur.
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Old 01-02-11, 06:57 AM
  #9  
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They're not going to hit you if they see you, unless they're homicidal, in which case they can just as easily hit you if your riding on the shoulder. My suggestion is, make sure you're highly visible by wearing bright colored jerseys, jackets, helmets, etc. Hi vis yellow is good, bright orange or yellow also works. If it's not a brightly lit day, use a good bright flashing taillight.

Personally, I find using a mirror to be extremely helpful in keeping track of vehicles behind me and allow me to dynamically adjust when and how I take the lane. If I see a situation some distance up ahead in which I'll want to take the lane, I can adjust my speed so that a car bearing down on my will have passed by the time I do take the lane. At times I'll see a rapidly approaching car some distance behind me and will decide to take the lane earlier to allow it plenty of time to see me a slow down. This more often happens when needing to turn left off major roads.

Personally, I don't care how close somebody passes me as long as they don't hit me. Some drivers are much better at judging where the right side of their vehicle is compared to where the rider is.

Last edited by Looigi; 01-02-11 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 01-02-11, 07:01 AM
  #10  
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As in most of the world, does not Australia stipulate cars not pass cyclists unless there is a safe distance between the two vehicles ( yes, mostly bikes are legally considered a kind of vehicle.)? So, you have rights to that lane , whether the motorist likes it or not.. Should you be ahead of the car wanting to pass.
But, statistically speaking ; how many motorists are law abiding. ? Maybe 75%.? Guess, that's your odds.?
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Old 01-02-11, 10:26 AM
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In a situation like you describe, I would be taking the lane as my default position. I would only move into the parking lane if, and only if, it was a single car or two passing me and there was a significant gap in the parked cars.

If you ever look at accident statistics for bicycle crashes, I think you'll find relatively few are from behind. Most are resulted from turning movements.
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Old 01-02-11, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by 009jim View Post
My question is:- If I had taken the lane, what would respondents rate the probability the driver would've plowed up my ass? (Just to clarify this - I don't mean that I would plunge into the lane without fair warning - but given that there were double center lines I had not been taking the lane continuously as there were only a few parked cars to get around and I was dawdling along because it was uphill somewhat).
The only reasons a driver would "plow up your ass" is 1: if they failed to see/notice you, 2: if they misjudged your speed (less likely if you and he driver were travelling at about the same speed). (Note that a psychopath could want to run you over but you aren't really safe from that regardless of what you do.)

For various reasons, motorists have a very large incentive to avoid "plowing up the ass" of anything.

From experience, I'd say the "probability" is very low that any "ass plowing" would occur. The probability is even lower on low speed roads.

Last edited by njkayaker; 01-02-11 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 01-02-11, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
Only a true sociopath would intentionally "plow up your ass", which I assume means run you over from behind? And true sociopaths in the wild are exceedingly rare -- they're likely in jail or dead now.

If you give him time to avoid you, he will avoid you. He may not be happy about it, he may burn rubber as he passes you or pass you at six inches or maybe even throw his drink at you, but he will NOT intentionally hit you -- that could get him in trouble, perhaps damage his car.

The only reason that he'd run you over is if you didn't give him time to avoid you, or he didn't see you (and really, a cyclist right in front of you is hard to miss.) Well, he could also be distracted or drunk.
Looked-but-failed-to-see errors by drivers are common and are the primary cause of collisions involving adult bicyclists.

Thankfully noticing a bicyclist directly in front of you is a lot easier than registering one on an intersecting street or in the path of a left turn, so hits-from-behind by a motorist who didn't see the cyclist or didn't see them until it is too late are relatively rare compared to other types of collisions. But there are still plenty of them, and they are disproportionately deadly. About 25% of all bicyclist fatalities are caused by motorists who plow into a bicyclist from behind after failing to notice their existence at all (Cross/Fisher). And these types of collisions are far, far more common than wrecks caused by "dangerous passes," in which the motorist sees the cyclist but misjudges passing distance (Wessels). People on forums like this tend to have a hard tiime accepting that, but the data is overwhelming on this matter.

So, to the OP, the chance that you will get plowed into from behind are pretty low, but not nearly low enough. It's a consideration. Be careful.
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Old 01-02-11, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
If you ever look at accident statistics for bicycle crashes, I think you'll find relatively few are from behind. Most are resulted from turning movements.
The majority are from turning movements, granted.

However, if you look at the fatality records, it seems that a large percentage involve being hit from behind -- 1/3 or 1/4 or so. It seems to me that accidents involving being hit from behind are rare -- but when they do happen, they're more likely to be deadly.
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Old 01-02-11, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
Looked-but-failed-to-see errors by drivers are common and are the primary cause of collisions involving adult bicyclists.

Thankfully noticing a bicyclist directly in front of you is a lot easier than registering one on an intersecting street or in the path of a left turn, so hits-from-behind by a motorist who didn't see the cyclist or didn't see them until it is too late are relatively rare compared to other types of collisions. But there are still plenty of them, and they are disproportionately deadly. About 25% of all bicyclist fatalities are caused by motorists who plow into a bicyclist from behind after failing to notice their existence at all (Cross/Fisher). And these types of collisions are far, far more common than wrecks caused by "dangerous passes," in which the motorist sees the cyclist but misjudges passing distance (Wessels). People on forums like this tend to have a hard tiime accepting that, but the data is overwhelming on this matter.

So, to the OP, the chance that you will get plowed into from behind are pretty low, but not nearly low enough. It's a consideration. Be careful.
Bicycle collisions overall (whatever the cause) are rare. In the US, roughly 800 cyclists die per year. If 25% of these are due to rear collisions, then we have 200 out of about 2,460,000 people who die in the US each year.

https://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005131.html

Certainly, obviously, the OP (and everybody else) should take care to avoid being hit from behind (but this wasn't what, it seems, the OP was asking about). They probably should not be overly worried about it (which seems to answer the question the OP was asking).

Last edited by njkayaker; 01-02-11 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 01-02-11, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Bicycle collisions overall (whatever the cause) are rare. In the US, roughly 800 cyclists die per year. If 25% of these are due to rear collisions, then we have 200 out of about 2,460,000 people who die in the US each year.
Very true. Bicycling fatalities are rare. Serious injuries caused by car-bike collision, on the other hand, I would not tag as "rare." About 25,000 of those each year in the US if hospital admissions (not ER visits) are used to define serious injury.

Hits-from-behind are several times more common than the second most frequent type of fatality mode. But the percentage drops with the severity of the injury caused by the crash. That is, the percentage of hits-from-behind among all car-bike collision is very low, the percentage of hits-from-behind among fatal collisions is very high.


Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Certainly, obviously, the OP (and everybody else) should take care to avoid being hit from behind (but this wasn't what, it seems, the OP was asking about). They probably should not be overly worried about it (which seems to answer the question the OP was asking).
I think it's okay to be worried about it. If you're out riding on the road you have earned the right.

What do you mean by "overly worried?"
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Old 01-02-11, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
I think it's okay to be worried about it. If you're out riding on the road you have earned the right.
If, by "worried", you mean taking appropriate care to avoid it, then no one would argue about it.

Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
What do you mean by "overly worried?"
This is an example:

Originally Posted by 009jim View Post
There were double center lines and not enough room for both of us to pass the parked car in front of me. I made a split second decision not to risk it, so I just stopped. The alternative was to "take the lane".
I think that there is a fairly good chance that this action was not the safest (overall) to take.
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Old 01-02-11, 07:19 PM
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Most likely the driver would not have rear ended you. Sometimes motorists get frustrated and begin honking, but you can't let that get to you or intimidate you. It's better to get start controlling the lane ahead of time. It would also be a good idea to ride with a mirror.
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Old 01-02-11, 11:06 PM
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It seems to me that accidents involving being hit from behind are rare -- but when they do happen, they're more likely to be deadly.
Yes, I believe this was in my thoughts at the time. I foresaw myself being vaulted forward into the air ahead of the vehicle, thereby breaking my back, and then my bike and I being run over to mangle any arms/legs/face, etc. Something I do not need right now.
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Old 01-03-11, 09:24 AM
  #20  
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The degree of driver error required for them to accidenally hit you under such circumstances is similar to that required for them to rear-end the parked car. The driver would most likely have to be looking at something other than out the windshield. This happens - drivers do hit parked cars, usually when they are texting, digging through their purse, falling asleep, or drunk - but it's not very likely.

Once a driver sees and registers you, it's very unlikely they will rear-end you. At worst they honk and/or pass at close (but calculated) distance. On roads with parked cars, drivers are pretty alert and pretty reliable about looking where they are going, for fear of hitting a parked car or pedestrian.
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Old 01-03-11, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
Hits-from-behind are several times more common than the second most frequent type of fatality mode. But the percentage drops with the severity of the injury caused by the crash. That is, the percentage of hits-from-behind among all car-bike collision is very low, the percentage of hits-from-behind among fatal collisions is very high.
This depends on classification ... that is, the strength of the statement above is strictly based on how collisions are grouped. Based completely on my memory before my second cup of coffee ...

(1) front and side collisions are disaggregated into many categories
(2) all rear collisions are lumped into a single category when there is a strong argument for differentiating between getting sideswiped from passing too close and actually getting "plowed" from behind.

P.S. I'm trying to remember the Wessels paper. But I think that in large, these two collisions are lumped into a single category.
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Old 01-03-11, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
This depends on classification ... that is, the strength of the statement above is strictly based on how collisions are grouped. Based completely on my memory before my second cup of coffee ...

(1) front and side collisions are disaggregated into many categories
(2) all rear collisions are lumped into a single category when there is a strong argument for differentiating between getting sideswiped from passing too close and actually getting "plowed" from behind.

P.S. I'm trying to remember the Wessels paper. But I think that in large, these two collisions are lumped into a single category.
For those interested in seeing how the groupings work out for different crash types and crash severities, check out
https://www.pedbikeinfo.org/pbcat/_bikequery.cfm

A two-way query of the online database reveals that for all of NC, most fatalities are not overaking related, but that the overtaking category is the single largest.

The fatal crash types also vary based on urban/rural locations. In cities, junction-related fatal crashes often outnumber overtaking crashes, and often the police conclude bicyclist error was responsible. One explanation is that there are so many more junctions in cities, but another is that drivers travel more slowly and more alertly on those city streets that cyclists use most, and so are less likely to be so negligent as to rear-end cyclists at high speed.
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Old 01-04-11, 11:40 AM
  #23  
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Hmm, other debate notwithstanding, it cannot be stressed more that one should chose a lane position which is safe and stick with it for the entire trip. Unpredictability is the real killer here.
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Old 01-04-11, 11:50 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
Hmm, other debate notwithstanding, it cannot be stressed more that one should chose a lane position which is safe and stick with it for the entire trip. Unpredictability is the real killer here.
??? Conditions often vary, requiring different lane positions for safety and legality.
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Old 01-04-11, 11:52 AM
  #25  
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Traffic is a dynamic thing... one "cannot chose a lane position which is safe and stick with it for the entire trip."

Roads merge, lanes appear and disappear, destinations require turns which mean positioning for said turns... Sorry, no good. Try again.
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