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Should pacelines follow the 3 foot rule

Old 07-13-15, 05:26 PM
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OnStreetBiker
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Should pacelines follow the 3 foot rule

Recently I was riding in a bikelane (4' wide with a vertical curb on the right side) and a paceline started to pass me, the first rider moved out of the bikelane to pass but then moved back to the right. The following riders keep moving closer and closer to me giving me no room to maneuver if there had been debris in the lane. They took a long time to finish their pass (I had traveled about 1/2 mile) I asked one rider who was next to me for about 10-15 seconds to move over a give me three feet of clearance. He replied that that rule was only for motor vehicles.
Getting passed by a single rider is usually not a problem if pass quickly, but I felt trapped by this paceline that was passing at such a slow rate.
What is the polite distance that a paceline should leave when passing another cyclist, and what should I do in this situation?
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Old 07-13-15, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by OnStreetBiker View Post
what should I do in this situation?
What are you GOING to do about it?

Were it me, I'd STFU, engage rule 5 and ride.

Life is life. Tuff.
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Old 07-13-15, 06:08 PM
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They should have gotten their asses over into the travel lane to pass you. They should have stayed there, because a pace line (probably going at a pretty good clip, yeah?) has no business in a tiny 4' bike lane. Seriously, that's asking for a crash and a pile-up.
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Old 07-13-15, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
They should have gotten their asses over into the travel lane to pass you. They should have stayed there, because a pace line (probably going at a pretty good clip, yeah?) has no business in a tiny 4' bike lane. Seriously, that's asking for a crash and a pile-up.
Couldn't have been going that fast if they took so long to pass.
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Old 07-13-15, 08:03 PM
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Whether it's a pace-line or an individual, passing too close and boxing someone in, is rude and dangerous, no matter what laws apply.
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Old 07-13-15, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by gregjones View Post
What are you GOING to do about it?

Were it me, I'd STFU, engage rule 5 and ride.

Life is life. Tuff.
Nice way to indoctriante a new member!

Seriously though, that kind of behavior would kinda piss me off too - especially when we get to a hill and I pass them back. If they take 1/2 mile to pass me, then they probably were only ABLE to pass me because they had the benefit of the front guy's wheel. So, yeah, I would probably catch and pass a good number of them on the climb.

OTOH, sometimes paceline riders think they are giving plenty of room, because they are used to passing closely by each other. Other riders (obviously) might not be as comfortable in such close proximity. If the road is wide enough for a 4' bike lane, it is wide enough for the paceline to give OP a little room.
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Old 07-14-15, 06:25 AM
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I'm of a mixed opinion about this. If the OP really sensed danger, maybe signaling, stopping and letting them pass would've been best? On the other hand, the danger was only from road debris (I don't remember anything about parked cars). Generally, riders passing in close proximity to one another are not necessarily bad, as long as everyone behaves predictably...
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Old 07-14-15, 07:08 AM
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How many people were in the pace line?

I don't see a lot of pace lines around here, but I would think a group of more than 6 or 8 people or so should break into a couple of smaller groups. How do they deal with traffic lights and stop signs if it is in an urban area?

I'm not drafting, but whenever I pass someone, I look behind myself, then if safe, move into the traffic lane to pass. If not safe, then slow down till it is safe.
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Old 07-14-15, 07:09 AM
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In PA, there is a 4' rule, but I believe it only applies to motor vehicles passing cyclists. I get buzzed all the time by other cyclists while riding in the city. Some even squeeze by me on the right in a bike lane. I have to assume they are putting me and themselves at risk out of ignorance.
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Old 07-14-15, 07:29 AM
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Something to consider. Many if not most drivers I talk to are unaware of the 3' rule. Many do not believe me when I mention it. I think most people learn traffic behavior by observing others. As a society we copy others we perceive as successful.

If they see bicyclists passing within inches of each other or other vehicles then that is what that cyclist considers a comfortable, safe margin. Then they apply the same, inches.
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Old 07-14-15, 07:49 AM
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Pacelines are generally breaking all kinds of other rules governing vehicles on public roads; even if the 3' passing law applies to bikes, it is probably the least of the laws they are breaking.
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Old 07-14-15, 07:50 AM
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...and...it happened to me this morning. I was riding in a striped lane on a fairly narrow street and taking it easy as I didn't want to sweat on the way to work, and three people passed me in the bike lane, just as a line of cars passed. So essentially we were two abreast within the narrow bike lane, and three abreast - car bike bike - where there is only room and the road is only painted for two. Nobody called out as they were about to pass, so had I swerved (inside my lane) to avoid a pothole, I might have forced one of them to collide with me or a car.

On the same commute a pickup truck passed me as I was edging out to pass a parked car, and he had a huge wide trailer with double wheels, much wider than his truck, that came with inches of me. So his trailer certainly didn't give my 3 feet of room!
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Old 07-14-15, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by OnStreetBiker View Post
Recently I was riding in a bikelane (4' wide with a vertical curb on the right side) and a paceline started to pass me, the first rider moved out of the bikelane to pass but then moved back to the right. The following riders keep moving closer and closer to me giving me no room to maneuver if there had been debris in the lane.
Were you riding on a road bike in your full riding kit?

Perhaps they just thought you were part of their group dropping to the back after a hard pull.
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Old 07-14-15, 08:03 AM
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Kansas - Maybe A bicycle is not a vehicle but has the rights of vehicles and must follow traffic laws. I give 3 feet passing unknown bicyclists on the road.
3-Foot Passing: It?s The Law in Kansas! | Kansas Cyclist News Blog

(c) (1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a distance of not less than three feet and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.
(2) The driver of a vehicle may pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction in a no-passing zone with the duty to execute the pass only when it is safe to do so.
Kansas Bicycle Laws and Statutes

8-1587. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this act, except as otherwise provided in K.S.A. 8-1586 to 8-1592, inclusive, and except as to those provisions of this act which by their nature can have no application.
8-1485. "Vehicle" defined."Vehicle" means every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except electric personal assistive mobility devices or devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.
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Old 07-14-15, 11:55 AM
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I think Greg's take is about right for this. Criminy, how much more whiny and precious are some of you going to let yourselves get? Now you are ragging on cyclists about close passing? Riders actually bump each other occasionally in paceline riding and yes, it sometimes causes spectacular pile-ups. None of that happened to the o.p. I think he dodged a bullet. Rejoice. The chances that he will ever be passed by a paceline again, of any kind, let alone another one as rude as the one he encountered... ... surely he should be thinking more about the many cars that pass that close and could do real damage to a calf muscle or kneecap.

And, no, I don't think just because someone has a low post count that they need to get only positive reinforcement for every snivel. The truth is the truth whether you are a newbie or an old hand. Some newbies are actually old hands that don't want to expose their primary userid's to ridicule.
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Old 07-14-15, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
...and...it happened to me this morning. I was riding in a striped lane on a fairly narrow street and taking it easy as I didn't want to sweat on the way to work, and three people passed me in the bike lane, just as a line of cars passed. So essentially we were two abreast within the narrow bike lane, and three abreast - car bike bike - where there is only room and the road is only painted for two. Nobody called out as they were about to pass, so had I swerved (inside my lane) to avoid a pothole, I might have forced one of them to collide with me or a car.

On the same commute a pickup truck passed me as I was edging out to pass a parked car, and he had a huge wide trailer with double wheels, much wider than his truck, that came with inches of me. So his trailer certainly didn't give my 3 feet of room!
So I've only been stalking here for a little while, but have a question about this:

Isn't the scenario above exactly what "Cycling Savvy" describes as a reason to not use the bike lane? I thought if there were parked cars on the street which might open their door into the bike lane that you were supposed to ride in the middle of the main lane?

If I'm ignorant, please forgive me. I'm just trying to understand the best ways to stay safe.
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Old 07-14-15, 12:38 PM
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The 3-foot rule is on paper only, and really just gives whiners and complainers something to whine and complain about.
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Old 07-14-15, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Ubermich View Post
Isn't the scenario above exactly what "Cycling Savvy" describes as a reason to not use the bike lane? I thought if there were parked cars on the street which might open their door into the bike lane that you were supposed to ride in the middle of the main lane?
I don't see where the poster you quoted mentioned any parked cars. But let's go ahead and discuss this bike-lane/door zone imbroglio. I don't know who or what Cycling Savvy is, but I don't, in general, think much of advising people to flout prevailing customs and rules of conduct. Around here people with this avoid door-zone bike lanes mentality are in the minority. There are two main reasons why. One is that it is very, very rare that what looks like a door zone bike lane really is a door zone bike lane. Maybe if you ride as far to the right of the bike lane as is possible to put even more distance between you and the feared automobiles you might be at risk of a dooring but a cyclist riding centrally in the bikelane and certainly towards its outer edge should clear even the door of a two door 70's era luxury car. The second reason is that doorings, or rather, the avoidance of them, is on the driver exiting the vehicle! A careless driver that flings open their door and steps out into traffic may be hit by more than a bicycle and rider! They can be smashed by a fast traveling motor vehicle and that is the end of that. I've had some near doorings in my many years on the road but no actual collisions. The doorer always pulled back in time or I stopped in time. I don't go blasting alongside parked cars faster than I can stop on a dime. I don't dawdle either. "taking it easy so as not to get sweaty..." I shake my head.

A rental car or two ago I started a merge into the adjacent center lane. At the same time I did so a large SUV in the far right lane made an illegal lane change into the center lane. One moment the lane was clear the next moment it was full of SUV and I was already halfway in it. I immediately start dropping back so he can fit in. I can't go back where I came from because another vehicle has already begun moving in. Worse, the SUV is pulling a HUGE trailer full of landscaping equipment. As it happened, I had quick wits, the guy moving into lane I had just left had quick wits, and the guy behind the idiot in the SUV also had quick wits. Without a single horn or wheels lock-up we all managed to let the SUV and its trailer proceed on its merry way, none the wiser for the disaster that could have been caused if any one of us had lost it.

Quick wits. Thinking on your feet. Happens thousands of times a day. When it doesn't, you see it on KPIX News at 10 with all the graphic footage edited out. Hitting a pothole because you didn't have room to swerve wouldn't be a barrel of laughs, but it need not be dangerous. It need not even damage anything. I can, and have, run over things I would normally avoid because to avoid them would have put an adjacent rider at risk. It is clear from reading accounts of accidents and collisions here that the fine art of being quick witted is not being passed down to Millenials. They ride like cows. Everything is fine until things go sideways and then its a big mess because no one knows the first thing about riding defensively or keeping a bad situation from becoming a worse one.

All that is a rather long winded way of saying that bike-lanes are there for bikes. Use them, or lose them. IF you have to leave the bike lane you may take the rightmost edge of the left hand travel lane. If you take the entire right hand travel lane you mark yourself. That's it. You won't be killed or shot for it (in Oregon) but you signal to other road users that you are an entitled CENSORED, and should a situation arise where a little bit of give on the part of following traffic might help you out... fuhgeddaboutit.
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Old 07-14-15, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by OnStreetBiker View Post
..... He replied that that rule was only for motor vehicles.....
Getting passed by a single rider is usually not a problem if pass quickly, but I felt trapped by this paceline that was passing at such a slow rate.
What is the polite distance that a paceline should leave when passing another cyclist, and what should I do in this situation?
So, since courtesy is only required of motor vehicle drivers, I would have started slowly moving left working the line out into the road, or sliding into it if the rider back slowed because of me, then I'd have slowed and broken their flow.

Minor rant ahead.

This is another reason that I'm opposed to giving bicyclists special rights (I favor the Idaho stop law though). We don't need any more people in the USA to feel specially entitled. IME- motorists as a general class are more courteous that self absorbed cyclists (of all types) who simply can't understand why people treat them badly, while at the same time thinking of themselves as entitled to special consideration. (see rants about pedestrians on MUPs to see what I'm talking about.

The OP's issue partly stems from the paceline riders not understanding that slower riders are entitled to courtesy, and their view that closed circuit racing techniques are appropriate regardless of road conditions.

End rant.
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Old 07-14-15, 02:33 PM
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Push them over. If you feel they're not giving you enough room, start moving left, at least to the right tire track. At least you'll have room to maneuver right.
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Old 07-14-15, 02:43 PM
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Old 07-14-15, 02:47 PM
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To those ragging the OP about being whiny ---

I've been riding long enough, much of it in tight NYC traffic that I don't give a schist about close passes, be they by cars, buses or bicycles (paceline or otherwise). To me on a bike, close only counts in horse shoes.

But paceline riders should be aware that not all riders are equal, and the guy your overtaking might have problems holding a line. Moreover, he's on a different track and a different speed and might need the room to move over to clear an obstacle. It's not a question of the slow rider being inept, ungifted with super cyclist talents, or whiney, it's common sense and courtesy to give room when passing on public roads. In short, racing rules simply don't apply on public roads and parks, and race techniques should be kept for the open road where there's the for them.

So, let's cut the new guy here a break, and show him at least the wee bit of courtesy he might expect from a bicycling forum.





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Old 07-14-15, 02:56 PM
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I think it's a good idea to learn to ride in a straight line regardless of whether there are other riders around. In the future, keep riding straight and keep your vision up to the horizon.

I'm not sure it makes sense for cyclists to give the same distance as vehicles since the risk they pose to you is considerably less than a car, but understandably not insignificant.

It sounds like you were riding at a similar speed to the group passing, either that or it was a very large group. If you are uncomfortable being passed you could slow down or stop and wait for them to go by. I don't think complaining on this forum is going to change the behaviour of cyclists. I know I've passed people with more than 3 ft and they still complained so everyone has a different comfort zone.
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Old 07-14-15, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
Push them over. If you feel they're not giving you enough room, start moving left, at least to the right tire track. At least you'll have room to maneuver right.
If this ever happens to me again, this is what I'm doing. Or maybe just wobble enough to scare the living daylights out of them. Three of us were riding after work, and the local cycling team passed us with inches to spare. I found out later they actually chased us down. One of the guys I was riding with is known for not riding a straight line, so he could have taken us all down given that he didn't know anyone was there. I suffered from a slow burn for a while, and then I chased them down and pulled over in front of the first guy in line and yelled at them a little. They were unapologetic, maybe because I blew up their paceline in such an unfriendly manner.

Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
Were you born without elbows?
those of us that have raced probably know how to use our elbows. I wouldn't expect most cyclists to be able to trade elbows with someone while remaining upright. I also don't expect most people to be able to hold a line. Of course, that's a really good skill to acquire, but I have never felt like imposing this requirement on other cyclists, and I always pass with a lot of clearance. Simply prudent, but also friendly

Last edited by unterhausen; 07-14-15 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 07-14-15, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Whether it's a pace-line or an individual, passing too close and boxing someone in, is rude and dangerous, no matter what laws apply.
I completely agree with this.

If you were totally uncomfortable, you should have slowed down or stopped while maintaining a straight line and let them be on their way.
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