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Take up a whole lane or side of the road?

Old 11-08-16, 07:52 AM
  #1  
kim43235
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Take up a whole lane or side of the road?

I know it's been discussed before but just want to hear from peer bike commuters. My commute route is 12.6 miles with a single lane throughout. I have been taking a side of road (about 1/4 of lane) most of time as long as a side road condition is good. But I heard from other bike commuters that you are better off taking whole or half of lane to be more visible to drivers and being more confident on the road. I would probably do that if there is another lane but my commute route is a single lane all the way so I would feel bad if I slow down traffic by doing that.

Do you guys take a whole/half of lane on your commute? Would you take a whole/half of lane on a single lane road?
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Old 11-08-16, 08:08 AM
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My route has wide shoulders and/or a bike lane most of the way, so I never feel the need to take a lane. Even if I didn't have these available, I would never take a lane, regardless of what many think is a bicyclist's right.

Being right and being dead is not my choice, but that's just me.
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Old 11-08-16, 08:13 AM
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OP: Do you really mean a single-lane road? Or is it a two-lane road, one lane in each direction? The answers you get might be different, depending.

Also...what is the speed limit? And is it twisty and/or hilly?
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Old 11-08-16, 08:23 AM
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I imagine she means one lane in each direction. I have the same for most of my 13 mile commute: no shoulders and a 45 mile speed limit.

I ride As Far Right As Possible, usually just inches from the white line. I feel like cars can get around me more easily this way. But I also think some cars are more willing to pass, even with oncoming vehicles. They will thread the needle so to speak. I don't necessarily mind this if they have slowed down and seem to be doing it cautiously, but not all do.

This riding position seems to be the norm in my area. When I see other cyclists, they stay close to the edge of the road. I do take the lane if necessary such as debris or a person in the road, and of course if I have a left turn I'll signal and get in the middle.
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Old 11-08-16, 08:29 AM
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It's not a black/white, yes/no answer.
... Since my 16+ mile, one way commute is 95% multi-lane arterials with 35-45 mph speed limits, I'm usually claiming the passenger side tire track as my territory.
... The key is being Observant/Aware of what's going on around you, out to 6-10 car lengths (depending on traffic/weather conditions) IN ALL Directions.
... If Climbing hills/fighting headwinds, I have traffic backing up behind me, I'll position to the driver side tire track OR take a banana/water break on the side of the road, depending on conditions and experience.
... Be VISIBLE. Be PREDICTABLE. Be ADAPTABLE. You ARE Traffic, The vast majority of drivers respect that. A few WILL NOT. Base your Decisions on the few who don't/won't.


/
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Old 11-08-16, 08:37 AM
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"I would feel bad if I slow down traffic by doing that. "

You aren't slowing traffic when you're staying all the way right?

If so, and if you're getting 2 or 3 feet on the passes then stay right.

Slowing them down isn't all that bad if you pull over when you get a chance, and let them go by.
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Old 11-08-16, 08:41 AM
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Except in unusual circumstances, it is rude, inconsiderate and possibly dangerous to take the entire lane. It is also illegal, at least in my state (NC), where the law says that bikes should ride as far to the right as practicable. Where I make an exception is on streets with cars parked along the road and I'm concerned about getting doored, or cases where I've got a left turn coming up, or sometimes on very windy streets and low traffic speeds. However, I will often take the lane when crossing intersections to prevent drivers from right-hooking me.

I do not hug the right side of the road, and that is also dangerous because it puts you more at risk for hitting potholes, gravel and other debris. It also encourages drivers to squeeze by you closely without allowing a safe separation distance. Generally, I ride about 3-4' from the right edge of the road. However, if there is a wide shoulder with a fog line, I will ride on the shoulder.
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Old 11-08-16, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by kim43235 View Post
I know it's been discussed before but just want to hear from peer bike commuters. My commute route is 12.6 miles with a single lane throughout. I have been taking a side of road (about 1/4 of lane) most of time as long as a side road condition is good. But I heard from other bike commuters that you are better off taking whole or half of lane to be more visible to drivers and being more confident on the road. I would probably do that if there is another lane but my commute route is a single lane all the way so I would feel bad if I slow down traffic by doing that.

Do you guys take a whole/half of lane on your commute? Would you take a whole/half of lane on a single lane road?
That comes with experience and highly depends on current situation at the moment.

Speed limit, visibility, vehicles around you etc. For example, and these are just a few from the roads where I ride, so take it with a grain of salt:
Low speed limit, no traffic coming towards me - I take the lane.
High speed limit, traffic coming from the opposite lane, and a loaded, heavy truck coming behind me that will have a really hard time stopping in time, and choosing between me and an upcoming vehicle from the other lane... I often decide not to take the lane in that situation.

Depends on drivers habits, mentality, road condition.

On my commute road, I got the drivers used to me pulling over when it is safe to pass, however, not all the drivers are regular and it is not always safer to take the lane.

Are there vehicles parked by the side of the road, cars pulling in from the side, or is it clear. That also affects the lane position. Sometimes you're more visible all the way to the right, sometimes middle, sometimes left - think of the angles and when the drivers can spot you most easily. Are there some trees blocking vision, big cars in front of you etc...
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Old 11-08-16, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Except in unusual circumstances, it is rude, inconsiderate and possibly dangerous to take the entire lane. It is also illegal, at least in my state (NC), where the law says that bikes should ride as far to the right as practicable. Where I make an exception is on streets with cars parked along the road and I'm concerned about getting doored, or cases where I've got a left turn coming up, or sometimes on very windy streets and low traffic speeds. However, I will often take the lane when crossing intersections to prevent drivers from right-hooking me.

I do not hug the right side of the road, and that is also dangerous because it puts you more at risk for hitting potholes, gravel and other debris. It also encourages drivers to squeeze by you closely without allowing a safe separation distance. Generally, I ride about 3-4' from the right edge of the road. However, if there is a wide shoulder with a fog line, I will ride on the shoulder.
Yikes. Practically speaking, the right tire track is the same as taking the whole lane. Where I pedal ( MA) bikes are vehicles and part of traffic. And everyone needs to share the road. Some places have a far right rule, some have a mandatory must use bike path rule, not here. What's rude is thinking that cars have more right to the road than other users. I sometimes use the whole lane as needed. Prevents getting squeezed out. YRMV.
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Old 11-08-16, 09:01 AM
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I guess I'm in the same boat as most of you are. I don't intend to take a whole/half lane unless I take a left turn or something. Good to hear the feedbacks and advice.

It is a single lane in both directions, not one way. My route is passing 25 - 50 MPH zones. I usually try to be close to the white line but not too close. I always try not to slow down traffic. I'm not super fast but I am not usually slowing traffic down too much and let drivers pass easily as possible.

My latest challenge is to pass RR crossing where the tracks are not square to the road but about 45 degree to the road. I try to take a whole lane before I cross so that I can pass the tracks as square as possible but it's not easy for me when cars right behind me. Once my front wheel was fallen in the tracks and my bike fell. I did not get hurt but that was little scary in the middle of RR crossing.
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Old 11-08-16, 09:09 AM
  #11  
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^^^ Walk those tracks if you can't get your tires square to them, a must when wet.
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Old 11-08-16, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Yikes. Practically speaking, the right tire track is the same as taking the whole lane. Where I pedal ( MA) bikes are vehicles and part of traffic. And everyone needs to share the road. Some places have a far right rule, some have a mandatory must use bike path rule, not here. What's rude is thinking that cars have more right to the road than other users. I sometimes use the whole lane as needed. Prevents getting squeezed out. YRMV.
Not really. Right tyre track vs middle of the road:

  • you are more visible to the vehicles pulling in from the right, if there's cars in front of you
  • you are less visible to the vehicles pulling in from the right, if there are trees (or posts) on the left hand side of the car pulling in (blocking the vision)
  • smaller cars can overtake you without slowing down, if the road is wide enough, or if the on coming cars move to their right (common practice where I live).
  • you are more visible to a second car coming behind you, if there already is a car driving right behind you that takes you over. The second oncoming car will see you sooner and you will already be a bit more to the right, easier to avoid
  • you will be spotted later by a car coming behind you in sharp right bend
  • you will be spotted sooner by a car coming behind you in a sharp left bend
  • you will be easier to avoid in a sharp bend
So it's very situational. There is no rule of thumb. At least where I live and ride, saying "take the lane", or "stick to the far right" are both equally dangerous advice (though taking the lane is more dangerous with Serbian drivers). It is important to think when the driver can see you, what their options are, what your backup options are when something goes wrong and position yourself accordingly.

Speed limit, speed difference between you and the traffic highly affects reaction time, while lane position affects visibility both for the better and worse - depending on road shape and where the vehicles are approaching you from. So, no rule of thumb.

Taking the lane where it is not neccessary is rude, unsportsmenslike. Taking the lane where it is the safest option is wise and good drivers often understand that as well as riders.

Some pics:







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Old 11-08-16, 09:41 AM
  #13  
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As I've gotten older, I've developed less tolerance for engaging in aggressive riding, taking lanes, and more dangerous situations. Nowadays, I do my best to take routes where I'm not forced to take a lane. That being said, if you feel taking a lane is the safest course of action, take it; screw everyone elses commute. It's not worth getting run over so someone can get to work 30 seconds faster.

The time I usually take a lane is on 4 lane roads in the city, 2 in each direction. In Chicago, these roads generally have ONLY enough room for 1 car in each lane comfortably. Most people will merge around you if you ride at the edge, or at least get over as far as possible. I would be fine riding in those circumstances. 1 in every 10 or 20 doesn't bother though, and zips by within 2 feet of me when I don't take a lane. Therefore, on 4 lane roads, I take the entire lane, so any car in the right lane is forced to do a full merge to the left hand lane to get around me; they have no hope of passing in the right without going straight through me.
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Old 11-08-16, 09:50 AM
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Mirror
A mirror on my glasses (or on a helmet) makes traffic much less stressful.

For left turns, or angled RR tracks, I can watch for a gap in traffic, then take the full lane. And then see that the cars behind me are actually slowing down.

If there's no traffic nearby, I can confidently ride in the middle of the lane, away from the edge.

...
RR Tracks
On my local group rides, we try to angle out into the middle of the road, then cross the tracks at 90 degrees. But I've seen two riders fall when they waited to the last couple of feet before turning sharply to cross the tracks. Their front wheel was at 90 degrees to the rail, but they were still leaning into the turn. The wheel shot out from under them on the damp rail.

So I'll try to not cross at a really shallow angle. But I always make sure I'm centered over the bike and lift off the saddle. I have enough speed to cross both rails without pedaling.

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A bright blinking tail light will give cars a heads up from a long way away.

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Old 11-08-16, 10:29 AM
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I take the lane(when there is no wide shoulder) when there is no traffic, I watch and listen for traffic and then move over to the right side of the road as they get closer I feel they see me better in the middle of the road as that is where they are looking.
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Old 11-08-16, 10:39 AM
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It's not like this everywhere, but where I live, if you hug the right side of the lane, no matter the type of road, people will see that as an open door and pass within the lane. When I first started commuting I ran into this a lot, several times a day. I made sure to be visible, blinking lights front and rear, but it happened and quite often they would pass me with less than a foot of room, often times less. If I can touch your vehicle, you are too close to me.

Decided that I would no longer hug that right side of the lane and moved left to almost center giving the visual effect that I was owning that lane for the time being. Drivers will see that and decide that there just isn't enough room. There wasn't enough room before but they tried it regardless. Now that gap has closed and they realize that they really cannot fit.

Now, on the type of road that the OP describes, it is a tough call. That is the type of road that as a commuter, I really try to avoid. Sometimes it is unavoidable and is the only type of road in the area. Not sure what I would do in that scenario.

There is often a lot of talk about the law states that you must ride to the far right when practicable. That is left wide open to personal judgement. I don't feel like at any time it is safe or practicable so I don't do it. The law states a lot of things that people blatantly ignore, like passing laws, etc. If I could safely ride on the far right, I would gladly do it, but we all know that it just is not safe.
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Old 11-08-16, 10:48 AM
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Yea, the law is irrelevant in any instance in which it impairs your personal safety, and not following the law does not DECREASE the safety of others. Falls in line with the first rule of cycling...

Cycling Rule #1: Only you can control your own safety.
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Old 11-08-16, 10:53 AM
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As others have said, it very much depends on a number of factors. I tend to ride FRAP as most of the streets I'm on have enough of a shoulder that it's quite safe. That said, there are some circumstances where I will take the lane because it is the safest thing to do and is perfectly legal here.

My preference is to avoid those roads and choose alternate routes if possible, but sometimes it's unavoidable.
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Old 11-08-16, 11:16 AM
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It entirely depends on the condition of the road, the behavior of the drivers, what you are doing, what the drivers are doing, the time of day, the weather, the amount of traffic.

Most of the time if I have a shoulder, I'm riding in it. Debris can take me out of that. Riding into the sun will push me farther right into the line of sight. Getting ready for a left turn will take me out of the shoulder.

There is no rule for this. You just need to develop a feel for it.
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Old 11-08-16, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by kim43235 View Post
Do you guys take a whole/half of lane on your commute? Would you take a whole/half of lane on a single lane road?
It depends.

Day or night? Busy traffic or light? By yourself or with others?
How wide is the single lane?
Is the lane wide enough for you, a motorist, with a safe clearance between? (in the same lane)
Does the motorist have to cross the center line to safely pass?
Is there a shoulder?
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Old 11-08-16, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
If I can touch your vehicle, you are too close to me.
I don't agree with this. Yesterday a car was passing by me, going some 30 km/h, while I was going around 25 km/h. There was just some 10 cm between us, passed within one lane. We both saw that we both saw each other and neither would move an inch towards each other, so it was perfectly safe.

At higher speeds and speed differences, it wouldn't be safe.

Taking the lane on some roads I ride wouldn't let you last for a day. Giving a rule of thumb advice to someone to take the lane can be misleading IMO. On the other hand, not taking the lane on some other road (e.g. with cars parked to the right and slower moving traffic) would also be very dangerous. A lot depends on the situation.
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Old 11-08-16, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
There was just some 10 cm between us, passed within one lane. We both saw that we both saw each other and neither would move an inch towards each other, so it was perfectly safe.
I wouldn't classify that as safe...I'd take a lane and force traffic to back up behind me for 5 miles before I knowingly let a car pass within 10cm of me. Anything within 3ft or so of me is my space. 5ft if I'm in a bad mood.
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Old 11-08-16, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
I don't agree with this. Yesterday a car was passing by me, going some 30 km/h, while I was going around 25 km/h. There was just some 10 cm between us, passed within one lane. We both saw that we both saw each other and neither would move an inch towards each other, so it was perfectly safe.

At higher speeds and speed differences, it wouldn't be safe.

Taking the lane on some roads I ride wouldn't let you last for a day. Giving a rule of thumb advice to someone to take the lane can be misleading IMO. On the other hand, not taking the lane on some other road (e.g. with cars parked to the right and slower moving traffic) would also be very dangerous. A lot depends on the situation.
A car passed you, in your lane, with about 4 inches of room? And you are deciding that this is safe?
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Old 11-08-16, 11:44 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
I wouldn't classify that as safe...I'd take a lane and force traffic to back up behind me for 5 miles before I knowingly let a car pass within 10cm of me. Anything within 3ft or so of me is my space. 5ft if I'm in a bad mood.
Depends on the road, traffic and the drivers. I've had 30+ years of cycling experience and that particular situation was safe IMO. In this particular situation, it would have been quite rude and inconsiderate on my part to have taken the lane and held up traffic.
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Old 11-08-16, 11:47 AM
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I can't really picture a circumstance where someone driving a vehicle within 4 inches of a human being could be considered considerate. I'd label it inconsiderate at best, homicidal at worst.
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