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What Part of The Road Do You Ride On?

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What Part of The Road Do You Ride On?

Old 06-12-19, 01:47 PM
  #1  
jppe
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What Part of The Road Do You Ride On?

Most of my riding is in NC where we have as many miles of paved roads as anywhere in the US. In fact most of our dirt and gravel roads are in the mountains so you have to drive to really do a gravel ride. Most of the lower speed rural roads which are conducive to riding a road bike are fairly narrow. Hardly any of those roads have shoulders. In fact, about the only roads in NC with shoulders are major roads with higher speeds and heavier traffic. A lot of those don’t allow bicycles.

The NC cities are trying to incorporate more bike lanes on the urban streets but presently bike lanes are only on shorter segments where it’s challenging to put a route together and not avoid riding in a traffic lane.

For most of my years I rode my bike as far to the right as I could. That seemed to work pretty well. However there was always that one vehicle or two that wouldn’t move away over passing me way too closely. The last couple of years I have moved over and ride several feet to the left of the white line. So far so good. Now vehicles move further to the left to pass. It has eliminated cars passing me when there is oncoming traffic. Now most vehicles move completely over into the other lane to pass. If I feel like a vehicle is passing too closely I can move over to the right a couple feet.

When I rode across NC on a tandem with my wife a couple years ago we rode off the white line. I explained why I was doing that. It seemed very effective for the roads we were riding. The occasions when we didn’t she got a taste of vehicles passing too closely.

On my ride across the US I tried to ride shoulders if there was one....... and rumble strip weren’t taking up most of the shoulder!!

What works for you?
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Old 06-12-19, 01:55 PM
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I try to ride legally in case I do end up getting hit. If I am touring on an empty, isolated road (often dirt) I will sometimes take the long way around a curve on steep parts even when ding so puts me on the wrong side of the road, but only if I have a decent line of sight. I also deliver the paper sometimes when things get very steep.
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Old 06-12-19, 02:44 PM
  #3  
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It is safest to make yourself visible and relevant. I always use a mirror and a bright red rear-facing blinkie (day or night), and, absent a proper bike lane, I position myself about 1/4 to 1/2 way into the rightmost travel lane. As traffic approaches from behind and opportunity arises, I move to the right to facilitate passing. Hugging the curb or riding too far to the right invites sideswipes, right drifts, and being invisible, all of which are bad.
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Old 06-12-19, 02:54 PM
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The paved part.

Seriously, before the thread gets moved to A&S, somebody suggested a few decades back that a car will give you as much room to the left of you as you take to the left of the fog line (when there is one, of course!). I've found that to be generally true. Ride to the right of the white line, motorized traffic will paint the inside of the line. Ride a foot out, they'll pass with a foot to spare. Ride in the middle of the lane, they'll change lanes to pass you.
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Old 06-12-19, 03:18 PM
  #5  
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Also about a foot out from the white line, unless there's well over 2' of rideable on the other side. When they start to pass, I move over to the line. Also a very bight taillight, 300 lumens, visible for a mile in daylight. Those silly little things which are generally sold as taillights are fine for bike paths at night in the city. Also a front white blinky, 250 lumens.
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Old 06-12-19, 04:32 PM
  #6  
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I feel lucky that many state roads hereabouts have a fine shoulder. The rural county roads usually do not have a shoulder or a narrow one just a few feet wide. If no shoulder at all but a fog line is present, I ride the white line. I do not experience close passes but I do pay close attention to the road ahead and approaching vehicles from behind.

Several years ago, while on a club ride, the road was very rural and narrow with enough room for two cars but not for two cars and a bike. Approaching a curve with a short sight line, I was able to get a good enough view of a car coming toward me and another one approaching from behind. I was able to pull off the road and stop on a grassy area until the cars passed. I got a friendly wave from the car approaching from behind. I think it pays to anticipate situations and to have a bailout option.
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Old 06-12-19, 04:36 PM
  #7  
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I think it depends on the situation and the type of road I am on. I think taking the whole lane is a drastic step and I avoid that whenever possible. I try to find a balance between staying safe and not enraging some motorhead. A friend was killed taking the lane a few years ago by a drunk driver.

You never know who is driving up behind you. Most drivers are pretty cool with us but there are drunks, distracted drivers, and sadistic jerks out there, no matter where you are.
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Old 06-13-19, 04:46 AM
  #8  
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What Part of The Road Do You Ride On?

I have previously posted:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I’m a decades-long, year-round cycle commuter in Boston, lucky to have a reverse commute from downtown to a outlying suburb…

However, riding venues for me are situational, and I use my judgement… In the recent past (about a year), I have “come over to the dark (left) side”:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Regarding the question of taking the lane, I’ve always felt it is a question of pragmatism, though I probably too obsequiously favor keeping the drivers happy by staying FRAP. Recently I posted on this thread:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
My usual routes are pretty safe…early morning or after rush hour in the evening, in the reverse commuting direction, on residential (though somewhat busy) and light commercial thoroughfares.

On a few rides over the past few days I have tried out the more aggressive position, in the right tire track, with very good results. I can easily monitor the driver's responses in my rearview mirror...so far no aggressive maneuvers or honking.

I also like your strategy of gently nudging towards the center, then relenting towards the right. And I always give a wave to the cooperative driver, either before or after their pass.

So this morning I employed the above-described strategy again with excellent results. My routes are particularly amenable since passing cars are sporadic,not continuous; and if any drivers are to be impatient, they likely would be morning commuters.

It is still a bit unsettling to take the lane, though my rearview mirrors keep me aware, and I now scan them more frequently, a good thing.I soon determined that at about 30 yards behind me, the driver probably has noticed me, but is not yet impatient. So at that point I veer rightward to acknowledege the car’s presence and show my cooperative “share the road” attitude.

I did notice that I became so focused on what was happening in front and behind, I had on a couple of occasions to remind myself to watch out for side drives and street intersections.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 06-13-19 at 04:50 AM.
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Old 06-13-19, 06:36 AM
  #9  
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....bright tail light and a mirror - with no traffic nearby I ride 2 - 3 ft. left of the white line so that approaching traffic sees me in the lane. This tends to slow most drivers down some and causes them to move to the left. I watch the mirror and as they get to a point 150 to 200 feet back I move over to the right. They usually stay to the left and this creates a comfortable separation - especially good on high speed rural roads with light traffic.

Using the mirror I also watch almost every car approach to the point where they are past me - look back, judge the distance, look ahead for obstacles on the road, look back, etc. - I keep the white line in my peripheral vision when looking in the mirror.

I avoid high volume roads.
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Old 06-13-19, 07:02 AM
  #10  
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Not a lot of shoulder here on the state and town roads so I tend to stay in the community where I live. I have an outside route now that has a sidewalk that I have used on occasion when the drivers get a little too aggressive with each other and I do not feel comfortable in their orbit. Have had a few pick-ups cut me off or have come VERY close when passing I believe letting me know they, not me, are the owners of the road. If I am hellbent on riding the main roads I watch the traffic and if crazy, I bail and stick to my safe but boring ride. I tend to stay near or on the white line.
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Old 06-13-19, 07:03 AM
  #11  
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The top. One hundred percent of the time.
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Old 06-13-19, 07:08 AM
  #12  
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My rides from midnight to about 4:30/5:00AM I have the entire road most of the time otherwise a couple of feet from the right. In designated bike lanes usually in the middle.

Coming home from drug store yesterday on 45mph road with 2 lanes each direction and bicycle lane I constantly checked mirror and one time had a car come 1/2 way into the bike lane when it was 200' behind then thankfully moved out and over the hashed line as it passed and proceeded to cross back over the solid white line into the bike lane about 100' after passing
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Old 06-13-19, 07:40 AM
  #13  
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I always try to stay to the right as much as would be deemed prudent for my bike and myself. This may mean riding out in the lane or up against the edge of the road. As most of my rides are along Pacific Coast Hwy in So Cal, a lot of road debris gets blown into the bike lane and at times and places it can be a mine field. I may have a 4-5 foot bike lane to take advantage of but when there's a broken whiskey bottle in the middle of the lane you really have no choice.
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Old 06-13-19, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by jppe View Post
Most of my riding is in NC where we have as many miles of paved roads as anywhere in the US. In fact most of our dirt and gravel roads are in the mountains so you have to drive to really do a gravel ride. Most of the lower speed rural roads which are conducive to riding a road bike are fairly narrow. Hardly any of those roads have shoulders. In fact, about the only roads in NC with shoulders are major roads with higher speeds and heavier traffic. A lot of those don’t allow bicycles.

The NC cities are trying to incorporate more bike lanes on the urban streets but presently bike lanes are only on shorter segments where it’s challenging to put a route together and not avoid riding in a traffic lane.

For most of my years I rode my bike as far to the right as I could. That seemed to work pretty well. However there was always that one vehicle or two that wouldn’t move away over passing me way too closely. The last couple of years I have moved over and ride several feet to the left of the white line. So far so good. Now vehicles move further to the left to pass. It has eliminated cars passing me when there is oncoming traffic. Now most vehicles move completely over into the other lane to pass. If I feel like a vehicle is passing too closely I can move over to the right a couple feet.

When I rode across NC on a tandem with my wife a couple years ago we rode off the white line. I explained why I was doing that. It seemed very effective for the roads we were riding. The occasions when we didn’t she got a taste of vehicles passing too closely.

On my ride across the US I tried to ride shoulders if there was one....... and rumble strip weren’t taking up most of the shoulder!!

What works for you?
I was always told, "the more you move right, the farther the cars move right."

So, keeping that in mind, I ride about 1-2 feet left of the white line. Of course when a car is behind, I try and move closer to the white line, but I never go to the right of the line, and here is why.

Doing a group ride with like 5 people. The guy leading and me behind him is hugging the white line. Only about 6 inches of asphalt to the right of the line and then it drops off 3 inches to the dirt. I tell the guy to move to the left a bit that he is to close to the edge. He does not listen and a little further down the road he moves to far to the right and falls off the edge of the asphalt. Instead of riding it into the grass he attempts to get back on to the road. Bad move and his wheel gets caught on the edge of the asphalt and falls over into the road and directly into my path.

Of course, riding behind I have no choice but to run over him. I hit him square in the back which launches me into the air. I do a 180 in the air and land on my side while my feet are still in pedals. I land across the double yellow lines sideways. Lucky for me, the car that was following us slams on the breaks and I do not get run over. I was lucky as the driver gets out after seeing the whole fly thru and asks if I am OK. All I got was some road rash. No real damage to my bike. Again, very lucky. The guy I hit said he was OK but man, his back had to hurt as I hit him square in his back. Anyway, we got ourselves back together and finished the ride.

So, lesson learned. As my old driver's Ed teacher used to say, "leave yourself an out." If you get to close to the edge, there is no where to go but off the road. And if you do go off and you are riding with some others, never try and right the ship and get back on the road. Just ride it off in the grass. I have seen this happen a bunch with people trying to save it only to cause those behind them to wreck.

A foot or more left of the white line is my area.

john
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Old 06-13-19, 11:48 AM
  #15  
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I usually default to somewhere between right and left tire tracks, and monitor for overtaking traffic in my mirror. If it is safe and reasonable to do so, I'll move farther right as they near, always keeping at least a foot or more pavement to my right for bailout. If it is not safe to share the lane (or ride a shoulder) in a particular situation, then I hold my line, adding a look back and/or hand signal if I feel it's required.
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Old 06-13-19, 12:11 PM
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I try to ride just to the left of the fog line. When cars pass, I move over to the right side. There is much less road debris on the left side of the line. fewer flats.
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Old 06-13-19, 12:12 PM
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When in England, Ireland and Scotland I rode in the left hand edge of the road.
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Old 06-13-19, 08:17 PM
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I ride on the top side too. Anywhere in my lane that I feel appropriate.
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Old 06-13-19, 09:53 PM
  #19  
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I've done this on and off for decades and tried every variation of cycling behavior. The only thing that works consistently is what most experts recommend -- whether it's called taking the lane, vehicular riding, etc. Although I also practice the Idaho Stop, which I would not do while driving a motor vehicle. It's best for my safety. If anything else worked better, I'd do that.

I ride pretty much every kind of road, from city streets to rural two-lane farm to market roads without shoulders.

I've had to ride state and interstate highways a few times and do ride the shoulders there, but I try to avoid those situations. Often there's no other way to get where I'm going, but I try to minimize time and distance spent on highway shoulders. The main problem is entrances and exits, not riding the shoulders.

I take the lane until or unless it's safe for me to do otherwise.

I use a mirror and watch for approaching vehicles. I stay in the lane until I'm sure they've had an opportunity to see me. Then I'll move right and wave them on when it's safe for me, not for their convenience. Drivers are rarely inconvenienced or delayed by more than a few seconds. Their perception is the issue, not the reality of being "inconvenienced."

We all must choose between being the victim of an "accident" by a negligent, distracted driver, or forcing drivers behind us to consciously choose between a momentary delay and murder. I like to believe most drivers don't actually want to harm anyone, so I'll take the lane and be as visible as possible, rather than ride timidly and invisibly.

In group rides I'm very choosy and careful about whom I ride with and where I position myself. If I see idiot cyclists weaving around or doing tricks, I either keep plenty of distance or bail out and go my own way. Unfortunately that's a common problem with some casual group rides including the critical mass rides, so I either stay in front, or well to the rear with plenty of buffer. I'm flexible in positioning in casual groups, based on what I see others doing.

In faster groups I've bailed out when I saw too much wheel overlapping, half-wheeling, etc. Or when the lead riders rode too close to the road edge, door zones, or didn't call out significant road hazards. I've seen plenty of strong fast cyclists who have no idea how to ride fast and safely in groups. That includes the erratic sprinters, the accordions, the people with phones in their hands or fiddling around with the phones on their handlebars, or who can't manage to drink water without juggling the bottle. The main problem with such groups is it's essential to hold a wheel to keep up, but if you can't trust the guys ahead of you it's too risky. In a recent group ride we had to take a narrow shoulder on a highway for about half a mile and the only sensible thing to do was ride single file. But a couple of guys passed just to get a little farther ahead. We all ended up regrouping at the next turn off, so it was pointless. Like those drivers who race from stop sign to stop sign, or feel the need to pass unsafely but we all end up stopped at the next traffic light. Funny thing was, one of those guys was griping about the one woman in the group, who was doing nothing unusual. She tended to take the left-of-center wheeltrack, which I often do. But for some reason this bothered the one guy who also tended to pass unsafely and pointlessly when we needed to be single file.

Fortunately I've found a compatible group of friends who share similar strengths, we ride about the same pace, and we share the same philosophy for taking the lane while also making room for drivers when it's safe for us to do so. And those group rides usually have the least drama and most fun.

Last edited by canklecat; 06-13-19 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 06-14-19, 09:08 AM
  #20  
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Trying to stay as far to the right as is possible only encourages drivers to pass you in your lane. That becomes dangerous when there is oncoming traffic in the other lane and they try to squeak through the gap.

I take the center of the lane when there is oncoming traffic that will prevent cars behind me from changing lanes to pass me safely trying to shoot through a narrow gap without adequate clearance. However I move to the center of my lane well before the cars get close enough to even consider trying to squeeze through.

I've not had any driver act badly toward me for doing that. They may be cussing me, but as long as cussing is a way to vent frustration and keep them from doing physical violence, that's okay with me.

Last edited by Iride01; 06-14-19 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 06-14-19, 12:06 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I take the center of the lane...I've not had any driver act badly toward me for doing that.
40 ~ 50 years ago, I'd have the slightly-more-than-occasional motorist roll up behind me and lay on the horn for having the termerity to use the public thoroughfare. In 2019 it's like folks can't be nice enough.
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Old 06-14-19, 02:04 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Trying to stay as far to the right as is possible only encourages drivers to pass you in your lane.
People keep making this claim. I have been riding on the road for more than 50 years and have not seen it validated.

Idiots will be idiots. Kind people will be kind. Decent people, people afraid of insurance claims, people unsure of the size of their cars ... all seem to give plenty of room. Idiots will squeeze by anywhere, often while risking head-on collisions, occasionally to be the first to the stop sign.

Whatever. In every thread like this, most people tell most other people that they way they ride is inviting, in fact seeking, disability or death. Yet somehow, we all do things in our different ways, and we are all still here posting.

What works for me is not telling other cyclists that they need to ride like I do, or they are "inviting" collisions. Obviously, different strokes .....
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Old 06-14-19, 02:09 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
We all must choose between being the victim of an "accident" by a negligent, distracted driver, or forcing drivers behind us to consciously choose between a momentary delay and murder. I like to believe most drivers don't actually want to harm anyone, so I'll take the lane and be as visible as possible, rather than ride timidly and invisibly.
Same thing again. I am neither timid nr invisible ... and like Mr. Canklecat, I take the lane for safety ... but not as a rule or a regular riding position. I take the lane actively in advance to prevent bad behavior when I can see the opportunity for drivers to behave badly.

Normally i keep right.

Why would someone call me "timid" for this? And why would anyone think my 100-lumen tail light is "invisible" because I am three feet to the right?

it would be nice of we could as the OP suggested, share what works for us without insulting everyone who did something different.
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Old 06-14-19, 02:20 PM
  #24  
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I take the lane when approaching a stop sign, but drivers still pass me occasionally, before reaching the intersection. I don’t get it.
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Old 06-14-19, 05:38 PM
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canklecat
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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
I take the lane when approaching a stop sign, but drivers still pass me occasionally, before reaching the intersection. I don’t get it.
Same, whether riding solo or in groups. But taking the lane forces drivers to acknowledge us. They can choose to plow through us (which did happen on one of our recent group rides, although the driver missed us by about one foot while she looked directly at us), or go around. By going around, however unsafely, they have tacitly acknowledged our existence. If they strike us, there's a stronger case for negligence.

But hugging the curb invites claims of "I didn't see them! The cyclist/pedestrian came out of nowhere!" I see this too often in my neighborhood where many low income folks ride bikes out of necessity. And they do it in the worst possible way for their own safety: curb hugging, at risk of pedal strikes against the curb; salmoning, because they were told, incorrectly, bikes are supposed ride against traffic; riding sidewalks with blind spots; etc.

There's no telling how many injuries and deaths occur locally because they often go unreported. Most of the deaths I've seen reported locally are categorized as homeless, indigents, street people, anything that relegates them to less human status. Even serious local recreational and commuter cyclists don't show any interest in advocating on behalf of those victims. We only seem to get our hackles up when it's "one of us."
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