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It feels unsafe and borderline reckless to ride in actual traffic where there is no s

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It feels unsafe and borderline reckless to ride in actual traffic where there is no s

Old 08-08-22, 08:11 AM
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CheGiantForLife
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It feels unsafe and borderline reckless to ride in actual traffic where there is no s

As of now, if there is no shoulder on either side, I simply do not ride on those roads without an obvious shoulder lane. I currently refuse to ride on roads without a shoulder on at least one side. (or at least grass or sidewalk, where I can walk the bike until shoulder is available on one side) Also, I feel its safer to salmon in a shoulder lane, than to ride with traffic in the actual traffic lane. Shoulder equals safety where you're not an obstacle impediment to cars.

It feels unsafe and borderline reckless to ride in actual traffic where there is no shoulder. For those who ride on roads with no shoulder, how do you deal with the fact that when you're riding with traffic, cars are constantly having to move half way out of the lane you're occupying? If there is not much traffic, this is not a big deal for the car, as there is another entire lane to use for passing the bike. But, during thicker traffic times, where cars are in both lanes, the bike is creating an obstacle on the road and potentially causing car accidents, particularly if there are cars in both lanes and one sideswipes another while having to avoid the bike by swerving into the left lane. Not only is this totally unnerving for the rider, but it creates a real danger for cars. This also applies to one lane roads, where the car must cross over double yellow lines to avoid the bike, thereby risking a fatal head on collision. This is an ethical line I simply can not cross.

Best practices for riding with traffic when there is no shoulder?

Last edited by CheGiantForLife; 08-08-22 at 08:17 AM.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by CheGiantForLife View Post

Best practices for riding with traffic when there is no shoulder?
Find a line where you are highly visible to drivers behind you, and stick to it. If you're diverging from it to the left, signal before you do so.

As a cyclist, I am not an obstacle. I am operating a slower moving vehicle on the road, As a driver, I am required to accommodate differences in speeds between vehicles all the time, and the statutes are very specific in my state that the burden of avoiding the cyclist is on the driver, and not on the cyclist to stay and get out of the way.

It is not unsafe and it's definitely not "borderline reckless" to ride in actual traffic. It's perfectly legal expected activity and like anything else legal done on roads, it can be done well or it can be done dangerously.

Drivers are required to slow down if they can't safely pass, if they don't do so, they are creating the danger, not me.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:27 AM
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Old 08-08-22, 08:31 AM
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Old 08-08-22, 08:37 AM
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If a car moves out of the lane to pass me and collides with another road user, this is 100% NOT caused by me. Cars have brakes as well as steering wheels and can adjust speed and direction at will. If they can't safely pass me they can wait. I have a right to be on the road.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by CheGiantForLife View Post
As of now, if there is no shoulder on either side, I simply do not ride on those roads without an obvious shoulder lane. I currently refuse to ride on roads without a shoulder on at least one side. (or at least grass or sidewalk, where I can walk the bike until shoulder is available on one side) Also, I feel its safer to salmon in a shoulder lane, than to ride with traffic in the actual traffic lane. Shoulder equals safety where you're not an obstacle impediment to cars.

It feels unsafe and borderline reckless to ride in actual traffic where there is no shoulder. For those who ride on roads with no shoulder, how do you deal with the fact that when you're riding with traffic, cars are constantly having to move half way out of the lane you're occupying? If there is not much traffic, this is not a big deal for the car, as there is another entire lane to use for passing the bike. But, during thicker traffic times, where cars are in both lanes, the bike is creating an obstacle on the road and potentially causing car accidents, particularly if there are cars in both lanes and one sideswipes another while having to avoid the bike by swerving into the left lane. Not only is this totally unnerving for the rider, but it creates a real danger for cars. This also applies to one lane roads, where the car must cross over double yellow lines to avoid the bike, thereby risking a fatal head on collision. This is an ethical line I simply can not cross.
Best practices for riding with traffic when there is no shoulder?
Not sure it is 'Ethical' issue, but certainly survival.
Way back BITD I was a rep on the road, and always had a bike with me. Rode through what became a very expanded territory from SC up to Maine and RI out to the Yoo-pers and down to Nashville.... There were many roads I wandered onto (paper road maps don;t tell you much about the road structure... LOL!) which were the old concrete roads from the 30s, 40s and 50s.
No shoulder and that 1-2 inch hard edge onto loose gravel - mostly found in the mid-east...
SCARRRRYY.... Back then, there were very, very few riders who would be on roads which held much auto traffic... SO I was an oddity and a major 'inconvenience' to cagers, and those sections were always 'white knuckle' fast for me... LOL! Quickly learned to NOT enter any road which was old school concrete... Made for some longer loops, and some interesting rides...
A country lane with no shoulder - Heaven, and the drivers expect to see me/us. Major connector without shoulders - never...
Thankfully the roads around these parts which hold regular traffic also have good shoulders or very well marked bike lanes. Bigger issue is riders who ride into oncoming traffic...
Ride On

Last edited by cyclezen; 08-08-22 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by CheGiantForLife View Post
As of now, if there is no shoulder on either side, I simply do not ride on those roads without an obvious shoulder lane. I currently refuse to ride on roads without a shoulder on at least one side. (or at least grass or sidewalk, where I can walk the bike until shoulder is available on one side) Also, I feel its safer to salmon in a shoulder lane, than to ride with traffic in the actual traffic lane. Shoulder equals safety where you're not an obstacle impediment to cars.

It feels unsafe and borderline reckless to ride in actual traffic where there is no shoulder. For those who ride on roads with no shoulder, how do you deal with the fact that when you're riding with traffic, cars are constantly having to move half way out of the lane you're occupying? If there is not much traffic, this is not a big deal for the car, as there is another entire lane to use for passing the bike. But, during thicker traffic times, where cars are in both lanes, the bike is creating an obstacle on the road and potentially causing car accidents, particularly if there are cars in both lanes and one sideswipes another while having to avoid the bike by swerving into the left lane. Not only is this totally unnerving for the rider, but it creates a real danger for cars. This also applies to one lane roads, where the car must cross over double yellow lines to avoid the bike, thereby risking a fatal head on collision. This is an ethical line I simply can not cross.

Best practices for riding with traffic when there is no shoulder?
Depends totally on how much traffic there is. A skilled rider can be comfortable in heavier traffic. Some local traffic is well-adapted to bicycles in the mix while in other areas motorists seem incapable of dealing with bicycles. In rural areas there is farm equipment on the roads. Do you consider them to be "creating an obstacle on the road and potentially causing car accidents, particularly if there are cars in both lanes and one sideswipes another while having to avoid"? Riding with front and rear flashers really improves motorist behavior.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:56 AM
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As a veteran road cyclist of over 35 years, I not only disagree with every premise and point the OP made, I’m also appalled that decades of cycling education, advocacy, and infrastracture efforts have gone right over their head and to naught. It’s terribly unfortunate, and highlights the oft made complaint that we are our own worst enemies.
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Old 08-08-22, 09:22 AM
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At first it seemed scary to ride on the main roads, but you simply get accustomed to it. Of the 35000km I've ridden over the last years, nearly all of it was in places with normal traffic.

Donít salmon or do unpredictable or unexpected things on the road and you'll be fine.

​​​​​​I remember driving a car seemed so scary at first (on our narrow streets and roads there's not much margin of error), now it's normal and automatic. Same with riding a road bike in traffic, it's just normal and automatic.

But don't do illegal / unusual stuff like ride against traffic, go on and off the road and so on, you'll cause an accident and causing a road accident when you're protected by a thin layer of lycra and a styrofoam hat is a bad idea.

Just ride, really.
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Old 08-08-22, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by CheGiantForLife View Post
Best practices for riding with traffic when there is no shoulder?
Take a position in the lane where a motorist's right tire tracks. This:
  1. is the cleanest section of road (gets swept by tires),
  2. establishes your rightful position in the lane,
  3. makes you visible to overtaking motorists,
  4. prevents motorists from trying to squeeze by unsafely in the same lane.
If I'm climbing a twisty mountain road with a motorist behind me, I will pull over at the first opportunity, do a track stand, and look back at the driver.

If I'm descending a twisty mountain road, I don't worry about motorists overtaking me. They don't go very fast.
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Old 08-08-22, 09:32 AM
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I make myself as visible as possible, with flashing lights front and rear, and a radar unit to inform me of vehicles approaching from the rear. I ride at a consistent, small but safe distance from the edge of the road, and I signal to drivers behind me wishing to pass if there's oncoming traffic. As others have stated above, it is the responsibility of the overtaking driver to pass me only when it is safe to do so. It is not my responsibility to ensure they do that, but if I can see or hear something coming that the driver won't, I'll often hold out a hand to signal them to wait, and then wave them through when the road is clear.

MOST drivers will then speed up a lot to make the pass as quickly as possible, swinging halfway into the oncoming lane to pass. The ones that drive me nuts are the ones who swing all the way over into the other lane when sightlines are limited, and then barely speed up. Oh, and the ones who pass me on blind curves.

The idea that it's not ethical to ride on the road, because drivers might do something stupid and get themselves into an accident is nonsense. They bear complete responsibility for their own safety.

Fortunately, my experience riding over 25 years around here is that the vast majority of drivers are courteous and responsible around cyclists. But the ones who aren't are often much more memorable.
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Old 08-08-22, 09:32 AM
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There are some roads that you should probably avoid. However lack of shoulders isn't one of the reasons. I never ride in the shoulders. It's not the purpose for them and it just further confuses others of what your intentions are. Especially how you are going to behave when that shoulder ends at a bridge, intersection or in the middle of nowhere.

Ride in the traffic lane and own your space. Be visible and predictable. Don't try to get out of the way by riding on the edge so someone can dangerously attempt to squeeze by you when traffic is coming the other way.
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Old 08-08-22, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
As a veteran road cyclist of over 35 years, I not only disagree with every premise and point the OP made, I’m also appalled that decades of cycling education, advocacy, and infrastracture efforts have gone right over their head and to naught. It’s terribly unfortunate, and highlights the oft made complaint that we are our own worst enemies.
Trying to understand your post... but do agree on the point of 'our own worst enemies' - which I use for all humans, not necessarily just cyclists...
There is a fine balance between asserting our legal rights and obligations as roadway users, but un-thinking, un-caring motorists only takes 1...
I'm not shy in assertiveness, but because of this nature, I'm also trying hard to be thoughtful and NOT putting myself into a confrontational situation with a high likelihood of not turning out OK for me.
I don;t believe I/all cyclists are 'responsible' for poor motorists and their poor decisions, BUT...
Education, advocacy and infrastructure have made huge strides. And that improvement has come for riders who have survived for some time, most motorists who have learned to adapt, share, and even 'become' us. But all it takes is 1, and judicious use of shared resources increases your chances to ride another day.
Again, not an 'ethical' concern - if you're on a highly trafficed road, with tight lanes, no shoulder - what are your chances with a conga line of motor vehicles behind you, all going 15-20 mph?
Is being (at best) ridden off the road a good outcome? Are you willing to count on the 'goodwill' of motorists behind you? Most road with no shoulders also don;t have 15 ft wide main lanes...

It's not acquiescence, just sense.
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EDIT: 'Salmoning', I took to mean what happens if one rides in loose dirt, off the roadway, with 'road' width tires and sometimes even mtb tires - I won't ride for much distance like that.
... how we 'position' on BF is often different from how we are in 'real life'..... LOL!

Last edited by cyclezen; 08-08-22 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 08-08-22, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Ride in the traffic lane and own your space. Be visible and predictable.
I don't know a single person that does this when a shoulder is available to ride on.

Be visible means hi vis clothing and a flashing rear light. Not ride in the same lane as the cars.

On higher speed roads, bicyclists generally want to travel in the paved shoulder area, and if bicycling is common in that roadway a wider paved shoulder is often available.

https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/safet...eretoride.aspx
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Old 08-08-22, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
I don't know a single person that does this when a shoulder is available to ride on.
Aside from the fact that there can be obstacles in the shoulder like parked cars, in cold weather places (and I'm sure others), the shoulders have more sand, cracks and are not always as smooth as the road. On group rides, we never ride in the shoulder.
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Old 08-08-22, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
I don't know a single person that does this when a shoulder is available to ride on.

Be visible means hi vis clothing and a flashing rear light. Not ride in the same lane as the cars.

On higher speed roads, bicyclists generally want to travel in the paved shoulder area, and if bicycling is common in that roadway a wider paved shoulder is often available.

https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/safet...eretoride.aspx
I don't know of any down here that do ride in the shoulder. Nor does Wisconsin seem to condone riding in shoulders except for "higher speed" roads which to me will be busy US highways and maybe some state highways.

I disagree with their view that one should ride on the right of the road if they are talking extreme right. Most lanes won't allow the motorist to clear the cyclist by 3 feet required by many places and safely remain entirely in the same lane. So since the passing motorist will need part of the other lane to pass, it makes no sense to require the cyclist to ride on the extreme right of the lane.

All that will do is encourage passing motorist to squeeze by and violate the 3 feet with oncoming traffic in the other lane.
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Old 08-08-22, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by CheGiantForLife View Post
As of now, if there is no shoulder on either side, I simply do not ride on those roads without an obvious shoulder lane. I currently refuse to ride on roads without a shoulder on at least one side. (or at least grass or sidewalk, where I can walk the bike until shoulder is available on one side) Also, I feel its safer to salmon in a shoulder lane, than to ride with traffic in the actual traffic lane. Shoulder equals safety where you're not an obstacle impediment to cars.

It feels unsafe and borderline reckless to ride in actual traffic where there is no shoulder. For those who ride on roads with no shoulder, how do you deal with the fact that when you're riding with traffic, cars are constantly having to move half way out of the lane you're occupying? If there is not much traffic, this is not a big deal for the car, as there is another entire lane to use for passing the bike. But, during thicker traffic times, where cars are in both lanes, the bike is creating an obstacle on the road and potentially causing car accidents, particularly if there are cars in both lanes and one sideswipes another while having to avoid the bike by swerving into the left lane. Not only is this totally unnerving for the rider, but it creates a real danger for cars. This also applies to one lane roads, where the car must cross over double yellow lines to avoid the bike, thereby risking a fatal head on collision. This is an ethical line I simply can not cross.

Best practices for riding with traffic when there is no shoulder?
In NC, cars are required to give me at least 4 ft when they pass, but they are allowed to cross the double-yellow as long as it's safe to do so. If they choose to pass me, say, on a blind corner or coming up to the crest of a hill, that's on them. I have no ethical responsibility for the choices other road users make. My only concern is that, having done something stupid, they swerve back onto their/my lane, and I'm pretty sure I'm fairly low down on their list of priorities when they're attempting to save their own skin.
It might feel unsafe and borderline reckless to you - it doesn't to me - I've ben doing it for 45 years - I'm a legal tax-paying road user, and as long as I'm not riding erratically and dangerously, car drivers will just have to suck it up and wait until they can pass me. They don't always like it, but them's the breaks - one doesn't get one's own way 100% when one is sharing the road with others.
BTW - "salmoning" on a bike is a really bad idea - drivers aren't expecting riders coming from that direction It's not a case that they can't see you, their brains are just not wired to accept such extraneous information
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Old 08-08-22, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by CheGiantForLife View Post
Best practices for riding with traffic when there is no shoulder?
Honestly, the best practice is to evaluate each situation on its own. If the lane is wide enough to accommodate a car and a bicycle side-by-side safely (re: 3'+ between them), I usually ride the edge (which is required by law where I live). If the lane is not wide enough, I take the primary position in the middle of the lane (which is allowed by law where I live) to discourage cars from trying to squeeze through with oncoming traffic. If there is a parking lane next to me, I move out at least 3' to avoid doorings, and take the primary position if that doesn't leave enough room for a car to safely pass. Even if there is a shoulder, there could be reasons to ride in the lane (debris, parked cars, vanishing and reappearing shoulder, storm grates, etc.). Again where I live, cyclists are never obligated to ride on a shoulder, and sometimes it's unwise for visibility reasons.

There are tons of variations on that with their own nuances, and I also let the general behavior of drivers in that area to help me make my decisions. I'm also only human, so sometimes I make the wrong choice. Based on the recent close passes I have been getting around Chatsworth Lake, I need to take the primary position there more often.
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Old 08-08-22, 10:37 AM
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I hear you OP

Regardless of my technique or the rules of the road, riding no shoulder roads becomes a numbers game. I can only do so much to control bad drivers overreacting to oncoming traffic, people text-drifting, and (usually redneck) psychopaths who seem to want to clip me with a big-a$$ mirror. Every passing car is the roll of a thousands of sided dice, but the odds are a lot better (aka worse ...) than the lottery.

Cyclists have techniques to make themselves feel better. In Vietnam American soldiers did too - "sit on the helmet in the helicopter," "never remove your helmet," "never three cigs on a match" etc etc. Feels better, but doesn't actually stave off the body bag if you roll the wrong number.

I no longer ride shoulderless highway on purpose, occasion short connecting pass through if I have to. I feel lucky to live in a place with enough bike trail, bike lane, massive shouldered highway, gravel and MTB to make this choice and still get my minimum 100 miles a week year in year out without too much boredom.

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Old 08-08-22, 10:51 AM
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...you shouldn't ride your cheap Giant for life bicycle anywhere where you feel unsafe. The whole point of this is to have some fun, getting from point A to point B, while getting some healthy exercise. Eventually, you'll notice your endorphin production picks up a little. Try to relax and dial it back a little bit.
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Old 08-08-22, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezen View Post
Trying to understand your post... but do agree on the point of 'our own worst enemies' - which I use for all humans, not necessarily just cyclists...
There is a fine balance between asserting our legal rights and obligations as roadway users, but un-thinking, un-caring motorists only takes 1...
I'm not shy in assertiveness, but because of this nature, I'm also trying hard to be thoughtful and NOT putting myself into a confrontational situation with a high likelihood of not turning out OK for me.
I don;t believe I/all cyclists are 'responsible' for poor motorists and their poor decisions, BUT...
Education, advocacy and infrastructure have made huge strides. And that improvement has come for riders who have survived for some time, most motorists who have learned to adapt, share, and even 'become' us. But all it takes is 1, and judicious use of shared resources increases your chances to ride another day.
Again, not an 'ethical' concern - if you're on a highly trafficed road, with tight lanes, no shoulder - what are your chances with a conga line of motor vehicles behind you, all going 15-20 mph?
Is being (at best) ridden off the road a good outcome? Are you willing to count on the 'goodwill' of motorists behind you? Most road with no shoulders also don;t have 15 ft wide main lanes...

It's not acquiescence, just sense.
Ride On
Yuri
EDIT: 'Salmoning', I took to mean what happens if one rides in loose dirt, off the roadway, with 'road' width tires and sometimes even mtb tires - I won't ride for much distance like that.
... how we 'position' on BF is often different from how we are in 'real life'..... LOL!
Iím not sure I follow what youíre asking about, so Iíll retiterate that if you take any premise of the OP, e.g. itís reckless to ride on roads without shoulders, or any point the OP made, e.g. that cyclists are obstacles on the road, I simply disagree and think the entire perspective is wrong-headed. Further, with the irony that the OP finds it better to ďsalmon,Ē i.e. ride against the flow of traffic, in violation of road use laws in many, if not all states, underscores the OPís wrong-headedness.

If maybe youíre asking me whether some roads are better to ride on than others because of traffic volume and road design, well yes, of course thatís true. As for driversí ďgood will,Ē I donít think thatís at all to do with anything; is it good will that a driver doesnít run down a pedestrian? Itís decency and sanity in my mind, and yeah, society works because we have some of both, which also give rise to laws and the general desire to abide by them.

In any case, I certainly donít feel the rule of the double-yellow is any more inviolate than my right to cycle on the road, so yeah, sometimes both drivers and cyclist need to make concessions. Thatís just how life works anyway, irrespective of whether a bicycle is involved.
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Old 08-08-22, 10:55 AM
  #22  
Eric F
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Originally Posted by CheGiantForLife View Post
I feel its safer to salmon in a shoulder lane, than to ride with traffic in the actual traffic lane.
No. No. No.

It's not only dangerous, but also violation of the vehicle codes which govern how bicycles are to be operated on the roads.
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Old 08-08-22, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by hankj View Post
I no longer ride shoulderless highway on purpose,
Not to argue or try and change your choices, but it's funny that you mention this as well as emotional coping mechanisms in the same post. Shoulderless highways are usually much more sparse on traffic and where cyclists are less likely to get hit overall.
https://selleanatomica.com/blogs/hom...ike-situations

Now that doesn't necessarily change how safe one FEELS, so ride where ever makes you happy. It's just interesting to see that, statistically, you're rolling unluckier dice when riding in a city with intersections and driveways, or even by yourself for that matter (of course, you're less likely to die from a right-hook or dooring than a full speed rear end, but the latter is far less common). I feel much safer on Angeles Crest Hwy where a car passes me maybe once every 30-60 seconds and is likely paying attention because it's a windy road, than I do even in a bike lane on a 4 lane road where I'm being passes by a car every second with at least a few of them checking their social media or texts.
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Old 08-08-22, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by The 2nd G View Post
Aside from the fact that there can be obstacles in the shoulder like parked cars, in cold weather places (and I'm sure others), the shoulders have more sand, cracks and are not always as smooth as the road. On group rides, we never ride in the shoulder.
We don't have parked cars on the shoulder on our state or county highways we ride on. On group rides we always ride single file on the shoulder.
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Old 08-08-22, 11:21 AM
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The OP brings up some legitimate concerns. I "generally" don't ride on any road that doesn't have either a paved shoulder, a middle left turn lane or a dedicated bike lane. I don't mind an occasional tight section but I have my radar, and my Take-A-Look mirror, on high alert for those.

Then there is the argument that we have every legal right to be on the road with motorists and they should give us the legal and proper distance when passing. Well, yes we do (unless otherwise posted) and yes they should, but the reality is that we have to watch out for ourselves and preserve our life and health on the road. That's OUR responsibility to ourselves and our family.

I have been riding on the road 50+ years and we have it GOOD today. Back in the 1960's/70's, it was the wild, wild west riding on the road. Most motorists driving habits are pretty good today. Yes, there are a few bad apples but there are bad apples riding bikes too...let's be honest here.

In the end, you want to come home safe and sound with no road rash, no broken bones and no wrecked bike. To do that every ride, you do what you have to do, but I can tell you from my experience that flipping off motorists, being a butthead with road rage on a bike is counter-productive.

I ride in a predictive mode. Meaning, I look for and anticipate what could happen. Every mile of every road is ridden like that. You know, the car coming up to a 4-way stop intersection, a busy street when a light turns red, a road hazard up ahead that you'll need to navigate around in traffic, etc, etc.

In all of my 50+ years of riding the only really dangerous and bad things that have happened occurred years ago. Yes, I get the occasional driver that passes too close but that isn't often because I don't ride on roads where that could happen. Red light runners? I actively watch for them. Road Rage Cowboys? I give them a wide berth. Drivers not paying attention or on their phone? I see them before they see me.

I also say a prayer before my feet hit the pedals on every ride.
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