Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why I Take the Lane Position I Do

spacer
spacer

On this road (which is the same one pictured below in the previous post) I ride in a super-aggressive position. I ride in the left tire track.

The center of the lane is very rough, the chip seal application has weathered off of the base structure. Tactically, the center would be the optimum lane positioning for a cyclist on this narrow road.

Riding in the right tire track would be a smoother ride than in the center, but it invites straddle passes from overtaking motorists with poor decision making skills in the presence of oncoming traffic and places with poor sight lines.

I calculate this road to be bicycle unfriendly. Not because of it's width or speed limit, but because there is a poor surface in the optimum lane position.







11 comments:

  1. Yeah.... I see your point.

    I know of lot of cyclists that simply won't ride a road like that. (Granted, they don't have to either, since they aren't car free.) But they would look at that road and say it's too dangerous.

    When traffic stacks up behind you, do you pull off in a driveway to let them pass?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think that I once had six automobiles stack up behind me on Hwy 85, but that was primarily because a motorist refused to cross a double yellow even though he had many good opportunities to do so safely.

    Outside of that, I doubt I have EVER had even three motorists stack up behind me.

    No, I don't pull over for them. It is their responsibility to overtake me in a safe manner... or not. It is not my responsibility to stay out of a motorist's way. Do motorists who are impeding faster traffic pull aside on these roads for each other? Where does this expectation come from? Either cyclist's have the same rights to the road or we don't.

    I act as though I do have the same rights, and I have no care if that annoys those with a different view. After all, they don't care about annoying other motorists either!

    Now really, Doohickie, when it comes right down to it, how hard is it to pass a bicycle? Does it take the skills and sharply tuned reflexes of a formula one race car driver?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do motorists who are impeding faster traffic pull aside on these roads for each other?Here in Texas? Yes. When a slower vehicle pulls over to the right because it is going more slowly than traffic behind it, it's called using the Aggie passing lane.

    And now that I think about it, I believe there are laws in some states (not sure if Texas is one of them) that state that a vehicle that is doing less than half the speed limit is supposed to pull over to let traffic pass. Any way to look that up?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Texas law says that a motorist MAY drive on a shoulder to allow faster traffic to pass, but is nowhere required to. In fact, there are some necessary pre-conditions to do so. Here is the entire statute:

    Sec. 545.058. DRIVING ON IMPROVED SHOULDER.

    (a) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of a roadway if that operation is necessary and may be done safely, but only:

    (1) to stop, stand, or park;
    (2) to accelerate before entering the main traveled lane of traffic;
    (3) to decelerate before making a right turn;
    (4) to pass another vehicle that is slowing or stopped on the main traveled portion of the highway, disabled, or preparing to make a left turn;
    (5) to allow another vehicle traveling faster to pass;
    (6) as permitted or required by an official traffic-control device; or
    (7) to avoid a collision.

    (b) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the left of the main traveled portion of a divided or limited-access or controlled-access highway if that operation may be done safely, but only:

    (1) to slow or stop when the vehicle is disabled and traffic or other circumstances prohibit the safe movement of the vehicle to the shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of the roadway;
    (2) as permitted or required by an official traffic-control device; or
    (3) to avoid a collision.

    (c) A limitation in this section on driving on an improved shoulder does not apply to:

    (1) an authorized emergency vehicle responding to a call;
    (2) a police patrol; or
    (3) a bicycle.
    I wonder when driving on the shoulder could ever be considered "necessary", can you? An expectation that one should pull aside off the roadway for faster traffic turns established "right of way" on it's head.

    ReplyDelete
  5. As I reviewed my answer, I see it does not apply to the road at hand because there is no shoulder. Therefore, the relevant passages are the slow moving motorist rules and FTR cyclist rules.

    Sec. 545.051.(b) An operator of a vehicle on a roadway moving more slowly than the normal speed of other vehicles at the time and place under the existing conditions shall drive in the right-hand lane available for vehicles, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, unless the operator is:

    (1) passing another vehicle; or
    (2) preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

    Sec. 551.103. OPERATION ON ROADWAY. (a)A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:

    (1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;
    (2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;
    (3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway; or
    (4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:
    (A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or
    (B) too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.
    I see no requirement to turn aside for faster traffic, do you?

    ReplyDelete
  6. How about common courtesy?

    I take the lane when I need to, but I give way when I can and it's safe. Then again, I don't ride down the narrow 2-lane roads that you do.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yep, I display common courtesy every time I ride. That is, I ride lawfully and predictably.

    I don't understand the horror of annoying a motorist that so many people seem to feel. Traveling on the PUBLIC road is not a sin. It is not a crime to impede an automobile driver when I am traveling at a reasonable pace for a bicycle.

    It is not a life changing event if a motorist's trip becomes 20 seconds longer because he had the bad luck of going in the same direction as me. The angry dweeb shouldn't have had a refill on his coffee before he left, then he would be ahead of me.

    And if he cannot manage his anger at a normal traffic situation, why is that my fault? Why am I the bad guy? Why is annoying a motorist such a trauma?

    Please don't take this personal, Doohickie, I had to vent it seems. I am frustrated by how often this silly phobia is cited by cyclists.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, I don't take this personally. I'm just discussing.

    I'm still trying to decide where I stand on some of these issues. In February 2008 I was riding on the sidewalk... which actually led to a wreck and a cracked helmet. I'm becoming more of a vehicular-style cyclist, but as we've covered previously, I also drive a lot too, so I see things from the other side as well. I'm not trying to change your riding style as much as I'm just trying to put the other side out there to get a better understanding... on both our parts.

    I don't understand the horror of annoying a motorist that so many people seem to feel. Traveling on the PUBLIC road is not a sin. It is not a crime to impede an automobile driver when I am traveling at a reasonable pace for a bicycle.

    It is not a life changing event if a motorist's trip becomes 20 seconds longer because he had the bad luck of going in the same direction as me. The angry dweeb shouldn't have had a refill on his coffee before he left, then he would be ahead of me.
    Ah, but a reasonable pace for a bicycle is a decidedly slow pace for an automobile. I recognize your right to the road and to the lane, but think about it this way: it's not a life changing event for you to pull off into a driveway if traffic stacks up behind you. And that delay of 20 seconds for you makes several other people happier and you get karma points.

    And if he cannot manage his anger at a normal traffic situation, why is that my fault? Why am I the bad guy? Why is annoying a motorist such a trauma?A few thoughts: Encountering a bicycle on a narrow rural road is not a normal traffic situation for many drivers. Cyclists are rare, especially cyclists who use their bikes as their primary mode of transport.

    And why should a cyclist give way to a car even though traffic laws don't require it? My answer is that the cyclist is more at risk than the cager. Face it, drivers these days drive like crap. If a car is going to pass you, doesn't make sense for the cyclist to make the decision as to when and where the pass happens, as opposed to a driver who grew up playing video games, sees driving a car as a right and not a privilege, and maybe has bad spacial perception?

    Also, in my experience, it's not the car directly behind you that you have to worry about. They know not to push it; they're waiting for the safe opportunity to pass. It's the young driver three or four cars back that worries me. If that first car decides it's safe to pass, then the second car sees it's safe as well, that third or fourth driver may just follow the pack instead of making sure it it clear... then when they spot a car in the oncoming lane, they're going to squeeze right back into you. I've seen this with cars following farm equipment on rural highways; it could easily happen with a bike.

    Now I'll admit that this is all conjecture on my part. You have more experience cycling these kinds of roads than I do so maybe I'm just off base, but that's the way I see it, and I think the scenario I cited is reasonably realistic.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, I don't take this personally. I'm just discussing. I was relieved to read that sentance. Thank you Doohickie! I am glad we can discuss it.

    I'm still trying to decide where I stand on some of these issues. In February 2008 I was riding on the sidewalk... which actually led to a wreck and a cracked helmet.This makes me angery. It angers me that new cyclists feel they are safer on the sidewalk. It angers me that you and others get hurt in such a manner. I am glad you have taken up safer practices!

    I'm becoming more of a vehicular-style cyclist, but as we've covered previously, I also drive a lot too, so I see things from the other side as well. I'm not trying to change your riding style as much as I'm just trying to put the other side out there to get a better understanding... on both our parts.Good. I am trying to be receptive, though it may not seem that way. (sigh)

    A reasonable pace for a bicycle is a decidedly slow pace for an automobile. I recognize your right to the road and to the lane, but think about it this way: it's not a life changing event for you to pull off into a driveway if traffic stacks up behind you. And that delay of 20 seconds for you makes several other people happier and you get karma points.But at a much greater effort required of me and a higher phisical cost. That is, comparing the effort required for me to go from a full stop to curising speed and moving one's foot a few inches.

    I will break up this response into a couple of posts.....

    ReplyDelete
  10. Encountering a bicycle on a narrow rural road is not a normal traffic situation for many drivers. Cyclists are rare, especially cyclists who use their bikes as their primary mode of transport.Point taken. What I was driving at is that coming upon a cyclist is just a common traffic situation but with a bicycle instead of a car turning into a driveway, a garbage truck, a school bus or any other impedance. It is a normal traffic overtaking problem, but at a different speed.

    Motorists can't seem to see it that way. I suspect that it is because of territorial issues- "Bicycles don't belong on the road and they shouldn't be in the way!" Again, the real issue is motorist attitude; Does their delay rise to an unacceptable level, especially when compared to other, more common delays?

    And why should a cyclist give way to a car even though traffic laws don't require it? My answer is that the cyclist is more at risk than the cager. Face it, drivers these days drive like crap. If a car is going to pass you, doesn't make sense for the cyclist to make the decision as to when and where the pass happens, as opposed to a driver who grew up playing video games, sees driving a car as a right and not a privilege, and maybe has bad spacial perception?I take your point. In practice, possible safe turnouts are further apart than the normal delay experienced by motorists. Traffic on these roads is fairly low because the roads aren't really straight through like the state highways. The gaps are large and the "platoons" are unlikely to be more than two vehicles.

    Also, in my experience, it's not the car directly behind you that you have to worry about. They know not to push it; they're waiting for the safe opportunity to pass. It's the young driver three or four cars back that worries me. If that first car decides it's safe to pass, then the second car sees it's safe as well, that third or fourth driver may just follow the pack instead of making sure it it clear... then when they spot a car in the oncoming lane, they're going to squeeze right back into you. I've seen this with cars following farm equipment on rural highways; it could easily happen with a bike.Poor decision making skills. Another hazard is being overlooked by an oncoming motorist who is attempting to pass another one in your lane! Yikes! That will raise your heartbeat!

    Now I'll admit that this is all conjecture on my part. You have more experience cycling these kinds of roads than I do so maybe I'm just off base, but that's the way I see it, and I think the scenario I cited is reasonably realistic.A multi-lane arterial (two or more lanes in each direction) with narrow lanes is an ideal cycling environment, even high speed ones. It is inconceivable that a delay could be long enough to warrant turning aside.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Many states have slow vehicle laws that require to pull over (where safe and practicable) if traffic is unable to pass for a significant time and stacks up. Some states codify a number of cars (5).

    ChipSeal says: "In practice, possible safe turnouts are further apart than the normal delay experienced by motorists."

    That's a significant factor. I find it appropriate to pull over or turn off a couple times a year. But in most cases that I've considered it, the cars were able to pass before I found a safe/appropriate place to pull over. And yeah, a lot of times it's because of some timid motorist that doesn't take god opportunities to pass. So, who's impeding traffic there?

    I see this in our videos on multi-lane roads, too: motorists that don't change lanes, but stay behind us forever. They either lack the skill to negotiate a lane change, or they're talking on the cell phone (drivers don't change lanes when talking on the cell phone because it takes more cognitive resources than they have). When a motorist doesn't change lanes on a multi-lane road, his vehicle obscures the view of the drivers behind him. So they don't have the benefit of an early lane change and get stuck, too. But again, it's that first motorist who is causing the problem.

    It's really important for cyclists to get over the submissive inferiority that they shouldn't "get in the way." Roads are for people, not cars. When you give up your right to travel efficiently, effectively and safely, you accept the tyranny of car-dominance.

    :-)
    K

    ReplyDelete