Dead Right

Great video!

BTW, I’ve found that 95% of school bus drivers violate the 3-foot law. Check out the school buses in this video.

20 replies
  1. Thom Parkin
    Thom Parkin says:

    What a great investigation!!
    All cyclists who read this blog have AN OBLIGATION to point this video out to everyone they know who drives a car!

  2. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    I’m surprised I’m the first to post this point. I see a serious problem with Mr. Frings’ lane placement. He can avoid the close-brushes with other vehicles by taking the lane. I used to drive in the same manner and would push farther away from the edge each time I had a close pass. No more.

    I recently spoke with someone who echoed my practice, except he always returns to the edge of the road. Even his snow-plow incident would have been a non-event if he was in the middle of the lane.

    No one pointed this out in the video either, not even the law enforcement officer who recognized that he was entitled to use the lane.

  3. LisaB
    LisaB says:

    Yes, I noticed that too, and would prefer to see Jeff take the lane. But the point of the video is still relevant — motorists often get too close to cyclists. I ride in the right tire track and experience exactly what Jeff shows on the video — especially from school buses, as noted in my original post.

  4. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    One close call “almost every time I ride” sounds real scary to me. Even looking at the lane positioning in the video, that sounds abnormally high unless there’s other stuff going on or gross exaggeration is involved.

    Three bus encounters today. All three gave me plenty of room. Maybe school bus drivers are nicer…

  5. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    The flip side to Fred’s comment: why not use the paved shoulder? Okay, there might be debris, and we’re not going to be able to see that in a YouTube video. In some shots the paved shoulders looked a bit narrow, so I could see avoiding those. But assuming the shoulders are reasonably clean and wide and one is on mostly rural roads with few conflict points, why not use them? I’ve biked paved shoulders all over the country and most were in decent enough condition. Midwestern roads tend to be much cleaner than Florida roads, where everybody treats the outdoors as their trash cans.

  6. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    My prior post aside, I agree that the guy is riding in the worst possible location and is partly responsible for the many close passes. He should either use the shoulder or take the lane; though doing the latter is sure to rile up drivers, who’ll wonder why he isn’t using what appears to be a reasonably usable shoulder.

  7. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    my experience with paved shoulders is that too many drivers will drive close to, or on the line of separation, which does not give safe clearance in many cases. I’ve seen one interpretation of the three-foot passing law that suggests that if you are on the shoulder and not in the traffic lane, the law does not apply. Not that it matters much, since too many motorists are unaware of the law or choose to ignore it.

    Tailgating motorists are also a danger, even if the lead car gives clearance, as the following ones do not have suitable reaction time.

    Most of my riding is on multi-lane roads, so it’s less of a problem for motorists than for other locations and other riders, obviously.

  8. PM Summer
    PM Summer says:

    I agree with Mighk and Fred here. His lane placement is the reason for his close encounters. The road types often look like rural state highways, however, with speed limits of 60 mph possible, which could be a mitigating factor.

    Regardless, his normal “curb-bunny” lane positioning mimics that of many club-racers I know, with the same results.

  9. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Fred, are you talking about riding paved shoulders with your velocar? Because I can see how that would be different. You’d generally need to keep your right wheel where a bicyclist would keep his front wheel, putting your left wheel a bit farther to the left.

    And I think you have to account for all the factors: two-lane vs. multi-lane road; speed; rural vs. urban.

  10. Keri
    Keri says:

    First, I think the story does a good job of highlighting some jerky motorist behavior that we all experience sometimes. It also communicates cyclists’ right to the road with law enforcement. I like that!

    It looks like the close passes he’s getting are a combination of squeeze-thru and “I’m going to punish you for not riding in the shoulder.”

    As noted in previous comments, those of us who ride father left experience close passing less than those who ride like Jeff. Most of the close passing I experience now is deliberate. It’s pretty rare, but we should strive to make it nonexistent.

    I had a 2-part reaction to the video:

    1) Motorists should be more courteous and cautious no matter where a cyclist is riding. Dammit.

    2) Cyclists need to understand that in the Real World, we have to elicit that courtesy by using our lane position to encourage motorists to change lanes to pass. The video clearly demonstrates the result of not controlling the lane. Realize that if you ride like Jeff, you’re going to experience constant close passing (been there, done that) and MOST of it will go away if you move out into the lane a few more feet.

    Other thoughts:

    Some of the snippits of shoulder looked too narrow to ride in. In some clips it looks as though the shoulder tapers to nothing. This happens with shoulders a lot — constantly having to merge in an out of a shoulder is a pain in the ass.

    Riding in a narrow shoulder will invite close passing, as Fred has witnessed. It also invites motorist “tune-out” behavior—they see the cyclist on the other side of the white line and then drop him out of the list of relevant factors they need to pay attention to. There have been a number of cyclists killed because of this phenomenon.

    In an ignorant culture, such shoulders put high-speed bicyclists in a no-win situation. Cyclists traveling at road-bike speeds have a higher risk of crossing crashes if they don’t maintain good sight triangles, but motorists resent their “encroachment” into the lane. We need culture change.

  11. ChipSeal
    ChipSeal says:

    Living in Texas, with more than half of my cycling on high speed (signed 55 MPH) roads with lanes as narrow as the lanes experienced by Jeff in the video, it is extremely rare for me to get a close pass. I take the lane. I take the lane every foot of the way.

    I cringe when I see traffic coming the other way in Jeff’s video. His lane position makes him very vulnerable to a motorist’s poor decision making skills at that point. If he insists on being “cautious” by hugging the fog line, he needs to switch to a more primary lane position when opposite direction traffic approaches. This will take away the squeeze by option and make them use due care.

    Maghk, debris on a shoulder is a good reason, but there are other reasons to avoid using one as well. One example is the cyclist killed in a bike lane in San Diego last week. Another is that it is for emergency use, and I’m not in an emergency. In Texas, no vehicle is required to use the shoulder of the road, and bicycles have a statutory right to the travel lane.

    And finally, I am not concerned, nor am I responsible for the emotional state of other drivers. They are free to get angry and upset if they wish. But most are mature enough to just regard me as one of many delays that they experience on every motor trip.

  12. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    Part of my travels today put me on SR 92 between Daytona and DeLand. The speed limit on this particular stretch is probably 55 mph. Some (or at least one) states have a law that increases the required clearance for passing a bike as the speed limit increases. I don’t want a distracted motorist barely missing me at 55 mph any more than I want one doing the same at 35 mph. This particular trip was on a two-wheeler and I maintained my position. The benefit in this case is that it’s four lanes. Two lane roads should not have the heavy traffic shown in those videos, but of course they exist.

    Keri calls one aspect of driver distraction “tune-out” behavior and I like that expression. Such behavior increases our risk as cyclist at no penalty to the driver. I have also thought that riders on the stripe are not in the cone of concern and become invisible.

    On my return from my commute yesterday, I gave some thought to motorist consideration. I think taking the lane is more considerate than one might think.

    Have you ever had a close call and experienced a moment of emotional excess? In some cases it can be anger, and it would not surprise me to learn that motorists are angry about cyclists on the stripe is that they can become unexpected emotional excesses.

    It’s still fun. (riding)

  13. keri
    keri says:

    I know Jeff’s lane position is distracting but Lisa’s observation about the school bus passes is worth discussion.

    These drivers should not be given any latitude for mindless driving. They have more training, a higher level driver’s license and a greater responsibily to exercise due care!

    I personally have not had negative encounters wiith school buses – I have less exposure due to the times I ride – but I have heard stories from others.

    I’m curious what other readers have experienced from school buses and lynx buses. Anyone have stories?

  14. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Every school bus experience I’ve ever had while cycling has been either neutral or positive. I encounter them most days on the last stage of the ride in to work and occasionally on the ride home.

    We don’t have lynx buses in N Texas. My encounters with “T” buses are uncommon. My main observation about them is they all have bike racks on the front.

  15. Eric
    Eric says:

    “I’m curious what other readers have experienced from school buses and lynx buses. Anyone have stories?”

    Got me bothered enough to write a real letter to the OCPS bus driving training department last summer. Sent along a link to Keri’s driving page. I got a reply a few weeks later.

    I got some names and addresses out of it, if anyone is interested.

  16. Keri
    Keri says:

    Eric, Want to share the letter and/or your experiences with the bus drivers?

    And definitely share the contact info. There are lots of people who read and don’t comment but may want to contact OCPS or the bus company.

  17. ChipSeal
    ChipSeal says:

    On January 9 I said:
    “In Texas… bicycles have a statutory right to the travel lane.”

    This is not an accurate statement. As P.M. Summer pointed out on his blog before he was censored by his employer, (Shame on them!) Texas bicyclists are forbidden from using the travel lane when a bike lane is present.

    My apologies for inaccurately reporting the law and thank you Mr. Summer for a fine blog. (Cycle Dallas can be found in Keri’s bike blogs)

  18. Keri
    Keri says:

    Chipseal, I believe you also lose your right to the travel lane (as we do in Florida) if that lane is 14ft or more.

    BTW, 14ft ain’t wide enough to share with a school bus, box truck or landscape trailer… when forced by law into sharing a lane of that width we can only hope that the driver of such is professional enough to know that.

    CycleDallas was a great blog. I miss it.

    Hopefully our friend Summer will be back on his blog some day with a story to shame the PnP sleazeballs whose profit motives and political agenda are more important than integrity.

    And I certainly hope we can keep those carpetbaggers out of our city!

  19. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    Keri, the statute says that we can use the entire lane if the lane is not wide enough to be shared safely by a motor vehicle and a bicycle. The 14 foot reference comes from the DOT, not the statute, so one could argue that we can still use the entire lane if the vehicle overtaking is too large to share the 14 foot lane. Wouldn’t this be how you see it?

  20. Keri
    Keri says:

    Of course that’s how *I* see it… but then, the other side can argue 12 feet is sharable. After all, 12 ft can be shared with a Minicooper.

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