This is what large vehicles look like in a 12ft lane. A cyclist is 2ft wide (AASHTO says 30″). How much more lane width would be needed for a cyclist to ride a reasonable distance from the edge and be afforded reasonable operating space and comfortable passing clearance from these vehicles at a 20-40mph speed differential?
If there were multiple lanes, wouldn’t you prefer they just change lanes?
The State of Florida grants motorcycle drivers the full use of the lane. Bicycle drivers are more exposed and passed at higher speed differentials and yet we are expected to share a lane that is only 2 feet wider than the ones pictured above… even when there are other lanes available for passing.
I have never taken the position that a cyclist should always claim a 14 foot lane, only that we should have the option to when we feel it is appropriate.
Oddly enough, I have also not yet had a motorist honk at me while claiming a 14ft lane. They simply change lanes and pass. It doesn’t inconvenience them and it doesn’t piss them off. I do try to avoid arterial roads with WCLs at busy times. I would prefer to use a road with multiple narrow lanes because I am more comfortable controlling the lane.
Lane control has more benefits than delivering good passing clearance. Once, I found myself on Tuscawilla at rush hour. The traffic was thick, so I shared the 14ft outside lane. As I approached Gabriella Ln., a line of cars passed me and turned right in front of me, completely cutting me off at the intersection. Even though I was turning right there, I had to negotiate a maneuver to the left to keep from getting pinched in the corner.
Any time a cyclist operates alongside traffic, he is at a disadvantage. We make choices and trade-offs between comfort and courtesy, where appropriate. We should never make trade-offs between safety and courtesy or between safety and comfort. I am a very courteous cyclist, but I rarely trade comfort to create the illusion of courtesy. The few times I have, I’ve regretted it.
Whatever choices we make should be our own. They should be informed choices (which is why we offer information here). Our choices should not be dictated or inhibited by outside forces — like discriminatory laws — but most of all, other cyclists!
It annoys the hell out of me that people who have never ridden with me will misconstrue what I write and paint me as a dogmatic road hog. I am always aware of my surroundings. I have a relatively low tolerance for having traffic behind me that is unable to pass, though I do have a realistic sense of time. It is a rare occasion (a couple times a year) that I end up in that situation, because I choose my routes to avoid such circumstances. When it does happen, I make a right turn and either take a different road or wait for the platoon to pass and come back onto the same road. Do I have to write this disclaimer every time I talk about lane control?