This video is from our first real road ride, Tuesday, Feb 9. Late morning, we headed to lunch a round-about way. The instructors plan routes to use major roads like John Young and US 441 to initiate the officers in operating around large, fast, noisy motor vehicles. It also embeds the principle that bicycles are vehicles and their drivers have an equal right to the road.
Like I said in the HWY 535 post, for each motorist passing us it was a single event lasting a few seconds, for the cyclists it’s a constant procession of passing cars. That is why a cyclist must be given the right to choose the lane position that makes him/her feel safest and most comfortable.
Taking the lane at rush hour
Thursday we rode north for several miles on John Young at rush hour, then turned and headed south on 441. The traffic was pretty much endless, but the motorists delay each other pretty well at that time of day. Notice, you’ll see some vehicles more than once. There is the remains of a car crash in the median at 2:10. No doubt, that impeded some traffic.
Because we controlled the right lane, passing cars and trucks used the left lane and were 6-8 feet from the left line of riders. If we had been in the little shoulder, they would have been 2-4 ft away. Passing tractor-trailers would have been uncomfortably close (they fill a 12 foot lane). A more significant issue: the group would have had nowhere to go if there was an obstruction, glass or other hazard in the shoulder.
An important note about group dynamics
If a solo cyclist encounters an obstruction on the shoulder, he can merge into the lane if it’s safe, or stop (the safety/difficulty of that depends on the cyclist’s speed). If the front rider in a group encounters an obstruction, he can’t stop suddenly, he can’t merge (because merging is done by the rear rider), if he chooses to slide around the obstruction, it’s possible someone behind him won’t get the call and will hit it. It’s far less safe for a group to ride in a shoulder than for an individual. This scenario has been the culprit in numerous pace line crashes, and it’s why we have made an effort to educate various local police departments about the hazards of shoulder riding (why shoulder use is legally optional).
Being able to demonstrate safe and legal cycling with a group of officers on bikes is priceless. I just wish motorists were always this courteous toward cyclists that don’t have POLICE written on the back of their T-shirts.