Pages Menu
RssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Nov 29, 2010 in General, Safety, Smart Moves | 87 comments

Helping Motorists With Lane Positioning

“‘I’ll see it when I believe it’ is more accurate than ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’”

– Social psychologist Karl Weick

Regular readers of this blog know we recommend an assertive lane position when the lane is too narrow to share.  Our rationale was initially that when a cyclist is in the right wheel track, some motorists will still attempt to squeeze past within the lane instead of making a full lane change.  That’s still true.  But we’ve also observed that a more assertive lane position — either in the center of the lane or just left of center — gets motorists to change lanes earlier on roads with more than one lane in each direction.

Our hypothesis was that from a significant distance, a cyclist in the right wheel track (where the League of American Bicyclists has long recommended cyclists travel if the lane is too narrow to share) looks like he or she is on the edge line, so the motorist stays in that lane until he or she gets close enough to realize there’s not really adequate width for safe passing.  By then the opportunity for changing lanes may have closed.  The motorist then either waits and stews, or “shoves” his way through between the cyclist and the traffic in the next lane.

When the cyclist is in the center of the lane, it’s immediately clear to the motorist that passing within the lane is impossible, so the driver changes lanes at the earliest opportunity.

The added benefit we’ve discovered using a video camera on the dashboard of a following car is that drivers farther back are alerted to the situation by the lane changers ahead of them, and get to see the cyclist themselves at an earlier opportunity.

Watch the video a couple times.  Notice how relatively empty the right lane is when I’m in the more assertive position, and how there are more cars passing closer and staying in my lane longer when I’m in the right tire track.

In the above image: The Lane Control run was westbound on University. (1) marks the camera car position when the driver spots the cyclist, (2) is the cyclist’s position when spotted, the red line indicates the distance needed to slow from 45mph (speed limit) to 15mph (cyclist’s speed), (3) marks where the camera car passes the cyclist. The Right Tire Track run was eastbound. (4) marks the camera car position when the driver spots the cyclist, (5) is the cyclist’s position when spotted. Note: the cars were slowed well below the speed limit by the indecision of earlier drivers and lack of visibility for following drivers.

This is of course only a pair of runs down this road.  In order to get truly sound data we’d need many more runs.

If all we wished to do was keep motorists happy we’d ride on the sidewalks, but that subjects us to many more conflicts and hazards.

Imagine if we could help motorists see that the assertive cyclist lane position actually makes their job easier and reduces delay.

Video Notes

These runs were chosen for this video because they had virtually the same traffic count (35 for the Lane Control run and 36 for the Right Tire Track run).

In the Lane Control run 13 vehicles were originally in the right lane, 12 made a complete lane change, 1 made a right turn. There were 22 vehicles in other lanes.

In the Right Tire Track run 17 vehicles were originally in the right lane, 10 did not make a complete lane change (only 3 of those had vehicles near them in the center lane). There were 19 vehicles in the other lanes. Take a look at that last line of vehicles that remained in the right lane. The other 2 lanes were almost completely open. Had they all changed lanes when they spotted the cyclist, they would have been past him 1/4 mile from the intersection and would not have had to slow down.

To see Lane Control in action with much higher traffic counts, see this video of the UCF Bike Bus.

87 Comments

  1. Excellent! Thank you for this!!

    Meanwhile, I’ve been getting about one instance a week lately of a motorist passing me completely and safely in the next lane (except in one case), while meanwhile honking and waving his hands at me to move further right.

  2. Once again, Mighk, you prove that CommuteOrlando is one of the very best cycling resources ever. This is great stuff.

  3. We will try to get you two to Montana…again…summer of 2011.
    Great stuff, we need you to inspire and educate our teachers.
    Roger

  4. That’s pretty compelling, but you have 3 lanes in your direction and relatively light traffic. I have lots more 2 lane streets with heavier traffic than that. :(

    • I would only use a left of center position on a 2-lane road if my intention was to discourage passing (ie when there’s oncoming traffic, I was heading into poor sight lines or traveling at downhill speed).

      On a 2-lane road it’s appropriate to balance safety and courtesy. Here’s a video look at that from Dan & Brian.

      A multilane road is different because motorists have at least one other lane to pass, so you can use your position in the lane to maximize your visibility and their decision-making.

      • The difference between 2-lane and multi-lane roads is not just about the balance between safety and courtesy. There are two other important difference that I know of. (1) On multi-lane roads, there is usually much more activity on the right that I need to stay away from. For example, right-turning traffic at the more complex intersections. (2) Motorist behavior is very different. On 2-lane roads, I find that a right tire track position is usually sufficient to prevent buzzing. On multi-lane roads, it rarely is. I suspect that the difference has something to do with the fact that to move left on a 2-lane road you only have to check for other traffic in front of you while on multi-lane roads you have to check for other traffic behind you. Another factor might be the greater general complexity of traffic on multi-lane roads putting a greater burden on drivers’ attention. The greater burden of attention gets people very wound up.

        • On a multi-lane road, I think motorists know they can get away with partially pushing into the adjacent lane for a squeeze-pass because same-direction traffic is moving at roughly the same speed, so it feels safe to encroach.

  5. Janice, I often do the same on two-lane roads. People change lanes to pass. It’s counterintuitive how well it works.
    Keri and Mighk, this is great. That said…. I think it would be more dramatic to compare the primary position (fully claiming the lane) with the gutter bunny position. Most of the overtaking behavior you filmed with the secondary position (right tire track) wasn’t all that bad. You’d get a lot more really cruddy overtaking with the gutter bunny position.

    • I’ve no doubt you’re right about the passing behaviors, John. Being a gutterbunny probably also decreases motorist delay somewhat compared to the right tire track position, but at the expense of comfort and safety.

      Our original intent with this video shoot was to show how much time a motorist has to see a cyclist. (Expect another video and post soon.) Some people argue that lane control will get you killed when that texting/cell-phoning/toddler-wrangling driver comes up from behind. But a driver has to take his/her eyes off the road for an amazing amount of time to miss seeing a lane-controlling cyclist. On a straight, empty rural road that’s a valid concern, but in an urban/suburban environment one simply cannot take one’s eyes completely off the roadway for more than a few seconds. On our runs the lane controlling cyclist is visible for at least 20 seconds (imagine taking your eyes off the road for that long!), plus other activity on the road (especially lane changing by other motorists) cues the following drivers that they need to pay attention.

  6. Amazingly, Texas drivers do the same!

    • True. Here is a response on our local club forum after I linked to this article:

      I did my own experiment with lane positioning today traveling on Old Granbury Rd heading home from Granbury Cut-Off to Columbus Trail. EVERYTHING in the video from CommuteOrlando was confirmed regarding flow of traffic, sightlines, and clearance given by passing vehicles.

      As I was standing at the stop on Granbury Cut-Off, a large truck sped by within 2 feet of me, almost enough backwash to throw my bike. No way I could have shared a lane with those trucks. It would be marginally OK to share a lane with a subcompact car.

      I did get two motorists honking at me while I had taken control of the R lane. I could not discern a rational reason (they were in no way impeded and traffic was sparse). My conclusion is that they are just “concerned” / ie, bike-haters.

  7. Once again, you guys provide the tangible stuff that I can refer to when discussing this kind if thing with people. I appreciate it a lot. Although I am a casual advocate at best, having something to demonstrate what I mean rather than my just making “unfounded” assertions is really great.

  8. This is one of the most illuminating pieces I’ve ever seen. Having to deal with imaginary reasons from law enforcement officers why I should be riding in the gutter, I can see that this is the exact opposite from what they think. The last segment in particular shows that drivers have to “slam on the brakes” to deal with a bike in the roadway. Law enforcement officers have told me that drivers have to slam on the brakes when I’m in the lane. Wrong.

    I suppose I’ll have to carry along a portable video player now, so I can show the officer how it really works. Shucks, just when I didn’t really have enough reason to purchase a ‘droid phone!

    • The need to enlighten law enforcement regarding the exact claim you mention, was the primary reason for doing this video.

  9. If you ride on the right side of the lane, you are inviting motorists to use the lane space to your left. So a bicyclist in lane sharing mode shouldn’t take offense when motorists accept the offer.

  10. A picture is worth 1000 words. Great work, keep it up.

  11. Great video! Yeah these are some of the hardest roads to ride on and ride it right. You do a great job of demonstrating how it’s done right.

    Oh yeah, and being a bicyclist, motorcyclist, and a car driver, I think I can safely say most of the motorcyclists acted like a-holes in the way they passed you.

  12. Thanks Allan!

    Yeah, riding in the right tire track exposes people to such a negative experience that they may never try riding on such a road again. I used to get this kind of feedback from people who misunderstood what lane control meant and how the most effective position varies between a 2-lane vs 4-lane and low speed vs high speed roads. They would try a lane position that works on a 2-lane road and get scared out of their wits on a road like University. The experience just made them think it wasn’t possible to ride there.

    I’m a motorcyclist as well. It bothers me that so many motorcycle drivers are rude to bicycle drivers. As a percentage of each population, I’ve had more aggressive buzz passes from motorcyclists than pick-up truck drivers. When I can, and it makes a difference, I am willing to allow a motorcyclist to pass within my lane, although it is specifically illegal for a motorcyclist to share a lane with another vehicle in Florida.

    • Funny. My experience with motorcyclists has been pretty positive. I get the worst from drivers pickup trucks and vans, which is ironic because if I was ever to get a motor vehicle it would definitely be a pickup truck or a van.

  13. When road construction crews must close part of a lane using traffic cones or barriers, they always close the entire lane if the remaining space would be too narrow for a truck. They know better than to leave a too-narrow lane because approaching drivers will not realize it is too narrow to use until they are right on top of it, giving them less time to merge left and/or slow down, and possibly encouraging them to sideswipe the barrier or cones. When the entire lane is closed, motorists can see that at a longer distance.

    I use this explanation when describing my lane position to skeptics in law enforcement. They seem to understand and agree with it.

    • I had to read it twice, Steven, to picture exactly what you were saying, but that’s a brilliant way to explain it.

      • Yes, this does sound like a good argument.

  14. I think this is a bit academic. Cause why would anybody choose to ride anywhere else than the primary position on a multi lane road with narrow lanes? The idea of not being in the primary position is to leave part of your lane to others to use, it isn’t surprising that they then use it.

    Here’s a few notes about driver behavior:
    At 0:20 you write that the inattentive driver wakes up. I think this is reading too much into the situation. My guess is that the driver assumes that the cyclist will move to the shoulder/lane edge after overtaking the bus. At the end of the video the situation with three cars might be similar; drivers assume that the cyclist will enter the shoulder and wait for that to happen for a few secs then change lanes when the cyclist remains.

    • It’s academic to the very small minority of bicyclists who think of themselves as drivers and act accordingly. To the vast majority of bicyclists, who are curb huggers, this is not obvious at all. Why would anyone ride near the road edge on a road with a narrow outside lane? Because they believe that’s where they should ride, and where they are safest.

      • I’m not sure people necessarily believe further right is safer in narrow lanes. I commonly hear complaints from edge-riding cyclists that cars are passing dangerously close.

        But our culture firmly believes that there is a hard-and-fast no-exceptions keep-to-the-edge rule for cyclists.

        Ironically, I suspect the same cyclists who keep to the extreme right (because they think that’s the rule) are okay with bending lots of other traffic rules (because those are “car” rules). That’s pretty much the opposite of how bicycle drivers approach the rules.

  15. The actual law is to stay as far to the right as practicable…
    “Taking the lane” is NOT as far to the right as practicable.. Just because you think it’s safer to take the lane, doesn’t make it lawful…
    If you were in the middle or left of middle in the lane when I pulled up in my cruiser, I’d give you a ticket for not riding as far to the right as practicable.. 5′ from the right is NOT needed… 2-3′ is fine… And a judge would make you pay the fine…

    The best way to do it, is to visualize a bicycle lane on the far right and stay within that “space”… Moving to the center of the lane is not always the most legal..

    • Frank, you present yourself as a law enforcement officer, or perhaps just a juvenile with a motor vehicle who likes to make repeated passes in a specific area (cruiser) but I’ll stick with the former interpretation. As a LEO, you certainly can write a citation, but you cannot determine if a judge would make the recipient pay a fine. Your interpretation of the FL statute may not be the same as that of the judge.

      Having received six citations for 316.2065(5)(a), I have not paid any fines and had all six citations dismissed. There is very little ambiguity in the statute, if one can read and interpret the information therein.

    • Frank:

      I am the cyclist in the video. I’ve worked for 18 years as the bicycle and pedestrian planner for MetroPlan Orlando, the regional transportation planning agency, so it’s my job to know not only the laws as they pertain to cyclists, but also the roadway design standards.

      Let’s start with the law.

      316.2065(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
      1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
      2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
      3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, or substandard-width lane, that makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For the purposes of this subsection, a “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

      As we can see, there are numerous exceptions to the “close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge” law. If any of those exceptions are present, the law is silent as to how far from the curb the cyclist may drive. In this case the “substandard width lane” exception is present.

      So what constitutes “substandard width”? The Florida Department of Transportation, in their Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways (aka The Green Book), states: “Fourteen feet is the recommended lane width for shared use in a wide curb lane, and is the minimum width that will allow passenger cars to safely pass bicyclists within a single lane.” The lanes on University Blvd. are 11 feet wide.

      As the second half of the video makes clear, by driving as close to the curb as you recommend, a cyclist inadvertently invites motorists to pass in an unsafe manner. Motorists are required to give at least three feet of passing clearance to a bicyclist.

      316.083 Overtaking and passing a vehicle.—The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules hereinafter stated:
      (1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall give an appropriate signal as provided for in s. 316.156, shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.

      By keeping closer to the curb then, cyclists on multi-lane roads with non-shareable lanes will be subjected to unsafe passes, unwittingly encourage some motorist to pass in an illegal manner, and actually create more uncertainty and delay for overtaking drivers.

      As for visibility, Keri and I have done extensive video work of this nature. When you take a consumer-grade video camera (even high-definition) and run it on a smallish, pixilated computer screen, the resolution is greatly degraded compared to the real acuity of the human eye. That is the reason we used the neon yellow vest. In reality, modestly responsible and attentive drivers have no problem seeing cyclists — even ones wearing normal clothing — from a half-mile away. In the video our driver saw me from a quarter mile, but only because I was screened by another vehicle. The lane-shifting movement of leading drivers cues the following drivers that something is happening ahead, and so subsequent drivers also change lanes early.

      With a motorist going 45 mph and a cyclist going 15 mph, the closing speed is 30 mph. The stopping sight distance at 30 mph is roughly 200 feet, so a normally attentive motorist in this situation needs only 200 feet to see, react and brake in time to slow to the cyclist’s speed, or to change lanes.

      If none of the above is convincing to you, perhaps the opinions of a retired police bike officer and trainer might sway you. See: http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2010/01/20/dude-who-do-you-think-youre-honking-at/

      • I should add: the difference between a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) and the stopping sight distance (200 feet) is 1,120 feet. At the 30 mph closing speed, the overtaking motorist gets an additional 26 seconds during which to notice the cyclist. A driver who fails to notice a cyclist with such ample time and distance is either drunk, or profoundly inattentive or incompetent and has no business being behind the wheel. I sincerely hope that you continue your work as a law enforcement officer to keep such people off our roadways.

    • The best way to do it, is to visualize a bicycle lane on the far right and stay within that “space”… Moving to the center of the lane is not always the most legal..
      Indeed. Do that and you’ll realize why a realization of your visualized bike lane would be illegal.

      The traffic lane is 11 feet wide. Even a bare minimum 4 foot bike lane would result in reducing that traffic lane to 7 feet. This is exactly why the law does not require cyclists to keep right in such narrow lanes. As Mighk explains, keeping that close to the edge would invite motorists to try to squeeze into a space that is too narrow to share for safety. As you reveal, many people – even those in law enforcement – don’t realize this. Hence the title of the article.

    • Frank,
      Mighk has responded with a good answer to your statement. If you would like to learn more about circumstances in which cyclists do not have to “keep right”, you can find ample information at Ask Geo at flbikelaw.org. This link will take you to the sections about substandard-width lanes, which comprise the vast majority of lanes in Florida.

      http://flbikelaw.org/tag/substandard-width-lane/

  16. You kept putting “lane splitting”, like it’s a bad thing.. It’s not… That’s what drivers are supposed to do…
    They are NOT required to move totally over to the next lane, only keep a 3′ distance from your left and to make sure they have the ability to pass you safely while avoiding any cars coming up behind them on their left.

    There are many other problems with this video…

    1.) There is VERY LITTLE traffic. (Heavier traffic is MUCH worse and “taking the lane” would impede traffic.)

    2.) Youre wearing a bright orange vest/shirt.. Most bike riders wear normal colored clothes, so they’re not as easily seen.

    3.) You did this video during a clear day with good visibility.. Try it again on a cloudy / rainy day…

    4.) Even your follow car had trouble seeing you from really far away.. (You even had to put in “you can see him when a car makes a right turn”… I wouldn’t have see him at all, if you didn’t mention it.

    5.) You had a completely empty sidewalk that was perfectly able to be used.. At that point, there was no real reason for you to be on the roadway, except to “take a lane”, which technically was being done unlawfully. You don’t have to ride ON the roadway/gutter line, but halfway into the road is not the place to be, either.

    • Sangesf, your name wouldn’t also be Frank, would it? A driver who would go partially into another lane is not providing appropriate consideration to the cyclist being passed. Lack of consideration is a primary factor in cycling safety and such passes demonstrate this quite well.

      Heavier traffic is easier to manage than light traffic. Speeds are lower, and the cyclist is likely to be as fast or faster than other vehicles on the roadway. If one vehicle can pass another, there is no impeding of traffic, and specific to the FL statutes, only a motor vehicle operator can be cited for impeding traffic, not cyclists.

      Points 2,3, and 4 are all suggestions of visibility and one key factor is that the cyclists are where the motorists have to look in normal operation of a motor vehicle. The cyclists are not marginalized, ignored and disregarded by being out of view. When a motorist finally recognizes an edge-riding cyclist, the reaction time may be insufficient for a safe response.

      Sidewalks are for pedestrians. A cyclist on a sidewalk has the same responsibilities as a pedestrian, which severely limits the benefits of riding a bicycle. Those people on bikes who ride on sidewalks without being aware of these restrictions are increasing the danger to which they are exposed. As a road user, operating at 20 mph and upward, I’m not going to move to the sidewalks and deal with curb cuts, driveway intersections, nor will I endanger pedestrians on a narrow lane (sidewalk) in the same manner that motor vehicle operators will when passing too closely on a roadway.

    • You kept putting “lane splitting”, like it’s a bad thing.. It’s not… That’s what drivers are supposed to do…
      They are NOT required to move totally over to the next lane, only keep a 3′ distance from your left and to make sure they have the ability to pass you safely while avoiding any cars coming up behind them on their left.

      That’s true, but the issue is with the last part (I bolded the exact part to which I refer).

      Sure, as long as the adjacent lane is unoccupied, there is no issue with moving partially into that lane when passing. The adjacent lane is unoccupied for some percentage of those approaching from behind. What that percentage is varies depending on how busy traffic is.

      But for some non-zero percentage of those approaching from behind, the adjacent lane will not be unoccupied, and safe passing will not be possible. What happens in those cases depends on how soon the motorist realizes encroaching in the adjacent lane will be required to pass the cyclist safety and that that is currently not possible. If they realize it soon enough, then their reaction will be safe. If not, then it will be unsafe.

      When the adjacent lane is occupied, and the cyclist is riding relatively close to the curb, some particularly prudent motorists will notice early enough to slow down well in advance, slowing their speed relative to the traffic in the adjacent lane, and moving into that lane when there is a gap. But, especially from a distance, the far right position of the cyclist will appear for too long to many (most?) as a situation where passing is not an issue, and so they will not notice early enough. Once they do realize, they will be forced to either dangerously slam on their brakes, or to dangerously and illegally try to pass the cyclist within the lane. This dangerous behavior is all but eliminated by the technique that is the subject of this article. That’s the point.

      1) If there was more traffic, the adjacent lane is more likely to be occupied, and the dangerous behavior just described is more likely, which just makes this technique more necessary. Since there is no safe and reasonable alternative for the cyclist, any minor impeding that might result is legally justified, just as it would be for the driver of any other type of slow moving vehicle occupying this lane who is going as fast as he reasonably can.

      2) Even when dressed in muted colors, I find I’m very conspicuous as long as I’m using a conspicuous lane position. Perhaps not quite as visible as when wearing bright/fluorescent colors, but still visible enough with plenty of margin. On the other hand, even in bright clothing, riding far right often does not grab attention nearly as well. In other words, for conspicuousness, road position is a much more significant factor that is clothing brightness.

      3) Cyclists should use proper lighting on cloudy/rainy days.

      4) In almost 10 years of riding in this manner, while using a mirror, only once have I been in a situation where someone did not react to me in plenty of time to safely slow or change lanes. And even in that case, because I use a mirror, I saw it coming, made an attention-grabbing maneuver (stood up and did quick zig and zag), so that they were able to slow and change lanes in time, though a bit later than ideal. Compare that to the daily close calls experienced by cyclists who regularly ride far right in these situations. Well, there is no comparison. Really.

      5) The issues with sidewalk cycling, especially at transportational speeds, is a topic that should be addressed separately.

  17. “Frank the LEO” makes a point that is at once erroneous and reality-based. In areas of poorer cycling advocacy, he would be correct, since actual KNOWLEDGE on the part of authorities would be sorely lacking — and who hasn’t heard of a traffic violation wrongfully applied and made to ‘stick’?

    “FRAP” is almost universally mis-defined as “far right as POSSIBLE”, which to drivers — even LEO — means on or within 6 inches of the white stripe/curb. Seemingly NO ONE ‘gets’ the idea that THE RIDER is the one who must determine “SAFE AND FEASIBLE TO DO” (the true definition of ‘practicable’), forgetting conveniently that THEY expect that consideration themselves when DRIVING.

    My experience, in this less-than-bike-friendly town (even with a 2-term pro-bike mayor and a growing advocacy movement), is that the right tire track, 2-3 feet from the curb, gets the necessary attention from all but the true ‘sphincters’ who will insist on using their 3000-lb weight advantage as aggression. I don’t even think I’d be COMFORTABLE with the left-tire track, since I’d be TOO CLOSE to the cars passing IN THE OTHER LANE! (Many of our traffic lanes are terribly narrow….)

    While I’m glad to see that this has some success in Orlando (a town I used to live in, and would NEVER ride on a street that large due to the driver aggression I experienced when there!), it’s not universally adaptable.

    • My experience, in this less-than-bike-friendly town (even with a 2-term pro-bike mayor and a growing advocacy movement), is that the right tire track, 2-3 feet from the curb, gets the necessary attention from all but …
      [I] would NEVER ride on a street that large due to the driver aggression I experienced when there!

      I have found right tire track riding to be particularly infuriating to drivers. I speculate this is because it’s an ambiguous position. The title of this piece is Helping Motorists With Lane Positioning. How does right tire track riding help them? Are you sharing the lane, or not? If you are sharing, then why are you not closer to the curb to give them more room? If you are not sharing, then why are you teasing them with that space to your left as if you are?

      They might not go through these specific question consciously, but subconsciously they’re very likely to be at play in one form or another. The bottom line is that they need to decide whether to use the adjacent lane to pass or not, and a right tire track position does not help them decide.

      [this method is] not universally adaptable.

      Name a place in the U.S. where you think it’s not adaptable.

      Between the Facebook Cyclists are Drivers! group, the BicycleDriving google group, and the chainguard Yahoo! group, I bet I can find someone who has found it to be adaptable in any place you name.

  18. We ALL know, the ONLY reason you want to take up the entire lane is to feel like a car…

    You really SHOULDN’T discuss the sidewalk riding separately…
    As that would be the determining factor when it goes in front of a judge..

    I’ve seen it before in court cases…

    All the prosecutor has to say to the judge is….
    “There was a sidewalk available for the cyclist to use” and the ticket gets “confirmed” and you have to pay the fine….
    (This has been done NUMEROUS times and the cyclist HAD to pay the fine.)

    IF there is no sidewalk, then YES.. Its very possible to have the ticket dismissed…

    However, the law says as far right as practicable… But does NOT say (“for the cyclist”) as that also holds true for other drivers including Cars, Mopeds, Scooters, etc..
    This gives the motorist ample space to lane split or move over to another lane…
    Let’s use an example of a 3 – lane highway..
    What if another driver (two lanes over from the cyclist – far left lane), decides to start moving into the middle lane as the driver overtaking the cyclist starts going around… If the cyclist is far to the left of that right lane, that gives LESS space and LESS time for both drivers in the cars to react.. THAT’s the reason for the “as far to the right as practicable” statute..

    P.S. On a completely seperate side note: I haven’t found the definition of “impeding traffic” anywhere in the statutes..

    • As far to the right as practicable is for ALL drivers safety.. NOT just the cyclist.. (and yes, when you’re on the road, you are considered a driver of a vehicle..)

    • *yawn*

    • Sangesf,

      A bicyclist required to pay a fine for traveling lawfully on the road instead of using the sidewalk, even though no law requires it, would be a blatant miscarriage of justice.

      Few bicyclists would bother with the time and expense involved in appealing such a foolish and obnoxious judicious ruling, but no way would it survive appeal if one did.

    • We ALL know, the ONLY reason you want to take up the entire lane is to feel like a car…

      Seriously? Do you really not understand that this is about safety?

      Avoiding being hit by a car is very important to us. Close passes, honking and other obnoxious and dangerous behavior is something we want to avoid as well.

      That’s why we don’t want to share such narrow lanes. Period.

    • Let’s use an example of a 3 – lane highway..
      What if another driver (two lanes over from the cyclist – far left lane), decides to start moving into the middle lane as the driver overtaking the cyclist starts going around… If the cyclist is far to the left of that right lane, that gives LESS space and LESS time for both drivers in the cars to react.. THAT’s the reason for the “as far to the right as practicable” statute..

      Let’s replace the cyclist with a driver of a slow moving construction equipment, say a front loader, and see how this works out:

      What if another driver (two lanes over from the loader in the slow lane – far left lane), decides to start moving into the middle lane as the driver overtaking the loader starts going around… Since the loader is occupying that entire rightmost lane, there is just as little space and time for both drivers in the cars to react as they would have if the loader was a cyclist in a far left position.

      In other words, a cyclist in a far left position creates no more of a problem than any other driver of a slow moving vehicle would.

      Why pick on the cyclist?

  19. Remember… (There’s even the sign in the video)
    “SHARE the road”, not USE THE ENTIRE ROAD..

    Think about that same scenario (3-lane) highway and you’re riding your motorcycle and catching up to the cyclist… You are in much more danger by moving over into another lane as opposed to “sharing it” with the cyclist…

    Let’s say it’s only 11′ wide… If the cyclist is within 3′ of the right, that gives the motorcyclist 5′ of clearance to still stay within the lane. (11′ minus 3′ cyclist minus 3′ passing for motorcyclist).

    If you’re in the middle of the lane (say 5′ plus) that makes the motorcyclist HAVE to change lanes, instead of “SHARING” the road WITH YOU!

    Realize that you, as a cyclist, are lucky enough to be in Florida as this state allows bicycles to be ridden on the road and considered a vehicle… Remember to share the road, not “own” it..

    • The signs say “share the road”, not “share the lane”.

      • If the road has only one lane, it is the road.. ;)

          • I think he means one lane in each direction.

            But, of course, the lane going the other direction is part of the road, and can be used for passing when the center line is dashed and the oncoming lane is unoccupied.

            In some states (FL) it’s even legal to cross the center line to pass a cyclist if it’s solid.

    • Also, cyclists are drivers in all 50 states.

      • I should have “qualified” that with FL, USA! :)

          • And you make it sound as if cyclists NEVER do anything wrong or illegal..

            I will tell you, at BEST!, MAYBE 10% of the cyclists I see, ACTUALLY ride legally…

            EVERY SINGLE DAY, I’ve seen these things..

            1.) Cyclists riding through a red light.
            2.) Cyclists riding through a steady red hand signal.
            3.) Cyclists riding opposing traffic.
            4.) Cyclists riding 20 mph on the sidewalk..
            5.) Cyclists riding with headphones on.
            6.) I even saw, last week, a group of 4 cyclists on a bridge (waiting (on the right side of the right lane) with everyone else) while the bridge was “closing back up”.
            I saw two of them pull away from the right and ride in-between all the stopped cars (on the left), JUST so they could get ahead of all the stopped cars..

            90% of the cyclists I’ve seen on a DAILY basis are not riding legally.

            P.S. I ride (at least 30 miles a day) on an Electric Bicycle, so I’m always watching every other cyclist and the above is what I always see.

            (The WORST (#3 above) are the “opposite facing” cyclists… There has been MANY times where I’m riding (with the flow of traffic – in the bike lane) going over a bridge and as I hit the crest, I see a cyclist riding TOWARDS me in the same bike lane.. Talk about dangerous!)

      • So lucky we’re not in Iraq!

  20. Sangesf, re: your impeding statute.

    See §316.183(5) of the Florida Vehicle Code:

    Minimum Speed Limit: I. No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

    Note that since bicycles are not motor vehicles, this does not apply to them. Thus a bicycle can be driven “at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic”, and the bicyclist won’t be in violation of this statute. Why? Because legally requiring bicyclists to go faster than that is tantamount to removing their right to travel in the road (should I have said get on the sidewalk?) (since they can reasonably go any faster), which is clearly not the legislative intent.

    • Ugh – that should have said… since they canNOT reasonably go any faster

  21. judicious –> judicial

    (why is there no edit function in this interface?)

  22. Sangesf said “And you make it sound as if cyclists NEVER do anything wrong or illegal.”

    I think we all agree here that many of the things you listed in that comment are illegal and common. I’m pretty sure there’s a whole ‘nother blog post already that talks about bicyclists acting as drivers vs. bicyclists acting as outlaws.

    But we were talking about lane position.

  23. My point being…

    How can a cyclist expect every other vehicle/person on the road to “respect” them, when 90% of the time, they’re in the wrong and how are all the other people supposed to know when sharing the road / re-adjusting to take the lane is warranted and legal, when they know 90% of the time, the cyclist is wrong anyways… You know what I mean…

    It’s a two-way street (pun intended). :)

    That’s like seeing 90% of the people on cars speeding on the highway and since you see it all the time, you expect (or think) it’s ok…

    • Yeah, how are they to know if they can hit the cyclist or if they’re required to pass and go for the next one?

      There’s no difference between how another driver should treat a cyclist whether that cyclist is operating legally or not. A cyclist operating illegally doesn’t mean other drivers have fewer obligations towards him.

    • Your point appears to be mis-stated. One might suggest that 90 percent of the cyclists are operating in an unlawful manner, but not that a particular, lane-controlling cyclist is operating in an unlawful manner 90 percent of the time. It’s not being pedantic, it’s being accurate.

      Since I cannot trust ten percent of the drivers to give me safe passing room, I cannot trust one hundred percent of them and must make my operation on the roadway as safe as I possibly can. The repercussions of the ninety percent of unlawful cyclists are minor compared to the repercussions of the ten percent of the motorists endangering me on the roadway. It only takes one motorist to strike a cyclist, injuring him or killing him, with little concern by the motorist for the possibility of scratching his paint.

      It’s a matter of magnitude, far too often ignored or overlooked by motor vehicle operators. Thousands of pounds of steel operated with little consideration for other road users means that those other road users must manage in the best possible way, and lane position is one of those methods.

    • You’re saying that I should be punished because other cyclists are misbehaving?

      What I find is that if I am visible and predictable, motorists respect me. They don’t seem to hold me personally responsible for all the sins of cycle-dom.

    • Yes, it is, and we failed by proceeding to argue with him.

      • I learn from all of these discussions.

        In this discussion I learned keep right thinking expressed as “imagine a bike lane is there and ride in that space”.

        That’s useful because it can be turned around: Why do you think there is no bike lane there? Imagine if there was… how much space would that leave for the traffic lane? Is that enough? Why not? Etc.

  24. It seems as if no matter what someone says, the “cyclists” apparently do no wrong and motorists are always wrong..
    LOL
    I see how it is..

    I’m sorry but 90% of the cyclists out there have no clue how to ride legally… That’s my opinion given 12,000+ miles a year here in Florida…

    Taking more than 2-3′ from the right side of the lane is unnecessary.. It really is…

    • No one is disagreeing with you about the scofflaw cyclists and their high prevalence and how problematic that is. I don’t understanding why you keep bringing it up, or why you think it’s relevant to this article, lane positioning, or anything else we’ve been discussing. I presume you’re not arguing that running cyclists off the road is justified because 90% are scofflaws. Correct me if I’m wrong. But if that’s not your point, what is?

      Taking more than 2-3′ from the right side of the lane is unnecessary.. It really is…
      After all of the lengthy explanations about why riding so close to the edge is problematic, and the refuting of all of your points, you simply reassert your position without any basis whatsoever? What kind of discussion is that?

  25. LOL… Again… I see how it is…

    LOL… Whatever…

    How about teaching cyclists not to do illegal stuff 90% of the time.. And then I’ll leave the discussion alone..

    Until then I’ll keep my opinions the way they are..

    • How about you educate them when they do something illegal (and not just against your own imaginary interpretations)? You are a cop, are you not? (Or was that the other new user who arrived at the same time as you?)

  26. Frank and Sangesf are at the same email address, so perhaps one is using the other’s computer?

    A few things he has written lead me to believe he is NOT a law enforcement officer. For example:

    “On a completely seperate side note: I haven’t found the definition of “impeding traffic” anywhere in the statutes.”

    Any officer would know that if something isn’t defined in statute, the common definition is used.

    “Realize that you, as a cyclist, are lucky enough to be in Florida as this state allows bicycles to be ridden on the road and considered a vehicle…”

    ALL states allow bicyclists to operate on the roads, ALL states give cyclists the rights and duties of vehicle drivers, and many states explicitly define bicycles as vehicles. Any law enforcement officer would know that Florida’s laws are based on the Uniform Vehicle Code.

    He sees all those law-breaking cyclists and is very upset about them, yet says nothing about writing them citations.

    Perhaps impersonating an officer should be grounds for banishment from this blog?

  27. Do whatever you want…
    Typical holier than thou attitude…

    Someone says something you don’t like and the first thing you do is threaten to ban them?

    LOL…

    It’s called, free speech, moron..

    Go ahead, “banish me”.. LOL. I F’IN DARE YOU!!!

    Typical “Lycra crowd” here.. The laws are only in effect for everyone else and not you…

    And THAT’S why I have to beep my damn horn a MILLION times before the idiot Lycra crowd finally takes off BOTH their headphones to hear it…
    And I’m talking about the horn on my BICYCLE! Move OVER! Pay attention to everyone else.. The world does not revolve SOLELY for YOUR benefit…

    Yeah, that’s right… I have to move to your left when you’re taking up the entire lane and put myself in even more danger, because YOU decide the safest for you is 5′ over from the right..

    GET OVER YOURSELVES!

    End of line.
    (I’m done with this blog.. Keep telling yourselves that you’re the only ones that matter.. Sheesh!)
    Bye losers!

    • Thanks for keeping us entertained, Frank. Be careful with that impersonating an officer stuff; it’s a third degree felony. But hey, it’s not like you left a trail of evidence … oh wait…

  28. Oooooooh… I’m scared……

    When did I say I AM (or WAS) a police officer? I never did… Nor am I one..

    LOL… I have a cruiser bicycle AND private citizens can give out tickets… LOL

    So is that how you’re gonna play it?
    Typical loser attitude… Can’t take the criticism so you take to threats…. Good job… Obviously you’re one of the “Lycra Crowd”… It’s funny…. They always think their crap don’t stink….

    The only people I know who have these “issues” are what I like to call the Lycra crowd…
    And the funny thing is, they are the WORST OFFENDERS!!!

    I ride well over 10,000 miles a year on my bicycle…
    And they seem to think THEY own the road..

    I think maybe ONE time I saw a “lycra” cyclist actually riding correctly and safely..
    Every other one I’ve seen….

    1.) Ride in between traffic.

    2.) Pass cars (stopped at a light) on the right, when there was not 3′ distance or a bike lane.

    3.) Ride in the road constantly, even when there IS a bike lane..
    (How stupid (and technially illegal in Florida) is that?)

    4.) ALWAYS go through red lights/stop signs/etc.
    (Especially when there’s no cars around. – Ok, fine, there’s no cars around, but still illegal.)

    5.) Speed past other cyclists without an audible warning….

    6.) Wear BOTH headphones on while listening to their music on their MP3 player..

    That’s SIX things I see on a DAILY basis…
    (And only what was on top of my head, I’m sure there’s plenty more..)

    I love it when the “advocates” for cycling safety are the worst offenders..
    LOL

    You can’t be an “advocate”, if you don’t follow the actual rules, yourself..

    It seems to me, they (meaning mostly the “Lycra crowd” and a few others) have this attitude of, “I’m gonna tell you what the rules are, but I don’t think I should follow the ones I think are ‘silly’”..

    Get a life losers..

    • Why so judgmental?

      The lawful, safe and assertive yet cooperative traffic cycling methods and techniques advocated, practiced and taught by the folks at CommuteOrlando/CyclingSavvy are not followed by the typical Lycra cyclists to which you refer and about which you rightly complain. Complaining about them here is as ridiculous as complaining about vegans eating too much meat at a vegans’ blog. In fact, these methods and techniques are practiced by only a small, but growing, minority of cyclists. We call ourselves bicycle drivers. Please consider taking a CyclingSavvy class to learn more. Or, if you prefer learning on your own from books, check out Cyclecraft by John Franklin.

    • I must take issue to the constant attack against those of us cyclists who wear lycra while we ride. I do not think the constant accusations that we are the most likely to break the rules you have outlined is warranted. Sure cyclists who wear colorful lycra tend to stand out from those in street clothes, but that does not in any way suggest that we are somehow pre-disposed to flagrant law violations.
      We typically wear lycra because it is the most comfortable (and appropriate)attire for our purposes, which is generally speaking, exercise. The lycra helps wick the sweat from our bodies. Additionally, the pants tend to have the cushion built in to compensate for the lack of it on our seats (in some instances but certainly not most, that includes the rider’s lack of cushion as well). Others may wear lycra because it is part of a team uniform. We do not, for the most part, wear lycra to irritate you, why it does I have no idea, but that is your issue not mine.

      It is my experience, that weekend warriors (AKA lycra wearers) are likely to blow through stop signs or wear headphones while riding; however I have no evidence to suggest that non-lycra riders are any less likely to commit those very same sins. I think far more of the salmon riders I have encountered were wearing street clothes, but in other regions lycra wearers could be just as guilty.
      There is nothing specifically about the choice to wear lycra or not that creates bad cyclists, it is in my opinion more a result of the lack of any proper training. The average bike rider received the bulk of their training from a crash course (pun intended) on balance as a 4-6 year old child. Along with the obligatory admonishments to stay out of the street and avoid the cars thrown in for safety. Thats it! Everything else we learned from observation and exploration.

      With that said, I have had the Cycle Savvy training, it has opened my eyes to many of my own misconceptions and when I ride in the street, I obey the law, plain and simple, except of course where it conflicts with my personal safety, and that is usually only a matter of semantics.
      I am of the stong opinion that everyone should be required to take this course, or something similar, every few years. Drivers, pedestrians and riders alike should all have a common understanding of the rights and responsibilities of all road (and sidewalk) users.

      Furthermore, we should really avoid all of this us and them method of thinking. Whether it is Lycra vs non lycra, cyclists vs motorists, bike lane vs road user, etc. etc. etc. Throughout our lives we may find conditions change and we must realign ourselve with those same groups we villified previously.

  29. I just love it when the blog writer decides to start threatening with felonies.. LOL
    Just goes to show what I’m talking about…

    The following was meant when riding two abreast, but I feel it’s appropriate for single riders as well…

    “Safely moving single file to allow traffic to pass isn’t a sign of ‘inferiority,’ it’s a sign of maturity and mutual road respect.”

    It seems to me that most people who decide to take (more of) the lane (then the really have to) and (don’t want to) have the feeling of “inferiority” and in that same thought, kinda try to “force their will” on others instead of taking everyone else’s safety into concern, as well. It’s a “Me, me, it’s all about me!” attitude and is what I see 90% of the time while riding my bicycle trying to share the road with EVERYONE. I happen across cyclists ALL THE TIME with that attitude..

    There really is NO REASON to ride in the MIDDLE of the road/lane when it’s just as safe to ride 2-3′ of the far right lane border, “visualizing a bike lane” as I put it earlier. (Unless obviously there is some kind of debris or hazard there).

  30. There really is NO REASON to ride in the MIDDLE of the road/lane when it’s just as safe to ride 2-3′ of the far right lane border, “visualizing a bike lane” as I put it earlier. (Unless obviously there is some kind of debris or hazard there).

    Many reasons for riding in the middle of a lane that is too narrow to be safely shared were offered in the original piece and in subsequent commentary, above. Your points, including the “visualizing a bike lane” one, were all addressed and refuted. You didn’t address any of that, but here you just repeat your opinion.

  31. And how is that safer for ME? If the person is riding 2 mph in the middle of the lane and I’m coming up behind at 20 mph and I want to pass, I have to either go on the right (closer to the right edge, where YOU say it’s unsafe or maybe there’s debris there) or to the left where I get closer to middle lane traffic (where YOU say, that’s why you’re taking up more of the lane, so that a car has to move even farther over to the left) and that makes me get closer to the cars..

    You’re logic of moving 5′ into the middle of the lane really makes no sense, when 2-3′ is more than enough…
    OR
    Use the sidewalk

    • Frank, it would help if you would use the REPLY link under whatever comment you’re replying to.

      I have to either go on the right
      If the cyclist is tracking 5′ from the edge (6′ from the lane stripe to his left in an 11′ lane) and is about 2′ wide, that leaves 4′ to his right. Four feet between the bicyclist and the edge of the road is not enough to pass safely. Not an option.

      or to the left where I get closer to middle lane traffic (where YOU say, that’s why you’re taking up more of the lane, so that a car has to move even farther over to the left) and that makes me get closer to the cars..
      No. Your choices are to change lanes to pass, or, if the adjacent lane is occupied, then slow to the cyclist’s speed until the adjacent lane is unoccupied.

      If you’re on a motorcycle rather than in a car then you can safely pass to the cyclist’s left by moving next to the lane stripe, after adjusting your speed as necessary if the adjacent lane is occupied so that when you pass no one is immediately on your left.

      The whole point of all this is for the cyclist to be clearly conspicuous in the middle of the lane so that faster traffic approaching from behind has plenty of time and space to prepare for the safe pass. It works great!

      Here is another video that demonstrates and explains this:

      • I’m on my BICYCLE!!! And you’re telling me to change lanes…. Lol. I don’t think so..

        If you’re over to the right (by just 2′) then you give ME room to safely pass and cars to pass me.. (That’s called “sharing”…
        By staying in the middle of the lane, you’ve given me LESS options… You’re not sharing the road or the lane..

        Please NO ONE listen to his advice… If you’re on your bicycle and another cyclist is in the middle of the road, let him know your there and make sure he gives you room to pass.. Do NOT move into another lane… That is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!

        • Here’s what you do Frank. It’s really quite simple. Cyclists do it all the time with other cyclists and pedestrians when riding on trails.

          See, bicycles are rather quiet, unlike motorcycles and cars, so we often don’t know another cyclist is approaching from behind unless we happen to glance back. So we rather appreciate it when another cyclist lets us know.

          As you approach from the rear, you just call out “Passing” or “On your left,” and the cyclist ahead of you will move right to make sure you have room to pass without moving into the next lane.

          Promise. We do it all the time. We’d probably even strike up a conversation if you’re so inclined and not in a hurry.

        • No, Frank, just like if you’re on a motorcycle there is sufficient room for you to pass on the other cyclist’s left without using the adjacent lane.

          But yeah, like Mighk says, “on your left” works too.

          By the way, if I’m that cyclist, there will be no such issue, as I would have been observing you approaching for a long time in my mirror, and would have moved over to accommodate you accordingly.

  32. If you’re 3′ over and I pass 3′ to your right that’s 6′ in and still more than 5′ for cars in the next lane.

    • You’re forgetting the cyclist has width.

      If the cyclist is tracking 3′ from the road edge, his 2′ wide body is only 2′ from the edge, and there is 7′ of lane remaining to his left. 3′ of that is needed for safe passing buffer – that leaves 4 feet for passing traffic within the lane.

      [4 FEET FOR CAR][3 FOOT BUFFER][2 FOOT WIDE CYCLIST][2 FEET TO EDGE]
      4 + 3 + 2 + 2 = 11

      That’s the epitome of a lane that is NOT “wide enough to be safely shared” A motorcyclist can fit in that 4 foot space for a safe pass, but no car can. However, for a motorist a 1/4 mile back, a cyclist riding that far right is not making it clear that the motorist has to change lanes, or at least encroach into the adjacent lane, to pass safely. In fact, by using that far right positioning, the cyclist is inviting faster traffic to pass him dangerously within the lane.

      By moving further right, he alerts approaching motorists to the need that they to change lanes to pass, so they prepare accordingly.

      • I wrote: By moving further right, he …
        That should have said: By moving further LEFT, the cyclist …

      • Using that logic…
        YOU are not allowing me to safely pass on MY BICYCLE when your 5′ over.
        (I don’t know about your bike, but mine is 2.5′ at it’s widest spot..)

        [2 FOOT WIDE (passing) CYCLIST #2][3 FOOT BUFFER][2 FOOT WIDE CYCLIST #1][5 FEET TO EDGE]

        2′ + 3′ + 2′ + 5′= 12′ (11′ lane only, means I’m 1′ over into the adjacent lane to pass on my bicycle.. LOL
        Oh wait……. So cyclist #2 can NOT pass..
        You’re not sharing the road, now are you?

        IF in that instance, you were only 2′ from the right… That actually gives me room to pass safely…

        [Still 2' left in the lane][2 FOOT WIDE (passing) CYCLIST #2][3 FOOT BUFFER][2 FOOT WIDE CYCLIST #1][2 FEET TO EDGE]

        2′ + 2′ + 3′ + 2′ + 2′ = 11′. Wow… You’ve successfully shared the road!

  33. OK, I’ve had enough of this troll feeding frenzy. Comments are closed.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Streetsblog.net » The Final Push to Preserve an Important Benefit for Transit Riders - [...] on the Network today: Commute Orlando debates the proper place for cyclists to ride in a narrow lane. Los …
  2. Tools, options and doctrine | LAB Reform - [...] An assertive cycling position also helps motorists, making them less likely to make a mistake. [...]
  3. Nothing to fear but fear itself | Commute St. Louis - [...] it works, because you saw me! In fact, I’m doing the driver of your car a favor by giving …
  4. CYCLIST SAFETY: Taking Control of the Lane - Aushiker: Bicycling & Hiking in Western Australia – Aushiker: Bicycling & Hiking in Western Australia - [...] video at Commute Orlando shows the cyclist riding in the middle of the lane on a two way lane …
  5. Faith In Humanity Restored | Commute St. Louis - [...] Without exception, motorists changed lanes to pass us.  (On each ride we demanded this treatment: Our position in the …