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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    How Far To Ride From Curb

    Just read a blog post on cyclingtipsblog.com about being buzz by a car and what is the safest distance to ride from a curb. It is a topic that is often brought up in this forum, so I thought I would share. It is well written and researched.

    How far from the curb should you ride? | Cycling Tips

    If you have 5 mins read the post and share your thoughts.

  2. #2
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    I recently rode with a friend who I havent been on a ride with in a while. After getting warmed up after a few miles I noticed he would literally hug the white line even when the white line was the edge of the road. I've never had so many close passes on a ride than that one. After the 4th, I had to urge him to actually ride where the tire does. He is constantly coming up with stories of close passes so I have to assume that is the reason as I never really have problems at all.

  3. #3
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    If I don't have a way out, the lane is mine. As soon as I can safely move over, I will. I have been buzzed way too many times to care because people get in a hurry and try to squeeze by. Every time that I have put myself in the lane, I was passed as if I were an automobile. Simple enough...

  4. #4
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    I'm still amazed that people won't wait 30 seconds for a clear pass, and just gun it to get around me and swing back in to avoid oncoming traffic. Drivers have zero patience.

  5. #5
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    I think it's the wrong way to ask the question. First question should be whether you're going to "take the lane." If there's not room for vehicles to pass safely without crossing into the left lane (when I'm riding as far to the right as I safely can), then I will usually be in the center of the lane, or a little left of center, forcing overtaking cars to wait for a spot where they can move into the next lane to pass.

    If there is sufficient passing room when I'm to the right, then I ride as far right as I safely can, taking into consideration pavement conditions, debris near the curb, drainage grates, etc.

    Some roads don't offer either choice safely: they are too narrow for the pass, but traffic is too heavy and fast to reasonably take the lane. I try to avoid those stretches if possible, but if I can't, I ride as far right as possible, and take extra care.

    I find that use of a mirror helps enormously with these tactics, allowing me not only know what's coming, but to communicate with overtaking drivers (e.g., signalling for them to go around when it's safe, or conversly indicating not to pass when I can see oncoming traffic that they can't see). Being highly visible (brightly colored clothes, lights) is important, too.

    So the question should be, are you taking the lane, or not? If you're not, ride as far right as conditions allow.
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  6. #6
    Cowboy up
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    Riding in the door zone is dangerous. Sometimes the bike lane is in the door zone or people park cars in the bike lane.



    Note how many of the recommendations are to ride further left.

    http://bicyclesafe.com/

    Last edited by Art853; 05-29-2013 at 01:37 PM.

  7. #7
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    Straight from the California Vehicle Code:


    21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride 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 conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. (4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. (b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.
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  8. #8
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    I have problems with the California phrasing, which is not typical state to state, with many states considering the "lane of traffic" to be the lane you can ride in.

    One issue I have is that riding as far to the edge of the roadway as conditions allows, sometimes places the cyclist in no-man's-land, in terms of how a motorist perceives the cyclist and is as such bad advice. Part of the concept of being "visible" is not just the clothing you wear or whether or not you have blinking lights, but also your location on the road. Once you place yourself over near the curb/edge of road, you become out-of-sight, out-of-mind with overtaking motorists. They then immediately forget about you and do nothing to moderate speed or location on the road. The closer you are to the traffic lane, the more likely a motorist will take some form of action to account for your presence, even if they move towards the center of the lane slightly.

    As well, riding nearest the curb forces you to deal with obstructions, debris, storm drains, etc... by moving towards the road, often time in a manner that appears to be a "swerve". That's dangerous.

    When I have a decent shoulder, I will use it but will position myself with my handlebar about 6" off the white line. I can readily deal with debris, grates, etc... without swerving and I'm basically making a statement of "I'm on the shoulder but may move into the lane".

    As to the link, it seemed to miss one very important issue, or didn't deal with it in general and that's "is this an appropriate road to commute on ". We here in the USA are somewhat luckier I suspect, in that the road infrastructure, being more recently built, is seemingly roomier and tend to have better shoulders. We also have less population density then those in European countries, so once away from the major urban area's have fewer cars to deal with. The flip side is the motorists in the US HATE cyclists and consider bikes on the roadway to be an affront to their God given right to drive when and how they please. I'm lucky though, while living in the NYC area, to pretty much not have to commute on a road as seen in the video of a near miss. I commute 25 miles one-way from Long Island to Brooklyn and never use roads as in the video. My commute is probably 3 miles longer overall as a result, but worth it. And that's more then half the battle, staying off the busiest routes. Not everybody can but if I had to use that road (from the video) for any length of my commute longer then maybe a mile, I'd re-consider the idea, or drive part way and find a another route.

    As to taking the lane ?. When I have to I will. If I have to pass a car parked in and blocking the bike lane (that NEVER happens on NYC, LOL), I move to the middle of the car lane until I'm around the obstruction. Give them no opportunity to buzz you, is my motto.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LBCGoat View Post
    Straight from the California Vehicle Code:


    21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride 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 conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. (4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. (b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.
    I ride as far to the right as practicable, and that is in the area swept clean by the motorized passenger side tires.

    To the left of that puts me in the center of the lane and I don't like it there because that's where the engine compartment of the automotive traffic is, and there can be an accumulation of oil from the thousands of cars and trucks with minor oil leaks.

    And to the right of that puts me at the gutter/shoulder of the road where all the flat causing debris is.

    And thirdly, riding there leaves me enough room to maneuver if someone wants to crowd me.

    And that my friends, is practicable.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
    I have problems with the California phrasing, which is not typical state to state...
    Oh I agree. I'm more of a 'spirit of the law' kind of guy rather than 'letter of the law'. It's a good starting point, with the majority of the decision being made at the moment based on road conditions, traffic patterns, time of day, weather, etc. Too many variables.

    Here in Long Beach, when possible I choose routes with bike lanes. Barring that, I claim the full lane on side streets, and the right-most lane on major arterial streets. I get buzzed or honked at every now and then, but I've actually found the bulk of drivers in my community seem to respect cyclists.

    I wonder if I'd be treated differently if I were on a $5K madone and decked out in full team spandex regalia.

  11. #11
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    Check your local laws. In Texas (summarizing in layman's terms and disclaimer that I am not a lawyer): If the lane is less than 14 feet wide, a bicyclist may ride anywhere in the lane. The law uses the term "as near to the curb as practicable" but that can be widely interpreted and many cycling advocacy groups recommend riding in the left part of the lane so that cars cannot attempt passing without changing lanes.

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  12. #12
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    If there isn't much of a lane to ride in right of the white line I take the lane. There is very few things worse then getting smashed between a car and a curb. Don't worry about cars honking or cursing you etc, you have the legal right to take the lane if there is no other safe way.

    More and more communities are passing the 3' law too, but their not enforcing it like they should, hopefully that will change in the near future.

    By and large most motorists do respect cyclists, but there are a few who ruin it. If you want more motorists to respect you then you need to treat them with respect to by not running stop signs or lights, waving them through a stop sign if both of you arrive at the same time, don't weave between cars, or cut across their bow, just think about ways to be courteous and not some elitist mentality that you own the road and faulk the motorists like I see so many cyclists behave like.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk98yvozq1g
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvk63...eature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=p92Stnnigjs
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by froze View Post
    More and more communities are passing the 3' law too, but their not enforcing it like they should, hopefully that will change in the near future.

    By and large most motorists do respect cyclists, but there are a few who ruin it. If you want more motorists to respect you then you need to treat them with respect to by not running stop signs or lights, waving them through a stop sign if both of you arrive at the same time, don't weave between cars, or cut across their bow, just think about ways to be courteous and not some elitist mentality that you own the road and faulk the motorists like I see so many cyclists behave like.
    The NY State Legislature can be so goddamned dumb sometimes. The NY law about safe passing, enacted a few years ago, did not include a 3ft rule. Seems that the chiefs of police that were polled indicated they had no way to enforce a 3ft rule. Thus it is simply a "leave safe passing room" law. Sigh.

    Then there was this incident in Portland, Maine that had a cyclist nearly run off the road, where he was legally allowed, signage included. He caught some of the resulting confrontation on his cell camera. It's gone viral.

    https://www.facebook.com/BoycottAtla...ocation=stream

    WGME 13 - News - Bicyclist claims TV personality tried to run his bicycle off the road

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
    The NY State Legislature can be so goddamned dumb sometimes. The NY law about safe passing, enacted a few years ago, did not include a 3ft rule. Seems that the chiefs of police that were polled indicated they had no way to enforce a 3ft rule. Thus it is simply a "leave safe passing room" law. Sigh.

    Then there was this incident in Portland, Maine that had a cyclist nearly run off the road, where he was legally allowed, signage included. He caught some of the resulting confrontation on his cell camera. It's gone viral.

    https://www.facebook.com/BoycottAtla...ocation=stream

    WGME 13 - News - Bicyclist claims TV personality tried to run his bicycle off the road
    You're always going to have law breakers, people who don't give a damn. I was promoting the 3' law thing where I live for two years, not sure if I had anything to do with it getting legalized in my county, but they never promoted it, they never publicised it, I don't even think a lot of cops know about it! I've had cops pass me within a foot of me since this law came into my knowledge. I only found it had passed when I was a city government web site! No TV, radio, or newspaper news about it, no signage anywhere to alert people, nothing, and definitely no enforcement. So until our city gets serious about it most people won't care not alone know about it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk98yvozq1g
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvk63...eature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=p92Stnnigjs
    "They don't do things that way anymore. This is the Age of Science Know-How, electronal marvels."

  15. #15
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    the California statute actually is pretty typical. As far to the right as practicable with exceptions. the most important is when the lane is not sufficiently wide as to permit a car to pass safely while sharing the lane. In my area, this is pretty much every road.

    practicable is not defined here in Illinois. so I did some additional research and found the same word used one other time. In Illinois a motor vehicle on an unmarked road is required to keep as close to the right side of the road as "practicable. When I look at the tire groves in the unmarked roads around here that seems to be about 3 feet from the side. that's where I ride, and it does force cars to go over the line to pass me.

    I have found as froze says that few officers are aware of the 3 foot law we have in Illinois. I reported a state patrol man a couple of weeks ago. May not do any good, but they have to have a record.

  16. #16
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    It really kinda bums me out when people post these videos. The cyclists are generally at fault... but they act as if the world is against cyclists.

    That was a busy and fast multi-lane street with no berm. If the cyclist wasn't skilled enough to keep up with the traffic he/she should find a different route and practice until they can. If the cyclist had to use that road for a brief period.... he/she should take the lane... and ride like hell.

    The cyclist was wrong... and the motorist was also wrong. But the cyclist was wrong TWICE... because posting that video was wrong as well. Of course the cyclist got buzzed! It was nothing less than a setup.
    If I didn't bicycle when the weather is bad... I wouldn't be a cyclist. I'd just be another old fat man... with a bicycle hanging in his garage.

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  17. #17
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    Dave I agree with you to an extent. If the road has heavy traffic I would try to find an alternative route. However if there is no alternative route, then you just do the best you can regardless of the speed you are able to ride. Keeping up with traffic is a nice concept, but not a legitimate point for assessing blame should there be an accident. Being slow is also not a valid excuse for a driver in a motor vehicle to place a cyclist in danger.

    We all have an equal right to the road and other than the interstate, there is no minimum speed limit. So if avoidance does not work, then just ride safe taking the lane if possible.

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