Not a Sideshow

I’ve been taking the lane more and more. In the beginning I was timid and concerned with being polite. However there are drivers who think- no matter what- bikes should be as far to the right as possible. No matter the door zone, pothole, debris, or gutter situation. They’re always eager to push bikes further off to the margins of the road. There have been many moments like this:

The Sideshow

Which frequently resulted in large vehicles squeezing by me with mere inches to spare. But enough was enough- I got tired of being a sideshow act on the road. I take the full lane and stay safe. Of course that doesn’t stop the honking.

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  • Phil February 9, 2012   Reply →

    Having been run down by a Volvo (I thought Volvo drivers, like Subaru and Saab drivers, were somehow more in-tune with outdoors activity and the people who engage in them…..what a dolt I was!) complete with cracked skull, ripped off eyelash and ruined bike, I’m telling ya that “take the lane” is a crock of pucky. I stay to the right, frequently look over my shoulder, pull over and wait at stop signs when there’s a line of cars behind me, etc… Is that all fair? No. Do I feel safer? Absolutely. And I STILL feel infinitely more smug that the smug little Prius drivers.

    • John February 10, 2012  

      I’m sorry to hear about that. I hope the motorist was held responsible.

    • Petter February 17, 2012  

      I’m not sure what you mean by the expression “take the lane” but I suppose it means taking the entire width of a lane made for cars?

      Anyways a fellow biker told me about something called he called unconcious sense of symmetry.
      When you bike at the right side anyone passing you will (unconciously most likely) think that your distance from the absolute edge of the road is a good distance to pass you as well. The further out you drive the closer cars will pass you.
      Been experimenting with it a bit myself and worked out well so far. Usually keep somewhere between ½ and 1 meter on my right side and the cars that pass do the same on the left :)

    • John February 17, 2012  

      I agree with that symmetry thing, Petter. (Although I think you meant “the further out you drive the FURTHER AWAY cars will pass you”, not “closer”.) I remember hearing that advice in my early days and seeing it work as well.

      My theory is that most drivers, motorists and bicyclists alike, want to keep themselves centered in their space, so for any other vehicle they see, they subconsciously place that driver in the center of his or her space, consequently extending that vehicle’s space equally on both sides. (Except of course the ones that just don’t think bicyclists should be there in the first place, but they are the minority.)

      Yes, the expression “take the lane” means controlling the entire width of the travel lane, by riding close to the center of it. I need to stress that it is NOT the “car lane”, it is the “travel lane”. Bicyclists are allowed to use any travel lane where not prohibited by signs (such as interstate highways), subject in some states to restrictions if a bike lane or sidepath is present. But lacking those facilities, all 50 states give bicyclists use of the TRAVEL lane, and in most states, use of the FULL travel lane when it is too narrow to share side-by-side or if other conditions warrant it.

    • Ethan Fleming April 12, 2012  

      Actually I believe that the more expensive the car is the more dangerous the driver is.

  • gorgopanta February 15, 2012   Reply →

    Don´t let it be. Cyclist have the same rigth to use the road.

    • David February 15, 2012  


  • Patrick April 24, 2012   Reply →

    This is totally true. I find myself riding on a road, with no bike lane, with only 2 ft of space in-between the parked cars and roaring traffic. People will always wedge around you and force you into a side mirror or two. People are stupid at times and wont be considerate of your life and safety. I say take the lane and make them wait!

    • David April 24, 2012  

      That’s the way to do it Patrick. Make em wait.

  • Ruth February 8, 2013   Reply →

    Claim the lane!!! Be deaf to their honking! (They claim that they can’t see you, anyway). Smile at them when they cuss at you!

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