Middle of the Road

Whenever a person first discovers I bike, they reply with a story. And it’s always the same story.

“I was driving down [insert any road name] when all of the sudden I saw a cyclist in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!” Inevitably it always ends with them saying they “just tapped on their horn” or “squeezed by” or “yelled out to the cyclist.” 

And many many times I’ve been the cyclist in one of these stories- the one sharing the road with a driver that isn’t aware of the basic road rules regarding bikes.

What’s worse is that sometimes reasonable people panic at the sight of a bicycle in the lane… and then all that reason flies out the window.

Middle of the Road

So I wanted to explain it to those who have never biked in the city:

Middle of the Road

And there’s more. Bikes are small, but they still need space. Cars should give cyclists the same amount of space when passing as another vehicle, at least 3 ft. However, not all roads allow for that, particularly in Boston:

Middle of the Road

So don’t panic when you see a bike in your lane. Just treat it like another vehicle. If you can pass safely, that’s fine. If not, most likely you won’t be slowed down much if at all. In the city, I find that car traffic slows me down much more than the other way around.

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89 Comments on "Middle of the Road"

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Invisible Visible Man

There were quite a few people on Clinton Street in Brooklyn this morning who needed this advice…


i ride on the sidewalk. if there’s a person walking, i stop and let them go past me. i live in Austin, one of the most reckless driving cities i’ve ever lived in. you take your chances riding in the street. ps i don’t drive a car, i usually take the bus.

A daily struggle. Actually a cyclist should legally be riding on the road where the tires on the passenger side of a vehicle would be. You have the right to take the lane. I rarely do where I live simply because the majority of drivers are frantic rural drivers in a hurry for something or other. They speed everywhere. In my rural area, many roads don’t even have shoulders, but I am usually forced to ride on the nano patch of road just before it becomes dirt and it can be scary. Cars speed and will pass in a hissy… Read more »

This thread keeps going and going. Let me add some oil to the fire. About half my cycling is in suburbian / rural roads. Cars often drive quite fast and don’t expect anything but other cars or tractors. Especially when the view is not so good (rainy, sunset) I prefer to drive on the far left rather over the far right side, because then I can see the hazard approaching and get of the tar if necessary. (This behaviour is also recommended for pedestrians.)
It really makes drivers outrageously angry. Probably because they don’t expect it.


[…] She was going right down the middle of the street (thanks, bikeyface). […]