Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bike Lane Riding

(And riding right of the fog stripe)

A question/comment/complaint I frequently hear from the Motoring Public is... "Why do you bike riders have to straddle the stripe for your precious bike lane, rather than riding over on the far right?"

That's a valid question, I s'pose.

I don't try to ride on top of the stripe, but when there's a stripe I ride just barely to the right of it, close to the motor lane.

Here's why, roughly in order of significance.

1) VISIBILITY I have this theory. I'm much less likely to get hit by a motorist who sees me, than by a motorist who does NOT see me, all other things being equal. And I believe that a cyclist is more visible and less likely to blend in with the background, when he's kinda out there in traffic.

2) DEBRIS AND OBSTACLES The closer you get to the gutter-pan, the more junk you'll typically encounter. It gets blown over there by motor traffic that blasts by. Where it joins with dirt, goatheads, etc., that encroach from the side of the road. Pay attention; I think you'll agree.

3) "PROTECT THE STRIPE" I believe in this area, the maintenance people typically repaint the stripes twice a year. Even with that fairly ambitious schedule, it's amazing how quickly those stripes are eroded to an invisible state, but the motor-yokels who fancy themselves as Dale Junior and drift over it at every bend in the road. (At least I'm acknowledging the stripe!)

4) SLIPSTREAMING (Speaking of Dale Junior!) When a large vehicle passes me in the same direction as I'm traveling, I get a little "push" from all that air they're pushing along with their $4 gas. Sweeeet!


Apertome said...

Agreed. Some bike lanes around here have so much debris in them I have to ride in the main lane, even though there's a bike lane right there. I'm sure it drives motorists nuts, but I'm not going to endanger myself just because there's a stripe on the road.

I think we'd be better off without the stripe.

misc. said...

And don't forget... when travelling in a bike lane adjacent to parked cars, riding the stripe keeps you from getting 'doored' by someone exiting a vehicle.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Non-stacked motorcyclists in the right lane ride toward the center line. This provides better visibility by oncoming traffic, cars in your own lane, and cars merging into traffic from the right. It also gives you more room to avoid a collision. It also provides more warning when a dog/deer/skunk/minivan meanders thoughtlessly into the road. Think about that "Look. Look. Then Look Again." motorcycle safety commercial where the bike slams into the side of the sedan (Incidentally, I hate that commercial because the motorcyclist was doing everything wrong.)

(In reality, I position myself in the lane on a motorcycle depending on hazards, but I spend the bulk of my saddle time left of the center of my lane.) A bicyclist is subject to many of he same hazards as a motorcyclist and can mitigate these hazards by using his lane wisely.

Anonymous said...

4) SLIPSTREAMING (Speaking of Dale Junior!) When a large vehicle passes me in the same direction as I'm traveling, I get a little "push" from all that air they're pushing along with their $4 gas. Sweeeet!

Not to mention that when a gravel truck passes you in either direction, you get a free exfoliation.

Bikeboy said...

GREAT and well-seasoned comments all! THANK YOU! I like the "exfoliation" - boy howdy, when a truck goes by with an open load of sand, you can feel the burn!!

Anonymous said...

There are worse things than sand. A few years back, I was cruising down the highway on the motorsickle on a beautiful Boise summer day. 100 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. Then I noticed that my visor was getting speckled with water. I opened my visor, and sure enough, my face got wet, too.

I crossed the center line to look around the car in front of me, and sure enough, 2 cars ahead a truck was towing a trailer carrying porta-potties.

Bikeboy said...

Scott... that is SO BAD!!!!

Clancy said...

My bike lane was littered with some broken glass, sand and stuff. I called ACHD to ask about a sweeping when they had a chance. I dodged that glass for another month.

Anonymous said...

When I ride in a bike lane I like to stay about half way between the center of the lane and the white stripe for many of the reasons that Bikeboy mentions.

Occasionally after vehicles pass I notice that they seem to make an intentional move toward the stripe, sometimes even going over it. I don't know if they are trying to send me a message or if it is just my imagination.