Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Where we all belong

Yesterday afternoon, I was bicycling on Orchard Street. (For those not familiar, it's a 4-lane, 30 mph arterial road that has substandard-width lanes... a 4-lane road where there's only room for a 2 or 3-lane road.)

Bicycles aren't abundant on Orchard; it's just not very comfortable. Some folks try the sidewalks, but they aren't uniform... there are places where sidewalks don't exist, and many places where there's a curb instead of a ramp, making it hard to get on or off.

I ride on Orchard regularly, because the street I live on is just off Orchard.

I'm not afraid to "take the lane" when I feel it's prudent for my safety.

By "taking the lane," I mean riding out in the lane far enough that overtaking vehicles will have to change lanes to go by. Rather than trying to squeeze past me while going 30mph, in the same lane. I just don't have that much confidence in other roadway users. Now and then somebody honks, or guns his big pickup-truck motor menacingly. But well over 90% of motorists have no problem with the practice. And even the idiots don't run me down!

Anyway... as I was braving Orchard yesterday, I had a conversation with a motorist regarding the practice.

I was at a red light, and a young guy came up next to me in a Jeep.

He said something like, "I ride a bike, too. And I'm wondering why some of you guys ride way out in the lane, so other road users have to change lanes to go around."

If he was a transportation cyclist, riding in places like Orchard Street, I'm thinking he wouldn't have to ask. I'm assuming he rides his mountain bike offroad, or rides on the Greenbelt bike/pedestrian path. Whole different dynamics.

I told him I ride where I feel I'm the safest.

He said "Good luck with that."

I don't want to count on luck. And nobody will convince me I'm at a bigger risk to get run down from behind, than to get hit by somebody who thinks they can squeeze by.

(Dwight's "riding in the roadway" ticket is still pending, last I heard. Going through the "speedy trial" gyrations.)


Jamie said...

Amusing... it sounds to me like your driving friend answered his own question. "Because then you have to change lanes to pass me!"

Pretty simple.

Bob T said...

I also take the lane on roads similar to Orchard and have found that this virtually eliminates close passes.

It also helps to have a mirror and to make oneself as conspicuous as possible.

Jamie said...

It all comes down to being visible and predictable. That's the safest way to ride.

Bikeboy said...

It's great to be among like-minded folks who understand the problem, and the best solution! Yep - visible and predictable fare best. (And I've had the helmet mirror for so long that it's essential equipment.)

Marrock said...

According to the link, the ticket was dismissed.

bob t said...

Marrock, the ticket dismissal posting is actually referring to a different incident involving a cyclist in Florida. Dwight's trial date has been set for April 30th.

Bikeboy, I also use a helmet mirror and it's become so second nature that when I'm not riding and want to see behind me I find myself glancing at were the mirror is usually located.