Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bike Commuter's Non-Bike-Commuting Wife Tells Cyclist to Take the Lane!

My wife had an interesting story today about her commute home yesterday. My wife drives as she drops off and picks up our kids from day care.

She was driving down Bethel Road and had come to a stop at a location where there was a right-turn-only lane. A cyclist rode up past her, sitting RIGHT ON TOP of the white line between her lane and the right-turn lane. My wife, being sensitive to the issues of cyclists, figured she'd wait to make sure he wasn't going straight through the light instead of turning (as he hadn't really picked a lane).

Then, he moved over into the right turn lane more completely, so my wife then figured that he was indeed turning. And as the light turned and the two cars ahead of her went forward, she started to do so as well. Imagine her surprise when he started to go straight - and attempting to swerve into the lane next to her out of the right-turn lane!

At the next light, my wife pulled up next to him and let him have it with the same advice that most experienced commuter cyclists give most inexperienced ones: TAKE THE LANE!

He complained that was concerned about slowing down traffic, and didn't want to take the whole lane. And my wife then explained to him that she'd rather he slow down traffic and be predictable than he be out of her way but she have no idea what he was going to do!

Folks, I get a few emails now and then asking for advice on how to start out, and the first thing I tell every single cyclist who asks for advice is this:

STOP CARING IF YOU HOLD UP TRAFFIC!

You're slower than cars. You're going to hold up traffic. It's simply going to happen. So do the smart thing, and TAKE THE LANE. Take it just as if you're in a car and be predictable. Sure, you'll piss off a few people because of your speed, but you'll be safer.

And did I mention how proud I am of my wife for telling him to take the lane? :)

People, not speed.

5 comments:

  1. That's a great story :-) I'm working on lane issues with my wife and daughter now. I hope I do as good a job.

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  2. This is one of the hardest things to teach any cyclist. Taking the lane is counterintuitive to many. They believe that being further left makes them more vulnerable, not less. But when a cyclist discovers that motorists will generally pass on his left by about as much room as he has to his right, that sudden dawn of comprehension is amazing. It's the key to safe, comfortable bicycle operation on city streets.

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  3. Knowing your wife, it's a good thing that's all he did. It's also a good thing that you are a biker or it might have gotten ugly to which pictured would have been required.

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  4. I think the fear of taking the lane goes back to the belief that the most dangerous thing that can happen to a cyclist is being rear-ended. And of course, as experienced commuter cyclists know, the most common and dangerous accident is the right-hook, which taking the lane almost totally prevents.

    But yeah, it's certainly hard to understand by many - especially those who worry too much about slowing traffic. Hence, my initial words of advice as witnessed in the post:

    STOP CARING IF YOU HOLD UP TRAFFIC!

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  5. Good for her!!!

    Here's how it's done, properly: http://cycledallas.blogspot.com/2008/10/ride-like-girl.html

    P.S. as a Celtic-Kraut, I've found Lederhosen better for cycling than a kilt. ;-)

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