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OK, could someone please tell me the rules of the road?(16 posts)

OK, could someone please tell me the rules of the road?Fez
Aug 13, 2002 2:33 PM
AARGH! My ride is supposed to be the best part of my day, but no matter what I do, I get honked at or cut off by mean drivers just about every day.

Could someone please tell me the proper way to ride on the road? Or do I just have to accept these bad drivers?

I ride defensively, yield to pedestrians and traffic, and I hold a steady line about 6 inches inside (left) of the white painted line on the right side of the road.

Some drivers honk, curse, and sometimes pass so closely they almost knock me off the side of the road. Lots of them refuse to wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they can pass with plenty of room. Some want to cut me off regardless.

I have been tempted to ride in the middle of the lane so that they won't cut me off like that, but I'm sure that will cause more problems.

There is no shoulder and this road is 2 lanes total (one lane for each direction). It even has a sign to share the road with bikes and traffic is very light and suburban, but I still have to deal with this.

Incidentally, I have to ride a brief stretch of a fast(50mph) road with 2 lanes in 1 direction road with a huge shoulder, so I ride 6 inches inside the shoulder (to the right of the white line), and I have no problems. WTF?
Advocate your rights!rollo tommassi
Aug 13, 2002 4:33 PM
You can't be alone in your area, so talk to the local LBS and get in contact with other riders. You are being victimised, and part of 'being' a victim is feeling that you are alone.

I'm not sure if taking more of the lane is a good idea; I do it sometimes, but it's a totally subjective thing depending on many variables.

Practice memorising license plates, and call the police.

Drivers are mean, stupid and arrogant.

You have a right to the road, and they have no right to assault you.
Cars ruleKerry
Aug 13, 2002 4:39 PM
You happen to be riding in a bad spot (where ever that is). There are no "rules of the road" to which you can adhere that will solve the "road jerk" problem. Your best bet would be to find better routes. You're not going to be able to educate this particular group of drivers, share the road signs or not.
Does somebody have a link re:cyclists road signals, etc.? (nm)jtferraro
Aug 13, 2002 5:35 PM
re: OK, could someone please tell me the rules of the road?merckxman
Aug 13, 2002 6:10 PM
It is all in the routefiltersweep
Aug 13, 2002 6:20 PM
I don't know where you live or what you have to work with, but I really strive to find a stress free route. I know for a fact that certain roads will result in a very unpleasant ride, so I avoid them- could be road surface, could be traffic, could be amount of traffic control (stop signs, stop lights, etc...).

Ironically, one road that I'm treated most rudely on also has "share the road" signs. I'm just cynical enough to almost believe they only put those signs up after a cyclist gets killed on a particular road- as some sort of remedial action... but I digress.

Do other road bikers use this problematic road? When I'm out and about, I keep an eye out for roadies, then generally assume if I see a bunch on a given road, it is a good route and worth exploring. One road is a great ride on a Sat. or Sun. morning, but I would have a nightmare riding to it during weekday rush hour- so it is part of my weekend route. Another road near me is pretty OK weekdays after 6pm, so I'll ride elsewhere and work my way over to it after traffic dies down. Another road, I'm reluctant to ride west on as the sun sets... you get the idea.

Feel free to flame me for having a few ounces of self-preservation intact, but I'd much rather ride stress-free than have my type-A rage take over if I perceive some injustice cast upon me by a rude motorist. Anger really ruins a good ride, and no matter what someone says, it is almost impossible NOT to be angry when drivers play road games, which they can and do.
It's not about who's right, it's who's dead?js5280
Aug 13, 2002 7:48 PM
And that is pretty much always the cyclist. Here's my condensed rules of the road.

1) Don't impede traffic! If there's no shoulder don't ride there when there is significant traffic. Find another route. If you're stuck, stop, wait for a hole in the traffic, then sprint your balls off. Think of it as interval training ;-)

If you slow traffic, people will harass you guarenteed. I recommend you change your route ASAP.

2) Never assume motorists SEES you. Whenever I come up on an intersection, I watch the eyes of the motorist. If they don't look and track me as I approach, I assume they haven't seen me and prepare escape options immediately. Even if they do track me, some people are in their own little world so always have an escape plan.

3) Follow traffic laws EXCEPT when doing so would puts you in greater danger or would impede traffic. I'll take a chance with the ticket and not my life. This more the exception than the rule and this does not mean however ride like a maniac, always be predictable.

However, IMO it's better to roll through a stop sign and clear the intersection quickly (when no cars are stopped) than stopping and giving someone approaching the intersection a shot at hitting you. It's a timing thing, if you can't clear the intersection then stop. To stop take a foot out of the pedal as you approach and set it down. People usually know you're going to stop this way.

4) Ride like you would drive. It makes you predictable to other drivers and if you're a good driver and stay out of accidents, that strategy should work well on the bike too. If you tend to get in accidents, have poor situational awareness, etc. Stick to the bike path.

We do have things in our favor, we can maneuver faster, stop quicker, and have more reaction time because we travel at a slower speed than a car does. Job number one is to stay out of their line of travel.

5) Don't go through an intersection in the Right Must Turn Lane. Look back to make sure it's clear, take the Right Turn Lane and go to the far left side of that lane/far right of the through lane and go through the intersection.

6) Again, it's not who's right, it's who's dead.

Does that cover the most common accident senarios? (brushed from the side, right/left turn in front, overtaking right turn)

Any others people want to add?
One more thing...KEN2
Aug 13, 2002 8:59 PM
Can't tell from the original post what the speed differential between his bike and traffic or what the lane width is, but he says that traffic is light and suburban. I also note "I hold a steady line about 6 inches inside (left) of the white painted line on the right side of the road." Have you considered riding where the right car tires track, i.e. in the right third of the lane? This prevents cars from brushing by too closely because they're trying to stay inside the yellow line, yet doesn't give the "road hog" message that a slower-moving bicycle can give if riding down the center.

I find this works well if I maintain a decent speed and "look" like I'm purposeful. And for those who honk, I politely but firmly point emphatically to the other (passing) lane with outstretched arm. Depending on lane width, riding only 6" from the outside white line can give the message "I don't really belong here" and encourage brush-bys.
Says in penndot bike manuel ride to rider
Aug 14, 2002 3:04 AM
ride as far right as safely possible Ken2. I believe the same as you that defensive riding is the only way to ride. We have one guy in our club who teaches defensive riding and he commutes to work. I find that he rides about 1 to 2 feet from the white line. He get's yelled at, but rides the same time every day from work (trains his commuters).

I'm doing a 12 hour MTB race with a guy in my mtb club this weekend who had a friend killed two weeks ago down at the shore. Sound like theguy rides like me, close to the right of the road or six inches from the white line. Seems he was near a busy road and a truck clip him with his wide mirror at 60 mph. He crushed his ribs on impact to the guard rail.

Like the other posters say, you got to ride for your safety. Drivers get a free get out of trouble pass. They hit you and kill you, all they have to say is "I didn't see him officer or it was an accident".

My MTB friend wanted to get a road bike, but his wife is will freak out if he rides on the road (starting a family). The guy who got killed left his wife with two kids to raise now. I don't know what the driver got cited, but I bet it wasn't much.

Now I wonder if riding on the burm or shoulder is a smart move either. Defensive riding has save my butt alot of times from accidents. Like everybody says road look different when you ride them at rush hour traffic verses weekend traffic.

One more thing...Fez
Aug 14, 2002 4:58 AM
"Have you considered riding where the right car tires track, i.e. in the right third of the lane? This prevents cars from brushing by too closely because they're trying to stay inside the yellow line, yet doesn't give the "road hog" message that a slower-moving bicycle can give if riding down the center."

Yes, they would have to wait for traffic to clear in the other lane in order to pass, but when they do pass, they might do a real close "brush by" pass anyway.
A balance of you being assertive yet showing politeness.Breakfast
Aug 13, 2002 7:53 PM
It's difficult, I know, but responding to anger with anger is like gasoline on a fire, what you need to do is pretend that you didn't see or hear them and wave them by when they pass with a friendly gesture. It disarms some of them when you make them believe they are right and you are sorry.

I confess I don't practice what I preach and usually flip them off, yell at them, gesture to them to turn around so I can unleash all my pent up anger from all my life's problems on them and put them in a world of pain by kicking their sorry asses. This does no good, of course, and I think I'll only finally get my revenge when one of them passes me before a gnarly sharp curve at a high speed and they roll over crashing their brains out.
OK, rules of the road....Steve_0
Aug 14, 2002 3:20 AM
you didnt specify where youre from, but MOST states and municipalities have laws which allow bicycles equal share of the road, BUT ALSO require bicycles to stay as far to the right as practical.

This is considered 'sharing', and I feel it's fair, considering youre traveling 15-25mph on a 50 mph road. In most jurisdictions, someone traveling 15-25mph in a 50 mph zone in an automobile would be cited for impeding traffic.

When youre riding 6 inches to the left, is that as far as practical? If not, you could be considered impeding traffic. Doesnt mean others are right to curse, cut you off, or place you in danger; but YOU could be equally to blame if youre violating law and/or impeding traffic.

Things are difft (I feel) in an urban environment where a bicycle CAN, and does, keep with the flow of traffic.

(For the record, in many circumstances, I ride to the left of the line, as I've found I often get a wider berth when doing so. This is only done when there's no oncoming traffic).
OK, rules of the road....Fez
Aug 14, 2002 4:44 AM
"When youre riding 6 inches to the left, is that as far as practical?"

Yes. I think I said in the original post that there was no shoulder.

The road says share the road with bicycles, but some drivers will honk loudly and NOT even go slightly left in order to pass me. They just stay in the lane and nearly clip me, even if there is no oncoming traffic. It seems as though a lot of drivers are put off by the inconvenience of seeing a bike and having to pass with courtesy.
I think that riding too timidly is bad.Spoke Wrench
Aug 14, 2002 5:48 AM
If you leave "just enough room" the drivers who don't have a clue will think that you are inviting them to pass even in the face of oncoming traffic. They actually think they are doing what you expect them to do.

If you ride too timidly, the jerks percieve you as a bike rider who is easily intimidated and are more likely to harrass you.

If you ride a couple of feet into the traffic lane, you leave yourself a choice. You can ease to the right when it's safe to pass, most drivers will recognize this as a friendly gesture. If someone tries to pass you too closely, you can ease to the right to give yourself a little more room.

You really don't have anything to lose. If somebody is so distracted that they don't see you and are going to hit you from behind, they're going to get you on the edge of the road too.

Oh yeah - and you'll also get fewer flat tires since you aren't riding in the road trash.
some linksDougSloan
Aug 14, 2002 5:57 AM
The first and most important rule is......Turtleherder
Aug 14, 2002 7:25 AM
Don't get yourself killed. Maybe you should look for another route. I stay a long way away from the busy roads and will go out of my way to stay on less congested streets or roads. Sometimes as riders we get tunnel vision when it comes to what roads we use, look around there may be an alternative.