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passing stopped line of cars on outside and whitelining(20 posts)

passing stopped line of cars on outside and whiteliningMJ
Dec 9, 2002 9:32 AM
is a topic that always splits the board as per GileyD's post re how driver's see cyclists

I always pass stationary traffic - it's one of the reasons I cycle - so I don't have to wait in traffic with a line of cars

where I live whitelining and passing stopped traffic on the outside is legal, normal and expected - cyclists, scooters and motorcyclists all take advantage of the two wheels good rule

without too much mudslinging can people explain why they think the practice is safe/not safe - if it's legal/illegal where they live - if it's normal riding practice / or never seen where you live

I think it's interesting as it means that if I ever come riding in your neck of the woods (where whitelining and passing stationary traffic is frowned upon) I may be breaking the law, riding dangerously, pissing people off and alienating fellow riders - whereas if "non-practicing" riders came to where I live they'd never ever get anywhere and would undoubtedly stop cycling - they'd also probably be terrified until they got the hang of things...
Most everybody I see in CT does what you do.dzrider
Dec 9, 2002 9:41 AM
I don't pass moving cars and I don't get on the sidewalk, but I do pass cars waiting at lights. I don't recall seeing riders wait at the back of a line of cars, but maybe some do.
Most everybody I see in CT does what you do.MJ
Dec 9, 2002 9:51 AM
I discussed this last week with some fellow urban riders - there were varying approaches

most agreed that you can continue whitelining (riding down the middle) until the speed of the cars exceeds your ability to pass (one said 5mph was tops for his whitelining) - all agreed you can always ride curbside of cars at any speed which deemed to be safe

all agreed riding on sidewalks (pavement here) is exclusively for children and low level criminals

BTW - car drivers expect and allow for this type of riding - it goes with the urban driver territory
Just an FYI on that.....Nigey
Dec 9, 2002 1:52 PM
You should check your local town laws. At least in Mass. many towns consider riding on sidewalks to be legally permittable.
safety firstmohair_chair
Dec 9, 2002 9:51 AM
Passing cars on the right is what I call the "inside." That is totally legal in California (it's called lane-splitting), and I will always do it if the cars are stopped and it is safe to do (i.e., there is room). There are reasons I won't, such as if it is a freeway on-ramp or other situation where a large percent of the drivers are actively turning right. If the light changes to green while I am riding up the inside I will stop my forward progress and coordinate with the cars.

I really don't care if drivers (or other cyclists) get pissed off about this move. Nothing about what I am doing hinders anyone in any way, so it is not my problem if they get upset. There is no time lost. There is no hardship incurred. Get over it. What I do care about is my own safety, which requires that drivers see me. Riding up to the front of the line ensures that I will be seen, but I'm still not in their way. I also recognize that drivers may not see me as I am making this move, so the situation must allow it.

When making a left turn, the same rules apply.

I try to never ride on the outside of cars, which basically means in traffic. The only time I will do this is if a line of cars is stopped, most or all of them waiting to turn right. If I can get to the outside of this line, I will, so I don't get squashed by people not expecting me to be there. If I can't get outside, I wait my turn in line until I can get to the outside. It's all about safety.
safety is goodMJ
Dec 9, 2002 9:56 AM
all your comments seem pretty sensible - I guess what is safe is determined by the type of roads and traffic you encounter

i.e. one rule (passing on the outside is always wrong and dangerous) can't be applied to all situations
My General RulePsyDoc
Dec 9, 2002 10:18 AM
If there are two or three cars at a stop light, then I pull-up right behind the last car thereby becoming the third or fourth "car." Anymore cars than that and I will pass them alongside and go to the front. My rationale is that I can safely get across the intersection fast enough as a third or fourth "car" and not anger the drivers behind me. Anymore than that and I feel some road raging idiot might decide that I am making him or her 10-15 seconds late for their meeting/lunch date/movie/etc. and they may do something about it.
that's what i do alsorufus
Dec 9, 2002 10:28 AM
if making a left turn and traffic is backed up, i'll move into the center of the lane and take a spot, just as if i was a car. if i'm in the lane going straight through, and traffic is backed up forever, i'll cruise along the inside until i get to the front.

in the previous poster's situation at a construction site, it depends. if there was no room on the inside, i'd take my spot in the lane. if there was room, i'd ride to the front along the inside.

in no situation whatsover would i pass a line of cars on the driver's side, unless they were stopped at a light going straight through, and i was in the lane turning left.
Same for me in NJ...biknben
Dec 9, 2002 10:34 AM
I get to the front and make myself visible.

Exceptions would be unless there wasn't enough room. Also, if the road is narrow and cars are having trouble getting by me, I may wait behind a couple cars, assuming I'll make it through the light anyway. I don't want to piss anyone off by making them have to work their way around me again.
Related question.eyebob
Dec 9, 2002 11:10 AM
Here in So. New Hampshire there are several areas where I ride where a busy/wide street (2 lanes or more wide) have "T" intersections. the main road continues straight but there is a lighted intersection where another street (usually fairly large/busy too) comes into it at a right angle. NOw, I'm on the main road in the shoulder, there is a red light so that my road (if I were driving a car) would have to stop and there are cars entering from the other road. Should I stop at the light even though I impede no one by continuing through the light by staying on the shoulder? The entering traffic can safely turn onto my road (assuming that they don't need to go so wide as to enter the shoulder.)

Dec 9, 2002 11:30 AM
As to the legality, I think it all depends on your local laws. There are intersections like that where I live, and some of them have the limit line (the white line cars have to stop at) extended across the bike lane or shoulder, and some don't. The ones that don't have the limit line in the bike lane do not require a stop as far as I am concerned. If I ever get a citation doing this, I'll definitely fight it, because I think the vehicle code would be on my side (it says you must stop at the limit line, but there is no limit line!). My theory is that it doesn't take much more time or money to extend the limit line, so if they chose not to, they did so for a reason, and that reason is that there is no reason to require the bike lane to stop. Truth be told, I sometimes blow through the ones that have limit lines, too, especially one I hit on every ride that is at the top of a hill.
Ah yes, the limit line defense. I'll have to remember that one.eyebob
Dec 10, 2002 8:10 AM
I think you are completely wrong.Uncle Tim
Dec 9, 2002 12:27 PM
Bicycles are a serious alternative means of transportation that deserves to be taken very seriously. That means that bicycles must be considered equal to, but not superior to, all other forms of transportation. If cyclists just simply make up their own rules as they go along, the drivers who hate sharing the roads with them will have more fodder for their attacks on us.

Safety is a prime consideration. When you pass a stopped line of cars on the right, you never know what they will do once they get moving. Heck, one of them could very easily take a quick right turn right into an alley or driveway just as you are sneaking silently by on the right. They don't expect you to be there.

White-lining down the center, whether it's a two-lane or a 4-lane road is dangerous, too. Those cars will start moving eventually and when they do, you are almost certain to find yourself in a bad position. They drivers aren't likely to want to accomodate a selfish cyclist who flaunts the law. And, once you pass all of the cars and get to the light, what will you do once you get there? Stop in front of the line and wait for the light to change, forcing all of the drivers to pass you yet again?

It's just bad form and it's dangerous. Don't make a car pass you twice. Drivers will never respect cyclists if we continue to act so selfishly.

Cyclists are traffic, too. When we do things like stop at stoplights and waiting in line at interesections, we send a very clear and strong signal to the motorists around us. We are telling them that we know what we are doing and that we respect them. 99.5% of the motorists will recognize that.

When we start cutting corners in the way you've described, white-lining and such, the drivers that pass you 55 seconds later will have little, if any, respect for you.
so you're saying....rufus
Dec 9, 2002 2:31 PM
that if traffic is backed up at a light for a mile(which often happens where i live) you would just park your bike in the middle of the line, and play stop and go for the next half hour until you make it through the light? and then do it all over again at the next one? you might as well be in your car.
I think you are completely wrong.MJ
Dec 10, 2002 12:12 AM
your approach would not work where I live - as mentioned above (and previously) the riding behaviour I've outlined above is not illegal and is expected by drivers and cyclists here - it's not selfish and it's not flaunting the law (nor is spelling tyre, colour and organise differently)

FWIW - cars rarely if ever pass me on a commute average traffic speed here is less than 7mph (and is often considerably slower) - and when they do pass me I don't get upset about having to pass them again - why should they? it's hardly something to get angry about

I do agree safety is key - clearly the London approach would not work where you ride - as yours would undoubtedly fail miserably here - BTW I'm only assuming how you ride as you've only been critical of my post (I believe unfairly)

where do you live? it's interesting to know things are different where you are

have you ever ridden in heavy urban traffic? and do you think riding style must be changed by traffic conditions - or does one approach always work...
This postEager Beagle
Dec 10, 2002 2:52 AM
says far more about the way you drive, than about how other people should ride.

Oddly, some people are good enought riders to be able to make a judgement about whether it's safe to overtake a line of stationary cars. Some can even make judgements about moving cars. Like, if there is no turning, they aren't going to turn into it. You can watch the car wheels - if they are pointing forward, they car will go forward, not sideways. You can watch the driver's wheel throught the glass. Qualified advanced riders - police for instance - use these techniques all the time.

Your standard of riding and driving may be different. That doesn't mean that other people aren't perfectly capable of making a judgement about the extremely difficult task of passing a stationary vehicle on a bike.
It's simple for me......Nigey
Dec 9, 2002 1:34 PM
I do what I judge to be the safest -regardless of traffic laws; I'd rather be alive than dead legally correct. Personally, I'm not keen on passing on the drivers side of cars -though I'll cautiously do it on the inside if I have enough space (looking of course for people getting out of their cars). I think it's a case of what people judge for themselves to be safe -though if you ask me, it sounds a bit iffy judging by the previous poster's need to have to "sprint" once the lights changed.

I know it's bad to say, but in Massachusetts, I sometimes will illegally blow off traffic lights if nothing is coming (after obvious careful checking) -I figure it saves me the potential problem of someone broadsiding me once the lights change and they're trying to take a right since they were in too much of a hurry and weren't paying attention (cor blimey, that's not likely to happen in the Boston area surely???). Out of interest, I'd never do that in the UK, Ireland, Holland or Germany etc. I think you have to think for yourself and adapt, and ride the safest way possible.

One last point -I don't necessarily hold much credence in the "obey all the road rules to get respect from car drivers" argument. Since where I live I see car drivers break the law routinely -I can absolutely be guaranteed to minimally see one automobile (sometimes police cars as well) infraction every day on my way to work! At least for where I live, I really can't see the average motorist thinking "wow, I really respect that cyclist for obeying the road rules!". I think that's a bit of wishful thinking.
I generally try to follow traffic law, however....joekm
Dec 9, 2002 1:46 PM
Realizing that:

1) I don't have the speed or acceleration of anything else on the road.

2) To most motorist, I am invisible.

I will "bend the rules" if it either gets me out of traffic's way or makes me easier to see. So, I will pull up to an intersection on the shoulder if makes me more visible. In that case, I will usually let the traffic clear when the light changes before I take off myself. However, if the line of cars is very long and there are multiple lanes, turnoffs, convenience stores, etc., then getting to the intersection in the first place could be dangerous since you truly are invisible until you get there.

This very situation occurs during the morning rush on my only bicycle commute path to work. Cars often drive for extended periods on the shoulder looking for a right turn about a half mile up the road. Given the undulations in the road and the blind turns, someday a cyclist is going to get obliterated.
re: passing stopped line of cars on outside and whiteliningScot_Gore
Dec 9, 2002 2:32 PM
Where I live, I think what you call "whitelining" would be illegal.

Where I live there's a law written specifically for bikes that requires us to right as far right as practical (I'm in the USA so that's the shoulder) There's a law called lane splitting that allows two vehicles to occupy the same lane, but the "ride to right law" would require that the "outside" vehicle would always be a bike.

A couple of things of note.
1) I almost never ride in the core downtown area. An area where I can keep up with traffic throghout it's flow might change my behavior.
2) I live in a place that gets lots of snow. One of the side effects is almost every road (even sleepy rural county roads) has several inches of shoulder. They need someplace to pile it up in the winter. I almost always have a lane to the right and I'm seldom squeezed out and forced into a traffic lane.
3) I try to hold my line and be consistent. I don't move back and forth between claiming the lane and riding to the right. If cars can "lane split" and pass me on the left when they are traveling at speed, I expect it. If I can "lane split" and pass them on the right when I'm at speed, they expect it. I think I look inconsistent and unpredictable if I'm sometimes riding right and sometimes claiming the lane. IMHO, apparent inconsistent riding is dangerous.

my two cents and no mudslinging intended.

re: passing stopped line of cars on outside and whiteliningcrna
Dec 9, 2002 3:59 PM
i feel that if the cars feel it is safe to pass me when they have the ability to do so, it would be inconsistent to expect me not to pass them. i run into this situation on my commute home and have never had a problem, but i do reduce my speed and ride much more defensively