Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just take the lane.

A few things combined prompted this.

  1. Dave Moulton had a nice rant.
  2. St. Charles county wants to ban bicycles on certain roads.
  3. People want to debate about bikes on roads and where they should ride.
  4. I posted about "Gutter Bunnies" on
  5. Someone in Johnson County got injured badly by riding into an under-construction gutter seam.
  6. Eric points out this awesome animation about the perils of a shy, cowardly curb-hugger vs. a savvy, confident cyclist.
Click the links. I don't have a lot to add here, other than to say that I generally ride my bike about where a car's right wheel normally sits in the lane, or 18-24" out from the gutter seam or fog line most of the time. I rarely have any problems riding here, and in the past few years of riding like this, I can count on one hand the number of times it's actually resulting in someone honking at me from behind in anger.


Anonymous said...

i would love to take the lane all the time, but right now i mostly do just when i'm going downhill. there are hills everywhere where i live, and it's too much effort to try to take the lane and then not take the lane when going up and down hills all the time.
for about a year or two, i read the newspapers online about bicycle accidents all the time, and at least in NYC and urban places, it always seemed like curb-huggers got hit, never read about people taking the lane unless they were turning (at intersections and stuff).
i have my own copy of the book Vehicular Cycling, and i'm sure that if i ever get in a wreck or hit, it will be because of something in front of me (at an intersection), or a vehicle brushing past me BUT its just so impolite to take the lane sometimes!!!
so, i go halfway, and try to make a point of going slow or taking the lane at intersections, and almost always take the lane going downhill.
btw, i have 2+ years of year-round commuting to work.

PS- i would need a support group of some kind to be able to take the lane all the time! (help?)

Noah said...

Obviously, I can't speak for all road situations, but it's basically a proven fact that the further into the lane you ride, the better off you are. Picking a good route (if one exists) that allows you to take the lane without as much obstruction of traffic is also a good idea. Picking a good route is the best thing you could do for yourself.

Mr. G. said...

I had my doubts about taking the lane on the busy roads I have to ride in order to get to work here in Houston until I came across these videos on the Cycle Dallas blog ( Since watching them, I haven't returned to the gutter.

Keri Caffrey (the animator to whom you linked) also has a load of videos worth watching (

I'm glad you posted about this. I think a post like this does much more good than a rant about the lack of cycling infrastructure. Thank you!

Noah said...

Cycle Dallas is one of my favorite reads. Yeah, PM posts some macabre stuff on occasion. But it's almost always a breath of sanity and common sense.

Anonymous said...

i had an unusually bad day of people turning in front of me yesterday, and i'm not going back to the shoulder...i'll still have to ride defensively, but it WILL be better.

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