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Lane positioning
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By Rachel Ruhlen
Jan. 28, 2013 2:14 p.m.

After the recent articles on taking the lane, this is a good time to re-post one of the pre-website-transition articles about lane positioning.

What is the best lane positioning for a cyclist?

a)      As far to the right as possible

b)      At least an arm’s length away from the edge of the usable roadway

c)      On the sidewalk

d)     On the left side of the road

If you’ve been following this blog, you know not to bicycle on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, many cyclists choose option D, which may be appropriate for a pedestrian but is dangerous for a cyclist. A lot of people will also choose answer A.

But the best answer is B, about 18”, or an arm’s length, away from the edge of the usable roadway.

• An arm’s length gives you wobble room. Even highly experienced cyclists wobble. When you scan behind you, which you should do frequently, you will wobble a little.

• An arm’s length keeps you away from the debris and potholes that accumulate at the edges of roads. Debris and potholes are a common cause of bike wrecks.

• An arm’s length makes you appear bigger than you are. When I started bicycling, I discovered that when I hugged the edge, motorists buzzed me. If I gave myself a little space, motorists gave me a little space.

• An arm’s length makes you more visible to vehicles turning onto or off of the road. This video shows all the benefits of proper lane positioning.

• An arm’s length is easier to estimate than 18”. If the curb were a wall, could you reach out and touch it? If the answer is yes, then you are riding too close to the edge.

This excellent short video shows the advantages of lane positioning. Here is another article that covers this topic: http://www.bicyclinglife.com/SafetySkills/FrankNFred003.htm

Some people worry that it is the law to ride on the right edge. Missouri law stipulates that bicyclists ride as far to the right as is safe1. The bicyclist decides what is safe.

Some people worry that motorists will get angry. In my experience, most motorists behave courteously, respectfully, and safely. In most bicycle-motorist collisions the motorist didn’t see the cyclist, so if a motorist does honk or yell at me, at least I know I’m visible.

1If you are ever on a bicycle and pulled over for “obstructing traffic”, be polite and note the officer’s name. If you receive a ticket, don’t argue, and find a lawyer. Fortunately I have not heard of anyone in Kirksville having this problem.

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