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I'm commuting to work almost every day. The roads on my way are quite thin so I have ride on the edge of it. But there is usually some gravel and it's quite hard to ride on that especially when riding up the hill. I don't like riding on the gravel but I don't like blocking cars behind me. What should I do?

Other thing is riding through the traffic lights. While waiting for green sign I'm not sure if I should be in row with cars or just wait on the right side of the road so I don't take much space. I don't like taking a lot of space as cyclist but also I don't want to be in danger if some driver doesn't notice me when I'm on side of the road.

Any tips that will make me feel better riding on these roads?

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My general advice is to take the lane. It is more dangerous to try to stay out of the way of cars all the time than to ride with them. This is particularly true at traffic lights. Unless you're on a road with a bike lane, you should be in the lane just like a motorcycle would. –  fideli Apr 24 '13 at 13:31
    
You probably should state where you're riding since what's legal and accepted in some areas may not be legal and accepted in others. Your profile says you're from the Czech Republic, is that where you're riding? –  Johnny Apr 24 '13 at 16:13
    
@Johnny Yep, I'm riding in CZ. There just one thing that's confusing me now a lot and that's if we can ride a bike on a sidewalk without bike lane? I see a lot of people riding there and I do sometimes too, but I'm not sure what the law says. But I guess it's different in every country so it's my job to find out. Anyway thanks for answers :). –  Ms. Nobody Apr 24 '13 at 17:20
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Yep, every country's different (and every state in the US). Plus there are local customs one needs to be aware of. You should be able to inquire about riding on sidewalks ("pavement" to the Brits). As others have said, "claim your lane" is a good general approach, though obviously it can draw the ire of motorists who are not used to assertive cyclists. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 24 '13 at 18:01
    
It would be helpful for answering the question, if you stated which country you are in and what the rules are for taking the lane etc. without this, it could be that you receive suggestions that are illegal for you to carry out. –  esde84 May 1 '13 at 14:55
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2 Answers 2

Depending on your local regulations, claiming the lane might be illegal (it is here where I live, for example). So, my advice would it be to ride on the right side of the road (assuming that right is the driving side), but not getting too close to the curb because of the debris, gravel, car doors etc. When you see (and hear) someone behind you wanting to overtake you, just move some to the right (and optionally give him a sign with your hand).

However, don't go to the right if you see that they can't overtake you safely, i.e. if the road is too narrow there, or if you see a car coming from the other direction.

On the traffic light, claim the lane! That will prevent drivers cutting you from behind, while it doesn't bother no one (you occupy less space than a car, and they are not waiting for you, but for the light anyways). When the light opens, and you pass the intersection, return to the right part of the lane.

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Out of interest where are you from? Not being able to claim the lane sounds dangerous but then again if you're from russia according to youtube no where on the road is safe :) –  will Apr 24 '13 at 15:20
    
Quite similar, Serbia. We are allowed to use 1m from the curb (however, the law allows us to move further away when it's "not safe" or something similarly vague). Luckily (?!) the law is not enforced thoroughly over here, so some people claim the lane, especially ones who can ride fast. –  Mladen Jablanović Apr 24 '13 at 15:35
    
Zdravo, Mladen. Here in the U.S., gravel would usually qualify as a safety reason that justifies taking the lane, in which case it wouldn't be illegal. From what you describe, it sounds like it's the same in Serbia. –  amcnabb Apr 24 '13 at 16:15
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Traffic laws are a way of communication with the others that share the lane. When I find myself riding in a dangerous situation, I normally start what I call defensive riding. My point is that the bicycle driver is the last safe driver at the road. So, the driving rules do not protect them as they should. This depends on the country. And of course, of the way that the citizens care about bicycle riders...

The most important thing is to make yourself visible to the other drivers. So, dress with a reflective suit. That would also, protect you from dust and other things that might happen during the ride. And specially, to direct the drivers' vision to yourself preventing accidents. At night, wearing lights would also help.

Where space is not available for bike riders, I use to drive at the opposite lane. Yes, it sounds crazy, but consider that I could watch all the vehicles that are approaching and take measures beforehand. There, rules change. I am not only standing away of the driver's rules but I have to acknowledge that nobody is expecting to find me coming from that direction. I should then, be very cautious at every corner or at any change of the normal lane.

Knowing all that, I find it safer than letting other cars and buses crush me like a sandwich because the are not watching when I am passing by. Or cars that use the power of their engines to do big accelerations compared with my small efforts when lights change.

People should consider bicycles for normal driving. And make special driving rules for bicycles that would allow a fair competition on the road shared with more powerful vehicles.

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Driving on the wrong side of the road sounds very dangerous. –  amcnabb May 8 '13 at 17:31
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