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If I am riding down a marked bike lane on a road which is adjacent to the curb, and I need to stop for a very short time (e.g. to adjust something, turn on lights, or drink some water), how far should I get off the road?

That is: As a car driver, if I had to stop I would move onto the shoulder of the road, or otherwise as far right (US, drive on the right) as is safe for the vehicle. With a bicycle lane, there is no specific shoulder, but I can pick up the bike and move off the road entirely. Should I take the time to do so, even if there is essentially no traffic?

What if the lane is especially wide (e.g. if it is a bicycle lane to the left of parking space, but with no cars actually present), or if it is only a generously wide road without any markings?

(I am looking for a safety and politeness perspective, not regional traffic laws, though if there is a general trend in law on the matter that is also useful information.)

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4 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Please don't block the bike lane or traffic or parking spaces, but use your best judgement; in that order.

Personally I feel a curb is a logical and physical barrier which protects you from the activities of the traffic way.

Protection Getting on a curb means a car that hits you has already been slowed down by a 6 in. cement block applied up to 4 times (4 tires) against the cars momentum. Ever see a car hit a curb? Sure they can plow over it, but they definitely slow down, and change direction. When riding you have several options to evade, but when on foot you are much slower/less agile. Use the curb as a natural defense. Also, I'm not a law expert but I'm sure there are better legal protections for being off the road with regards to this matter.

Courtesy Do you look everywhere and try to decide what everyone will do before they do it while riding. I sure hope you do, it will help keep you safe if you can anticipate situations, both while riding and while driving. If you remove yourself from the bike lane you become a non-player to those using the traffic ways. The cars don't have to decide if you might fall over while mounting/dismounting/precariously balancing while tying shoes etc. Like wise for bikers, will you see them when you decide to start? How straight will your line be when you do start etc. Even if you pull over far and look before you start up, you have forced others to do the extra work of thinking through possible scenarios and possibly slowing down, changing lanes or changing routes around a block where you are 'pulled over'.

If you are on a long straight away with no intersections and you can anticipate the traffic for the next 2 min, and you will only take 20secs then who cares. If you don't see anyone, but a car could pull up from around the block in less than 10 secs even though it seems dead you should probably just get over the curb.

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I think it depends on several factors, as you note. If there is no traffic (car or bicycle), then just stop (if a tree falls in the woods...). If there is car traffic only, then move as far to the right as to can to be safely out of the way. If there is bicycle traffic, then it might be worthwhile to move completely out of the bike lane to avoid hindering other cyclists.

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If there is a curb, I like to use it as a step so I ride right up next to it and unclick from my pedal and step on the curb while staying seated on the bicycle.

If there is no curb, I will move all the way to the right and get off the bicycle and get off the bike lane all together typically where there is a sign or telephone pole so I can lean my bicycle up against it.

If in a bike lane that is separated from the curb by parking spaces (for cars), I will ride to the end of the block and move over to the curb.

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If there is any possibility of bike traffic, you should pull over sufficiently to allow others to pass with reasonable ease. If there is fairly heavy 2-way traffic you should pull over enough to allow two bikes to pass in opposite directions at the same time.

Of course, to a degree it depends on how long you will be stopped. The longer you anticipate stopping the farther over you should pull. If you need to do significant adjustments of your bike you should attempt to get entirely out of the bike lane.

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