If one is "claiming the lane" does that mean:

a) they simply ride on the street (i.e. on the left side of the lane in the US, Germany, France, ..) or

b) they are riding in the middle of the lane, with someone else side by side, or some other way that they take over most of the lane width? or

C) Another definition?

3 Answers 3


b) is most correct, except that you don't need anyone else by your side.

Taking the lane is riding pretty much right in the middle of the lane, and asserting control of the entire lane. Riding in the middle makes it obvious to motorists that they'll have to change lanes, or wait for a safe opportunity, in order to pass you.

  • +1 Yep that's how I see it. It's necessary in London sometimes to avoid being squashed and when traffic is usually moving slower than you are so wont get irritated and try dangerous overtaking. I most often claim the lane at traffic lights and roundabouts. Commented Apr 27, 2013 at 7:30
  • 3
    Yeah, its all about making the motorist think twice before they overtake you.
    – PeteH
    Commented Apr 27, 2013 at 7:52
  • @PeteH +1... perhaps you should make your comment conveyed to some people in Bicycle SE who think that claiming a lane is possible in every road rather than only the roads where motorists will think twice before overtaking
    – ha9u63a7
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 16:48
  • Claiming the lane is possible on every road. However, it only makes sense when there is no alternative (bike lanes, etc...), and if you follow traffic laws in your area. The point is to let a motorist realize that they don't have space to overtake, and that they need to wait until they do. This does work, because contrary to popular belief, not every driver hates cyclists. If the driver is out to hurt you, it won't matter how you ride. But if you're blocking traffic when you don't need to, then you are the problem, not the driver.
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 8:37

Yep, I'll agree. To "claim your lane" you ride roughly in the middle of the lane, though precisely where depends on the situation.

Eg, if you're in a right-hand turn lane, "claiming your lane" is best accomplished by riding near the left-hand edge of the lane. And vice-versa when in a left-hand turn lane. The idea is to not give the motorist any impression that you are intending to share the lane with an automobile.

Of course, there are many more times when it's safe to "share" the lane to a degree, such that the motorist does not need to completely change lanes to pass you. This is the polite thing to do when conditions permit.

It requires some judgment.


References - Effective Traffic Riding (British Cycling), Cyclecraft

There are two cycling positions - primary position ("taking the lane") and secondary position. These positions are relative to the moving traffic lane:

a moving traffic lane - that part of the carriageway along which through traffic is moving at the present time. It is a dynamic concept, changing continually with place and traffic conditions. A moving traffic lane meanders past parked vehicles and other obstructions, and does not necessarily coincide with any markings on the surface.

The primary position ("taking the lane") is in the centre of the moving traffic lane (the blue arrow in the picture below).

primary position

Adopting the primary position makes it easier for drivers to see you and also prevents drivers from overtaking you. It should be your normal riding position.

The secondary position is about 1 metre to the left (right in the US, etc) of the moving traffic lane but no closer than 0.5 metres to the edge of the road. The secondary position should be used when it will help others without impairing your own safety (e.g. wide roads where it is safe for drivers behind to overtake you).

  • 1
    Did you mean to link to the follwoing picture instead? It seems better britishcycling.org.uk/921//zuvvi/media/bc_images/bc_izone/… Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 4:11
  • 1
    The embedded picture seems wrong. The cyclist is on a dotted line, so they are not in the centre of a line, they are in-between two lanes.
    – bdsl
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 16:06
  • As stated in the definition, a moving traffic lane does not necessarily coincide with any markings on the surface.
    – Tom77
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 19:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.