17

Some context: I live near a very congested main road, and everyone goes through the villages whenever it is blocked. If I am cycling, I have a continuous stream of cars passing me, even if they can't see the road ahead. So to prevent them overtaking (more for their safety than mine) I pull out more towards the centre.

I have seen that this answer says that it is okay to take the full lane when

the lane isn't wide enough for a car to pass safely (to discourage dangerously close passing)

But my situation isn't about close passing, it is about passing that is dangerous to others, and consequently could be dangerous to be me.

Should I be "taking the lane" to stop people doing this, or is this not the right way to deal with it?

Just for reference, this is the road I am riding along, the worst point is half way, there is a sharp left then right.

  • 8
    My only concern would be corners that go on long enough that a motorist could enter the corner and come up behind you without having time to slow down before they hit you. Long, sweeping corners in hilly areas are particularly prone to this because cycling uphill is even slower... – Móż Aug 21 '14 at 23:48
  • 4
    Don't take the center lane for their safety. Their safety is their problem. – paparazzo Aug 22 '14 at 1:42
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    I say "claim your lane" (while observing the caveat @Mσᶎ mentions). It's for both their safety and yours. When they get alongside you and suddenly see an oncoming car, they'll swerve into you to avoid it. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 22 '14 at 2:28
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    Actually, it is for your safety. Faced with an either/or situation of hitting a car travelling in the opposite direction, or hitting a bicycle travelling slowly in the same direction, I suspect most motorists would opt to hit the bike. It sounds like you're riding perfectly sensibly to try and discourage them from getting themselves into this situation in the first place. – PeteH Aug 22 '14 at 8:01
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    One minor point: When doing this be cognizant of the traffic behind you and make every effort to give drivers a chance to pass, when it's safe to do so, even if it's inconvenient (but not unsafe) for you. That's just common courtesy. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 22 '14 at 11:27
19

Yes, you should absolutely be taking the lane, provided the car behind you will have time to slow down when you move to take the lane.

Passing too close, passing on a blind corner, passing that endangers others and yourself, these are all equally dangerous. This sounds like a dangerous situation all around, I highly recommend you record your ride so if someone does hit you, you can make quick work of the insurance claim.

16

I'd say yes, definitely take the lane. Proactive disarming of a hazardous situation is (almost) always the best way to go and taking the lane is often an effective tool. In your situation described above, if a motorists attempts to pass you and then a car comes the other way the first thing they will do is swerve back on to the correct side or slam the brakes. They won't think of/remember you in this moment and you are unlikely to be able to do anything about it, it is for your own safety too.

I do this on the road all the time and acknowledge the driver when I do let them pass after the hazard, I find a quick friendly wave or thumbs up generally washes away any frustration they may have accumulated in adding two or three seconds to their drive. Unfortunately though some motorists will take exception to a rider defending their position on the road and you should always be prepared for that.**

I also found it useful in the Alps when I went, people often try to overtake on the hairpins and bends along the cliff-face, another example of a blind/difficult corners, so I ended up taking the lane in that situation too!

** In the event of feeling aggrieved the motorist will likely shout some nonsensical abuse, flip the bird, or even use their car to swipe at you. The best approach is to just let them get on with it, slow down if you think they are likely to hit/swerve at you. A GoPro or similar is a good way to provide evidence to police if you want to report someone for dangerous driving.

8

It's exactly the right way to deal with it. If people passing you is dangerous for anyone, then you need to make it extremely inconvenient, and even illegal, for them to do so. Once you're beyond the complex road that makes it necessary for you to take the lane, be a good fellow and get to the side of the road and let them by.

I've only very rarely encountered hostile reactions from drivers when I take a lane. The vast majority realize why you're doing it and actually appreciate it.

"Oh, look! A predictable cyclist obeying the rules of the road! What do you make of that, dear?"

"I don't know, never saw such a thing. But at least I know what he's going to do next."

0

I actually get off a narrow sealed road, in good time, approaching either a blind corner, a blind crest, or a vehicle coming towards me when another vehicle is about to overtake me.

This way I am completely safe and not relying on the driver to actually see me in good time and slow down before hitting me. I do not put my life in the hands of others. I control my own destiny. What if that driver was on drugs, was talking to a passenger, was very tired, day dreaming while driving, . . . . !!

I have a good sized flat mirror. (Hard to come by since most mirrors for bikes are quite small and are convex to make up for their size. ) I check the mirror as I approach the hazard (as defined above.) I decide in good time, by 'putting myself in the drivers seat' of the car coming from behind, when I have passed the 'critical point'. That being the point that if I was still on the bitumen then the driver would not be able to easily overtake and be back on the correct side of the road well before the start of the hazard concerned.

And too many people, both riders and drivers, have a false idea that provided they get back to the correct side just before the start of the hazard then they have been safe. Of course they have overlooked the fact that they need to be able to get back by about 150m BEFORE the hazard, maybe more at higher speeds, because somewhere along their overtake another car could suddenly come out of the hazard traveling towards them at high speed. And their reaction would be to save themselves and wipe out the cyclist at the same time!

I also use wider tyres than the regular racing slicks that so many recreational road cyclists use. I use 28mm tyres. Even when pumped up to around 100 psi they allow me to ride off the bitumen and onto the gravel verge reasonably safely. But I do make sure I wipe off speed on the bitumen first. And I must admit there is a certain amount of practice needed!

Otherwise you can skid and fall in this maneuver!

  • Gravel riding works better on slightly lower tyre pressures than you might use on tarmac/sealed roads. – Criggie Aug 29 '16 at 19:33
  • Welcome to Bicycles @millsy. We recommend that all new members take the tour to make best use of the site. In this case, I also recommend How to Answer, since you don't directly answer the question. I suggest you edit your post to address that – andy256 Aug 30 '16 at 1:04
  • Thanks Andy. Yes, I guess my riding methods on quiet country roads is a completely different situation to the context described in the question. My bad. – millsy Aug 30 '16 at 11:41
-7

No. If you do this you run the risk of you being "just around the corner" when a motorist enters the corner behind you and being in his path without giving him sufficient reaction time to your presence.

It's not your job to babysit other road users by using aggressive road behaviour. If it was I'd pull my car over to the fast hand lane of the motorway and set the cruise control to 70mph. (UK reference to speed limit).

The highway code in the UK does not specifically deal with this issue but it does say

never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends

Which to me infers that going around a corner you should present a smaller footprint, not a larger one.

  • 1
    The traffic law you cite though is irrelevant to the situation. It is trying to codify safety buffers around you. On many roads there isn't enough room to ride 3 abreast (not staggered) and have wiggle room to avoid hazards. On the narrow roads 2 may be too much if there is larger vehicles approaching from the other direction. I'm not sure about the bends, but being on the "outside" of the bend (as opposed to hugging the "inside") makes one more visible. – BPugh Aug 22 '14 at 14:22
  • Too many roads here in Cheshire where riding like that would be a death sentence. I don't know where the OP is from but it could make a real difference to perception. Roads in the US tend to be much wider with gentler turns than those in the UK for example. – Paul Aug 22 '14 at 14:24
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    The narrower the road (provided it's still nominally 2-lane), the more it's necessary to "claim your lane" in some circumstances. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 22 '14 at 15:38
  • The roads I'm referring to are not nominally 2-lane. This is the UK. – Paul Aug 26 '14 at 11:12
  • @Paul think.direct.gov.uk/cycling.html You should be taking the primary position on all narrow roads. This is nothing to do with US being wider. – Qwerky Aug 29 '14 at 15:44

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