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A problem that I'm always confronted when cycling, especially in steep climbs where there is no or insufficient roadside, are cars passing too closely. Usually I would position myself more close to the middle of the lane, but the speed incompatibility it's just too large and drivers aren't very educated where I live.

A idea that I had is a simple semi-flexible foldable pole on the left side of the bicycle that I could put on those situations, so it would "force" drivers to pass with a larger distance. Of course it would have some kind of reflective flag or, even better, a strong LED (as the flag would offer more wind resistance, and the LED would show up better at night), and it would have to be flexible enough for not knocking me over when someone hits it.

Of course that already exists (safety/flash flags), although is not very common. But the "mind storming" was still nice.

For illustration, the "right" way to do it and how it would be done with a flag (that blue thing is the cyclist): Bicycle with and without safety flag, on two lanes road

Another problem that I face sometimes is when I'm cycling on the roadside but then there is a new lane that turns to the right. My options are keep going on the roadside (and later on the new lane), but it would make the drivers turn abruptly in front of me (or over me), as they might think that I will turn too (and that is a reasonable idea). My second option is to enter the right (now middle) lane, but the speed mismatch (and the need to position myself close to the middle of the lane) doesn't allows it. The flag would make the second option easier, and it would tell drivers that I'm not going right. For illustration:

Roadside that turns into a lane and then goes right

My question is the following: Will it be useful, and will it be safe? Is there any other option? The idea is to retract (fold) it always when not using, and not to use it when cycling in group, so it wouldn't bother other cyclists. And is worthy to mention that the roads I ride have a 50 mph limit (although speeds up to 60 mph are common).

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    I don't use anything like this, but I do have a small red blinky facing backward on the center-side of my MTB handlebars. That's the right-hand side, we ride on the left. I also have a red flashing light that attaches to my right shoe and that moves with pedalling. Both help indicate the width of the bike, more-so at night. – Criggie Jul 16 '17 at 9:56
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Going straight from the right turn lane is a bad idea, and very few legal systems allow it. Partly because it's suicidal, and partly because it's stupid. Either way, the legal authorities have to clean up the mess. So you should, and almost certainly are legally required to, enter the "straight ahead" lane in that situation.

I typed a rough description into the google and got some examples of reflectors on poles like the light you're thinking about.

bike with reflector on pole to one side

You could easily modify one of those, or build your own. I believe they're legal, at least in Australia (where I live) but I suspect that no-one would pull you over if it's not (except in NSW, where I live, for reasons to stupid to go in to).

Note that the problem you're trying to overcome is not drivers who are actually blind, but inattentional blindness. The photons are reaching their eyes, but their brain is filtering out all the distracting irrelevancies so they can actually operate their vehicle.At best cyclists fall into the "why would I look for a cyclist, there are no cyclists here" subconscious category of "things not to bother looking for". The way round that is to have so many cyclists on all the roads that motorists know they're always there and consequently look out for them.

Overall, though, it sounds as though you either lack confidence or experience, or you're riding on very busy roads. It might help to browse the safety tag here for other answers.

(and my browser is not letting me paste any more links in, so I'm going to leave them out. Sorry)

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    This might be different enough to snap some drivers out of their reactive doze. I've noticed that when riding the tandem, or when towing the bike trailer, cars give me a HEAP more room. We've seen milk tankers cross clear to the other side of the road to give space. So something "not normal" might be good. – Criggie Oct 3 '16 at 1:16
  • Note that the fags have to be quite a bit wider than you handlebars to make much difference. If like me you have quite wide bars and a mirror (the latter is useful in such situations) the standard flags don't reall stick out enough. Neither do they do much to deal with people pulling in too soon, which is similarly frequent round here. They also add drag but I suspect you wouldn't be asking if you regularly went fast enough for that to matter. – Chris H Oct 3 '16 at 13:07

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