In my nearest town centre there is a fearsome one-way system with three lanes of traffic. This cuts through the town and is unavoidable - you have to cross it to get anywhere. It is always busy but not at motorway speeds, even if it seems that way.

At one point, to get to the cycle lane I must get to the outside of the outer lane. I have a few options to do this. I could stop off at the near-side, wait an age for the traffic to stop for the pedestrians, walk my bike across the road with the pedestrians and get on it again at the other side. Since I am a cyclist I do not want to do this, it is a bit lame.

The alternative option is to get into the outermost lane and ride like I am a vehicle as wide as one of those tin boxes - 'vehicular cycling'. This I can do quite easily as I have enough in me to ride at a sensible, i.e. fast pace. I can then make it off onto the cycle lane without upsetting anyone, getting beeped at, hitting pedestrians or wasting time.

However, sometimes I ride with a friend that lacks the outright speed and acceleration needed for the outside lane. Shouting 'don't dawdle' isn't really going to work and I don't want to go-pedestrian just to cross the one-way system. We have tried going at the extreme outer edge so cars can pass - 'undertaking' - but this makes me feel uneasy. The car beeps are inevitable whatever we try on this section of the road, yet, when I ride the same section by myself with no company I never get any problems with any of the other road users.

I don't want to ride-like-a-timid-coward when with my friend, I don't want to upset motorists, I don't want to get involved in an accident. I don't want to complain about my friend lacking pace. I don't want my friend to always have a nightmare of a ride - when it should not be.

So how can I carry out this simple bit of cycling that suddenly seems intimidating when riding with someone?

  • 4
    Can you draw a picture or post a photograph or Google Maps sattelite view? I'm having a hard time visualizing it.
    – Apreche
    Jul 5, 2011 at 12:02
  • 1
    One reason I ride alone.
    – Moab
    Jul 5, 2011 at 21:49
  • Having been almost doored by riding down the "wrong" side of a one-way street (but in the correct direction) I will now ALWAYS ride on the left side (we ride/drive on the left here). I'd move to the other side in preparation for a turn if appropriate, but that's all and only for a short time.
    – Criggie
    Jan 23, 2017 at 23:53

3 Answers 3


The way you're inclined to do it is the right way, but you're kind of stuck if your buddies aren't as comfortable in traffic, and you want to stick with them. I rarely face this specific situation, but I've many times run into something similar when making a left turn across multiple lanes -- I just get into the turn lane and make my turn, but other riders are reluctant to leave the right shoulder.

(Of course, in part your situation is a comment on the bicycle-unfriendliness of many urban road designs. Designers (who obviously don't ride bikes) think the mere existence of a bike lane is "bike friendly", when that's really the least of the issues.)

[I'd add that there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a bit slower than other traffic and occupying a lane for a relatively brief period. Few people would get upset if a truck did it.]

  • 2
    Upvoted especially for the last paragraph. Remember that speed limits are an upper limit, not a lower one as most motorists seem to believe. If he gets stressed out by the "undertaking" approach and honking motorists, you might consider (after the ride) mentioning that going a little faster in situations like that tends to smooth things out for both you and the motorists. Jul 5, 2011 at 12:32

It took me a few months of everyday riding before I was willing to leave the right shoulder across multiple lanes to turn left, as suggested by Daniel's answer.

Walk across: you can afford to. You're not being "a bit lame": you're being generous and friendly to your less experienced friend.

If you want to shout about dawdling then you're less relaxed that you'd like to be yourself. Discuss it before-hand rather than during traffic. Maybe do some interval training with/against your friend out of traffic (ride along together and then ... OK! Sprint! Go!) to practice ... to practice changing gears for example, and for you each to learn how fast the other can go, to have shared understanding and realistic expectations (you may be thinking: "There's a gap in the traffic: I'm fast enough to merge into that interval" ... you need to know for sure whether your friend is too, and more importantly your friend needs to know too).

  • I can see situations where get-off-and-walk makes sense, but, with this road I have not had problems with it myself and only been beeped at when going at less than normal place with my friend. I think you are right, some 'step on it' training would be good when safely on a cycle path to establish what the limits are. I do feel sorry for slower cyclists and how they get intimidated by motorists with their self-righteous beeps. Jul 5, 2011 at 13:17
  • @ʍǝɥʇɐɯ - Another possibility: should you be trying to ride across together, or would it be better to go independently? IMO you should go independently (together/simultaneously, or alone) if it's dangerous: watch cars, think for yourself, etc.
    – ChrisW
    Jul 5, 2011 at 13:23
  • +1 Riding can be relaxing and enjoyable and it's worth making efforts like that described to make it more so.
    – Mac
    Jul 6, 2011 at 0:17

If you were driving slow farm tractors, you'd be driving in the rh lane, then you would check behind, signal, move over one lane, check behind, signal, move to the lh lane, smile and thank everyone who slowed for a moment to let you get across.

Same on a bike, you don't have a duty to keep out of anyone's way. If they beep, they have seen you. Wave back and smile.

  • 1
    I like your attitude! And your metaphor. Jul 5, 2011 at 16:42

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