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This question is probably a little too location-specific but I hope it attracts some good answers
Okay, here we go...

Most cities in India do not have dedicated paths/lanes for bicycles
We are expected to ride our bikes on the roads sharing space with a variety of vehicles (Except for expressways, where two-wheeled/three-wheeled vehicles are prohibited anyway)

In my experience, most motorists are pretty good at estimating my speed when I cruise under 25 kmph
But I often cruise at 35 kmph, occasionally touching 40 kmph for short distances

Some motorists, especially people riding motorbikes, cut me off quite close when they overtake me from behind
Sometimes, motorists attempt to overtake me and realize that I am moving at only a slightly lesser speed than them, after driving in parallel with me for several metres

This is even more common on roads which are 2-lane undivided carriageways

The other scenario equally common is oncoming traffic, where one vehicle is trying to overtake another assuming they can finish the maneuver before they cross me

I solve this problem by occupying the entire lane and slowing down as necessary The difference is that both the oncoming traffic and i can see each other and we can make each other aware of our intentions

The question is how can I warn the drivers intending to overtake me, that I am moving at faster speeds than an average commuter?

It is interesting to note that I get more attention and consequently more space when riding with a helmet and bright coloured t-shirts on weekends but not when I am riding with normal work clothes

PS: I finally decided to post this question after increased vehicular traffic in my area made these kind of encounters almost a daily affair Please feel free to edit/comment for clarification

  • Your question isn't very clear, I think you need to highlight it to draw out the main pint you'd like help with. At the moment it reads like a complaint (and one which I share). I am starting to think that lycra and drop bars are perceieved as faster than flat bars and casual clothes, but not by enough to make much difference. – Chris H May 31 '17 at 14:38
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    An interesting read about drivers' perceptions though not about perceived speed: opus.bath.ac.uk/37890/1/Walker_2013.pdf and opus.bath.ac.uk/9332 – Chris H May 31 '17 at 14:43
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    No, not location-specific at all. I live in the USA, and I've had the same problem. I don't know the answer either, other than a large-scale campaign to teach motorists how to overtake bikes safely. – Mike Baranczak May 31 '17 at 17:19
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    Slap something like this on your back tenstickers.co.uk/wall-stickers/img/preview/… – AzulShiva May 31 '17 at 19:00
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    in that situation I love to have some fun racing the guy whit a low horse power motorbike or bus/truck (only if they are overtaking incorrectly ;)) . If the problem is that they are cutting you that is not on you that is their fault for not knowing how to overtake. They will do it to a bike, car or bus or even a tank. Actually it is problem for any vehicle on street. – kifli Jun 1 '17 at 9:25
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That's a hard question to answer because there is no real official way to solve this issue, and it's often up to the driver to estimate your speed, you can't really do anything about this.

One way to show motorists how fast you're going would be to highlight part of your bike like the wheels or the pedals, to actually highlight how fast they are spinning. Fast spinning wheels and pedals make you thing "This guy goes fast".

To do so you could try to wear yellow overshoes (I don't know if you can find these in India, we have these in France), and your feet will instantly pop out. You can also just put reflectors on your pedals or install colored pedals, but it's harder to notice.

For the wheels, you can also try to put reflectors on the spokes so that it gives it a reference point that people will see spinning. Some people just put stickers on the spokes though.

Finally, as you mentionned your gear can induce the fact you're going. If you look "legit" with a helmet and proper cycling gear, people will unconsciously admit the fact you are going fast. Wearing bright clothes will also help you being noticed by drivers.

  • Awesome, this probably is the right approach. I already have pedal reflectors. Stickers/spoke reflectors do not help much IMO for this specific problem because they cannot be seen from behind. My regular commute is on well-lit roads and my bike only has reflectors, there is no real need for lights. Building on your answer, i have added a blinking tail light (high frequency blink - about 5 times per second). I have been using it even during daytime and I think it is already working, I hope it is not a placebo... – Kiran Kulkarni Jun 5 '17 at 5:50
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I've noticed this too (as well as pedestrians thinking I'm going faster than what I am. )

I've started doing two things:

1) When I'm going only slightly slower than the cars around me I occupy the lane

2) When a driver isn't acitng as if he's aware of me I tilt the bike from side to side like a kid pedalling hard. It looks more like I'm exerting myself and it gives a sense of motion in a plane that the driver can actually see.

For oncoming traffic I squeeze the brake with just my ring and middle finger (spiderman style) so that people can more easily see that I am, in fact, braking.

  • Occupying the lane is a good idea. Tilting the bike from side to side is not efficient and IMO it also decreases stability. It still may be worth a shot though. The bit about squeezing brakes is, unfortunately, wishful thinking - i don't think anyone even notices it at all <br> Welcome to bicycles.SE and +1 for the ideas anyway! – Kiran Kulkarni Jun 5 '17 at 5:45
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I tend to dress like a 'try-hard' even for my short daily commute because the city I live in has terrible bicycle infrastructure. I really only see 'serious' cyclists on the road in the outskirts and in downtown where traffic isn't as fast or dense. Most of the people on bikes I see for the greater part of the city are in plain clothes riding beach cruisers or really old mountain/road hybrids, and they stay on the sidewalk almost 100% of the time.

As for what I do because unfortunately I do not have a drivers license, and do not have the time to mess around with going slow on poorly maintained sidewalks with high foot traffic; I do get on the road almost every time I ride regardless of whether I am commuting or leisure riding. I wear the 'try-hard' look without fail because it does at the very least get people to look at you. That encompasses wearing an actual cycling jersey and the lycra shorts with the padding. YES, we all know it looks ridiculous. It does turn heads though. Having a motorist shaking their head, laughing, or swearing under their breath at you is way better than them not noticing you and getting overtaken too closely or swerved at out of anger. I tend to wear bright neon-flourescent colors as to increase this visibility, especially at night and twilight hours. My shoes/cleats also have a neon reflective strip on them to indicate how hard/fast I am pedaling to motorists.

As far as my bike goes, I have equipped it with flashing lights in accordance with my local laws for night riding, but I have also equipped LEDs in the spokes, and multiple LED blinkers facing rearwards. I find that having more lights indicates to motorists to give me a much more clear berth when overtaking me. I also have a blinker and solid LED lamp facing forward on my handle bars to indicate to oncoming drivers that I am a cyclist. I run my rear blinkers every time I ride, so I invested in rechargeable lights. Everything else like my headlamps and spoke lights I run during twilight and night hours to increase my visibility. You can be obnoxious as you want when it comes to equipping lights to you and your bicycle as long as you're not blinding or 'distracting' motorists. At the very least having a blinking headlamp and one for illuminating the road ahead of you is a must, as well has having 2 or 3 blinkers in the rear to help indicate the geometry of the 'object' motorists are approaching, this is really usefull after dark or dusk, but it does help your situation if you have at least one strong visible rear blinker during the day.

Remember; your biggest battle with sharing the road is getting motorists attention, not trying to find your own place in it. Most motorists are simply unaware of you until it's too close for comfort because you are on a bicycle and much smaller than the vehicles surrounding you. Maintaining high visibility can go really far in your efforts to gain more passing space and a clearer berth on the road. Obey the law, use proper signalling, and be aware of your surroundings; you are on a bicycle and are not on top of the food chain when it comes to the road.

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