Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Rules - Part 2 - Heavy Traffic

One of the most important elements of road and group riding safety if dealing with traffic in a safe and courteous way.

In the thousands of road miles that I have logged, I have discovered some easy and effective ways to interact with motorists that also seem to endear them to my groups cycling presence on the road...keeping in mind that there will always be idiots out there that you can not please no matter what.

First of all the law - I am not going to address all of the Indiana Law, just the things that are applicable to this post.  But you can find it in it's entirety at the following section or by clicking here Indiana Bicycle Law
IC 9-21-11
     Chapter 11. Bicycles and Motorized Bicycles

 Roadways; rights and duties
Sec. 2. A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights and duties under this article that are applicable to a person who drives a vehicle, except the following:
        (1) Special regulations of this article. you can read about by clicking this link mostly deals with how many people on a bike, hanging onto motor vehicles, etc....
         (2) Those provisions of this article that by their nature have no application.
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9.
Notice that the sign says, "Share the Road" not "Share the Lane" but the picture shows a bike and a car that look like they are sharing a lane.  This is a problem as many motorists interpret it like the picture.  Recently in Delaware they addressed this by changing the sign to more adequately reflect the intent of the law.
If you have ever had a car squeeze by you with oncoming traffic, you are likely well aware as to why this "Lane Sharing" is a bad idea.
In Marion County they have a 3 foot rule, but cross county line road into Johnson County and there is no such law.  However the state law which entitles the cyclist to a full lane actually covers this. No body would think it was ok to pass a motorcycle with a car in the same lane simply because of the safety factor.
But since motorists are not educated about this they tend to not think about cyclists as another vehicle and look at them more like they do pedestrians.  Which brings us to another point, It is not legal or safe under any circumstances for a bicycle to be ridden against the flow of traffic on the wrong side of the road.  Bad Idea period. Even if you are riding at a slow pace, say 10 MPH you have increased the closing speed of your bike with any motor vehicle by 20 MPH verses traveling in the proper direction and you offer the MV no opportunity to fall in behind you to follow until it is safe to pass.  Bad Idea to do this.
IC 9-21-11-6
Lane use restrictions; riding two abreast

     Sec. 6. A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway may not ride more than two (2) abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9.

Keep in mind that there are more laws pertaining to bikes on the Indiana law books, but we are only dealing with these here.  Plus local statutes can be more restrictive but tend to be in the cyclists favor.

Ok, so as a cyclist what does this mean to you and what should you do?

These are some things that I actively teach cyclists
  1. Take the lane - do not ride as far to the right as you can all the time.  This is not the best place to ride in the road for visability purposes and it encourages cars and trucks to try to squeeze by at inappropriate places and SHARE THE LANE with you which is not a good idea - and under Indiana law, you are allowed the full lane
  2. Be Courteous - try to manage traffic.  If you can help them to pass, do it. Make the stop sign hand or wave them by if it's safe.  This will demonstrate to the motorist that you are paying attention, being pro-active in helping them get down the road and builds good will in general with people who are not idiots (you can't please everyone - some people just have a chip on their shoulders. If you have the opportunity, get over in a turn lane to let them pass
  3. Be Friendly - extend the left hand of friendship in a friendly wave.  This not only endears you to most people passing you, but it serves to keep them at arms length as well.
  4. Don't Ride more than 2 abreast - and if a vehicle is passing you, single up.  You don't have to, but it gives you more room if a motorist should try to crowd you.  The downside of this in a large group is your passing profile will double in length -
  5. The Solution - if you are in a large group, break it down into smaller bundles of 4 riders. and separate so that the car can leap frog by your group.  Also help them out by managing how they pass, either by waving them on or moving to the center and motioning them to get behind you if they do not have enough room to continue passing.
What can you do as a motorist?
  1. Stay Cool - I know it may seem like it takes forever to pass (feels the same to me sometimes when I am trying to help someone get by)frequently my groups will end up catching impatient drivers at the next stop sign or stop light, usually just the ones who passed at inappropriate times and then blared the horn at us as they passed and waved at us with one finger.  This has to be embarrassing for them....I'm embarrassed for them!
  2. When it is time to pass - stand on the gas and get by, it is not safe in most cases to slowly pass a line of cyclists and while they will likely appreciate the gesture (we realize you are just trying to be safe) it actually increases your exposure to oncoming traffic and to the side of our bikes
  3. Don't blare the horn as you pass - do I really have to say why? If our group is trying to help you pass this is really not called for and if you come across a group of discourteous riders, it still serves no purpose
  4. Do lightly tap on the horn as you are approaching the back of a group - this serves to alert the group that your are approaching, friendly and just trying to help,,, not startle the crap out of them.
Let me know if this sparks any questions and I will do my best to address those in future posts.  I also intend to do a You Tube video relating to this topic that I'm sure none of you will want to miss.

Until next time, tailwinds to you all


1 comment:

  1. Very helpful! I tend to squeeze myself as far right as possible. Now I know I should not do that!