[Nothing on this blog should be confused for legal advice. I am not a lawyer, public official, or officer of the law. You, the reader, are liable for your own behavior and knowledge.]

Friday, December 12, 2014

Riding Single File

Why don’t cyclists ride single file instead of two abreast on narrow roads so I can more easily pass?

Many cyclists do make an effort when on group rides to ride single file. Typically, though, this is a symbolic courtesy. You’ll remember that giving a single cyclist a safe passing berth almost invariably means that the motorist needs to enter into the path of opposing traffic (i.e. the left lane). Nothing changes in this situation if there are two cyclists riding abreast; the motorist is required to wait until there is no oncoming traffic in order to pass the cyclists safely. This is why the yellow “please ride single file” road signs that some municipalities post are so wrongheaded; they give the misguided impression both that it is cyclists who are causing problems and that it would be safe to pass single-file-riding cyclists in situations when it would not be safe to pass cyclists riding abreast. In short, you may have the impression that it would be quicker and more convenient to pass cyclists in a single file, but this is simply not the case.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Decision Tree

Here is a simplified decision tree for motorists who find themselves driving near cyclists:


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Driver's Ed

Why didn't I learn all of this back in driver's ed?

That's a good question. Chances are you did learn some of it and, like most of what we all learned back then, have forgotten it. Unfortunately, though, most driver's education curricula focus almost entirely on how motorists should behave around other motorists, ignoring pedestrians, cyclists, and others whom motorists will inevitably encounter while on the road. If you are a person in a position to affect this kind of curriculum--which, hint, includes all of us as voters--keep in mind all that you've forgotten.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Night Rider

I just saw a cyclist riding at night. Isn't that unsafe?

Not necessarily. Most municipalities require cyclists who are riding any time between a half-hour before sunset and a half-hour after sunrise to have lights. These should be a solid white lamp in the front of the bike and a flashing red light in the rear. Beyond that, and irrespective of the time of day, it is best for cyclists to make themselves as visible as possible by dressing thoughtfully. At the one extreme is neon yellow and at the other is asphalt gray. Always keep an eye out.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Distracted Driving

Is it OK to text while I'm driving near a cyclist?

It is never OK to text while driving whether one is near a cyclist or not. Driving is an endeavor stocked with risk, and any distraction (e.g. eating, talking on the phone, etc.) increases the likelihood of disaster. Keep your focus on the road where it belongs.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Turning in Front of Cyclists


Is it OK for me to turn right at a stop if a cyclist is to my right?

If a cyclist is to your right at a stop sign or traffic signal, one of three things is going on. First, the cyclist could be in a designated bike lane in which case the law and safety require that you yield to the cyclist and wait to turn. Second, it's possible that you overcame the cyclist as s/he was approaching the stop which was discourteous and unsafe of you; you should have waited your turn. Defer to the cyclist. Finally, it's possible that the cyclist overcame you at the turn which was rude and dangerous of the cyclist; regardless, since the cyclist is more vulnerable, you should wait for the cyclist to proceed before turning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Pullover (No, it's a cardigan, but thanks for noticing.)

If a cyclist knows that I'm behind him waiting to pass, why doesn't he just pull over and let me go around? I'm in a hurry!

Cyclists do not interrupt traffic; we are a part of the traffic! Image if you had to pull your car over on a freeway every time a faster motorist approached you from the rear. You'd constantly be pulling over and would never get anywhere. Consult the Car Analog Rule.