[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.]

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Why do cyclists ride in the road and not out of my way in the shoulder?

The air displaced by cars and trucks tends to clear the road of debris. This debris ends up in the shoulder. It's often a mix of things like rocks, sticks, gravel, and sand that can cause a cyclist to crash along with other things like broken glass, nails, screws, and metal shards that can cause punctures (what cyclists call "flat tires"). If the shoulders were swept regularly, cyclists might be more inclined to ride there, but keeping shoulders clear is ultimately impractical.

Moreover, the size of shoulders varies considerably, even on a short stretch of a single road. It can vary from as much as six feet to zero inches. If cyclists attempted to ride in the shoulders where available, we would be weaving in and out of the road in unpredictable ways, putting ourselves and motorists in danger. It is far safer for cyclists to ride consistently in the part of the road that doesn't deviate, several feet into the right-hand side of the lane.

Further complicating things, motorists often mistake the shoulder marker as a barrier and will not observe adequate passing distances. Ironically, by riding in traffic, cyclists and motorists become safer.

Regardless, as vehicles, bikes belong in the road! It's a space for us to share.

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