Friday, December 7, 2007

Proper riding position on a bicycle

The previous post regarding the lousy paving job along the gutter pan on Diamond near the high school re-ignites the old question of where a rider should be riding. In references such as Effective Cycling and Street Smarts cyclists are warned not to ride too close to the edge for a variety of reasons: broken pavement, lack of room to manuever, road debris, and the tendency of drivers to think they can pass you without changing lanes, possibly leading to being sideswiped.

Riders should be inboard of the gutter pan a couple feet. I think John Forester suggests riding approximately where traffic markings indicate the right hand tires of motor vehicles are located.

Here is a reference on roadway positioning from John Allen.

WHERE TO RIDE ON THE ROAD

http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/chapter2a.htm

11 comments:

Greg said...

I generally ride very near or on the line where the car lane ends and the bike berm starts, which is pretty much where they stop paving when resurfacing these days ... which pretty much means I am screwed, since this is exactly where the drop-off is located.

I ride in this location because it is generally clean of debris and yet I am still not in the lane of traffic where a car must figure out how to get around me (I not a speedy as you guys).

Khal said...

I'll say one positive thing. The broken up northbound outside lane by the High School is now smooth as a baby's bottom. I used to have to veer far to the left of the lane and get up off the saddle to keep from shaking my teeth loose and breaking spokes. Now I can keep a straight line and ride fast.

Greg said...

I saw the repaving job today from a car. It looks fine from a quick drive through look.

Khal said...

Unfortunately, Greg, that's the perspective most people see. They are probably wondering what we are grumping about.

Neale said...

Yeah, Greg, this guy is riding too close to the edge. I can't even imagine what sort of unsafe riding this guy is doing that he feels he's in the road yet not in the lane in front of the high school. He must be riding in the gutter.

Riding like that is like asking everybody else to make an unsafe passing maneuver. Face facts: you're going slower than everybody else. Other peoples' convenience does not trump your safety, just get out there in the lane where you ought to be and let folks pass you. We're talking about a 500-foot stretch anyway, it's not like you're going to back up traffic for miles.

I actually *like* the new overlay. Especially coming home, I no longer have to slow down to stand up for the rough pavement. I know it's temporary but mmmmm smooth road.

Neale said...

PS: while we might be speedy we're still not going to be able to get up to the 35mph speed limit and so we're still moving slower than the 40mph traffic. You really are better off getting out in the lane.

Khal will probably take issue with this but I'd recommend that if the only way you're going to be in the road is if you're out in the gutter, you'd be much safer on the sidewalk (only applies to Los Alamos and our higher percentage of cyclists).

Khal said...

I don't take issue with Neale's comment, actually. Riding in a gutter pan is dangerous. Sidewalk riding can be safe, if you ride correctly for the sidewalk, i.e., yield to pedestrians, keep a slow speed limit (5-10 mph), and cross streets like a pedestrian rather than riding out into traffic without looking for cars and getting creamed.

Bottom line is that nothing takes the place of competence, predictability, and following good practice. If someone is going to ride poorly, they are going to get nailed sooner or later. It just jacks up the odds. Sure, a good rider following good practice can get nailed too, but he/she is not jacking up the odds.

Khal said...

Oh, by the way, Nancy Talley sent on my concerns for the gutter lip to the paving folks and to county engineer Kyle Zimmerman. Stay tuned.

Scott said...

Hello:

I will repeat what I contributed to the other thread: That stretch of Diamond between Canyon and Sandia/Orange is a prime area where one needs to be taking the lane. Poor lane width, poor pavement edge conditions, lots of turning traffic, etc make it very dangerous to be squeezeing over by the curb. Yes, this requires motorists to change lanes to pass you, but that's the way that public roads work. I think I receive about 1 angry honk per 100+ cars. I'll take that.

Khal said...

I sent an email to Nancy Talley, Neale, and Kyle Zimmerman today regarding the drop offs along this stretch of Diamond. I can post it in a day or so assuming I hear back from someone.

As a policy matter, i.e. to the T-Board, the question is how we analyze and mitigate the hazards when we put down a temporary solution. Having been in Neale's chair, I know that no one has a bottomless checkbook and that these jobs are complicated. However, what can we do to minimize the risk to cyclists riding along Diamond until that section is repaved properly? Signage? Paint stripe along dropoff? Letter to Monitor? Better ideas?

Khal said...

Like Scott, I take the lane there. No problem doing so at this point.