Why That Bicyclist Is In Your Lane

Photo: Paul Green

Safe cycling isn’t always a matter of sticking to the side of the road. In fact, when bicyclists try to stay out of cars’ way, they can sometimes create a situation that’s more dangerous for themselves, cars, and pedestrians.

If you’re not used to sharing the road, seeing a cyclist in 'your' lane may seem a bit weird, or even rude. But cycling in a main road lane can be the safer option when:

  • The bike lane or shoulder is full of gravel, broken glass, or other hazards

  • The bike lane or shoulder disappears suddenly, or has parked cars or other obstacles in it

  • The bike lane or shoulder runs alongside a bunch of parked cars, which may open their doors suddenly

  • There is no bike lane or shoulder, actually

  • The cyclist is about to turn

  • There is not enough room for you to safely pass

It’s this last one that often annoys drivers, because it means you have to slow down and stay behind the cyclist. But if there’s not enough room to pass the cyclist safely, the cyclist is looking out for themselves and you by forcing you to sit tight for a moment.

Take the situation in the lead image, for example. If the cyclist were on the left side of the road, a car might cross the road’s dividing line trying to give him a wide berth. That’s dangerous here, because you can’t see if another car is coming around the curve.

The car’s other option, if the cyclist were on the left, would be to try to pass him while keeping the car in the left lane. That isn’t enough room to make the situation safe for the cyclist. So he’s riding in the right side of the lane to make both situations impossible. You can both wait until you get to an area with better visibility.

And yes, this is legal - and even safer. As a driver, I find slowing down behind a cyclist slightly annoying. But when I’m on a bike, it can be literally a matter of life and death.


Comments

    On a road very close to home there is a bike path that has been added to most of the main road. There is a tight bit around a curve where there was no extra room, so the bike path goes up on the footpath (clearly labelled on the bike path when on approach) but I've had a few close calls where they have ignored it.

    There is quite a bit of fuss about safety and bicycles on the road. And I must say.....

    What is different about safety when a bike is involved? There is no way bikes would be able to do something as dangerous as having fast moving heavy moving objects so close to humans if Work Cover or any other safety control organisation had their say.

    We seriously need to stop using shared roads as a place for leisure and exercise. It is approaching ludicrous. At least make the riders wear high visibility clothing until we all come to our senses and realise the practice is down right dangerous.

    We can talk of places like Europe where sharing is common but the fact still remains - it is just not safe.

      You make the mistake of assuming that cycling is only about leisure and exercise.

      It isn't. More and more people use cycling as a cheap environmentally friendly method of transport. It is sometimes unsafe because of the risk posed by motorised vehicles, not because cycling itself is unsafe.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now