Bike Safety - When and How to Take the Lane


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Bike Safety - When and How to Take the Lane. Ride more confidently in traffic and protect yourself by using proven principle of bike safety. When the lane is too narrow for whatever reason for it to be shared by yourself and a motorized vehicle, you need to take the lane.

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Bike Safety - When and How to Take the Lane

  1. 1. be safe! - 2 - - cycle-wise /safe-2 On the previous page we covered a lot of ground, but a lot of the road riding aspect focused on staying off the curb. Before we get into how and when to take the lane, let’s discuss a GREAT way to create some space for ourselves when things are either getting tight or we’re feeling a bit, say, crowded by passing motorists. Here’s an awesome trick for creating some nice breathing room. CAVEAT - you MUST be able to do a shoulder check without swerving a single inch in order to employ this. As discussed in the hard skills training on the previous page. All you need to do is turn your head (not your bike, like we talked about) to the left – or into the direction of traffic. That’s it. The majority of motorists coming up behind you will assume this is an indication that you’re trying to move into traffic, and they will give a much wider berth. Works like an absolute charm, especially after you’ve been passed too closely by a motorist more concerned with their donut than your safety. Give it a try in safe conditions sometime, when you have plenty of room and the traffic isn’t that busy. Just so you see the awesome results you can achieve by simply turning your head. Now - when to take the lane, how to do it and why the heck would you want to??? Simple. You take the lane (ie ride right down the middle of it) when the lane becomes too narrow to safely share with a motorized vehicle. This could be for obvious reasons such as construction or the lane is just narrow. It could also be due to major potholes and debris that render your normal cycling space unsafe. If at any point any of these factors comes into play, your only option (other than getting off and walking, always a back-up plan) is to take the lane until things clear up. The move MUST be initiated by at least 1 and preferably 2 complete shoulder checks. The first to create space as mentioned above. The second to ensure the way is indeed clear. And a clear hand signal at this point is also a good idea. Move slowly but deliberately to the VERY CENTRE OF THE LANE. Failure to do this will still leave a potential opening for daredevil motorists. You do not want to flirt with these daredevils on the road. Leave them no option but to hang back. Once in the centre of the lane your only focus needs be on the road in front. You’ve taken the lane due to several mitigating factors and there’s the likelihood that road conditions are less than ideal. Resist the urge to flip the bird to an impatient motorist behind you. He/she is not your concern at the moment. Staying upright is. So focus on the road ahead. You’ll want to take the lane in any situation where road conditions become unsafe to share a lane with another motorist. Plain as that. With practice riding a comfortable 3 feet off the curb, this transition does not become too hard. Can be unnerving the 1st time, then it becomes second nature. However, while being wary of potentially sketchy conditions, when you do take the lane its recommended to ramp up your speed to ‘escape velocity’ for as long as you can. This will pacify the drivers behind, and in most cases you’ll only need to occupy the centre of the lane for a few short blocks before things open up again. But while doing so do not edge to the side of the road at all. Hold your ground. You’ve as much right to that lane as any motorized vehicle, in these conditions.