Vehicular Cycling Tips Traffic Bicycle Commuting Bike Blogger

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Here are some vehicular cycling tips. Vehicular cycling is bicycle commuting in traffic and following the rules of the road.

Rules Of The Road

When navigating heavy traffic it is important to stay calm and ride your bike as you would drive your car following all traffic laws. It's basically that simple. Take your time, be predictable, be assertive, be alert, and be visible. You'll only get honked at more if you break the rules of the road, the same way many drivers honk at each other and some honk for the heck of it.

Anticipating what drivers will do, predicting their speed, and focusing on their face and their front wheels all help in negotiating traffic. If you notice a car starts to move the edge of their lane they may be about to change lanes.

Signalling And Lane Control

Look and signal every time before changing lanes including moving out of a bike lane or away from the road shoulder.

The law in many places gives cyclists the right to control the lane as they feel it necessary. Controlling the lane means riding in a straight line in the center of the lane or a little off center. If you have a tendancy to ride near the road shoulder/edge, try to stay there and ride in a straight line rather than weave in and out of the traffic lane.

On rural roads it is best to stay closer to the edge of the roadway than in the center of the lane because people tend to drive faster and are less attentive, except on turns where you want to be most visible.

Do not ride so far to the edge of the roadway that you risk a flat tire in the gutter, or encourage passing when it's unsafe and unnecessary. Always have a second plan in case you need to escape a dangerous situation.

Blind Spots

When you crest a hill move to the shoulder in case a car is accelerating fast up the hill behind you. Do not pass in the slow lane, especially alongside large trucks. Ride your bike far enough behind other vehicles that you can see road hazards.

Speed And Passing

If you cannot keep pace with the normal flow of traffic to a reasonable degree (more than 10 MPH below speed limit), move closer to the shoulder to allow faster traffic to pass, but only when safe and practical to do so. If you know cars are piling up behind you and there is room to move over safely, do so and let them pass.

Cars and trucks move according to traffic light sequencing and so they tend to pile up and move in groups. If you just keep a steady pace you can spend most of your time riding between these groups and hit all the green lights. Do not make them pass you over and over again if you can help it.

When passing parked cars do it at least two arms length (5 feet) away to avoid being hit by an open door AKA being doored, or being scared and thrown into nearby traffic.

When in a bike lane and you notice a car in the adjacent traffic lane slowing down you should too because they may be preparing to cut in front of you to park or turn.

Intersections And Turns

At intersections position yourself according to your intended destination in a normal traffic lane where most visible.

When stopping at an intersection or turning onto another road, do it in the middle of the lane where another vehicle cannot squeeze past you. Remember to downshift before coming to a stop, and slow down slowly (cars cannot stop as fast as cyclists). While waiting at a traffic light keep one foot on the ground and one foot on the pedal ready to push off.

If you are proceeding straight through an intersection and the lane allows both straight thru and turning traffic, move to the side away from the curb if the lane is wide enough to allow traffic past while you wait at the stoplight.

When making a turn and there are multiple turning lanes, choose the lane that will most quickly get you to the shoulder side of the road unless you anticipate another turn soon after that turn.

If you cannot make your turn in time due to heavy traffic, pull into a parking lot and turn around, or try the next intersection.

Near the end of the video I think a motorist told me to stay on the right side of the road. I was at the intersection first and decided to stay in the primary thru lane. Immediately after that intersection the lanes merge and I knew this and felt uncomfortable waiting until the last minute to merge and allow a line of cars to pile up next to me. I felt I would cause the least disruption to the flow of traffic by taking the initiative and not waiting to merge. The lesson here is to just do what you feel is most comfortable based on your skill level and try to use your best judgment as the situation changes.

This direct route bike commute was in record time with only a distance of 2.5 miles in less than 10 minutes - about the same time it takes by car. Average speed +15 MPH. I find the secondary roads more relaxing, but it's good to mix things up.

More info on vehicular cycling - Effective Cycling by John Forester

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