Wednesday, July 22

Better than Westport...

You may wonder why I felt compelled to take the photo I used for the last TWO posts (now three). Well, it's part of my cycle commute route. It's the Alliance Gateway Freeway. Also shown here. Otherwise known as Texas Highway 170. If you're cycle commuting, don't rule out roads like this. It's far superior to taking Westport (shown here), at least if you're going west. It's not so great if you're going east.

The photo frame of reference above shows roughly where I ride in the lane. That's just me. Don't get in a tizzy about it. The photo doesn't show you that it turns into a RT only lane not far ahead, which turns into the Cabela's service road (shown at left on a busy morning), which passes by buffalo, longhorn cattle, and on to the Alliance Airport with little fuss or muss. It's one of the nice parts of the whole, 20-mile commute.

I've seen stuff on vehicular cycling blogs about "CIC." I try to avoid such terms because I think they oversimplify and stereotype people, and this route is an example. It route was tested (for me) by people that ride far to the right - on the fog line. The only difference between them and me is that I think I remove the doubt from overtaking motorists a little earlier. We've talked about it and agree to disagree. Myself, I hope they eventually come over to my views, but cycling is safe enough that I don't think they're in any severe danger. They've seen that I don't seem to be in any danger either. They probably think I'm rude to the motorists. When it comes down to it, there is little beyond anecdotal data to show I'm right or they're wrong, because we live in a time when the norm is people riding on sidewalks - often against traffic. Regardless of cyclist lane position, great sightlines on Texas 170 mean that overtaking motorists see us a full mile in advance. Either way, the morning motorists just want to get to work without incidents, as do the cyclists. Start with proven principles and adjust for your own experience.

Y'all stay safe...

6 comments:

Doohickie said...

Deja vu....

Doohickie said...

I know very well that mentality of worrying about being "rude to the motorists" because that used to be a big worry of mine as well. My thought process was that if a driver was going to hit me it would be because he was angry with me for getting in his way, so the best policy was to stay out of the way. The more likely scenario to me now is that I would get hit because a motorist didn't notice me, but when you're out in the middle of their lane, they can't help but notice you.

The latter seems obvious to me now, but just a few months ago, the former seemed to be more sensible. I think this is something that comes with experience.

Doohickie said...

Deja vu....

Rantwick said...

There are some spots where I ride on or just right of the fog line... in some cases it helps everybody move better without anything scary for me. Other times, I'll get very much in the way, when there's oncoming traffic that makes it dicey. Is it "dangerous" to adjust my lane position according to traffic?

ChipSeal said...

Good point, dear Rantwick!

On two-laned shoulderless roads, if there is traffic approaching, I would move from near the center of the lane left toward the centerline to make potential overtakers see that they will have to get completely over into the next lane to pass me. I move left to discourage the "straddle pass".

However, I stopped doing this when I realized how much of my attention was being devoted to accessing oncoming traffic and it's relation to overtaking traffic. That is not my job! It is the responsibility of the overtaker to do so in a safe manner and with due care.

Now I ALWAYS ride in about the left tire track, and ignore overtaking traffic.

The only real danger of adjusting your lane position on the fly would be to move left into the path of a motorist already performing a close pass to you. To a motorist though, changing your position laterally in the lane can raise the anxiety of a motorist by making him unsure of your intent. We have all seen scofflaw cyclists make sudden and abrupt maneuvers mid-block without warning!

If the road you are on is a narrow lane, or has many junctions, what is the benefit of riding to the right? I think now (Though my position on this has been evolving) is that it may be better to take the most aggressive lane position you will need to take on any given stretch of road from the start so that your travel line will be consistent.

The fact that you can change your operating environment by changing your lateral lane position is evidence that a lot of a cyclist's positive or negative experiences in traffic are within his control.

Steve A said...

I certainly adjust my lane positions on the exact same roads due to traffic conditions. I follow the principle of "even if you're texting, how hard can it be to miss something 2.5 feet wide, traveling in a straight line at 15-20mph, that's right in your line of sight?"

Saturday mornings, that straight line is not in the same place as it would be on a Wednesday afternoon rush hour. The difference is, however, small enough that I can't say it makes anything more than a psychological difference...

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