Wednesday, July 1

Maybe my Paranoia is Showing...

Today, I got another opportunity to examine motorist behavior, but I chickened out. One of our engineers left a little later than her usual departure, and I rode along with her for a while. Our routes are identical until we get south of FM 1709. However, our riding styles are a lot different. We agree to disagree, and, so far, neither of us has been killed or maimed. I hope it stays that way. Despite frequent hysteria, cycling is really pretty safe once you get past the really idiotic stuff. She's well past all that and rides far right in the belief that it makes things go smoother, not because she's terrified that she'll be impaled on a car hood. I figure it's not that hard to pass a 30" wide vehicle traveling in a straight line at 15-20MPH, and it's easier the earlier the motorist reaches that conclusion.

Anyway, as we rode, each of us pretty much rode in his/her usual lane position and we looked just like "two abreast" cyclists, which is what we were. The thought kept crossing my mind, and we talked about it; "do motorists get more irritated with cyclists riding two abreast than they would over one riding in that LH position solo?" Logically, if you're driving, you get to pass two for the price of one, but I see a lot of NASTY newspaper comments about two-abreast riders. I also kept thinking of the cyclists killed last year (by a drunk) in Grand Prairie while riding two abreast. Hatch & Alfaro. Anyway, engineers talking, really boring to normal humans.

Before too long, we went down Coffeetree toward Katy. Yes, THAT Katy, the two-laner with no shoulder. I said, "maybe I ought to just go on ahead." I did not trust that riding two abreast would be hassle-free, but I knew riding solo in that LH position would be. VC and fearlessness are entirely separate things.

Maybe my notion was justified. Maybe not. Is this something they teach in Traffic 101?


ChipSeal said...

You are right, passing a cyclist does not take the fine-honed skills and lightning reflexes of a formula one race car driver!

A solo cyclist and two cyclists in a narrow lane are an equal obstruction. But because one cyclist is riding to the right, the motorist thinks they both ought to, and so the pair are selfishly impeding traffic!

Gutter-bunnies can be found among recreational club riders. I was riding on a GDB group ride once. We were traveling on a country two lane (10' lanes) in a group of about ten riders, none of us more than two abreast. A cop came up behind us and as he approached the "car-up" call was sounded. Some of the riders singled up inches from the edge of the lane. I did not, but continued on in the LH tire track. The cop got on his PA and ordered us to ride single-file. We immediately complied... Me and two other riders sped-up to be clearly ahead of the gutter bunnies and proceeded in the LH tire track.

After a while, the cop merged into the oncoming lane and overtook us in a safe manner. Just as he would have had to do if we were all riding near the fog line.

I am not very concerned if a motorist gets annoyed at my lane position.

Steve A said...

Actually, if motorists are being safe (and, per yesterday's post, most are), two cyclists are an equal obstruction to the soloist in a narrow lane REGARDLESS of where in that lane the solo cyclist is riding. The difference is in the mind of the motorist. Motorist psychology can be a curious thing.

I have been keeping my eye out for a "non gutter bunny" for some time now, purely for educational purposes. I hope to see one someday (people I know that sneak on to one of my regular routes as ringers would not count). I may make an observational detour if I sight one in the wild, and will share experimental results.

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