Kicking off the New Season
by Bob Zogg
Spring marks the time when many of us pull our bikes out of storage and once again hit the roadways—a good time to reflect upon how we can demonstrate and promote the common values that tie us together as a club. Arguably, the most important of our common values are captured in the CRW Safety Policy:
"The CRW promotes safe, courteous, and lawful cycling practices. CRW members are expected to cycle in a safe, courteous, and lawful manner when participating in CRW rides, and to encourage the same among fellow members and CRW guests."
Last month, we provided some suggestions on how you can make a difference. Read on for additional suggestions.
Passing Other Cyclists: Pass on the left and announce your presence (say "passing" or "on your left"). While racers often pass so closely as to brush shoulders, most club riders are not accustomed to this. Give the slower cyclist at least three feet of clearance.
Yielding: Cyclists don't like to slow down, and we certainly don't like to stop. However, it is our legal obligation when motorists, pedestrians, or other cyclists have the right of way. In addition, we need to communicate our intent to yield by slowing appropriately as we approach intersections where other traffic has the right of way. We sometimes unwittingly force motorists to stop because they cannot predict our intentions. We may think that they are being polite and letting us proceed. They often aren't. They simply don't want to hit us.
Smoothing Traffic Flow: Cyclists can be difficult to pass, especially when riding as a group. To make it safer and easier for faster traffic (both motorists and other cyclists) to overtake us:
- Keep right when it is safe to do so
- Ride single file when faster traffic is approaching from the rear
- Ride in small groups—no more than six riders to a group
- Assist your fellow cyclists by calling out "car back" when motorists approach from behind.
Safety considerations trump courtesy considerations, however, and a cyclist should take control of the travel lane when:
- The travel lane is too narrow to share with a motorist or visibility is too limited. Ride in the center of the lane or ride two abreast to occupy the lane.
- Preparing for a left turn. Signal, scan for traffic, then move to the proper lane position: the right side of a left-turn-only lane; or the left side of the lane if it also carries through traffic.
- Approaching an intersection. Move toward the center of the travel lane to discourage right-turning motorists behind you from cutting you off (the notorious "right hook").
- Descending at high speed. Move further into the lane to stay clear of road-side hazards.
- Traveling at the speed of motor traffic. Ride in the center of the lane (or two abreast) to discourage motorists from driving alongside you.
- Avoiding the "door zone". Ride at least 3 to 4 feet away from cars parked at the side of the road.
- Positioning yourself for visibility. Motorists pulling out from driveways or side streets don't always check the shoulder for approaching cyclists. When in doubt, ride farther into the travel lane so that you're more likely to be seen. This is especially important in a narrow lane on a blind right curve.
While the list of exceptions is long, at most times on suburban and rural roads we can safely ride on the right side of the travel lane.
Please send corrections, additions, comments and praise to