Taking the lane vs keeping left - the marginalisation of bicycles


This is a really interesting (but long) history of road rules and line marking and marginalisation of bikes on the road, from the US.


 We have similar rules here – a somewhat contradictory “bicycles are vehicles” and definition of lanes as for only one line of traffic, but rule 129 (1)  A driver on a road (except a multi-lane road) must drive as near as practicable to the far left side of the road.  Part (2) is an exception for motor bikes.  Existing “Share the Road” messages and signage seem to reinforce that the bikes should move over to the edge to make room for the car to pass.

 So the question is, with this thinking so ingrained in our culture, how can we change attitudes, or at least let drivers know that there are legitimate safety reasons for using the lane? 

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There's a part of me that wants to suggest:

"Carry a large, heavy shifting spanner in your jersey pocket. If a car comes too close, 'fix' it"

However, the real me is a bit more optimistic. There's an uptick in the numbers of bike users on the road, and the more of us there are, the more drivers will start to get a clue. Yes, they'll need prodding on occasion, but I think it's getting better. A little. 

I don't think separated bike lanes are helpful for this specific reason, but they're helpful getting more riders out and about, and that's got to be part of the solution, right?

+1 on all counts :)

(does that then make it +3??)

Take primary and plan your routing?

Always take primary position in the lane and put up with those being jerks until either a) they get used to it or b) wrap their car around a power pole after overtaking you in an unsafe manner.

I think it was someone like Kripke or Keynes that said something like "Beliefs never change, they die out.”

"As near as practicable to the far left side of the road" is not necessarily contradictory to taking the lane.

It is not practicable for me to ride in a space where:

  • I am at risk of being hit by an opening car door.
  • I am not clearly visible to other motorists.
  • I am not able to ride in a way which allows others to predict where I am riding (for example, I am weaving in and out past parked cars).
  • I limit my own line of sight.
  • I encourage vehicles to pass me when there is not adequate room for that to be done safely.
  • I increase my risk of puncturing my tires due to riding through debris-filled gutters

I could probably think of a few more reasons why taking the lane is the equivalent to me riding as far left as practicable. In short, though, it is not practicable to ride in a position which threatens my safety.

Indeed. Of course, when the local council realises that cyclists need space on a given road, they put in a big fat white line just outside the door zone that pretty much forces you to do all the above.

Those lines don't force anyone to do anything. There is no legal requirement to ride in them and for the most part I never do.

Of course, hardly anyone seems to understand that.

Least of all the angry motorists behind you who think you are deliberately flouting the law.

Indeed, I never ride there..... that "big fat white line" signifies the "DOOR ZONE"  Keep clear!!


We still need that stencil of a circle with a diagonal bar through it to put over the bike logos painted in the door zone. That might help understanding amongst all road users.

Oh, I know that. But Big Tin Box doesn't. Big Tin Box is, for the most part, a Big Dumb Tin Box.



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