Monday, 29 March 2010

Lana Discipline

So when do you claim a lane? (or, a Lana - I couldn't think of a famous "Elaine") Reading an article posted by SteveA, I was struck by how riding conditions and habits can vary from town to town and, more so country to country. I think the answer is, when you judge that there is no room in the lane for a car and a bike at the same time, and as a result it is safer to position yourself so that a driver does not try to squeeze in. But do you get that right? Who's to say?

I thought I'd illustrate with some examples from my current London commute along the Uxbridge Road, a major arterial urban road. Here's a place I definitely claim my lane, I'm going straight ahead. For those of you thinking "rubbish, that's a wide lane", it is two lanes. The pinch point is under the bridge, you can see it better looking from the Streetview on the other side of the road If you are truly fasinated, step back and forth along the road. Coming up to it, I ignore the cycle lane on the left hand side and ride the white line. The cycle lane sucks, throws you across left turning traffic otherwise forcing wait for up to two changes of the (long) lights if you really want to use it. So, I hit traffic speed and ride along.

Another bridge, another pinch point. But this time there are not two I position myself that bit more away from the kerb, but not blocking the lane. That way the enthusiastic overtakers are kept a bit in check (you can see that manoeuvre shaping up if you step back and forth. In my view, the cyclist in frame is too near the kerb but no big deal.

And finally, pinch point of a junction and lights Here, I would not normally claim the lane, in my view there is plenty of room here.

That's some of the three options. How would you handle them?

And time for a pet hate. Cyclists riding two abreast (mostly not even fast) just for convenience of chatting, without a thought for road conditions. You've got a right to be on the road, but some you can and some you can't.


  1. Several thoughts. There IS a famous "Lane," at least in the USA. She is "Lois Lane," the love interest of Superman. ;-)

    First situation, I was unclear which white lane you were referring to, but your narrative sounded sensible. I also found the "bike box" you didn't mention to be very interesting. Do they put those in so that cyclists can get in front of the motorists to block their way? When I come up to a traffic light, I usually stop at the back of the pack of cars. When the green signal launches them forth, I then get the whole road to myself until I catch up to them at the next light. Sometimes it is best to leave the motorists simply to play with each other.

    In the second situation, I notice that the cyclist in the photo, if he maintains course, will run over a nasty drain grate not far ahead. He will have to move into the lane despite his current position or risk getting thrown into the path of the enthusiastic overtakers. You avoid the risk of the merge by simply riding straight. We could quibble about the details, but you lot might not be familiar with the term "picking flyshit out of the pepper."

    In the bottom picture, I I got confused. It looks like there are two through lanes, neither of which is overly wide, and one lane that turns right. In addition there is what looks like gravel even further off to the left. It also looked like there is a bus down the block. In such a situation, I might be inclined to catch up to the bus and then just cruise along far enough back that I don't catch his fumes. Nobody will want to be passing me only to get stuck behind that bus. Buses can be great friends to cyclists who are not in a rush.

    WRT your pet hate. You have a lot of company. I did a post on that exact subject last July 1, entitled "Maybe My Paranoia Is Showing." If you watch the Google video interview with John Forester, when he is asked about two abreast, he suggests it is maybe not a good idea.

    One other item. It was quite different when I clicked on the links with my real computer. With the iPhone, it wanted to give me a choice of locations and not do the real streetview. Odd.

  2. Clarification - the "you" in the second situation was intended to mean that your own described riding position avoids having to weave out into the traffic lane unexpectedly to avoid obstacles. The pepper comment was about exactly how far out is optimum. As you say, riders and conditions vary widely, as do drivers.


Your thoughts are welcome