Top 5 Reasons to Claim the Lane (and why it’s safer)

by Commute by Bike

There is a lot of debate as to where a bicycle commuter should position themselves in relation to the road. New bike commuters, especially, are often intimidated by riding in the road and often choose something that isn’t necessarily the safest place.


Here are the top two least safe places to ride:

  • Sidewalk– While the odds of you getting hit from behind diminish greatly, there are other dangers that come into play.
    • Drivers are not looking for fast moving objects on the sidewalks, so when you come to a cross street there is a good chance you’ll get hit by a turning car.
    • Sidewalks are available for pedestrians and, in many states, it’s illegal for bicycles to ride on them.
    • You are forced to (and should) go extremely slow. Besides dealing with turning cars and pedestrians, you are riding on surfaces that are not maintained for traffic and you will often have other obstacles to deal with.
  • The extreme right side of the road– This is the most dangerous place you can ride. You are risking two dangers:
    • Cars will repeatedly try to squeeze by you in the same lane and will almost always come very close to you which, obviously, increases your chance of getting hit.
    • The Peek-a-boo bike. Picture two cars approaching. The second car is following closely to the first. As the first car moves to miss you, it is seen by the second car as merely drifting in the lane since the car isn’t moving that much out of the way. The second car doesn’t realize you are in the road until it is too late.

Because of the above dangers–and contrary to many people’s “common sense”–the best thing for a bike commuter to do is claim the lane. I ride at least a third of the way into the lane and, around curves, I roll right down the middle.

Here are the top five reasons why I started claiming the lane (and why you should too):

  1. Drivers give you more room – The day I started claiming the lane is the day I stopped getting regularly buzzed too closely by cars. As mentioned above, when you are all the way to the right, cars will almost always try to squeeze by. When you claim the lane, they are forced to slow down and wait for an opportunity to pass you which means they take plenty of room to do it.
  2. You are more visible – Drivers are used to looking for other large, metal boxes. And they’re used to looking for them in the middle of the lane ahead of them. When you hug the side of the road, you are often outside their field of vision. By claiming the lane you are much more likely to be seen by oncoming traffic.
  3. You avoid dangerous debris and obstacles – The sides of roads are usually covered in debris. Stuff that can slash your tires and/or fly up and hurt you. There are also things like sewer grates and uneven shoulders to worry about. By claiming the lane you avoid all of this.
  4. It’s an easier, more enjoyable ride – When stuck squeezing the side of the road or riding on the sidewalk, feelings of stress abound. Constantly watching the terrain ahead of you, swerving out of the way of obstacles, slowing down for pedestrians and many other things to which you are forced to pay attention are reduced when you claim the lane.
  5. You are making a statement – While not as important as the previous safety related reasons, this has long term effect. On many roads, bicycles are perceived as an annoyance that shouldn’t be allowed in the road with other “real” vehicles. By claiming the lane you are making a statement that we belong on the road and have all the same rights as cars.

I came to these views after a lot of time spent bike commuting in my home city of Lynchburg, VA. We don’t have bike lanes and I’ve come to believe that the people that built our roads had never heard of the bicycle. Not to mention most drivers are oblivious to the “share the road” mentality (and laws).

I firmly believe on a bike, my place is in the road and claiming the lane–and in a large portion of our country, that is where you belong too. It’s safer and more convenient.

What do you think?

This post was written by Tim Grahl, founder of Commute by Bike.


254 Responses to “Top 5 Reasons to Claim the Lane (and why it’s safer)”

  1. sarah Rohr says:

    …. not on a super busy 4 lane highway, you’re not going to be doing this! The author of this article obviously means small 2 lane roads where minimal traffic is.

    If not, he is implying we bicyclists can go down a toll road in the lane as well. pft. suicide.

  2. Daniel says:

    I think this article (and website) is great. Most of my riding is done on 35 – 45 mph roads which is 4 lanes wide. I often ‘explain’ to drivers how riding on the road is the only way of travelling legally. They generally think that I am just saying that to justify my ‘illegal/unsafe actions’. I often refer them to the local PD and/or driver’s handbook for clarification. Locally, many drivers (especially those of SUVs and trucks) cannot properly maneuver their vehicles into parking spaces, let alone around a cyclist. Thus, my riding in the center of the lane forces (yes, I said ‘forces’ because I don’t mind being demanding if it saves my own or daughter’s life) them to take the other lane or wait for a passing zone. Which reminds me– everytime a driver crosses a double yellow line to pass a cyclist (or any vehicle), to think that the vehicle they have passed is driving illegally slow is wrong. In fact, the passer broke the law, not the slower moving passee.

    Alex, I assume you are referring to the posted speed limit. This limit is the MAXIMUM speed limit. To say that all vehicles should be able to travel at this speed is a joke, as this implies that vehicles should be travelling at this speed or more; the latter is illegal for anyone without proper authority (ie: emergency vehicles during an emergency only). Some roads post minimum limits as well. If there is a minimum limit posted that I am not able to maintain, I will not ride there as it is illegal and unsafe. On the majority of commute routes, there is no posted minimum limit, meaning that its perfectly legal to travel at 5 mph (or less). Do you also think the postal clerk, elderly, or young drivers should travel at the maximum speed limit? You should rethink your driving habits and/or beliefs, because frankly your wrong.

    sara Rohr, 5mph downhill is a terrible example to use as a reason we shouldn’t ride on roads. I’m pretty sure I can do at least 10mph on my daughters 12″ single speed bike by coasting. This is a rediculous example. Not to mention most commuters steer clear of “highways”.

    Thanks, as always.

  3. sara says:

    I’ve inched towards taking the lane over the last two years, and found it much easier to ride. This last week I started riding with my 4 1/2 y.o on an attached trail-a-bike, and I ALWAYS take the full lane when she is riding on the back. Why, becasue it greatly increases our visablility – especially hers, and drivers are much more careful and respectful of us when they see I’ve riding with her. We ride slowly, defensively, pull to the side and stop to allow cars to pass, and I politly ask – with gestures and words – for the right of way when I know we need to make a move or miss a light. So far, so good. But, yeah, riding with the most precious thing in the world singing and laughing behind me through morning traffic is a bit nerve-rattling.

  4. Steven Whitfield says:

    Once I started claiming my lane I felt much safer. The fact is in my state the law states for cyclist to ride as far to the right as practicable, not as far to the right as possible. My daily experience has taught me that if I ride as far to the right as possible, I will be buzzed far too close by motorist; therefore, my solution is to follow the law and ride as far to the right as practicable instead. That meant the motorist is forced to at least partially leave their lane to pass me. This ends the buzzing me too close problem. On occasion I’ll get yelled at by a motorist telling me to break the law by riding on the sidewalk, but most often I simply get passed safely.
    Please cyclist, stay off the side walk and properly “claim your lane.” You will be safer for it.

  5. Cheryl says:

    I don’t agree with Alex. We need more bicycles and less cars on the road. Where I live there are a lot of 2 lane pretty roads and a lot of bicycle riders. Cars have learned to be patient when passing cyclists and for the most part are very cyclist friendly. This is the way it should be. I even commute 20+ miles to work each way when the weather is nice.

  6. A safe driver says:

    For you cyclists that think you have the right to be a rolling roadblock, this is straight out of the State of Maine’s law book.
    2. Riding to the right. A person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time and place shall drive on the right portion of the way as far as practicable except when it is unsafe to do so or:
    A. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or other vehicle proceeding in the same direction; [2007, c. 400,.§3 (NEW).]
    B. When preparing for or making a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; [2007, c. 400,.§3 (NEW).]
    C. When proceeding straight in a place where right turns are permitted; and [2007, c. 400,.§3 (NEW).]
    D. When necessary to avoid hazardous conditions, including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, broken pavement, glass, sand, puddles, ice, surface hazards or opening doors from parallel-parked vehicles, or a lane of substandard width that makes it unsafe to continue along the right portion of the way. For purposes of this paragraph, “lane of substandard width” means a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side in the lane.

    Section “D” will tell you that, indeed, you need not let motor traffic pass if the lane is too narrow, but most lanes are not. You just go ahead and “claim your lane” on a 2-lane country road, and see what happens when a loaded semi truck comes up behind you over a blind hill or corner. You had better be ready to bail into the ditch, because that truck sure as heck can’t just slow down from 45 to 10 mph in 100 feet because you decided to “claim your lane”.

  7. Raj says:

    Alex is correct. I’ve been a bicycle commuter for 6 years, rain or shine, and came to the same conclusions. Early on in my commuting experience, I also rode near the edge of the road and had trucks come so close as to scrape by my handlebars. Motorized vehicles do not tend to move over as they pass you, and it is no fun feeling as if your bike might be dragged by the wind under the wheels of an 18-wheeler while you creep along the side of the road. Once I even had a little old lady drag me (and my bike) along, because she did not see me riding at the side of the road (she was really sorry when she realized that). Over time, I observed that I am safest right in the center of the lane (that is as close to the right as is practical for me, according to the law). Cars and trucks simply have to go around me, and that increases the drivers situational awareness. My ride takes me along four-lane roads, and I have to change lanes like any other vehicle to make left turns from those roads. All in all, I am better off if cars see me behaving like another car. I’m better off being in front of an 18 wheeler rather than being buffeted by winds, at its side. I don’t get many comments when I make a left turn off a four lane road, as one vehicle in a line of cars and then proceed to continue taking a lane. As for those who don’t think that a bicycle can be speedy, I may be somewhat slower than a car on a city street (not by much), but I can sure catch up with a car from one stop light to the next. For all of you commuters out there, you are safer if you are braver and aware of every thing around you.

  8. I love Charles’ reply to Alex! You make a wonderful point. I actually commute every day to work and have only had one incident with a motorists acting like a jerk towards me. After I proceeded to inform of my right to ride my bike on the road, he proceeded to cuss me and call me stupid. I informed him that he was in fact the stupid one because he didn’t know the laws and rights for cyclists. Motorists need to educate themselves about the laws that are in effect to protect cyclists right to ride their bikes. It is against the law to honk at, harrass, cuss at, and/or throw things at cyclists. There is also a 3 feet law in most states that states that motorists must be 3 feet away from a cyclist while passing. We as cyclists also have a responsibilty to follow all traffic laws. If we can learn to share the road, our relations could greatly improve!

  9. Dano says:

    I am a fairly new commuter and am still trying to decide where to be riding. I have 3 stages of my ride.
    1. 1 mile, 25-40mph roads, no problem being on the road.
    2. 1 mile, A rail Trail (I am really lucky I know and this is an obvious choice)
    3. This is the one I am having troubles with it a 3 mile stretch of 4 lane 55mph (this means at least 60mph in Michigan) complete with curbs (I will refer to it as 52nd street). It is pretty rural and I do have a sidewalk along the entire stretch. The side walk crosses 2 major roads, 3 minor and about 2 dozen driveways. I also ride in the morning at 6:00 before any of the rushes if that makes a difference.

    Maybe I just need a “go get um’ tiger” speech but I am leaning towards the side walk. Here is the deal. When I “take a lane” drivers still buzz me (3 of 3 times so far and they are often doing things that would certainly get them pulled over, riding half in the other lane pushing the car in that lane over). When I ride the sidewalk I “feel safer but have a lower percentage of close calls, not to mention the close calls. I can’t get over the thought that “If I make no mistake I could be hit from behind at 60mph if I am on the road claiming a lane,” then think “I can ride defensively and ensure that I am not in the road at the time others are if I take to the side walks, not to mention that if I am hit it will only be at a max 30mph.” Its worth it to point out that Force = mass x velocity^2 this means that for every few mph faster a car is going they are hitting me with exponentially greater force.
    2500lbs x 40mph^2= 4 million force units
    2500lbs x 60mph^2= 9 million fore units
    That more then twice the whacking power between stage 1 and 3.

    These are all the factors and I want to make a good decision.

    BTW while studying the laws in my area it is permissible for me to ride on the sidewalks because I am out of the business zone and are in the industrial zone.

    If anyone has advise please offer

    • Ted Johnson says:

      Dano: This is only a partial answer to your question. Get a rear-view mirror. I have one that mounts to my helmet, and I always feel safer when I wear it. I can see what’s coming up behind me without having to turn completely away from looking where I’m going.

  10. chuck says:

    something not mentioned here is that claiming the lane will minimize the chance of being “doored” by an unaware parked driver, something I’ve had happen twice.

    some advice for dano…

    look real hard to see if there’s another way. a longer ride on a safer stret is worth it

  11. Ron says:

    Here is the extract for California DMV site:

    1 – When to Take the Traffic Lane

    If there is no shoulder or bicycle lane and the traffic lane is narrow, ride closer to the center of the lane. This will prevent motorists from passing you when there is not enough room. You should also use the traffic lane when you are traveling at the same speed as the traffic around you. This will keep you out of motorists’ blind spots and reduce conflicts with right-turning traffic.

    2 – How Far to the Right?

    Ride on the right, but not so far that you might hit the curb. You could lose your balance and fall into traffic. Do not ride too far to the right:

    When avoiding parked vehicles or road hazards.
    When a traffic lane is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side.
    When making a left turn so that vehicles going straight do not collide into you.
    To avoid conflicts with right-turning vehicles.

  12. Ronnie says:

    I used to live in Lynchburg and miss it. I now live in Vegas.

    The law protects us, but the laws don’t have the power to resurrect us after being run over. I have seen bicyclist on the side of the road being placed on a stretcher. Not a motivational site.

    I usually stick to the side streets, but I am lucky enough to live in a city with bike lanes and paved bike only routes.

  13. Hello Ther says:

    “A bicyclist who is not traveling at the same speed of other traffic must ride in a designated bike lane (see Bike Lane Law Explained) or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. A bicyclist may leave the right-most portion of the road in the following situations: when passing, making a left turn, to avoid road hazards, or when a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to share safely. (see Roadway Position Explained)”


  14. Alan says:

    Most of my ride is at rush hour on a busy four lane 50km-limit city street with a wide right lane. I use my mirror, spend a lot of time looking around and ride as close to the curb a “practicable.” I don’t think it is in my interest to block traffic. For the most part, cars make an effort to accommodate me and I reciprocate.
    It seems to me that this is very much a judgment call dependant on local conditions and specific circumstances.

  15. james says:

    i recently got hit while going on the side walk. some one pulled out before looking both ways. but for some reason i still think riding on the side walk in 40+ mph is safer in my mind. I don’t own a road bike, i don’t have the money. Any way, i think ill try to ride on that road now. I live in a very non bike friendly neighborhood, that’s why its always worried me.

  16. Dean says:

    The reference at also states that their is no legal definition of what is “too narrow” but provides a guide line of 14 ft. (Most roads are 10-12).

    So for most roads, it is completely legal to take the lane as it is considered too narrow to share the lane with a passing vehicle.

    My observation is that most lanes that are 14′ wide will have the bike lane added to it.

  17. Jabba says:

    “Claiming the lane”? You arrogant idiot. You are riding a bicycle, not a car. The roads were designed to carry cars not bikes. It’s people like you that give cyclists a bad name. You are supposed to keep as near to the kerb as possible, and no more than a couple of feet, or just outside a drain. If every cyclist were to adopt your approach then cities around the world would come to a standstill. Don’t get me wrong, I like cycling, but I do it responsibly, with respect for other road users. I do not get on the road and expect everyone to bow to me. Oh and by the way, you should be riding in single file as well – nothing more annoying than 2 or more cyclists riding along having a chat as they go.

  18. Jason says:

    Obviously, once a person becomes more and more familiar with riding their routes, they learn that their position in the road is dependent upon several factors: visibility, traffic, road conditions, weather, and fitness/ability. There’s no one position or one rule that always applies. (And for the random car drivers who’ve obviously never commuted before, you should realize that most cycling commuters have left their house, used the road, and hit the office/gym/coffee-house before you’ve finished brushing your teeth.)

    But for all the crotch-grabbing, chest thumping talk about “the law”, no one’s bothered to mention the universal principle of human decency.

    Fact: Most cyclists don’t want to be an annoyance or block traffic, they will move as safely to the right as possible to allow motorists more room to pass.

    Fact: Most motorists don’t want to face the consequences of hitting a pedestrian or cyclist in the road (because your law, lets face it, isn’t going to overrule the stupidity of driving like a jag-off) and will provide as much room as safely possible when they pass.

    Fact: Some people are sub-human dillweeds that will be jerks regardless of how many wheels they’re rolling along on. And you’ll have to deal with them occasionally no matter what precautions you take. Deal with it.

    So the real key to commuting, by bicycle or car, is to be considerate. Realize that everyone has some place they’d like to get to as quickly, safely, and incident-free as possible, and do your best to help them achieve that goal. The more people who start acting like reasonable, compassionate human beings, the more all of us will enjoy using our roadways.

  19. curt says:

    – nothing more annoying than 2 or more cyclists riding along having a chat as they go.
    some states the law allows that..

  20. Jess says:

    What if you are too slow to ride on the road? I’m relatively new to cycling (biked on and off for fun) and only ride at a speed of about 9-10 miles per hour. If I’m going up a hill, I come to a crawl in the lowest gear on my bike. Basically, I’m not in great shape. I don’t want to get off my bike and walk up the hill because I want to get the hills mastered, but I’m too slow to be on the road. And 10 miles per hour on flat terrain is too slow to be on the road as well.

    What am I supposed to do?

    • Ted Johnson says:

      What are you supposed to do? Claim the lane, that’s what.

      Just because you’re going 10 MPH does not mean that you don’t have a right to use the lane. Nor does it mean that it is not safer to do so. “Too slow to ride on the road” is in your head.

      I find that having a helmet-mounted rear-view mirror adds to my confidence and safety. I can monitor if a motorist is coming fast behind me — and perhaps not going to respect my right to be on the road — and I can respond defensively.

      Make sure you are dressed visibly — and use bike tail lights at night. Talk to some other cyclists in your area about specific roads, and strategies.

  21. Keithmj says:

    Taking the lane is the safest thing to do. And it is CURB, not KERB. A substandard lane is anything less than 14 feet wide, so you are allowed to take the full lane, drivers can go around if they don’t want to stay behind you. More riders are hit riding far to the right and on the sidewalk. An idiot would be a bike taking the lane at night with no lights on the bike or riding a bike on the sidewalk at night with no lights.

  22. JonO says:

    After reading this post, I tried to claim the lane on my commute this morning. Long story short, I nearly got ran over by 800 speeding cars and one of them even buzzed the tower on purpose. The whole experience scared the hell out of me! Someone needs to develop a smoke screen or oil slick for bikes similar to that old video game ‘Spy Hunter’. That’ll teach those drivers!

  23. Tigerface says:

    I am considering doing a 15.7 mile commute to college on a motorized cruiser. Seven miles of this will take me on a busy five lane road that technically is limited to fifty miles an hour but really ends up being about sixty miles an hour. This concerns my dad, but I guess the rationale on this site is that it would be perfectly fine? Looks like you guys are going even more hardcore and are still alive!

    (Yes, sticking a $185 engine kit on my bike is cheating, but then I can hit 20, 30, 35 mph. I figure it would be little different than riding a motorcycle. I’d be just as exposed and just a little slower.)

  24. Gavin says:

    Well, it’s curb in America and kerb elsewhere.


  25. snuzzled says:

    Whenever anyone honks at me for claiming the lane, I like to pretend they’re honking because they think my bike is really cool and want to let me know.

    A car that has honked at you is a car that has seen you– and that’s what matters.

  26. Bill says:

    The author needs to provide more information about what kinds of roads / streets he is riding on when taking the lane. The author is looking at this as if everyone rides an urban commute, which isn’t accurate. If I took the lane on much of my commute I’d be putting myself in greater danger than not. Most of my commute is on a 2 lane, 55 mph road with blind curves, rolling hills, and a very good, wide (4 to 8 feet), and generally clean shoulder for most of that distance. It would be suicide to consistently take the lange there, not to mention inconsiderate and needless. Telling some newb to always take the lane is irresponsible. Take the lane when it’s appropriate — i.e. – when taking the lane is safer than not taking the lane.

  27. Rose says:

    Actually, this IS illegal in many states. There are laws regarding minimum speed even when it’s not posted on the roads: you are not allowed to go so slowly it impedes traffic.

    If you’re going 15 mph and the limit is 40, you are breaking the law. In my town, you WILL get a ticket for it. The advice in this article is irresponsible, it is advising people to do something illegal and unsafe.

  28. Art says:

    What bizarre and ill-advised advice. “Share the Road” means cyclists are to share the road also. Don’t ever lose site of the fact that roads were built for automobiles, buses, trucks, etc. If you want to “claim the lane” then stay on the bike trail or keep up with the posted speed limit. If you want to ride with the big kids then keep to the right and show some courtesy.

  29. Art says:

    Don’t take stupid advice…keep as far to the right as possible and let faster traffic pass. If you don’t, eventually you’ll be a statistic with a bike lane named in your honor.

  30. Bobby says:

    I agree completely. I ride in Johnson City, TN to and from work and school. Even though it is a college town with lots of bikes, a lot of the roads I travel have no bike lanes. I claim the lane and try to remain civil, even though I get a lot of honks and rude gestures thrown my way.

  31. disabled 100% cyclist says:

    Minnesota you are required to hug the right curb, unless your turning left or swerving to miss objects like parked cars..

    This is one of the big reasons I ride on sidewalks with my bad hearing.

    I have noted in my earlier years drivers got really pissed off when you hog the whole lane, even in slow moving downtown traffic.

    to me a pissed off driver is far worse than a distracted driver. Road rage and 2000lb weapon is enough said.

    Also some areas claiming the lane is illegal when going straight.

    see this is MN Subd. 4.Riding on roadway or shoulder.

    (a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

    (1) when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;

    (2) when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;

    (3) when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or narrow width lanes, that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge.

    (b) If a bicycle is traveling on a shoulder of a roadway, the bicycle shall travel in the same direction as adjacent vehicular traffic.

    (c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway or shoulder shall not ride more than two abreast and shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.

    As you can see your breaking the law to claim the lane when going straight in certain circumstances.

  32. Brian says:

    I’ve NEVER seen a lane that can handle the smallest car and a bike safely.

    Just because we survive it doesn’t mean it is safe.

    In a court of law you would have no problem making the case that it wasn’t safe to share the lane with 2000 lb block of steel passing you.

  33. Brian says:

    Vehicles are generally required to pull over when there is a backup of 5 or more behind them, Bikes should be no different there. We must obey the law we are protected by.

    Bike lanes are a curse. They fill up with debris and put us square in the ‘door’ zone.

    Pull into the lane to avoid someone dooring you and your just as dead.

  34. Tom says:

    Claiming the lane is great depending on the road being ridden. If someone is trying to get a morning exercise on a busy rush hour commute road, taking the entire lane will definitely result in catastrophe. Take the lane but choose WHEN to take it. Being an inconsiderate moron isn’t forgivable just because the person is on a bicycle. bicycle or not, common courtesy is common courtesy.

  35. Chief Redelk says:

    I am 65 years old and I ride almost daily. Sometimes up to 20 + miles.. Here in Minden Louisiana NO ONE has put up signs telling our drivers a bicycle has a right to the road. Our roads are NARROW with no shoulders in most places..I get buzzed all the time. I get yelled at all the time..I do take up my land SOMETIMES and YES I feel it’s the best way to ride most of the time. BUT IF I move over for one car the one behind it will almost hit me most of the time. Our Governor Bobby Jindal SHOULD do something to fix this. Our Webster Parish leaders SHOULD post Signs that is the LAW.. BUT, I do not see any..What can we DO TO get help.. as far as I KNOW I am the ONLY man who shops on his bike. My ride to Wallyworld and back home is about 16 or 18 miles. Depends which stores I visit in town. North Louisiana is HOSTILE to cyclist.. We NEED a bike lane leading from each town to the next one..I would like to ride from Dubberly to Arcadia La. on my bike but Highway 80 east is dangerous.. There are NO bike paths and no shoulders in the country and people SPEED and TEXT while driving… This country is behind on this and it’s needed badly. Our president should make each state provide safe bike paths leading from all communities into the local towns and do it NOW..I think IF it were safer MORE people would ride bicycles..Thanks, Chief.

  36. Al says:

    Trucks often need to crawl slowly up hills, too. Some nicer drivers will try to move into the shoulder for it to let lighter vehicles pass, but not all, and not all situations allow for this. Cyclists aren’t alone in needing to slow down for uphill riding.

  37. Michael says:

    This has been eye-opening. I am researching to actually start commuting by bike, and I WAS one of those drivers that is annoyed by cyclist due to the nature of my city and past, though I always steer clear. Now I get it. One step closer.

  38. Matt says:

    Don’t take the lane just to be an ass because all cyclists will pay the price for you.

  39. John says:

    What about Hi visibility vests? I believe they should be compulsory for cyclists. If you take a risk based approach, like in Occupation Health and Safety laws you have to wear to approved standards hi vis vest on a contstruction site or if your working in a repair gang fixing a road. It makes sense that cyclists do the same!

  40. Michael says:

    I live in Trinity County, California and you would be suicidal to claim the lane here. Pedestrians cross the road at their own risk here. Yes, there is some junk and sometimes a dead animal along the side of the road you have to avoid, but it is better than having a logging truck take you out when it comes over the hill and does not have time to slow down.

    This “claim the lane” is good on quiet back roads, but is going to get you killed on major through ways.

    I tend to agree with “A safe driver”
    July 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm

  41. Sandrine says:

    Come down from your entitled planet Jabba.
    Roads are for every vehicle and bicycles are a vehicle, whether you like it or not we have the right to be there.
    Too bad you feel this way because there’s going to be more and more of us.
    Just chill and let us enjoy the ride, you could do it too, enjoy your ride, we don’t ride on highways so when in a city or on other roads just share it.
    Why would it be so hard.

  42. Keithmj says:

    The speed limit is the maximum speed you should go legally, a bicycle going 15 in a 35 is not breaking the law. Unless it is a limited access interstate, which bikes are not allowed on then a bicycle has the right to use the lane at any speed. If more people rode on the road then car drivers will get use to bicycles. If they can go around then you are not impeding traffic. Besides, my life is more important to me than if I am causing a car to go around me or a few seconds in delay. All the bicyclist I have seen that were in a accident were riding on the sidewalks or not taking the lane as they should. And if a semi driver can’t stop for a person on a bike in the lane then the truck driver should not be driving the truck and needs his license revoked, they have to follow laws too and they are not a special class of drivers. There is no reason to hit anything in the road, unless the driver is not paying attention, or the bicycle is not following the law and zips on and off the sidewalk or pulls in front of the vehicle. Why keep making excuses for drivers who should not be driving, if you can’t drive without running over a person or bicycle then stay off the road. Period.

  43. BanjoCam says:

    I have a few questions (spoken as someone who enjoys cycling but drives regularly):

    If you are claiming a lane and come to a red light, with a lineup of say 4 cars in front of you, will you stay claiming the lane and wait fifth in line? I don’t mind if a cycle is claiming the lane but I find it frustrating when I (often stressfully) manage to pass a cyclist only to have them squeeze back in beside me on the right, get to the front of the red light line, and reclaim the lane, forcing me to have to pass again. What’s the rule on this? Also, what does a cycle do when approaching a four way stop, does it count as a car?

    I also find it frustrating when cyclist switch between following pedestrian rules and vehicle rules depending on what’s convenient in the moment. I have lost count of the number of time I have almost been hit as a pedestrian crossing at a green light because a cyclist ignores their red light the other way. I try not to behave this way when I’m cycling.

    Anyway, any info would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

  44. Kody A Busboom says:

    You might want to reread your own post their buckaroo, the wording is quite clear and you clearly did not take the time to fully understand what you are trying to point out

  45. Matt Powers says:

    I absolutely hate people like you.

    When you “claim the lane” what you are actually doing is effectively enforcing a pseudo speed limit at what ever rate you are going. I personally believe that we, as a society, need to start enforcing speed minimums on any road where the maximum is more than 30mph. Slow moving vehicles are very dangerous (thus is why we have speed minimums on the highway.)

    Let’s change the scenario, what if my 90 year old grandmother “claimed” your bike lane and pushed her walker at 2mph down the center of the lane not allowing you to pass. Would this frustrate you? The difference is, my grandmother cares about the rest of society and doesn’t want to slow down the rest of civilization just to “make a statement”.

    Worse yet, what if you were coming around a corner and hit my grandmother from behind? I’m sure there would be a “fantastic” opportunity for lawsuit. This is exactly what I see when people like you are riding in the middle of the road. I don’t see a “statement”. — What I see is someone hoping to be hit by a car to score the great American dream (feverless lawsuit).

    Oh and PS. The top two reasons you gave to ride on the road is to avoid cars. I’m a simple person, but it seems to me that the best way to avoid cars is to ride somewhere that cars generally don’t go!

    I’m curious… If you were writing an article advising people on how to avoid sharks, would you tell them that they need to get out of the ocean? No. You would tell them to swim into deeper waters and “make a statement”.

  46. David Coles says:

    Hi Tim,

    I am fighting a ticket for riding in the middle of a HOV lane designated for use by buses and bicycles. The road has three lanes including the one I am in. I was passing the cars stuck in traffic when I was pulled over and ticketed. I was wondering if you could refer me to any studies regarding safety of cyclists with respect to lane position. I am looking to build my argument over what is practicable or not.


    I am from Canada

  47. lisa says:

    Please ride a bike in traffic for miles. Your comments seem naive and not well thought out. I believe you are angry from cyclists doing things you don’t understand. This would be greatly minimized if you hop on a bike and see why they do it. Sometimes cyclists are in the wrong but the level of your anger is worrisome. If you clip a cyclist even going 20mph, you could permenantly paralyze them. Is damaging some one or even killing them worth the short time you have to slow down for a cyclist?

  48. dirk says:

    If you try this in Florida….you will have the lane quickly claimed from you.

  49. Mark says:

    Interesting point to note that not all bicyclists ride traditional bikes. Riding an electric bike capable of almost 30 mph (though unusual) seems to be less annoying to drivers; there is a substantial difference between going 25-30 in a 40 mph zone while claiming the lane than slowing traffic to 10-15 mph.

    I have found that most motorists in my area simply slow a little, wait patiently and pass in another lane when appropriate. Indeed, as was mentioned, the closer I am to the shoulder on narrow roads, the more likely cars are to pass me in the same lane. If I claim the lane, I do find they pass me at a greater distance. I also, however, yield the lane and take the shoulder when there is enough space in order to reciprocate and allow cars to pass before reclaiming the lane again. Hopefully this will engender positive feelings amongst some drivers.

  50. Dave Sekac says:

    I “take the lane all the time” . I give the one finger salute to cars that must submit to my space. This is my statement

  51. rederic says:

    It’s not everywhere illegal to cross double yellow lines. In Ohio, for one, it’s legal if you are passing a non-motorized vehicle, such as a bike.

  52. Doug says:

    This seems most applicable on two, three or four-lane “urban collector” roads, also called “light-arterial.” 2,000 – 6,000 cars/ day, speed limits of 25 – 35 mph.

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