Archive for September 19, 2008

Why You Should Ride Your Bike In The Middle Of The Road

September 19, 2008

Not really. But you should ride about a third of the way into the lane; where the cars’ passenger side tires normally are. Doing so allows you to ride in a straight and predictable line. If you ride on, or too close to, the shoulder, you will constantly have to swerve into the lane to avoid glass, sticks, trash, holes, things sticking into the road from the sides, parallel parked cars, and all other kinds of obstacles. Swerving is much more dangerous than just staying in the road in the first place:

Police have identified a female bicyclist killed this morning as 20-year-old Sarah Katherine Chapman.

Chapman was riding her bike westbound on Technology Drive [in Huntsville, Alabama] at 10:30 a.m. today when she was struck by an SUV.

Sgt. Mark Roberts of the Huntsville Police Department said the SUV was behind Chapman when she swerved in front of it, and the SUV’s driver was unable to avoid the collision.

Chapman was taken to Huntsville Hospital, where she died a short time later.

Of course, though the article says the SUV driver won’t be charged with anything, I’d bet dollars to donuts that just prior to the swerve, the driver either: a) did not give the cyclist three feet of clearance while passing her; b) was speeding; c) was playing with the radio, talking on a cell phone, beautifying him or herself, or otherwise not paying attention, or; d) all of the above. The point, though, is that on a bike, you have to assume all drivers are complete morons. (Drivers should assume the same thing about cyclists). You have to make yourself as visible and predictable as possible. One way to do that is to pick a line you can stick with, rather than swerving in and out of one. If you feel like the road is too busy to do that, then go find another road.