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Thread: How narrow does a lane have to be for you to take the lane?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    Assume no seg infra, no rideable sidewalk, etc. The choices are to ride in the center of a general travel lane, or on the right edge of it (let's also assume no parked cars, so just in from the gutter)

    I routinely ride on the far right here for example

    https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8367...8i6656!6m1!1e1

    I am not a good judge of these things, but I guess it must be about almost 16 feet (I guess just too narrow to allow parking on the right). Ditto on two way streets with no center line and very light traffic (not uncommon in residential areas where I am more likely to be riding in the street to begin with)

    On more common lanes, I almost always ride in the center. I will "release" the lane periodically (assuming one lane in each direction), if traffic is stacking up behind me, and there is what seems to me a safe place to do so (a very long stretch of the parking lane with no parked cars - sorry, I know I said assume no parking) If it is a steep uphill, and I am going to be going painfully slowly, and it is one lane in each direction, I will ride the sidewalk (again, sorry for violating my initial assumption) or will avoid altogether.

    So forgetting what I do, when does a lane allow, to you, safe and comfortable riding on the right? 14 ft? 12 ft?
    In Maryland, you're supposed to ride as far as practicable to the right if the usable portion of the lane is at least 13 feet wide. If the lane is less wide than that (or if curbside parking or other encroachments narrow the width usable for travel to 13 feet or less), you can take the lane:

    http://www.cphabaltimore.org/2012/11...w-legal-in-md/

  2. #12
    mstone is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    In general I can identify 13 feet by eye about as well as drivers can identify 3 feet...

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  4. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DismalScientist View Post
    It's because I was sober.
    I'm so sorry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cvcalhoun View Post
    In Maryland, you're supposed to ride as far as practicable to the right if the usable portion of the lane is at least 13 feet wide. If the lane is less wide than that (or if curbside parking or other encroachments narrow the width usable for travel to 13 feet or less), you can take the lane:

    http://www.cphabaltimore.org/2012/11...w-legal-in-md/
    I've never seen a legal exegesis of this...I assume that the law states you have to ride FRAP on the "roadway", which means to the *left* of the fog line, right?...I think many cyclists means you have to ride at the very edge of the pavement, or at least on the shoulder, which I don't think is technically part of the roadway.

  7. #15
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    As a general rule of thumb, I try to take the middle of the lane (or even slightly left of the middle). And, to be perfectly honest, I don't really care if I were riding in MD or elsewhere and the law said otherwise. I've had enough people try insane things to know that if you leave them an inch, they will see it as a couple miles of space. Besides, there are always reasons you need to move one way or the other (potholes, glass, dooring threat, double-parked vehicles, etc) so that extra space can make all the difference.

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  9. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terpfan View Post
    As a general rule of thumb, I try to take the middle of the road. And, to be perfectly honest, I don't really care if I were riding in MD or elsewhere and the law said otherwise. I've had enough people try insane things to know that if you leave them an inch, they will see it as a couple miles of space. Besides, there are always reasons you need to move one way or the other (potholes, glass, dooring threat, double-parked vehicles, etc) so that extra space can make all the difference.
    If ever questioned, just say "the middle of the lane was as far right as was practicable to ride." Use that ambiguity to your advantage!

  10. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terpfan View Post
    As a general rule of thumb, I try to take the middle of the road. And, to be perfectly honest, I don't really care if I were riding in MD or elsewhere and the law said otherwise. I've had enough people try insane things to know that if you leave them an inch, they will see it as a couple miles of space. Besides, there are always reasons you need to move one way or the other (potholes, glass, dooring threat, double-parked vehicles, etc) so that extra space can make all the difference.
    If ever questioned, just say "the middle of the lane was as far right as was practicable to ride." Use that ambiguity to your advantage!

  11. #18
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    I agree with everyone else, "it depends".

    *It depends very strongly on sightlines.
    *It depends on both my speed (I'm more comfortable close to the curb if I'm moving slower and "dodging" debris, parked cars, etc means "very slowly with plenty of time to check for cars behind me moving to the left") and the speed of the cars ("3 ft" may be the law regardless of speed, but in practice I'm more comfortable being passed closer by slower moving traffic).
    *It depends on whether there is one or multiple car lanes in my direction of travel.
    *And on routes I'm familiar with and have ridden previously, it depends on my experience with how drivers tend to treat me on a given stretch of road. I don't know how to predict it on routes I'm not familiar with, but there are places where drivers are just more patient and will wait for a good passing opportunity, and places where absolutely everyone is impatient as hell and will pass aggressively if given the tiniest hint of an opening.

  12. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by DismalScientist View Post
    It's because I was sober.
    There is a simple fix for that. Let me know if you need help and we can work on it together.

    I take the lane when a passing car will need to cross into poor sight line oncoming traffic. I don't want a car coming back into me mid pass when they see an oncoming car which I 100% think drivers will do. I take the lane when there are lots of parked car doors or blind side street or ped intersections. I have a dislike for car doors for some reason* I try and not ride on fast roads and cause undue slowdowns. I don't care what the laws are or what my rights are I ride with the goal of not getting hit/hurt. I ride with the expectation that the drivers don't know the rules or don't care for them and don't always pay enough attention. Groaning "I had right of way" from the ditch does little.

    *Getting doored hard into a pile when I was a kid and the driver trying to blame me might have something to do with it
    Last edited by Vicegrip; 03-09-2016 at 09:59 AM. Reason: Darwin is 6 inches long now.

  13. #20
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    Center of the lane, with rare exceptions. It just seems to reduce negative driver interactions, a lot.

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