guttersnipe

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
ronyrash
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guttersnipe

Postby ronyrash » 12 Jan 2012, 6:55pm

i always cycle as close to the kerb as possible.usually about a foot from the kerb.and moving out [after checking for vehicles]when appropriate.this as been my practice over 60 years,i have cycled 1000s of miles both in uk and abroad untill comparitavly recently anyone riding away from the kerb would have been considered barmy and stopped by police as a danger to other road users.but it seems cyclist are now being advised to ride at a distance away from the kerb in the traffic flow pretending they are a motor vehicle. how many accidents will it take before cyclist accept that *the greater the distance from the traffic the less chance of an accident.*i had an incident the other day,turning right at traffic lights [there was the usuall marked cycling area for cycles at the front]
i took my position at the left of the turning lane leaving plenty of room for the motorist behind to pass on my right.i was astonished when instead of passing he crawled along behind me,interfering with the flow of the traffic.this was a consequence of treating a bicycle the same as a car.thank upper wallah
for the *shared road* scheam in the nederlands where they have got rid of the traffic lights,and other parafinalia that turn rational beings into zombies.
the only regulation appropriate for a bicycle [its talent far exceeds that of other vehicles]is that it should be ridden at all times with *due care and attention*

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby [XAP]Bob » 12 Jan 2012, 7:15pm

Because the distance from the traffic is not determined by road position, but by where the motorist places their vehicle.

If you gutter crawl you are leaving nearly enough space for the following motorist to simply ignore your presence and continue is a straight line, mere inches from your squishy self.

If you take a more prominent road position the following motorist is obliged to make an overtaking manoeuvre - at this point they are committed to steering, and to finding a gap in the oncoming traffic. They are therefore much more likely to leave more than a couple of inches.

More importantly - if they don't leave the room you have somewhere to go! You can increase that gap by drifting left.

Also you don't pick up nearly as many punctures, and you get to ride on a road, not a series of poorly installed drains which either rattle your teeth out or pitch you face first into the road.


--
FWIW:
I tend to ride in what I understand to the secondary position. This is basically on the left hand tyre track* left by the destructive vehicles occupying our (citizens) roads. As this point I:
- Am where motorists are looking (i.e. they don't assume I'm on the pavement)
- Am away from the general detritus of the gutter
- Am away from the road surface (or lack thereof) in the gutter
- Make significantly better progress than cars through town (i.e. I'm not slowing them up at all)
- Require following motorists to make a concious decision to overtake me (which is then done when it is safe)

When needed I'll move further out:
- When I can hear oncoming traffic round a bend or over a crest
- When we are approaching a pinch point, and there isn't room to overtake
- When there are parked cars which could have a door opened into my path
- When there are animals by the roadside
- When there is a pothole
- etc. etc. etc.


Bob

* As I ride three wheels I tend to have my left wheel on the left edge of this track.
Last edited by [XAP]Bob on 12 Jan 2012, 7:21pm, edited 1 time in total.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

karlt
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby karlt » 12 Jan 2012, 7:18pm

ronyrash wrote:i always cycle as close to the kerb as possible.usually about a foot from the kerb.and moving out [after checking for vehicles]when appropriate.this as been my practice over 60 years,i have cycled 1000s of miles both in uk and abroad untill comparitavly recently anyone riding away from the kerb would have been considered barmy and stopped by police as a danger to other road users.but it seems cyclist are now being advised to ride at a distance away from the kerb in the traffic flow pretending they are a motor vehicle. how many accidents will it take before cyclist accept that *the greater the distance from the traffic the less chance of an accident.*i had an incident the other day,turning right at traffic lights [there was the usuall marked cycling area for cycles at the front]
i took my position at the left of the turning lane leaving plenty of room for the motorist behind to pass on my right.i was astonished when instead of passing he crawled along behind me,interfering with the flow of the traffic.this was a consequence of treating a bicycle the same as a car.thank upper wallah


If you were on his left, intending to turn right, at some point you'd have to cut across in front of him, so of course he stayed behind you! It'd have been easier for both of you had you signalled early and moved to the right (in the manner I was taught over 30 years ago so it's not that new-fangled); then he could have passed you on the left as one normally does a right turning vehicle. Do you really want cars passing on the right when you're turning right? :shock:

Elizabethsdad
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby Elizabethsdad » 12 Jan 2012, 7:37pm

I too prefer a more prominent position in the road so that cars coming up from behind can't just assume they can drive straight past without slowing down and pulling out, gives some manouvering room if they don't and keeps my wheels on what is generally the better bit of road surface. I probably avergae one abusive motorist per trip who doesn't understand this. Unfortunately there isn't the oportunity to explain it to them even if they were receptive to reason.

Tonyf33
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby Tonyf33 » 12 Jan 2012, 8:14pm

not ideal being in the gutter mate and whilst I see what you mean about turning right from the left hand side of the filter lane the car was doing excatly what he should have done & that is to wait until the manouevre was completed. They could not anticipate your line into & through the turn so for them to come past may have had a nasty outcome(especially if you had to move to your right due to something in the road) So taking the centre of the lane in this instance would have been the correct position to be in.

...however, there seems to me far too many 'cyclists' who want to take up primary just because they can. On many occasions there is no reason to do so and a secondary position is as safe AND allows motor vehicles to still pass with a decent distance. People bang on about 'taking the lane' as the mandatory position but I don't agree, there should be no default position, just the right position for the prevailing traffic & surroundings whilst obviously keeping yourself safe but giving due consideration to other road users..

Ayesha
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby Ayesha » 13 Jan 2012, 8:23am

Its an almost impossiblity to write an instructional book on how to ride a bicycle on the road.
There are so many variables.

What one can do however, is list the techniques which force cars, trucks, buses and vans AWAY from the cyclist.

Wobbling. Weaving. Wandering. That's www.Safecycling.com :lol:

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BSRU
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby BSRU » 13 Jan 2012, 9:14am

Road positioning should never be about keeping out of the way of traffic at the expense of your own safety, if your cycling on the road you are part of that traffic.

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anothereye
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby anothereye » 13 Jan 2012, 12:25pm

I quote from the guide to advanced cycling by the Institute of Advanced Motoring:
p72: Cycle Lanes: ".... motorists often pass cyclists closer and faster where there is a cycle lane than where there isn't...."  (this is backed up by research from the University of Leeds' Institute for Transport Studies).
".... using a cycle lane to bypass queuing traffic is just a form of filtering next to the curb, which is the most dangerous place to filter".
" Position yourself as if the lane is not there ...".

So where is the best position?
p38: "... ride where you can best be seen,where you deter or prevent others from putting you at risk, and where control of your cycle is as easy as possible.
You should ride in the centre of the leftmost traffic lane (primary position) when you can keep up with the traffic; when you need to emphasise your presence to drivers behind or ahead; or when you need to deter following drivers from overtaking you because it is not safe to do so.
... When it is safe for other drivers to pass you, ride in the secondary position, about one metre to the left of the moving traffic lane, that part of the road where through-traffic is moving. note that this position should always be determined relative to the position of the traffic, not the kerb . Do not ride slavishly close to the curb where other drivers may not easily notice you. In any event never ride closer than 0.5m to the road edge as this will leave you with insufficient escape room in an emergency.
In deciding where to ride,always take into consideration the nature of the road surface. Where the surface is poor, allow yourself extra space in which to divert by keeping further out".

http://www.iam.org.uk/cyclist/how-to-be ... er-cyclist
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ianr1950
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby ianr1950 » 13 Jan 2012, 1:40pm

There are some drivers who will always pass to close no matter where you are positioned so if you are in the gutter you have nowhere to go but by riding away from the gutter you do have a safety areato move into.

Also the gutters are always full of debris and there are drains to negotiate which overall makes them a far more dangerous part of the road to ride in.

I too have been cycling for over 50 years and have never thought that anyone riding away from the kerb as barmy.

ronyrash
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby ronyrash » 13 Jan 2012, 4:43pm

time dosnt alow for correcting the misinterpritations of my post.i consider much of the responces to be based on a very false sence of security ,never under any circumstances assume that a motorist will always do the right thing.treat them with caution at all times.
this means keep as far away from them as circumstances allow.most accidents are caused by motorist doing the unpredictable based on a quick decision,the quick careles change of traffic lane bam! there you are away from your safe area,a statistic.whats best a punctured tyre or a punctured you? those having difficulty with my point of view will be from academic backgrounds hinderd by a theoretical sence of safety,whereas industrial people have a true
sence of safety developed from centuries of,i have to post this now because my time is up on the library computor i will continue asp

snibgo
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby snibgo » 13 Jan 2012, 5:16pm

ronyrash wrote:this means keep as far away from them [motorists] as circumstances allow.

Hmm, well, you don't have to cycle on roads if you want to keep far away from motorists. You can always walk.

For those of us who decide to ride on roads, and have a choice between the gutter and a metre away, I'll take the metre away. This is for my own safety.

Cyclecraft by John Franklin makes a good read.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby [XAP]Bob » 13 Jan 2012, 5:20pm

ronyrash wrote:time dosnt alow for correcting the misinterpritations of my post.i consider much of the responces to be based on a very false sence of security ,never under any circumstances assume that a motorist will always do the right thing.treat them with caution at all times.
this means keep as far away from them as circumstances allow.most accidents are caused by motorist doing the unpredictable based on a quick decision,the quick careles change of traffic lane bam! there you are away from your safe area,a statistic.whats best a punctured tyre or a punctured you? those having difficulty with my point of view will be from academic backgrounds hinderd by a theoretical sence of safety,whereas industrial people have a true sence of safety developed from centuries of,i have to post this now because my time is up on the library computor i will continue asp


My view is based on experience on the road. When I started commuting (4+ years ago, crikey that's longer than I thought) I used cycle paths and lanes where possible and kept left (just inside the double yellows, or equivalent).

In that position motorists simply fail to acknowledge your presence, they don't slow or divert their course at all - that's incredibly dangerous, because a badly laid drain, a stone, a piece of glass, a dog, wind around a building or any number of things can require a cyclist to move out, or kick them out by some distance - into the vehicle.

After a while I started to change my position, taking a more assertive position on the road, some motorists then get annoyed at being slowed - but they don't drive into you, they use that big circle in front of them and overtake, having to acknowledge your existence means that they are actively making a decision about how much room they think is safe. Yes they often woefully underestimate that distance, but they are making an active decision and you have space you can use in an emergency.

I then increased my commuting distance tenfold! and the same pattern emerged, the less room I took from the kerb the less room I was given on the off side.

I found that even on the rural A road (single carriageway, twisty, not exactly flat, 50mph speed limit, 60-70 common speed) I was still the same speed as a motor vehicle from A to B. I used to overtake a van on the way out of my road, and see them again a couple of times on my journey before passing them and leaving them behind at the end.

Although my commute is shorter now I'm significantly quicker than motor vehicles, even those that take the dual carriageway.

The gutter is NOT a safe area, it's a useful escape route, but it isn't safe. There is too much debris, a poor surface and nowhere to go in the case of any incident.
The roads (campaigned for by cyclists, before the motor vehicle even started to catch on) are not the preserve of motorised vehicles. They are there for transport, by horse, cycle, motorised vehicle or on foot. They are paid for out of general taxation, for the people - all of them.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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anothereye
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby anothereye » 13 Jan 2012, 6:36pm

I think there's a broader issue here. It's the difference between feeling safe and being as safe as possible.
1. Some people say they feel safer near the gutter.
2. Some feel safer with a helmet.
3. Some feel safer in a cycle lane.
4. Slower is safer.

The reality is different:
1. Has been dealt with above.
2. Arguably, motorists give you less clearance if you wear a helmet.
3. Unless the lane is sufficiently wide (unusual), motorists pass you closer than if there is no marking on the road.
4. Keeping up with the speed of other traffic means no-one overtakes.

In other words, some things about cycling are counter intuitive (please add more to my list).

At the risk of getting radical my conclusion is: It's better not to feel safe. I'm not saying it's better to feel afraid; it's better to feel vulnerable simply because it's the truth, cyclists are vulnerable. One reason I love cycling is because it helps me to develope my 6th sense, if I'm not awake when I leave the house I am as soon as I hear the sound of the first motor vehicle, I want all my decisions to be informed by 'safety first', just feeling safe does nothing to serve that purpose.
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jan19
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby jan19 » 13 Jan 2012, 6:48pm

I read a very good article a few years ago, before I started cycling to work on a regular basis.

One of its main points said that motor vehicles will give you as much clearance as you give the kerb.

IMHO that was wise words indeed. When I started cycling I hugged the kerb and felt really threatened by the cars passing close to me. Now I ride a bit further out and in the most part they give me plenty of room.

Jan

Alan D
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Re: guttersnipe

Postby Alan D » 13 Jan 2012, 7:07pm

I have sympathy for the originator. I used to timidly ride in the gutter and every other car on the road would shave closely by, probably because the driver did not perceive me as a hazzard - so no avoiding action was required on their part. Then I got wise and am now anything up to 1m out. Now most drivers give me plenty of room; of course there is still the odd one that does not. It is easy to think that we must be considerate to the motorist and keep out of their way, but the point I want to make is that if it is not safe for a motorist to pass when you are 1m out from the kerb, then will it really be all that safe for them to do so if you are 30cm or less out?
Also, and I don't think anyone mentioned this. The trailing car can be blocking the view of you by the driver of the second car back and if you are close to the kerb such that the passing driver does not pull wide, then the driver of the car behind that one only sees you at the last moment. If you force the passing driver to pull wide, then their movement can be seen several cars back and gives a valuable clue to those drivers that you are there.