Wednesday, August 15, 2012

TIME for Some Clarification

I understand many new readers have arrived here via Time Magazine.  I'd like to welcome you and to urge you to read some of the early posts to understand why I started this blog.
Many of the comments from recent readers have scolded me for either where I ride or how I ride. 
First and foremost, I do not ever ride to prove a point or make a statement.  I ride for the enjoyment of the ride.  I do not ever "go looking" for a confrontation or incident.  I ride the same way each time I ride.  I also ride with cameras every time I ride. 
I always have cameras for the same reason convenience stores have surveillance systems.  If or when something bad happens I will have video evidence of what occurred.   This also means that if I were to do something wrong there would be evidence of that.  That is further reinforcement for me to follow all the applicable traffic laws, which I do. I stop for stop signs and lights, and signal turns etc.

As far as the where I ride, that is to say which roads I travel,  almost all of them are marked bike routes.  The roads that aren't marked bike routes are lightly traveled county roads.

I do not ride bike paths often because avoiding inattentive joggers or loose dogs is too dangerous and time consuming.
Also the  law allows me to ride on the roads I use.  I've paid for them through my taxes and the state of Wisconsin department of transportation recommends that I ride on many of them.  That's why they are bike routes.
If you think I shouldn't ride my bike on a marked bike route, then I can only assume you are not, yourself, a cyclist, and you are certainly not a cycling advocate.

As far as how I ride, that is to say where in the lane I position myself, I do not, as many have erroneously stated, ride in the middle of the road or even in the middle of the right lane.  I occasionally will ride toward the middle of the right lane if the lane is very narrow. 
It may be hard for some to understand that riding away from the far right side of the road is safer than hugging the curb or white line. 
Not only does the law allow cyclists to do this, the state Department of Transportation  encourages them to do so on narrow lanes. 
If the lane is too narrow for a car or truck to pass safely within the lane, hugging the right edge encourages drivers to try, in spite of the lack of room to pass when it is not safe to do so.
I ride further from the right edge of the road than some because I have had my hands or handlebars clipped too many times.  I have been run into the ditch too many times. 
If my lane position causes drivers to have to wait to pass until it can be done safely, then my mission has been accomplished.  If a driver has to wait a few seconds to pass a cyclist, and that's all it usually takes to get safely by a cyclist, why is that more of a problem for them or inconvenience for them than waiting the same amount of time to get passed a school bus, farm tractor, pedestrian, broken down car, or anyone else who has a legal right to be on the road moving at less than the posted speed limit?
If I am riding in a lane that is wide enough to safely accommodate me on my bike and a motor vehicle I ride far enough to the right to allow that to happen, otherwise I ride where I need to ride to insure that someone doesn't clip my bars, send me into the ditch, or run right up my back wheel. 
It's the safest way to ride, it's the law, and  it's recommended by the state Department of Transportation.  If it is slightly inconvenient for some drivers, I'm sorry for the delay, but the safety of any cyclist is far more important than shaving 15 seconds off any one motorist's commute.
I appreciate the interest in this blog and more importantly in the issue of safe cycling.  I look forward to continuing the dialog with the new readers.

UPDATE:  I went back and looked at the last 9 videos posted and in each one of them I was riding either within a couple feet of the right edge of the road or in some cases I was actually on the white line or in a marked bike lane.   I'm not sure what some folks are talking about saying I'm in the middle of the road or taking too much room.  A typical bike is 2 feet wide and every bike safety group I've ever heard of recommends allowing yourself a minimum of a couple feet of space to maneuver. 

Here are the latest impatient drivers.
One told me at the stop light where I caught up to him that if I had been a cyclist friend of his he wouldn't have passed the way he did.  Figure that one out.  He knew he did something dangerous and illegal but didn't care because he didn't know his victim.