Sharing The Road With Cyclists

Sharing The Road With Cyclists

Some people just don’t get it.

Every Friday evening since April, I’ve been leading a group ride out of Cafe Velo. I started this because I wanted a relaxing, no drop, “chill pace” ride to unwind from the week and encourage people to get out and ride.

It’s been a great success – we’ve only cancelled the ride once for weather and once for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 5, and have riders of all abilities. Some are new to cycling and some are experienced racers. It’s just an enjoyable way to get together and appreciate being on the bike.

And we’ve never had any issues with cars – until tonight. We were a close group of 6 and needed to make a right hand turn. The bike lane we were in goes straight, so we got in the right turn lane. The light was green and I, as the lead bike, signaled right and make the corner. It’s a fast corner (looks like I slowed to ~18mph from ~30mph coming down the hill) so to be safe on the turn you just take the right lane (there are two lanes heading in the same direction) and then move over onto the shoulder to keep riding.  I am assuming the rest of the group did the same.

I looked back to check on the group, and heard someone honk. A jeep had slowed down in the left lane and the driver seemed upset. He pretty much came to a complete stop in the middle of a lane (which doesn’t seem like a safe thing to do), and rolled down his window. I slowed and then stopped to make sure the group was together (the road after the turn starts up a hill so we spread a little apart) and looked over at this guy. He basically said, don’t get on the road…you have a bike lane, use it.

To be fair, the shoulder is wide, but you have to get around the corner and start up the hill before you get back into the shoulder. Otherwise you are pretty much off the road and in dirt. There is no “bike specific” turn lane, so it seems reasonable to use the right hand turn lane and then the right lane to make a safe turn, before moving right onto the shoulder. Someone correct me if I am wrong here.

We ended up just waving to the guy in  a friendly manner and he just drove off. My lesson to the group tonight was: Follow the rules of the road and do what you need to do to stay safe. If someone gets upset at you, just be friendly and smile. Let them have all the anger. After all, maybe they are just upset that you are on a bike and they aren’t.


Here’s the turn…

This is the turn. You can see how it curves to the right, making it not so easy to safely “hug the inside.”

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Nicole Odell

  • Al Brody
    September 14, 2012

    Bike lanes are a convenience and should be used by cyclists when they are safe. If your group was riding single file through this right turn in the right turn lane, you did the correct thing. Not engaging a frazzled driver on a Friday afternoon/evening is a mature, wise, and compassionate thing and I commend you for that.

  • Josh Winter
    September 15, 2012

    Thanks for building our cycling community and representing it in a positive light. Well played on the road and well put at the end of your article!