trike first impressions

zebee
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trike first impressions

Postby zebee » Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:16 am

I have been riding recumbent 2 wheelers for over 10 years, today was my first ride on a trike that wasn't in a carpark or closed area, and for more than a few minutes.

I am providing shed room for a friend's Greenspeed GT3 before it is loaned to another friend so took the opportunity to have a go.

First thing I notice is it is hard to tell speed. I am much closer to the ground so feel faster and I really don't know if I am faster on 3 wheels than 2 or slower or what.

NExt thing is that I feel horribly invlsible at roundabouts! I live in a no-through-road with a roundabout at the entrance and I have had issues before on my 2 wheeler and even on my large touring motorcycle with the 2x60 watt running lights... But on the trike I felt not surprised that they might not see me. I think because they flick their eyes sideways and at their level, on a small roundabout I am relatively close to them and not in their main vision.

Heading up the road it felt easy to get moving and easy to keep moving. I very much noticed the lack of headrest I guess I have been spoiled by the very comfy cockpit of the Encore.

It belted up the short inclines with ease. I am in the top 3 or 4 gears so far with the large ring of the triple the same size or smaller than the mid ring of the Encore's triple and I'm mostly in the big ring on the Encore. I know that wheel size means different gear sizes but if it were mine I think I'd gear it up a bit.

The climb up to Liverpool Rd is way more pleasant than on the Encore. Same speed or slower I think but the not having to balance is a big plus. I can go slow if I want to and not get stressed about it.

This thing really does accellerate! I think the not having to get foot up off the ground and onto the pedal is part of it, but when ask it rockets across the road into the right hand turn lane on Liverpool Rd. Heaps fun! It also gets moving pretty damn quick as the green arrow goes on and the car lineup starts moving. I seem to be faster on this from a start than either the Encore or the Brompton from a stop.

Cars give it more room than they give the 2 wheelers although this is Saturday traffic rather than my daily commute so it is a bit apples and oranges. They wait for me to get past parked cars and don't try to squeeze me at all. I move over as soon as I can and wave my thanks.

The roads around Burwood are in shocking condition and I find it very hard to not bang into potholes and big cracks/bumps with at least one wheel. I suppose with practice I will learn where the rear wheel is so I can weave but so far I haven't managed it. Thanks to the mesh seat the bumpiness is manageable. I remember the first time I rode the Encore with its hard shell seat how much harsher it felt than the mesh seat on the Bacchetta. I dunno I'd want a trike with a hardshell seat unless it had suspension.

Gah this traffic is like going out on the motorcycle: cars in the way on all the corners! I know that going into a corner at speed on a trike is fun but today there are bloody 4 wheel obstructions on all the downhill sections. I do note that this trike has a distinct pedal steer feel at speed. Bombing down a steep hill if I keep my legs still it is OK, I pedal and I can really feel it. Not bad enough to be worrying but very obvious.

I have a couple more instances of drivers not looking properly. I dunno if this is because it is low or because it is the weekend and weekend drivers are all over the place.

I have never thought flags were much use and I am confirmed in that by this short trip. The people who don't notice me are all ahead of me on side streets, they'd never see a flag. Any light would need to be a possum killer as I did some tests with a couple of quite bright lights at on a clear summer day in Oz there's no way they attract attention. I wonder if maybe a fibreglass pole with a string of yellow flashing LEDs warpped around it might do the trick: tall enough to be in the driver's vision. But will yellow do better than white? The bright red flashers I have on the back are very visible so maybe depending on what LEDs I could get.

I definitely want a trike :) I had been considering one for touring and I am even more sold on it for that now. For commuting less so I think, I am not sure I'd like it in the traffic I sometimes have to cope with.

Zebee

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby TrikeTragic » Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:33 pm

Interesting (and nicely detailed) first trike impressions Zebee.

Couple of comments: the "first ride" pedal steer - goes away after you learn to relax your shoulders and "unlearn" the natural counter-steer you need for balance on a bike, even a recumbent.

Visibility (to other road-users) - the very common and natural fear about being so low-slung as you are on the trike. No magic answers - I wear bright colours, yep, have a high-vis flag, use a flasher front and rear when in traffic - but rely on good old mark one eye contact with other road users, easier to do in the "head-up" posture of a trike than on an upright.

Acceleration and general speed - I don't find I accelerate much quicker than on my bike (admittedly, it's a folder...) but generally my speed is higher and I love the fact that hill climbing is just steady work, no low speed wobbles.

I've been a tricyclist since 2006, and have only been commuting on my folder for the past 2 years. It's always a pleasure to take the trike out on the weekend and have a decent ride - it's easy to forget how relaxing it can be!

You may find you've been hooked (n+1).

Cheers

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby zebee » Wed Dec 09, 2015 1:52 pm

TrikeTragic wrote:
Couple of comments: the "first ride" pedal steer - goes away after you learn to relax your shoulders and "unlearn" the natural counter-steer you need for balance on a bike, even a recumbent.


Seems odd with underseat steering as that isn't used for any bracing and as it was downhill it was sit and relax. I noticed it happened on the flat at speed but just turning the legs on a steep hill? I'll have to experiment with that. Simplest way to tell is to take one hand off the bars, if it's any form of steering input that will show it.

TrikeTragic wrote:
Visibility (to other road-users) - the very common and natural fear about being so low-slung as you are on the trike. No magic answers - I wear bright colours, yep, have a high-vis flag, use a flasher front and rear when in traffic - but rely on good old mark one eye contact with other road users, easier to do in the "head-up" posture of a trike than on an upright.



Yeah, I was doing a lot of that. I still got people staring right at me and me having to brake as they got in my way. Usually noticing me as they were part way into the lane.

It's the old expectations thing, not expecting anything and not seeing anything. No co-incidence that these happened on side streets not more trafficked roads.

I have thought I wanted a trike for a while, been talking to Ian Sims of Greenspeed for a few months now. All the trikes I tried up till now have been too big for me, couldn't get the boom in far enough! I'm almost at the limit of adjustment on the small sized GT3 which should give Greenspeeders some idea....

(This is why I dropped a packet on the Encore. You tall (as in over 5'4") bastards can't understand the delight of a bike that actually fits! So a custom made carbon bike was too good a thing to pass up.

Alas Greenspeed aren't doing multi size trikes anymore. I am planning to go to Melbourne to try the new ones - Aero, Magnette, GT2.0 - to see if they fit. The Magnette is likely to be the only one that does and it's the one I want least... but you take what you can get!

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby TrikeTragic » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:38 pm

zebee wrote: You tall (as in over 5'4") bastards can't understand the delight of a bike that actually fits! So a custom made carbon bike was too good a thing to pass up.Zebee


mmm - I'm at the other end of the spectrum (as in Old 6'2" modern 187 cm) so don't have the trike-fit issue that you altitude-challenged parental status uncertain individuals (PC-speak for short-a55ed b*stards) experience. :)

Cheers (and good luck with N+3)

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby Duck! » Wed Dec 09, 2015 7:49 pm

Chassis/boom flex can affect the steering when you're really cranking, but I wouldn't have thought it'd be apparent just ticking the legs over. Some riders do seem to wriggle more than others though; in the racing scene I'm part of there used to be one rider nicknamed by his team "Twitchy Ritchie", because his riding style always generated a distinctive wriggle, while others in the same trike were a lot smoother.

For bump avoidance, with practice you learn rather than centring the bump between the front wheels, which as you've found will have you hitting it with the rear, line it up between the crank & one front wheel, then the bump will pass between the front & rear tracks.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby zebee » Wed Dec 09, 2015 7:54 pm

I suppose I might be a bit wriggly.

Checked today with both hands off the bars and the thing wriggled something cruel. My guess is I'd be on my arse if I tried a Cruzbike!

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby recumbenteer » Wed Dec 09, 2015 8:53 pm

zebee wrote:I suppose I might be a bit wriggly.

Checked today with both hands off the bars and the thing wriggled something cruel. My guess is I'd be on my arse if I tried a Cruzbike!


Check the tightness of the steering pins.... on my Trisled, & Rotovelo I tighten the king pin bolts so they're tight enough to take out any free-play, & nip them a fraction more.

This might help with your "wiggle"
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Re: trike first impressions

Postby OldBloke » Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:20 pm

Catrike have a trike model called the Pocket for shorter riders. 2nd hand ones come up on Gumtree occassionally, none at present :-(.

OB

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby Big Pete 1 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:28 am

I saw my first trike yesterday. It went through our town. At first I was not sure what I was seeing in between the cars that were passing it. When I realized what it was I was in shock to see how unsafe it was amongst the traffic. Nobody can see it coming. I pointed it out to my friend, and he too got upset. He said that the recumbent ought to have a flag on a post, so others can notice something is coming. They are too low for safety in busy urban streets. It put me off from even considering to ride such a device.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby Kalgrm » Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:53 am

.. but you saw it and took notice even though there was no flag on it? Sorry, but I hear that sort of argument all the time. It doesn't make sense: if a 'bent is that hard to see, how did you see it? Do you think a 15x30cm orange rag on a stick would have immediately identified it as a trike for you?

Apparently, you saw something coming and stopped what you were doing to track it as it passed. The fact that you couldn't immediately identify it doesn't matter as far as the rider's safety is concerned - in fact it probably makes them safer. The very fact that something unusual was on the road caught your attention. Drivers have the same reaction and tend to give 'bent riders a lot more than one metre when they overtake.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby Roinik » Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:34 am

My wife has added features on her trike; the ability to nearly cause road crashes due to rubbernecking and an Air Zound. Her's is the only 'bent trike in town and mine is the only 'bent bike in town. Stereotypically it is the 4x4 and V8 crowds that give most issues due to their self righteousness of driving overly large and/or powerful vehicles. She's given as good as she's got when arrogant f-wits honk their horns at her. BTW, she has 2 flags that probably don't do much more than make her feel good and stop the nagging.
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Re: trike first impressions

Postby eldavo » Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:53 am

If you just increased the height and width of the trike, say more like a car in dimensions, you people wouldn't have a problem because cars don't crash into each other. Solved. Now let's ride our safety bicycles.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby recumbenteer » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:51 am

Kalgrm wrote:.. but you saw it and took notice even though there was no flag on it? Sorry, but I hear that sort of argument all the time. It doesn't make sense: if a 'bent is that hard to see, how did you see it? Do you think a 15x30cm orange rag on a stick would have immediately identified it as a trike for you?

Apparently, you saw something coming and stopped what you were doing to track it as it passed. The fact that you couldn't immediately identify it doesn't matter as far as the rider's safety is concerned - in fact it probably makes them safer. The very fact that something unusual was on the road caught your attention. Drivers have the same reaction and tend to give 'bent riders a lot more than one metre when they overtake.

Cheers,
Graeme


Fully agree Graeme.....flags do nothing..

& not to mention Velomobiles....we're even a rarer sight on the roads, :shock:
therefore it could be said that both 'bents & velos are some of the safest vehicles, simply because we're "different"
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Re: trike first impressions

Postby geebee » Sun Mar 06, 2016 4:46 pm

A mate of mine had some people tell him they had seen a recumbent trike and it was so dangerous, then they proceeded to describe it in detail, we had a good laugh as it was my trike.
I run cut down flag on my GTR as it is very low and it stops people complaining, its about mid windscreen height on a sedan, my larger trike is a performer JC70cm I dont run a flag on as the seat is much more upright and the whole trike is bigger.

You always have a lot more close shaves on a bicycle than a trike, with a bike 6"~12" off the bar is not rare, with a trike less than a car width is rare plus braking on a trike is vastly better.
Last edited by geebee on Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby Big Pete 1 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 5:49 pm

Kalgrm wrote:.. but you saw it and took notice even though there was no flag on it? Sorry, but I hear that sort of argument all the time. It doesn't make sense: if a 'bent is that hard to see, how did you see it? Do you think a 15x30cm orange rag on a stick would have immediately identified it as a trike for you?

Apparently, you saw something coming and stopped what you were doing to track it as it passed. The fact that you couldn't immediately identify it doesn't matter as far as the rider's safety is concerned - in fact it probably makes them safer. The very fact that something unusual was on the road caught your attention. Drivers have the same reaction and tend to give 'bent riders a lot more than one metre when they overtake.

Cheers,
Graeme

You did not read my post correctly. You simply went into defensive argument mode.
I saw something move between cars (spaces) between back of one car and the front of another) the usual gaps between cars in a busy street. The only reason I saw a recumbent was because it came out of a roundabout. I was, with my mate, pedestrians on the opposite side of the road.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby Kalgrm » Sun Mar 06, 2016 6:04 pm

No, I read it correctly. There were cars in the way and you still managed to take notice of it. Believe it or not, you're not unique with that experience.

Until you've ridden one or ridden with one, you won't understand ... I feel very safe on my own 'bent (granted, it's not a low-rider) and I can't remember ever getting the SMIDSY which is so frequent when I'm on a common bike.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby OldBloke » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:29 pm

My experience and the experience of a fellow trike pilot here in Newcastle is that cars give much more room to trikes than they do to bikes.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby just4tehhalibut » Mon Mar 07, 2016 7:04 am

It's not about the flag. I was riding my trike through the backstreets of Vic Park once and coming towards traffic lights on Shepperton Rd, cars were banked up at the crossroad waiting on green. I turned off to a sidestreet about a block before the lights and got nearly to the next block when I heard an angry scream "Get a flag!". I looked back and this was one of the cars that'd been waiting at the lights, he'd stopped in the middle of the road to do his tantrum. Obviously he'd seen me a block away while he was at the lights. It's nothing to do with a flag or visibility, it was all about doing the tribal thing, being the great unappointed protector of what he perceives as community values. You might call it 'road rage' but it's really more that you are stressing out the rager by being different. Putting a flag on the trike wouldn't have stopped that rager. There are cars lower than some recumbent trikes but you don't get demands for them to have flags, these sports cars are less 'different' to the tribalist than our trikes.

It's not about being more visible. There was a case in the US in the '90's where some guy riding a recumbent trike was hit from behind and catapulted out. Easier to survive on a trike than a bike but not why you'd buy a trike. Although the triker had a couple of flags with long streamers, reflective tape and neon colours everywhere the driver still ran into the back of him; turns out trying to be too visible when you aren't car-shaped makes you into a blindspot. The driver had taken one look at the trike up ahead and then zoned out to watch other traffic. Same thing happened to me on an otherwise empty road, I was riding back from Albany with a mate and we were on a straight stretch on our road bikes, in neon to the gills. A truck came up behind me, pulled out to pass then swung back in on top of my mate 3 bike lengths ahead. The driver had seen me and never looked again, got a 'careless driving' and fine for his efforts. Point is you can be too visible.

It's about attention. Those times that I rode the trike up the main highway to take a used gas cyclinder back to BOC, it was amazing how well everyone saw that grey or brown cyclinder on the back from way back down the road and gave me a whole lane. And no flag. My brother gets the same thing, his recumbent bike is a little low but since he's a 150-200kg laidback payload nobody wants him through their windscreens, he always get a wide berth in traffic. No flag but lots of incentive for attention. I bought a Carradice saddlebag for my shopper bike and suddenly people gave my bike room, even hesitated in passing; the saddlebag isn't any wider across my lane than my handlebars but you wouldn't think that from the way traffic treats it. I already know from day 1 when I got my trike that drivers see the trike and give it a wide berth, sometimes that's because they don't know how it behaves in traffic, other times it just bewilders them. As long as those bewilderbeasts keep me in sight I'm safer that if I run a flag and let their attention wander to a game called 'spot the flag, occasionally'. Look at me and not for a flag.

And if you see a trike in traffic and feel the urge to exclaim "he hasn't got a flag" well take a deep breath and count to 10, exorcise your tribal urges before you actually say anything. Ta.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby zebee » Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:33 pm

I think in road safety the word "see" is overloaded.

We use it to mean two quite separate things, then most folk focus on addressing one of them.

The first is if the light bouncing off the object strikes the observer's retinas. Is it hidden behind something like an A pillar of a car? That's a serious issue for motorcycles at roundabouts: cars with wide pillars (some contain airbags...) can have something the size of a motorcycle hidden as it comes at an angle from right to left. Let us call that "see". This is what people who want flags on trikes are thinking of, that the trike can't be seen because cars will hide it.


The second is observation. The act of registering what you see and retaining that it is there. "You see Watson but you do not observe". The point of that little vignette was that Watson didn't think counting the stairs up to 221B was important and Holmes did. You may hear people say motorcycles are "hard to see" but ask anyone who rides an ex-cop BMW if they have close calls and they say people slowing down to 5km/h below the speedlimit as soon as the bike appears in the mirror is a far worse problem. There is nothing special about those bikes that makes them different in the light/retina meaning of "see" but people sure as hell observe them!

I used to have a proper "chopper". A real Easy Rider bike. OK, the motor was a Honda 4 cylinder but the rest of it was right out from under Dennis Hopper. It had a coffin tank and very overlength forks and the hardtail seat and the huge rear wheel and the sissy bar and the apehangers and the lot. An outlaw bike indeed. And you know.... that plus a black helmet and a denim cutoff with a winged logo on the back (but no rockers I'm not suicidal) and that thing got all the room on the road. People changed lanes fully to pass me and didn't change back in for a fair distance, they waited for ages till I was well past before turning anywhere near me. The difference in attitude between riding that and riding any other of my bikes was obvious.

Now that thing had bugger all frontal area and was mostly black with some chrome. But people saw it in both sense of the word. They may have seen the other bikes, but they reacted very clearly to the chop.

So why do they see cop bikes and outlaw bikes, but my 260kg tourer with the twin 60 watt driving lights and the big fairing is bloody near invisible? Because the whole issue is about observing. About thinking the thing you have seen is important enough to pay attention to.

So flashing lights and neon are trying to jolt the driver into observing. Into noticing. Just as those billboards saying "SEX" were. Bet the billboards had more success.... Trouble is the average driver has a shedload of visual pollution to contend with: ads and parked cars and buildings and road signs and painted lines. Plus the actual act of holding a wheel and moving the pedals can be done with very little attention. People have a limited amount of attention when they drive. They should use a lot more but generally they don't because driving is easy. It doesn't force attention, it only requires it if you want to be a good driver not just get from A to B.

Cop bikes and Hells Angels are dangerous so people pay some of their small amount of attention to them. As there's more things in hi viz and more things like radios and phones and arguments with the boss to pay attention to you can dress up in flouro and flags as much as you like, most people will tune you out.

After all we have all seen the video of the basketball game and the gorilla haven't we?

So you have to manage your ride knowing this. Ride with brain in gear and observing for two. It's easier than trying to impersonate a Hells Angel on something with pedals.... Put a flag on if you wish but don't think it makes you any safer. They see you with or without flag, they just don't care. And until hitting a bike has the same consequences hitting a cop or a Hells Angel does nothing will make them care.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby rdp_au » Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:52 am

Well said.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby max_torq » Thu Mar 10, 2016 3:06 pm

I think you need a flag. Maybe not if you are just on bike tracks, but if you are using the bike lanes on roads, you need the flag so you are visible as you pass by stopped traffic. The trike passes under the passenger window line, so the driver has no idea that you just went past, especially a problem if the driver is turning left across the lane you may be in. A flashing white front light and flashing red rear is also necessary. When entering a roundabout stick to the right side of the lane if possible, and pause in the middle to make sure cars are giving way to you, gesticulate like mad when exitting the roundabout. I commute 2-3 days a week on the trike, and generally don't have too much issue with cars, more issues with cyclists coming head on at me on shared paths. Oh, and ding the bell continuosly at anything that may not have seen you, including cars that are parked and may door you.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby zebee » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:35 pm

Think about how big a flag is, where it is in relation to the rest of the trike, and what people are looking for.

Most of your examples are about someone in front of you maybe not seeing you. A flag is not going to stop someone turning across you or dooring you.

They won't easily see it on a roundabout either, the angles and time of decision are wrong.

The only times I had a difficulty with people not reacting correctly to the trike was in side lanes where they did not expect traffic and pulled out with a cursory look. A flag would have made bugger all difference.

On major roads it was obviously visible. Because on major roads people pay more attention. Simple as that.

If you commute with a flag, spend 4 weeks recording your experiences, any example of someone not seeing you. Then remove the flag for the same length of time, would need to be at least 40 commuting trips. Report back the results I'd be fascinated to know if it makes a difference as you think it does or none as I think it does.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby max_torq » Fri Mar 11, 2016 1:17 pm

And if I die on those 40 trips... I win! You'll fit a flag then?

remember often the trike is moving, the first thing people will see will be the moving flag, and then the trike. But the particular time you need it is when you are in a bike lane moving beside traffic going the same direction. A trike is so low alot of drivers can't see that low at something very close (trucks and buses in particular); you're in the dead ground. Imagine the cars in the lane next to you want to turn left and you want to go straight ahead. If you ride on the street, in the centre of town, near rush hour, you cannot afford to be invisible. Once will be enough to scare you, and that is how I learn't not to forget the flag.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby Cardy George » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:31 pm

What sort of speed difference is there, in traffic, on a main road? The only experience I have with the things is from Pedal Prix/Energy Challenge vehicles, like Duck!'s avatar.

The point is, the well sorted, fully faired trikes were doing 60 kph in those races without the benefit of the draft produced by traffic.

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Drafting is risky, and takes some considerable kahunas to accomplish. Do not try without extensive experience.

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Re: trike first impressions

Postby Kalgrm » Fri Mar 11, 2016 5:43 pm

max_torq wrote:Imagine the cars in the lane next to you want to turn left and you want to go straight ahead.

I'm not sure where you are, but at least in WA, it's illegal for bikes (and trikes) to overtake a vehicle on its left if that vehicle is turning left.

Cheers,
Graeme

(Bike lanes always end before an intersection, BTW. When that bike lane ends, there won't be cars turning left from the lane next to you. They will be either going straight ahead or turning right. You will have occupied the left lane by this point.)
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