Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy
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As part of our route today, we were riding on Brae-side Dandenong Road toward Port Philip Bay here in Melbourne. This particular bit of road is a dual carridgeway but being in the outer-suburbs the speed limit in this particular area was 90 km/h.
In this instance there was no designated bike lane, so we rode on the left lane most of the way. With the speed the vehicles were travelling at, I felt it was best our group travelled two abreast taking up the lane and effectively forcing the drivers to pass us at a wider birth on the right lane. Previous to that, instead of getting in the right lane fully before passing, most had half the vehicle in both lanes during the passing, or simply passing within the same lane. I usually don't have an issue with riding single file on most dual carridgeways, but in this instance with the speed limit being so high, I felt it was justified to ensure our safety.
The other rider felt differently and refused to keep riding two-abreast and we've gotten into a disagreement over the situation. Given our relative inexperience (we're both fairly new riders), what is the acceptable standard? From my understanding it was well within our rights to take up that entire left lane, further more traffic was free-flowing and at a minimum being a Sunday morning. Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.
This situation is always a bit of a catch 22.
Some feel that riding single file is better as it causes less disruption to motor vehicles. As its on each of us to be considerate road users I can understand this point of view.
But as you pointed out this does mean that some drivers think that they don't want to come out of their lane and they get a bit close.
Other feel that by doubling up you get the benefit of being a larger obstacle and as a result makes the drivers move into the other lane. This can lead to some interesting levels of aggression from some drivers who see this as a personal attack against them.
Personally if the traffic is light to medium and as a driver I would not be blocked by riders then I would ride 2 up for my own safety. Plus I get to talk to the rider next to me.
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You were in the right as far as both best practice and the law (Road Rule 151) is concerned and you have the option of riding to the right of your partner if they won't reciprocate. However, sometimes depending on location, you can find ignorant drivers taking exception and taking it into their own hands to teach you a lesson.
Personally, roads above 80km/hr are above my comfort zone for taking a lane and I'd be looking to take a lower speed route if at all possible, or retreating to the breakdown lane.
jcjordan: That was her rationale in this situation, that our safety would then be compromised by angered motorist regardless of the law, or that we had the right to be there. When riding two-abreast prior, I felt there was ample space for the cars going past since they were wholly in the next lane. This versus them passing within a very short distance in the same lane, made it an obvious choice. Also, there were no signs of anger / aggression by any of the motorist that passed us as we were riding abreast.
trailgumby: Agreed, sharing a 90 km/h with other vehicles is definitely not something I was comfortable doing, however that path was a detour we decided to take, in an area we were relatively unfamiliar with. It started with 3 lanes, with a dedicated bike path - but shortly merged into two lanes with no bike path. As the destination was on a few kms away, we decided to stick with it for that short duration.
This is a google street view of the aforementioned area:
Thanks for the replies thus far guys!
Last edited by DracZ on Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
+1 there I'm afraid. Not enough traffic for anyone who decides to have a go to be held accountable, on the err occasion that anyone is accountable.
That being said we always rode two abreast up in an around Townsville, but the roads and drivers were generally a lot more relaxed and the corners were linked up by 1-5km straights most of the time. Confidence does play a large role but driver attitudes have changed as well.
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Its a 4 lane road - ie there is no reason for a motorist to need the left lane when you are using it - and I would definately ride such as to discourage them from trying it - run your rear light during the day, wear something that won't be lost in the green background, and ride well out, and bear in mind the sun conditions in the morning if the road is badly angled for sunlight reasons.
If there was a breakdown lane then yes I'd use it, but the road was designed by a fool and lacks the option.
Group ride isn't a commute. On THAT road, single file. Preferably don't ride there at all unless you are en route to a safer area. I hog the lane and do all sorts of crazy stuff that I've realised I never do on a group ride on the weekend. The practice of "safety" is different in the two activities. Commuting = do what you have to, group ride = do what you want to. You'll normally ride at less busy, but less attention focussed times on a group ride, so the drivers do different things.
No breakdown lane just equals bad news at 90kmh.
It's all about 'riding big'. Make yourself an obstacle that motorists have to drive around. It takes some guts to do it on a fast road, but I am sure it is safer that way.
You are also on good legal ground. You are entitled to take the lane on a dual carriageway. That won't help if you do get cleaned up, but if you're that worried by the traffic you simply shouldn't be on that road.
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