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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Early in the year they sweep the shoulders but as the year goes on the debris builds up on some and they become a bit less desirable. Something I've noticed though is that when I'm on the white line or to the right of it cars often do not move over and often pass within a foot of me (or inches). On the exact same roads if I'm a foot or so to the left of the white line cars move over quite a bit, often leaving 3' or more.
 

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Depends to me on the size and condition of the shoulder. If it's a big shoulder I'll stay right of the white line, but if it's not big and I know it will narrow or there are turns ahead, I want to establish my presence.
 

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well, if you're left of the white line then they'll have to move to pass you

the bad part of that plan is that if they don't see you, then you're more likely to be road kill

people "buzz" you when you're on the shoulder because they can pass you safely without moving over in their lane, but if they miss seeing you when you're over there you're much more likely to avoid becoming one with their bumper
 

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If they are "buzzing" you they are NOT passing you safely, no matter what they think or if they can do it without moving their tires left an inch.

If they "don't see you" and buzz you just a little too close and you're already on the shoulder you have absolutely nowhere to go.

If they "don't see you" and buzz you too close or threaten to plum run over you and you are in the lane you have some maneuvering options if you are paying attention. (namely, you can yield the 3ft they are supposed to be giving you and end up on the shoulder, not in a ditch). Though I will say I've never had anyone threaten to plum run over me when I'm in the lane. They'll "buzz" me the same as they do if I'm on the shoulder; the difference being I can move over and give myself clearance when they do, and they do it less often because more actually see me and register that they may actually need to turn their steering wheel just a bit.

Unless I have 3+ft of shoulder I'm in the road, and yes I've found that to be safer. YMMV
 

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How close a car "feels" I think is relative to it's passing speed. A car moving at over 60 mph that passes 3 feet away "feels" like inches away. A car that slows to 25 or 30 mph can pass at less than two feet away and feel safe.

As to right or left side of the white line, I think it depends on the width of the driving lane. If the lane is narrow, it's safer to be in the road, and make them pass you by driving in the other lane. If the roadway is sufficently wide, the shoulder is my choice when safe and available.

Fast moving traffic on narrow shoulders does intimidate me. I was on a two lane road in Arizona once where the shoulder disappeared to into a one foot drop off. Apparently there was a dump on the end of this road (60 mph traffic speed) and the dump trucks started coming fast and furious, passing me at speed, going in both directions. I should have taken the middle of the road, but I was too timid. That was the time I was most afraid of being killed on a bike.
 

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Eddy 53:11
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It seems to me, that the more room you take, the more room they give (to a point).
US drivers don't want to have to adjust their line if they don't have to; it's a personel
space issue. They feel like they have "lost the battle."

Me, I ride just to the left of the fog line unless it's a huge, debris-less shoulder.
 

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Bikes who take a lane when there is a shoulder available piss me off...and I ride a bike. If I can safely ride on the shoulder I do so. But then I say good morning to everyone I see on the road as well...and don't have any sort of bike culture chip on my shoulder. I guess I'm just a fluffy bunny make everyone happy sort of retired marine.
 

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Yo no fui.
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I generally ride as far over to the right on the pavement as I feel safe doing, which normally means I need about a foot of pavement on my right hand side. It may vary depending on the condition of the road and shoulder. So, if I'm on a road with a big shoulder, I'm totally out of the lane and not near the white line. If it's a mountain or country road, I might be in the lane. I roll on robust tires and know how to handle a bike, so road debris is not much of an issue. Here in Colorado, motorists (which includes most cyclists, from time to time) generally accept the legal and social reality that cyclists have a right to use the public roadways, but that doesn't mean that we can't accomodate others as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
ColoRoadie said:
Bikes who take a lane when there is a shoulder available piss me off...and I ride a bike. If I can safely ride on the shoulder I do so.
A question is - when is a shoulder safe and when not?

Narrow Shoulder - lane is often safer
Changing width shoulder - lane all the time may be safer shoulder-lane-shoulder-lane
Debris on Shoulder - lane may be safer
Limbs/Mailboxes/Etc encroaching shoulder - lane may be safer
 

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In most (all?) states bicycles are to be ridden on the "roadway" like every other vehicle.
In most (all?) states the shoulder is NOT part of the "roadway."

If you choose to ride on the shoulder, it is your choice. The lane is your's to take. Very often, it is the safer choice. BTW, wear a lime-green jersey.
 

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It depends. Many times there are not so clearly marked transitions from full on bicycle lane to wide, well maintained shoulder to 3-4" wide cambered drainage ditch filled w/ sticks, gravel, broken glass, etc. masquerading as a shoulder to wall sitting on top of/drop off just to the right of the white line.

In the former two cases I'll gladly use the shoulder/bike lane until a block or so before I need to make a left turn. In either of the latter two cases, damn straight I'm going to take the right most 2-2.5' of the right lane.
 

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I'm in CO right now and so far, haven't had any issues with drivers here. I've been pretty well sticking to well-traveled routes tho. Not too much explorating cause I'm restarting riding after about an 18mo layoff.

VA was OK too once you got out into the boonies.

AZ? Depended

CA? They typically drive faster'n they should while sipping their cafe and chatting on the phone, so watch out
 

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Trek2.3 said:
In most (all?) states bicycles are to be ridden on the "roadway" like every other vehicle.
In most (all?) states the shoulder is NOT part of the "roadway."

If you choose to ride on the shoulder, it is your choice. The lane is your's to take. Very often, it is the safer choice. BTW, wear a lime-green jersey.

just because it's legal for someone to take the lane with their bike, that won't make them any less dead when someone tapping out a text drives right through them

sometimes it's better to understand your pecking order in the traffic world and stay safe, the cost of someone else not respecting your right to the lane is very high.
 

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Bianchi-Campagnolo
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Lane, 1 m from the white line. Almost no buzzing as opposed to trying to make yourself invisible on the shoulder.

Norwegian experience, this.
 

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roscoe said:
just because it's legal for someone to take the lane with their bike, that won't make them any less dead when someone tapping out a text drives right through them

sometimes it's better to understand your pecking order in the traffic world and stay safe, the cost of someone else not respecting your right to the lane is very high.
OTH, trying to ride on an overly narrow, poorly maintained, and/or non-existent shoulder when you should be taking your portion of the actual lane can often necessitate emergency maneuvers that will take your bike into the path of the non-negligent drivers who are paying attention with little to no opportunity for them to react. The jackasses who are texting and driving (or similarly distracted) seem just about as likely to cross into the shoulder and clip you (possibly more so since you will be further outside of their field of vision as they approach) as they are to ram into your back tire if you were riding on the right portion of the road proper.

Just MHO, but if the law where you're riding states that your bike is a vehicle and should be riding in the road, it seems a lot safer to do so while maintaining a more consistent line than trying to squeeze by on a shoulder that is littered w/ hazards and doesn't afford enough space for you to take evasive maneuvers.

.02
 

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I try to ride as far to the right as is safe and debris free, less a couple feet. When a car is passing, I want to be able to use that couple of feet to move further to the right, and hopefully the car moves a couple feet to the left, giving us a couple feet times 2 of clearance.
 

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Naturally, there are levels of shoulder..but then if it's a foot wide..it's not a shoulder in my mind. Either way, as far right as I can safely go is the rule of thumb for me. Sometimes that means I'm taking a lane and the only way around me is to slow to my speed and wait for a hole in traffic the other way...sorry, I'll try to keep my speed up.

With that said, those who purposely take a lane when they need not do so....just because their sense of entitlement tells them they can...deserve the hatred they get from the public. Unfortunately....I get painted with the same brush ...which does bother me.

It isn't asking a whole lot to be courteous out there....rather than acting like a tough guy spandex boy just daring someone to punt him off the road. Sooner or later...someone will...whether intentionally or not, and living with a permanent disability isn't nearly as romantic and fun as it sounds. Even if you get to say for the rest of your days that you were legally in the right. Yes, we legally get our share of the road....but tonnage always wins and we weigh very little in comparison.
 

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InfiniteLoop said:
Early in the year they sweep the shoulders but as the year goes on the debris builds up on some and they become a bit less desirable. Something I've noticed though is that when I'm on the white line or to the right of it cars often do not move over and often pass within a foot of me (or inches). On the exact same roads if I'm a foot or so to the left of the white line cars move over quite a bit, often leaving 3' or more.
I ride on the line or just to the right of it (in the bike lane, not the car's lane). Then again, I'm riding in the city. I can't assume that cars have enough room to avoid me, so I stay in the bike lane. However, I trust the guys sitting in their cars about to open their door less than I trust people driving, so I stay as far left as I can.
 

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As most other posters have said...it all depends. On what, you say? I can't list them all. Condition of road, weather, speed of cars, your speed, amount of traffic, time of day, terrain, what you're wearing, condition of the shoulder, etc, etc. are some factors that I thought of instantly. Sorry, it's a question that must be answered by a spur of the moment judgment call.
 
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