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In the Middle of the Road

I just read "Chain Letters" in the January Bulletin with such great horror it caused my heart to pound. The article mentions "A Close Call" the author/motorist had with a cyclist.

He was driving behind a tow truck, which the driver can not see around. He then passed to the right of the truck, only to be surprised to find a bicyclist and had to jam on the brakes.

I am writing to mention where on the road a cyclist can best be seen.

Since a driver sits on the left side of a car they have a longer sightline around the left side of a vehicle in front. We a car moves out to the right, they lead with might. When a car moves out to the left they lead with sight.

Would you, as a cyclist, rather have a car driver hit you with their right fender or see you on their left?

For these reasons I always ride toward the left hand side of one-way streets. My positioning on two-way streets is very controversial though. My cycling experiences during the past 10 years, 2 as a NYC messenger, prove riding on the double yellow lines is the absolutely safest place to be.

On the sides of two way streets you are on the right hand side of drivers and next to the driver's door of parked cars. I have been doored 3 times, cut off by turning and parking cars too many times to remember, and was even rear ended once! This is not a safe place.

I have been riding in the center for the past year and a half and never had an accident while doing so.

Yes, this is not a traditional thing to do and [may be] illegal in most states (but not in NY where the law gives cyclists the discretion to choose where it is safest to ride). To heck with all that, I want to reach my destination alive!

You need to be courteous to motorists who may be timid, give them some hand signals.... If a motorist should not pass, give them a straight out arm and move to the right a little to make sure.

Also if you are approaching a double parked car which is on your right and there is no oncoming traffic shift over to your left and wave the motorist on, so you both can bass the double parked vehicle simultaneously. It is a courteous move which prevents motorists from becoming irate about those "damned, slow bikers!"

I want every cyclist to come home alive and uninjured... please, ride toward the left on one way streets and toward the center of two way streets.

Ride courteous

--Dan Convissor

This was printed in the March 1990 edition of the NYCC Bulletin, a publication of the New York Cycle Club.

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Last updated: 7 April 1999