Day 422 – Hey drivers!
Today I road from Globe, AZ to Apache Junction, AZ and again drivers are on my mind. Here is some insight into how and why I position my bicycle on the road.
In general I try and stay out of the way of vehicles because they are faster than me and very capable of ending my life.
There are many factors I keep in mind when choosing where to ride on the roadway:
- time of day
- road quality
- sight lines
- traffic volume
TO DRIVERS – If the road has a wide shoulder that is mostly smooth and free of debris I’ll be on it and out of your. As long as you are on your side of the white line (or a good approximation if one is not there) and going less than 60 mph you don’t even need to get out of your lane to pass me. Exception – you are a semi-truck going over 40 mph or there is a big cross wind.
If the shoulder is less than three feet wide or is narrowed by a rumble strip or has huge cracks and bumps in it, large chunks of blown off retread, glass, lumber, car parts, etc., I will have a tendency to ride in the same lane as you.
I will mostly likely get onto the bad shoulder if you are coming up behind me and there is on coming traffic, limited sightline or you are a semi-truck. If I don’t, please use your horn to indicate you are approaching before you are right on top of me.
If it is a two-lane road with a bad shoulder, no oncoming traffic and clear sight lines, I will stay in the travel lane. I ask that you use your driving skills and little steering effort to move your vehicle into the other lane fully to pass me. I also request that you: not lay on the horn, not accelerate heavily throwing a big cloud of exhaust in my face (talking to you pick-up drivers) as you pass, and most of all don’t cut right in front of me.
If there are two or more lanes and no shoulder or a bad shoulder I will take up the full, right most lane.
Why you may ask. Why do I need to take up the full lane when I am just a little bicycle?
If I ride in the lane, but to the side, many of you will not go fully into the other lane to pass me. You will think it is possible to share the lane with me. I’ve tried it before and we really can’t. Either I’m forced off the road or intimidated by you passing 6″-12″ from me. I’m pretty confident cycling, but after a while those types of close passes wear on my nerves and I being fantasizing about having a gun and shooting you with it. I don’t like those dark thoughts going through my mind. In addition, the vehicle next to you would also like you to stay in your lane as opposed to going partly into theirs.
I’ve learned it is best to confidently take up the full lane so you don’t even think about sharing the lane with me. Instead you will be forced to either kill me (everyone so far hasn’t – thank you), move over to the other lane to pass or slow down and wait for other vehicles to clear before crossing into the other lane and passing me safely.
This may upset you.
You may feel I’ve cheated you out of 15-120 of your life.
You may think I’m crazy for being on such a busy road in the first place.
You may feel that bicycles have no place on the road ever.
When touring cross-country I don’t always have the ideal choice of roads. Often times a perfectly nice shoulder will suddenly disappear so I end up in your lane. Towns have a nasty habit of putting in curbs with no shoulders or even a sidewalk. Or there will be a sidewalk, but it is used by pedestrians or too hard to navigate by bicycle. Or maybe there is unavoidable junk in the road so I have to switch into your lane for a little bit to get past it. Or there is no other reasonable way to go through that part of the country.
I am a thoughtful cyclist.
I am constantly thinking about where I am; what is around me; what is going on ahead of me and using my helmet mirror to see what is behind me.
So please give me a break.
As you sit in your comfortable car with the AC on relying on your gas powered (or maybe even electric powered) motor to easily convey you across all types of terrain, take a moment to think about me and what I’m doing before you get too upset.
I’m a guy with a highly visible, loaded down touring bicycle, trying his best to share the road with you, so I can see this great country of ours and get some exercise in the process.
This has been on my mind for a while and I don’t think I’ve actually taken the time to put it in the blog yet so I hope it has given you some insight.
Just outside of Globe I saw a few cyclists on road bikes passing me and thought maybe the town was more to my liking than I gave it credit for. Not quite. It turns it was a supported group riding for a charity called The Friendship Circle. It is a Jewish organization that brings together specials needs teens with teens for mutual benefit. Check out the link for more info, but I think it is an awesome way to get special needs teens the bigger social life they deserve while teaching teens about diversity and community building.
Mark (pic) saw me slowly making my way up the mountain and turned around to ride along with me to ask what I was up to. As he was riding up to me a cop slowed up beside me and yelled out that I need to get off the multi-lane road because it was dangerous. I pointed out that there was no where for me to get off to since there was only 2 inches of pavement to the right of the white line. Instead of getting behind me and acting as a blocker to ensure my safety, he took off. Only to come back down the other way and yell out the window to me and Mark for riding next to each other. Of course not knowing what he was talking about – see human nature above – and that fact that two cyclist riding together in their own lane with a full lane next to us for vehicles to pass is actually safer because we are more visible…oh what’s the point!? He was gone anyway and probably didn’t really care about us as much as he did about vehicles not having two lanes to drive in.
Towards the top of the hill I saw car pulled over and was wondering what was up. Was he going to throw something at me or yell at me or push me off my bike – after all I was just outside Globe and that cop didn’t exactly make me feel better about the area. Turns out it was Menachem Korf and he was the official photographer for the cycling group and he wanted to get some pictures of me.
Very cool. Menachem told me a bit more about the group – although Jewish in origin it serves teen regardless of religious affiliation. There is a separate website site for the ride and I’m mentioned on day 7 of the blog.
When I finally got to the top of the mountain I was getting ready to video the big downhill when I looked to my left and saw a young man standing there holding a long board (skate). WTF? Was this guy going to ride a skateboard down this massive hill in the middle of the day with all this traffic?
Turns out it was William and his friend was going to be driving behind as a blocker. I got video of it. Check it out!
At the bottom of the mountain I decided to grab lunch and ended up taking a bunch to Sandra (pic) my bartender. Her 70th birthday was on July 4th and she decided it was time to change up her lifestyle a bit. She has decided to reassess her relationship with alcohol and gambling. And I’m rooting for her to make a go of it. She realizes it will call for also reassessing her social scene, but determined to make a go of it. I always enjoy talking to people about deciding to take the harder path towards self-realization. Good luck Sandra and thanks for the great conversation.