Commenter: I had my first true road rage incident last summer while driving down on the Cape behind two young women riding two abreast in the middle of the lane. True, this was a fairly slow road-to-the-beach type road but it was paved and marked and there was plenty of traffic, including a stream of cycling families coming in the other direction. After I’d idled hopefully for a few seconds, the women started waving me lazily to go around them–impossible given the oncoming traffic. It was so bizarre–I spend much more time on my bike than I do driving, but the cluelessness and rudeness of these women made me so steamed–they just didn’t want to move over. I’m sorry to say that it escalated into honking (I had a stream of cars behind me) and then eventually into a full-blown screaming match–surely the last scenario anyone wants after a laid-back afternoon at the beach.
You know I love the full lane law. It helps keep me safe. The full lane law gives me a right to a full lane when the lane is too narrow to share or the right hand side of the road is dangerous for pedaling. I have to move right as soon as conditions allow.
The commenter doesn’t tell us anything about the width of the lane or the condition of the right hand side of it. Maybe the road is narrow. Maybe the right hand side was covered in sand deep enough to make pedaling there dangerous. We just don’t know. Even if the commenter felt the road was wide enough and the right hand side clear, I support pedalers’ right to make that call. No matter if they are wrong or right, my obligation is to wait behind them until it is safe to pass.
Riding two abreast is generally not legal when faster road users are trying to pass, but once you have a right to take the lane, for as long as you have that right, I see no reason why two can’t ride side by side. I don’t do it because I don’t want to risk angering motorists, but I am surprised that the commenter, as a cyclist presumably on vacation, wasn’t able to keep her anger in check. If I were driving behind them, I’d do my best to keep in mind that it is a beach town. Some people who pedal there don’t know the rules or what they should do to keep themselves safe.
Patience is too often in short supply on our roads. The commenter said she was idling behind the pedalers for a few seconds when they waived her around. Her anger sprouted so quickly? Traffic can be terrible on the Cape, but you are in the Cape! Even without a single pedaler the traffic would be terrible. Slow down! Relax! Drive at 10 miles per hour! So what?! I would bet you a $100 that in less than a minute the pedalers would have moved over or an opportunity to pass safely would have arisen.
Onward. Even if the pedalers are taking a lane when they should not, how does that support the blogger’s conclusion that the right to use a full a lane is not practicable? The pedalers in the story may have been wrong, but I don’t see pedalers needlessly taking the lane very often or for very long. I don’t drive much, but I can’t remember ever being “stuck” behind a pedaler for more than a minute. Add up all the time I have been “stuck” behind pedalers in my entire life and I’d probably have enough time to eat a small pizza. I can do without another pizza.
[The pictures in this post are of one of the very few bicycles I have sold. It highlights the fun of mixing and matching parts. I pedaled that thing all over Lincoln, Chicago, New York City and then Omaha. It was my first real racer. I pedaled it quickly. It used to carry me to visit Lacey when she was at Barnard. Those were the best trips. The last picture was taken just before the buyer came to pick it up. Of course I miss it. I have since bought back from the buyer the rear deraileur and the cranks. Maybe over time I will acquire and reassemble the whole thing and take it for a ride.]