I often see three dangerous patterns when cars interact with a long line of bikes. One scenario is when a car driver wants to get onto a four-lane highway. Though the driver should wait until the bikes have passed, he rarely does. What usually happens is the driver tries to blend into a small gap in the bikes, which, most times, is the two-second safety gap the bike riders are leaving for themselves. And though this is annoying for bike riders, it’s in our best interest to make a large opening in our line so the car can enter safely. And since the driver doesn’t want to be in the middle of a pack of bikes any more than we want him there, the car will move into the next lane as soon as possible. The same goes for when a car wants to get off at an exit.
Another dangerous scenario occurs when a long line of bikes is traveling on a curvy two-lane back road. Though we’re cruising along at a nice pace and enjoying the scenery, cars usually want to go faster and pass us. However, since the road is curvy, the driver doesn’t always have a good place to do this. As riders, we figure he’s just going to have to wait, but that’s not the way some drivers see it. To him, we’re pains in the ass that are going too slow and blocking him. After waiting for awhile, the driver may make a dangerous move to get around us. Sure, he’s in the wrong, but if another car does come around the curve towards us before he has a chance to pass the entire line, do you think he’s going to hit the other car head-on? No way! He’s going to move into the line of bikes whether there’s room for him or not. The smarter way is to open up a large space for the cars to enter our ranks every few bikes or so. This way, cars can pass us easily and go away, leaving us to safely enjoy our cruise through the countryside.
I sometimes see bike riders clogging the passing lane on the highway by going the speed limit or slower. This also makes car drivers nuts and rightly so. The far left lane is the passing lane, and it’s just as aggravating for others as it is for you when you’re the one behind the guy in the left lane going 55.
I know I’m going to get a flood of mail telling me how I’m wrong, how car drivers have to do this or that, how you don’t care what the car drivers think, etc. Fine, send them in. I don’t expect to change everyone’s mind; I just hope to share some road wisdom with those who want to make their ride safer and more enjoyable.
See you on the road.