We’ve got our Bike guy!!!! Please meet Rob Greene. I think you’ll find him smart, funny, and relevant!
I ride in the middle of the road. Physically speaking, this just means staying as far to the right of traffic as possible, but left enough to avoid car doors suddenly opening or dangerous debris that collects on the shoulder of roads. It is the safest way for me to ride my bike, and it decreases the chances that an automobile will be involved in a collision with me. This practice, though legal, does not come without controversy. If you are not aware, take a look at the super-vitriolic comments on any news story about cyclists. With the anonymity of the Internet, you can see drivers posting their fantasies of running over slower-traveling cyclists. I have never quite understood what kind of orgiastic denouement a drive gets from being able to speed past a cyclist towards a line of cars stopped at a red light, though I have imagined it has something to do with the urgent text message he isn’t writing. I know from experience as a former-driver in LA that getting past me on the road is not going to shorten the time of a car trip. To shorten the trip, one must lose the car. I spend LESS time getting form point A to point B once I became the motor for my transportation (applies only to rush hour trips under 10 miles, results may vary based on rider).
For every bit of auto driver rage, there is a balancing anonymity-fueled cyclist self-righteousness. Just like the speedy driver so eager to get to a red light, cyclists begging for quick and vicious justice against drivers involved in collisions with bicycles are equally impossible for me to understand. Finding the middle of the road in the cycling community is a bit more difficult; in spite of the size and mass inequality between a car and a bicycle, most “accidents” are still the result of two vehicle operators simultaneously acting unsafely. I rarely meet a cyclists who doesn’t stare at me blankly when I suggest that there may have been some blame on the cyclist (or the bicycle itself). It has become a cultural taboo to suggest that someone created the conditions of his or her own demise, but we should not allow ourselves to let this creep into our culture of transportation. As a cyclist, I understand the risks I take in traffic; every intersection is a chance for me to weigh the fun I am having during my trip (and the time saved) against the risk of harm. There is no seat belt or airbag, which have all but eliminated this calculation for the casual driver.
For cyclists, there are no formal training schools to teach traffic safety. Other riders and a motorcycle safety course actually provided the lump sum of my knowledge of safe road navigation. YouTube is my resource of choice for demonstrating some of these best safety practices (whenever I have a question about how to best navigate a specific traffic situation, I find CyclistLorax at http://www.youtube.com/user/CyclistLorax usually has a good video demonstrating whatever situation one may face in a commute). In the same spirit, it should not take a law to keep motorists from driving under the distraction of email and phone conversations. In the thoroughfare of dialogue between the parties, the middle of the road is the least congested route.