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40 Okay, so what do I do to get around a bicyclist and be on my way?




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This article is from the California Driving (and Surviving) FAQ, by "George J Wu" georgewu@netcom.com with numerous contributions by others.

40 Okay, so what do I do to get around a bicyclist and be on my way?

from geoff@FICUS.CS.UCLA.EDU (Geoff Kuenning) on Thu, 2 Dec 93:

If the cyclist is not traveling in the same direction as you, treat
him or her as you would any other vehicle. Be careful about
estimating speeds. Many experienced cyclists (see below) travel much
faster than you might expect. More than once, I have had drivers turn
in front of me because they thought they had plenty of time, but did
not. When in doubt, wait (assuming, of course, that the cyclist is
the one with the right-of-way). This is especially important if you
are traveling in the same direction and making a right turn soon; you
don't want to turn right in front of the cyclist because you misjudged
her speed.

If you're traveling in the same direction, things are a bit more
complex. I almost hate to say it, but the first thing you should
probably do is to decide whether the cyclist is an expert.
Experienced cyclists should be treated a bit differently. The best
clue to experience is riding style, of course, though this can be hard
to observe quickly. Experienced cyclists are smoother and ride a
straighter line. Inexperienced cyclists tend to weave and make
unpredictable moves.

A quicker, though somewhat less reliable, way to judge experience is
to look at the rider's clothes. If they're not a "lycra-butt," it's
doubtful that they're an expert. If they have Lycra shorts, but are
wearing a T-shirt, they're less likely to be experienced. Gloves,
shoes, and helmet are other less-reliable clues. If the cyclist is in
full regalia and riding in a straight line, they are probably
experienced. But all of these are only guidelines, of course.

Once you've judged experience, decide how and when to pass. If the
cyclist is an expert, let him or her guide you. If he's out in the
middle of your lane, it's probably because he doesn't want you to pass
at that point. I frequently move out into the traffic lane in
high-speed sections where I know some bad road is coming up, so that I
won't be forced to swerve into traffic suddenly. A polite cyclist
will also use hand signals to indicate that you should stay back in
dangerous situations. By the same token, polite (and careful)
cyclists will also use hand signals to let you know when it's safe to
overtake them.

For inexperienced riders, use your own judgment to select a safe spot,
waiting if necessary. A safe spot means that there is enough room to
give a wide berth, there are no obvious hazards that might cause the
cyclist to swerve suddenly, and there is no cross traffic. Of these,
the wide berth is the most important: you want to have enough room
that you won't run over the rider if he suddenly falls over (which
actually does happen from time to time). I consider half a car width
minimal for an unrequested pass (this does not apply if an expert
cyclist explicitly motions you to come by).

Finally, when you do pass, PASS QUICKLY. I cannot overemphasize the
importance of this latter point. It is not safe (for you insurance
bill as well as for the cyclist) to drive next to a bicycle. Don't
come barrelling up at 60 mph and surprise the poor fellow at a
distance of 6 inches, but don't pass at a differential of 2 or even 5
mph either. Use your superior power and acceleration to get around
him and on your way. This is especially important if you have been
signalled to pass, since there is often only a very short section
where it is safe, and the cyclist is trying to help you out by
getting you on your way quickly.


 

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previous page: 39 One of those gangs of a dozen neon-shirted lycra-butts was taking up a whole lane the other day, don't they have to ride single file?
  
page up: California Driving (and Surviving) FAQ
  
next page: 41 I'm a slow, occasional cyclist and I feel a lot safer riding the way I walk, against the traffic. Is that OK?