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Take the Lane When Your Safety is at Stake

By John Marsh

Road bike rider logoWe all love to ride country roads. Quiet, scenic, hills, curves — the essence of road cycling.

Occasionally, though, you may find yourself in a tight spot. It can happen on a twisty two-lane when motorists can’t see very far around the next bend. There may be a rough shoulder, no shoulder or even a guardrail. In other words, no safe way for you to get off the road in an emergency.

And there could be one, because a driver is coming from behind. You sense that he might try to pass even though an oncoming vehicle could appear around the bend at any second, putting everyone in a serious fix.

Here’s how to control this situation (roadies in Britain and Down Under should reverse these left-right directions):

Check back over your left shoulder. This lets the driver know you’re aware that he’s there.

Extend your left arm. Hold it at a 45-degree downward angle with your palm facing rearward. Even Mr. Magoo could see this. It should be recognized as “stay back.”

Move left to the center of the lane. Look back again just before you do to check the car’s whereabouts and send another nonverbal message. Assertively fill the lane so the driver stops thinking about passing.

Hold your position till the way is clear. As soon as you can see far enough ahead to know you’re safe, steer back to your usual position along the right side of the road.

Motion the driver by. You stopped him from passing, now let him know that the way is clear. And as he drives by and checks you in the rearview mirror, give him a wave to say thanks for the courtesy.
John Marsh is publisher of the weekly RBR Newsletter and www.RoadBikeRider.com, which provide expert advice, tips and shared knowledge to road cycling enthusiasts – from beginner to experienced rider – to help them become better cyclists and enjoy our sport even more.


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