In My First Post
…about bike lanes in Philadelphia, I showed how I rode on Spruce Street, a narrow one-way street in Center City with a bike lane.
When my safety required it, I merged out of the bike lane — for example, whenever I might be at risk from a right-turning motor vehicle. At those times, it was safest to be in line with motor vehicles, where the driver behind me could see me.
Such Assertiveness May Seem Strange and Forbidding
It’s indeed counterintuitive to practice “driver behavior,” and take your place in the queue with motor vehicles. Yes, they are big, and heavy, and they can go fast. But these vehicles also are controlled by drivers. You use head turns and hand signals to communicate with drivers, and move into line when one has made room for you. That driver’s vehicle is protecting you from all the other ones behind!
Putting “driver behavior” into practice on Spruce Street was easy, as traffic there is mostly slow. I had no trouble just falling into line with vehicles waiting at a traffic light.
A First-Timer’s Mistakes
If you think that CyclingSavvy Instructors always do everything right, watch today’s video. This was my first ride ever on Spruce Street. I wouldn’t do everything quite the same way a second time.
There were a couple of times when I didn’t move far enough OUT of the bike lane. I was in line with motor traffic, but I stayed in the right tire track — on the passenger side of cars — so that bicyclists in the bike lane would show in my video.
Right Tire Track Distracted Me From My Safety
That distracted me from an option which would have made my ride go better. As I reviewed raw footage, it dawned on me that most of the streets which cross Spruce Street are one-way. Some are one way right-to-left, others left-to-right.
I could take advantage of this!
Avoiding Unnecessary Delay at Intersections
Look at the incidents at one-way left-to-right cross streets. In one of these, a motorist ahead of me pulled over to the right curb just past the intersection. In the other, a motorist behind me turned right. Neither used turn signals. The driver who merged right delayed me, and I delayed the one who turned right.
Things would have gone more smoothly if I had been riding farther to the left. That is my usual practice where traffic can turn right, but it is even more emphatically correct where traffic can’t turn left.
I still won’t pull all the way over to the left, out of line with the motor traffic: even if a motorist is unlikely to turn the wrong way into a one-way street, one could still merge over to the left curb, like the one who merged over to the right curb in my video. It’s safest to wait in line.
Just For Fun
I’ve included a third incident where the mistake was made years earlier, in the design department of an automobile manufacturer halfway around the world.
In this segment, the driver did use a turn signal, but it was so far around on the other side of the car, I couldn’t see it.
This driver was yielding right-of-way to me when I should have yielded to him. To avoid a “no, you go first” situation, I went ahead. If I’d known that the driver wanted to turn right and would have to follow me, I would have been more assertively polite. Why would I want motorists behind me if they don’t have to be? I don’t!
The first two incidents illustrate why I never assume motorists will use their turn signals. The third incident brought home to me that I sometimes can’t assume that they are not using turn signals.
Savvy Cyclists Learn From Their Mistakes
While I kept safe, the encounters I’ve described could have gone more smoothly. Every ride can be a learning experience, and the next ride can go better.
More to Come
I have one more post about Spruce Street on the way. So far I’ve done my best to avoid discussing politics and religion.
But in my final Spruce Street post, churches are involved. In that post I’m going to let loose!