Lane Control is Defensive Driving
The 5 most common crashes involving law-abiding bicyclists on the roadway can be avoided by the bicyclist riding farther left. These crashes are caused by motorist error, and would legally be the fault of the motorist regardless of where on the road the bicyclist was positioned.
Drivers of narrow vehicles, such as motorcycles, scooters and bicycles do not occupy the lane by default. Their vehicles only occupy a fraction of the lane width. Since bicyclists are both narrower and slower than most traffic, other drivers expect to be able to use that extra lane width when passing. The problem is, many drivers misjudge the amount of space needed to provide a safe (and legal) buffer. So, when a bicyclist knows there is not enough space for motorists to pass safely within the lane, she moves into a lane control position to indicate that faster traffic must change lanes to pass.
When a car door is opened into the path of a bicyclist, the results can be deadly. Motorists are required to look before opening a door into the street. But people get distracted and forget. Bicyclists have 100% control over preventing this type of crash by riding 5 feet or more from parked cars.
Motorists sometimes pass a cyclist just before making a right turn. They misjudge the speed and distance needed to pass, or they just don’t register the cyclist’s presence. By riding far enough left to require a lane change, the cyclist encourages drivers to wait and turn after the cyclist has cleared the intersection.
When cyclists ride on the edge, they are often screened by passing cars. This hides them from view of motorists waiting to turn left. By moving left and seeking vantage to see and be seen, cyclists can usually discourage the left turn violation, or at least have space to perform an avoidance maneuver. Motorcyclists do this, too.
The edge of the road is often invisible to motorists waiting at side streets. Buildings, shrubs, poles and other obstructions can hid a cyclist who is riding too far right. Just as motorcyclists are taught, we teach cyclists to ride where you can see the driver of a car waiting to pull out.