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Old January 27th 19, 05:48 PM posted to rec.bicycles.misc
Frank Krygowski[_4_]
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Posts: 8,285
Default AG: Lit Crit wanted

On 1/27/2019 12:36 AM, John B. Slocomb wrote:
On Sat, 26 Jan 2019 20:54:54 -0500, Joy Beeson

I'm particularly interested in words that I can leave out without
impairing clarity. This essay is way too long.

It also needs a definite exit line.

Any ideas for change-of-topic marks with a chance of surviving a
typesetter who regularly ends stories in the middle of a sentence, and
sometimes in the middle of a word?

The essay is intended as a letter to an American newspaper, so I
haven't mentioned driving on the left.


If you are thinking about riding a bike, you need to learn the rules
of the road.

If you have a car-driver's license, you already know the rules: bikes
follow the same rules as cars because two vehicles operating by
different rules on the same facility insure conflict.

Where the rules for different classes of vehicles differ, there will
be signs saying "no non-motorized vehicles", "no trucks except for
local delivery", "slow vehicles keep right", and so forth.

Most differences between cars and bikes are statistical. For example,
cars are noisy, so bike riders need to make noise on purpose much more
often than a car driver needs to sound the horn. You should never
overtake a pedestrian or another bike rider without letting him know
that you are there. A simple "Hi!" will do, but I often choose to
give more information -- when I saw a photographer leaning over the
edge of the boardwalk, for example, I said "I am passing behind you."


There are a few rules that are different for bikes.

A car driver can make hand signals only through the driver's-side
window, so he signals a right turn by bending his left elbow at a
right angle and pointing up. When I give this signal on a bike,
people wave back. A bike rider signals a right turn by pointing with
his right arm, a mirror image of the left-turn signal. Bike riders
also have the option of signalling "I intend to go straight" -- just
point straight ahead with either arm. It is a good idea, after giving
this signal, to raise your arm a little so that people behind you can
see it.

The law gives bicycles explicit permission to operate on a usable
shoulder -- most of the reasons for banning traffic on shoulders don't
apply to a vehicle that the operator can pick up and walk off with.

But note the word "usable". You don't have permission to ride on
shoulders that are intermittent, narrow, covered with sharp or
slippery debris, or otherwise not safe to ride on.

Also note that when you ride on a shoulder, you are not in the roadway
and therefore have sole responsibility for avoiding collisions.
Whenever you approach an intersection, you should suspect every driver
of intending to turn into the side road, and you should expect every
driver on the side road to creep forward for a better view of the
traffic lanes.

Another difference between cars and bikes is lane position. Most
vehicles have no option but "in the middle of your share", but
bicycles can also ride in the left wheel track or the right wheel
track, and on some rare occasions, your share isn't the entire lane.
Lane position is a complex subject best studied under the supervision
of an experienced cyclist, but I've posted an over-simplified
explanation at",
and you can read chapter 2 of "Street Smarts" at

An even-more simplified version: when in doubt, ride in the middle of
the lane. Always leave yourself room to dodge to the right. Never
weave in and out of traffic. Give a wide berth to things that can
knock you off your bike, such as parked cars, curbs, lengthwise
grooves, and drop-offs. When riding in a bike lane, allow a good four
feet between your left elbow and the motor lane. Always signal your


Comments on the Web page are also solicited.

I'm seriously considering breaking the letter at the # and ending
"There are a few rules that are different for bikes, but I've taken up
too much space already, so I will write a another letter."

This is a desperate measure, because the local nutcases write
multi-part letters.

The first letter would be e-mailed with the subject line, perhaps
repeated in the body to increase the odds it will be used as a
headline, "Time to start dusting off the bike"

The second with the subject line "Three ways bikes are not like cars".

I read both the above and your reference"

and while I haven't ridden in the U.S. in many years and maybe
conditions are different there, but here one is quite often (I might
almost say "normally") riding on streets or roads where the vehicle
traffic is traveling at 100 KPH or faster and the bicycle is traveling
at, perhaps, 1/4 or 1/3 of that speed. In that instance "taking the
lane" can be hazardous unless done carefully as veering out in front
of a vehicle traveling at speed assumes that the vehicle can stop and
if the assumption is incorrect then what?

Nobody with any sense recommends veering out suddenly in front of a fast
vehicle. The relevant books, pamphlets, classes, videos and websites all
make it clear (or should make it clear) that you check behind you,
signal, and negotiate if necessary when you need to move left.

- Frank Krygowski

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