'Taking the lane': hit or miss?
A Guardian ‘bike blog’ questions why ‘taking the lane’ is regarded as safe practice for cyclists, yet lambasted by other road users.
‘Taking the lane’ or taking ‘primary position’ is essentially riding in the centre of a lane. According to the Guardian blog, cyclists do it when passing parked cars whose doors may suddenly open; to prevent traffic overtaking dangerously in narrow roads; and when manoeuvring or turning.
The Guardian refers to a London cycle blogger (Sam) who recently wrote about how a taxi driver threatened him when he took the lane, and was told by a police officer that he shouldn’t ride in the middle of the lane.
Taking the lane is a practise recommended by ‘Bikeability’, as cyclists are safest where they can see the road and be seen. If in doubt, says the blog, primary position should be the default road position.
David Dansky, head of training at Cycle Training UK (CTUK), said: “The guidance we give cyclists is to take the space they need. The potential hazard is that drivers behind might not understand what you are doing.
“The courteous thing when you are riding in that assertive position is to look behind you and make eye contact. You still get drivers who don't understand, but as more and more people get on their bikes you get more understanding from drivers.”
Chief inspector Ian Vincent, Cycle Task Force, said: “There is no specific Metropolitan police service guidance on cycle safety. We refer cyclists to the Highway Code and Transport for London's (TfL) cycling safely page, which recommends cyclists ride assertively, away from the gutter.
“If the road is too narrow for vehicles to pass you safely, it may be better to ride in the middle of the lane to prevent dangerous overtaking.”
Click here to read the Guardian bike blog in full.