Bicycling: Where to ride on the road, and why

Rachel Ruhlen, writing in Bicycling and Walking Around for the Kirksville Daily Express, gives and excellent summary of lane positioning for bicyclists: 

Bicycle commuter
Bicycle commuter

Let’s review. Bicyclists should ride on the road, not the sidewalk. Bicyclists should ride on the right like cars, not the left like pedestrians. Bicyclists should ride at least an arm’s length from the edge of the road, not hugging the edge.

An arm’s length from the edge is the minimum distance, and it is often appropriate and advisable to ride more than an arm’s length from the edge of the road. To take the lane, ride in the center or just to the right of center, about where your right tire would be if you were in a car. When the lane is too narrow to share side-by-side with a car, taking the lane encourages drivers to make full use of the left lane (when it is clear) to pass you.

This is counter intuitive. After all, if the lane is narrow, shouldn’t we hug the edge so that cars have room to get past?

Read the rest of Ruhlen's article here.

Want to learn more?  Chapter 2 of Bicycling Street Smarts by John Allen covers bicyclist road positioning in detail.