June 2005 Safety Thoughts

 Lane Position Strategies 

by Dave Hansen, Safety Officer 

 

While a lot of our riding is done while in a group, we still ride alone too, at least enough to get to the group assembly point & back home from the group ride. This month I would like to discuss a defensive riding strategy best utilized while riding alone: lane position. 

While lane position could be considered infinite, for this discussion, we'll define lane position as left, center, or right. 

What is it about lane position that can increase our safety? The answer is visibility. Other drivers won't respect or give us our lane space if they can't or don't see us. That means it's up to us to maximize our visibility to other drivers. Lane position should be based on current traffic with visibility in mind. 

To be seen by approaching traffic on a 2 lane road, use the left position of the lane. Also make sure you allow plenty of following space behind vehicles in your lane to be sure you're not hidden by them. Remember, following distance is also a part of your lane position strategy. Always allow a 2 second minimum spacing to the vehicle in front of you. 

Same for being seen by cars in front of you; left lane position will make you visible in both their left side & center rearview mirrors. But, only if you allow enough following distance. Remember, trucks have much larger blind spots than cars. If you can't see the truck's rearview mirror, there's not a chance in hell that the truck driver can see you. 

When approaching traffic is signaling a left turn, slowly move your lane position from left, to center, to right in order to provide the left turn driver the best opportunity to both see you & judge your approach speed. 

Traffic entering from right side streets will see you better if you're in the right lane position. Slowly move to the center, then left lane position as you approach the right side street driver to allow them a better chance to judge your approach speed. 

These are just some basic guidelines, described with simple traffic scenarios. Actual traffic situations will, without doubt, be more complex & require additional thought when choosing lane position. Just remember, visibility to other drivers is the primary objective.

Ride Safe! 

Words of Safety