Hostile Morning Bike Commute Lesson Learned

I find myself becoming more and more irritable on my morning bike commute. Drivers who use cell-phones, that do not look where they are going are trying my patience. This morning I made a critical mistake. I think if I had changed my position in the lane to be more direct and visible, this situation might have been negated.

I had my modified Bianchi San Jose with pannier bags loaded this morning. Laptop and clothes for the day in the bags, and I am heading downhill to a stop light. The stop light has some construction going on in the middle lane. I rolled up in the right lane first at the light. I was off to the right of the lane, which was my first mistake. I should have been in the middle of the lane. A woman from the center lane under construction started edging her SUV into the right lane. She rolled forward but needed me to move to turn right at the red light.

She actually rolled down the window and tried to sweetly ask me to move so she could turn right at the red light. “No!”, I told her. She could wait for the light to turn green like everybody else. If I had been a car she could/would never have done this.

My mistake was in being off to the right if I intended to go straight through the light. I was asking for it. Lesson learned occupy the center of the lane when you intend to go straight.

Bad Bike Commuter Positioning Diagram for going Straight in an Intersection

Traffic Bad Position Bike Commuting

Good Position for a Bike in Traffic going straight

Good Positioning for going Straight through an Intersection on a bike.

Certainly the second diagram is more aggressive in terms of the positioning in traffic, but hopefully safer. The object is not necessarily to be in the center to let the car through on the right, but to clearly occupy the middle to let the car know you are going straight.


  1. There was a recent thread on the League of American Bicyclists instructors’ google group about a topic related to lane positioning. One poster used the word aggressive to describe taking the lane and the space that they were entitled to use. Another suggested that aggressive carries the wrong connotation. It implies conflict, even if there shouldn’t be one.

    It was decided that assertive would be a much better word. It’s sort of a nitpicky thing, but the words we use to describe things can make a big difference (accident vs. crash, accident implies that it couldn’t be avoided, but many crashes, “accidents,” are the result of negligence or ignorance and can be avoided.

    Ehhh, end of nitpicking. 🙂

    Hi, I’m Josh. Nice to meetcha.

  2. Hey Jay:

    Trackstand is in progress. Sometimes I creep a bit but it is coming along. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Hey hows your track stand comming. That will make a huge difference in you ability to reposition yourself in the lane toward the left then quick sprint of the light toward the right before the following car can even blink an eye. Sprinting off a light from a track stand with the appropriate gear allready selected is a faster 3+ seconds then most cars who might even try to run you over.