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Did you know that you are allowed to cycle in the middle of the lane?

December 5th, 2012 | Posted by Nick Andrew in advocacy | bike safety | fun

The Road Safety Council recently changed its guidance regarding where cyclists should be in the roadspace. It now tells cyclists to be in the middle of any narrow lane (ie. when another vehicle cannot safely be alongside within the lane) or when you are approaching a turn.

On Hong Kong’s confined streets, this has many benefits: it makes you much more visible to drivers, gives you some space on your left when vehicles come too close, and ensures that drivers think before they overtake you rather than believing they can “just squeeze past” when you are nearer the kerb.

I saw this post on the fantastic bikeyface blog today and thought it was very appropriate:

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Whenever a person first discovers I bike, they reply with a story. And it’s always the same story.

“I was driving down [insert any road name] when all of the sudden I saw a cyclist in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!”  Inevitably it always ends with them saying they “just tapped on their horn” or “squeezed by” or “yelled out to the cyclist.” 

And many many times I’ve been the cyclist in one of these stories – the one sharing the road with a driver that isn’t aware of the basic road rules regarding bikes.

What’s worse is that sometimes reasonable people panic at the sight of a bicycle in the lane… and then all that reason flies out the window.

Middle of the Road

So I wanted to explain it to those who have never biked in the city:

Middle of the Road

And there’s more. Bikes are small, but they still need space. Cars should give cyclists the same amount of space when passing as another vehicle, at least 3 ft. However, not all roads allow for that, particularly in Boston:

Middle of the Road

So don’t panic when you see a bike in your lane. Just treat it like another vehicle. If you can pass safely, that’s fine. If not, most likely you won’t be slowed down much if at all. In the city, I find that car traffic slows me down much more than the other way around.

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