Tag Archives: bike

A simple reminder.

A bike, riding far to the right is not an inconvenience. It is a courtesy. To you the driver. If you cannot pass them safely and legally, do not pass them. When you do, you become the reason there are riders that will not keep to the right explicitly to prevent you from making a dangerous pass.

To be clear, both riders are doing as the legally are allowed.

The relevant law is 40-6-294 – Riding on Roadways and Bicycle Paths

The law itself is pretty clear. Paragraph A defines the “hazards to safe cycling” as used in the later paragraphs, but essentially states that anything that can be deemed a hazard, shall be.

Paragraph B and the associated subsections define the where to ride as “As Far Right As Practicable” which for clarity does not mean “Possible”. The subsection all define the exceptions to the need to keep far right ( above and beyond what the rider deems as practicable ). These exceptions are important to know, and while most should be common sense: turning left, traveling at traffic speeds and passing other vehicles.

However, there are two exceptions that need to be examined specifically.

There is a right turn only lane and the person operating the bicycle is not turning right

This is a big one, because it precludes an action that many, perhaps even most drivers believe is courtesy, and should be practiced by road cyclists. In essence, it says that a bicycle may NOT use a right turn lane to give up space to a passing driver if they are not turning. Worse, though is that under 40-6-291

Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 40-6-50, any person operating a bicycle may ride upon a paved shoulder; provided, however, that such person shall not be required to ride upon a paved shoulder.

A cyclist may ride on a paved shoulder, though they are not required to, but if that shoulder becomes a right turn lane, they have to move from the shoulder, into the travel lane until the turn lane ends.

This violates the single most important rule of road safety: Move Predictably.

The lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle

An exception that essentially undoes the foundation of “Far Right As Practicable”, because there are virtually no bike usable roads in the state that meet the width required to “share safely with a motor vehicle”.

How wide would that lane need to be to meet that criteria?

Well, to answer that question, we need to know the maximum width of a motor vehicle, which is 8 feet 6 inches. We also need to know the width of a bicycle, which is 2 feet 6 inches. That says that the absolute bare minimum would be 11 feet, but that does not address the legal definition of safe passing distance, which is 3 feet. The quick math shows 14 feet as the minimum width required to ALWAYS meet that criteria.

But extend that a step further. The average width of a motor vehicle in the US is a little above 6 feet, largely courtesy of the rise of SUV and truck sales, and assume that the cyclist is willing to ride on the white line reducing their effective width to 1 foot 3 inches. Even at those numbers, most roads have lanes that are just 11 feet wide.

Meaning that a cyclist is legally within their right to ride pretty much anywhere in the lane they need to create a safe space to ride.

Last but not least, there is NO stipulation for single file

In fact, the laws that establish two abreast as the legal way for bicycles to ride do not even provide a local override stipulation as the sidewalk use law does, so even the ‘single file’ signage that has been placed in some areas of the state have no legal basis, nor is there language to allow a county, city, or public works department to enforce single file on bicycles.

The entire law is posted below for your perusal.

a. As used in this Code section, the term “hazards to safe cycling” includes, but shall not be limited to, surface debris, rough pavement, drain grates which are parallel to the side of the roadway, parked or stopped vehicles, potentially opening car doors, or any other objects which threaten the safety of a person operating a bicycle.

b. Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except when:

  1. Turning left;
  2. Avoiding hazards to safe cycling;
  3. The lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle;
  4. Traveling at the same speed as traffic;
  5. Exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; or
  6. There is a right turn only lane and the person operating the bicycle is not turning right; provided, however, that every person operating a bicycle away from the right side of the roadway shall exercise reasonable care and shall give due consideration to the other applicable rules of the road.

c. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, or when a special event permit issued by a local governing authority permits riding more than two abreast.

d. Whenever a usable bicycle path has been provided adjacent to a roadway and designated for the exclusive use of bicycle riders, then the appropriate governing authority may require that bicycle riders use such bicycle path and not use those sections of the roadway so specified by such local governing authority. The governing authority may be petitioned to remove restrictions upon demonstration that the bicycle path has become inadequate due to capacity, maintenance, or other causes.

e. Bicycle paths subject to the provisions of subsection (d) of this Code section shall at a minimum be required to meet accepted guidelines, recommendations, and criteria with respect to planning, design, operation, and maintenance as set forth by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and such bicycle paths shall provide accessibility to destinations equivalent to the use of the roadway.

f. Any person operating a bicycle in a bicycle lane shall ride in the same direction as traffic on the roadway.

Gearing Up

In all of the insanity that is training for an endurance event like long course triathlon, the challenges that surround selecting equipment are sometimes lost. The list of equipment that you need it long, and unfortunately much of it boils down to personal choice and comfort. There really isn’t much that is ‘one size fits all’. Just a partial list:

  • Swim suit(s)
  • Swim Cap
  • Swim Goggles
  • Wetsuit
  • Transition Bag – Schlepping the stuff around
  • Run Shoes
  • Run Socks
  • Hydration Belt/Bottles
  • Run Shorts
  • Run Tights
  • Run Shirts
  • Run Cold Weather Shell
  • Bike
  • Bike Shorts/Tri Shorts
  • Bike Top
  • Bike Cold Weather Shell
  • Bike Shoes
  • Bike Socks
  • Bike Helmet
  • Bike Gloves
  • Bike Cold Weather Extras
  • Bike Rack for transport
  • Indoor Trainer
  • Sunglasses

For most of these, you will need multiples. Remember, training is 6 days a week. If you also work a full time job, that means rest days are laundry days, so you need enough gear to get through a week of training. You’ll probably also want a race day kit that doesn’t have thousands of training miles in it.

It is a lot to tackle. Most of the time, athletes coming into this sport already have a base in at least one of the disciplines, but there is still more to add.

Though I have been a cyclist for years, I am having to slowly rotate and replace some of my old cycling favorites with some items that are more tri appropriate, but much of my gear works well for continuing the bicycle base training. I have also been running for a couple of years, but even then, I simply don’t have enough gear to get through all of the training sessions without doing laundry more than once a week. And swimming? not even close.

It goes without saying that building up the gear base is tough, and when you look at that list, a huge percentage of it is gear that boils down to personal preference, and experience. There are things on that list have to tried, and tested and iterated to find that ‘perfect’ fit.

Some of it, I have already done, some I have yet to do. Well, over the coming months, I will be sharing some of my adventures in selecting gear, and some of my misadventures.

My first one will be about a touchy subject, shoes. Specifically my adventures over the last 3 years finding a shoe that really worked for me. The problems that come with doing things for all the wrong reasons, and how NOT to change shoe styles. Should be riveting.

Embrace the Commute for Training

As an aspiring ( and late in life ) triathlete, finding the time to get in the miles and hours required to build fitness and base endurance is probably the single largest challenge. Time, for many of us is our most valuable commodity. Between the demands of employment, family, sleep, and our social commitments, squeezing out potentially hours a day for working out is tough. Many of us look to combine our fitness goals into other aspects, be it social, or family obligations, while some of us are lucky enough to be able to get our fitness as part of our employment, the rest of us, have to find that time elsewhere.

Consider a pretty typical white collar professional parent schedule:

7:00-7:45AM – Feed kids/launch them to school.
7:45-9:00AM – Transit to place of employment.
9:00AM-12:00PM – Work
12:00-12:30AM – Lunch like time (in many cases eaten at a desk)
12:30-5:00PM – Work
5:00-6:15PM – Transit Home
6:15-8:00PM – Family Time (dinner,homework,domestic chores)
8:00-10:00PM – “Down Time”

Carving out ‘workout time’ that isn’t in that late evening time, using dreadmills and indoor trainers is brutal. This is where the commute as a training window comes into play. A commute of say 10-20 miles is going to take 20-60 minutes in a car in most areas, while that same commute by bicycle is going to be between 20-90 minutes depending upon the rider. Add some clean up and a change of clothes at the other end, and you are typically still well within the transit time window. Now instead of needing to find another time during the day for a workout, the workout is part of the day.

Will this work for everyone? absolutely not, but if you can make it work for you, it can be a huge benefit, not only in time saved and fitness, but it also improves on the job performance (though I will be the first to admit that there are days when the temptation to keep riding past the office is almost overwhelming!).

For me personally, I have had to adapt a couple of things in my schedule. My working hours are early, I typically target getting to the office around 6:30AM, so I am commuting in the dark, so that means riding with lights. I enjoy the morning ride as a low pace 12 mile spin, with an average of about 15 mph. I then work until 2:30 or 3:00PM and then hustle home on a different return route that is close to 16 miles over some nasty rollers. This is a far more spirited work out, that usually pushes over 18 mph. Once I am home, and I get the kids off to their various events, I use the down time between drop off and pick up times to either work on the laptop, hit the trail for a run, or hit one of the pool options for a few laps. Then it is home for dinner, homework, baths and bedtimes. Sure, the days are full, but I actually feel better for it, and I am not stressing about finding time in the day to squeeze in a bike workout too.

Things Seen

Seen while riding home on Friday, we have a pair of beautiful vintage cars sitting at the front of a farm. This is just one of the many advantages of using a commute as an opportunity to take in the sites.  Get off the beaten path as you will.  WP_20140814_001