Near my home is a busy main street that I cannot avoid each time I go out for a ride. On my way home I always have to negotiate a place where the road splits; I go straight, but there is another road that goes off at a slight tangent to the right.
The speed limit is 45 mph and vehicles making this right turn do not slow to take it, they use it like a freeway off ramp. There is a situation where all traffic is traveling in the same direction; some go straight, some peel off to the right.
Illustrated above is a scenario where I am riding close to the right hand edge of the road and intend to go straight; the blue car about to pass me is also going straight. However, a red car following is turning right.
The driver of the red car probably can’t see me at this point; the blue car is obstructing his view; remember both cars are traveling at 45 mph which is about twice my speed.
Therefore in the next few seconds both cars remain at the same distance apart from each other, but they have traveled twice the distance I have, and we are all roughly is this next position.
The blue car is passing, and the red car is now on a collision course with me. He may have seen me by now, but given his speed and his reaction time; at best it is going to be a close call.
I am very much aware of this possibility, and before the road splits I look behind for a gap in traffic. As soon as it is safe to do so, I give a hand signal and move over to the left; taking up about a third of the lane.
Now the blue car will probably slow and stay behind me (Above.) ; and becomes my safety buffer. The red car is no danger to me, and it is obvious the driver of the blue car that I intend to go straight.
Even if the blue car decides to go around me,(Above.) his action of swinging wide and crossing the center line, alerts the driver of the red car of my presence. Plus because I am riding more to the center of the lane, there is more room for the red car to pass me on the right.
Of course there is always the possibility the red car will still try to go around me then turn right. But should I find a car alongside me, trying to make a turn; I would make a quick dive to the right. Not where I intended to go, but I would have avoided a collision. (See “Look out for the right hook.)
Once I am clear of this junction, I move back over to the right. I am out in the lane 25 or 30 seconds at the most. I rarely get honked at, and if I do I ignore it. Giving someone “The Look” only makes matters worse; I try to give an impression of assertiveness, not arrogance.
“Taking the lane” can be a life saving maneuver; but use it wisely and only when necessary. Recognize special hazards like the one I have just described; especially ones on routes you use all the time. Decide how you will handle the situation, and have a plan “B.”
My plan B is: If traffic is traveling too fast and too close for me to take the lane, I simply signal and make a right myself, and go home by a slightly different route.