On not driving

Local blogger Crazy John pledged last Thursday night to not drive for one week. He's documenting each day on his blog.

Day 1: John becomes increasingly aware of the world around him.

Day 2: John takes the bus, enjoys seeing friends and sometimes getting rides from them.

Day 3: John's resolve is weakened when he realizes that the buses don't run on Sunday and his feet are killing him. "I walked to Carrboro and back in my foot-unfriendly Chuck Taylor's. I can't believe those shoes were worn in the NBA for decades."

What will happen next? Will John's feet make it through the week?

Have you gone car-free, readers? How do you make it work? What can local governments do to make it easier?



It's not just that I don't drive, I don't even know how. I must save thousands of dollars a year on cars, car repairs, taxes, inspection stickers, gas, parking, etc. I've never been to court for anyting, ever. Even one DUI costs about $3k. I know for many people it's a necessity. Likely less of one then you might think.

I spoke with a woman last week who was getting out of a zip car on campus. I never knew how good a deal it is. $20 a year up front; then $5 per hour. UNC pays for the gas and insurance. They pay for the car and the maintance. When you park you get a prefered parking space. If you work on campus, it's a good alternitive to owning a car.

Citing the Kelo case, local government could simply condemn all of our cars, paying us just compensation in the form of sneakers and bus tokens.

Then we could all walk or take the bus.

Just an idea.

Use a motorcycle instead!

The zip car can be a convenient way to run a quick errand or attend an off-campus meeting during the day. If a UNC employee doesn't live within a mile or two of the bus routes, a car is still needed.

My preference is a bicycle.

Too bad Zip cars are only available to folks on the UNC people. What? Company town?

Anyway, I wanted to add that I walk here in Chapel Hill and Carrboro a lot. Probably a little more often than I drive. The main times I use my car are if I'm in a hurry (like going to the gym in the morning) or shopping or schlepping. Or of course if I'm going someplace more than a mile from my house. Fortunately, my one-mile radius includes everything from the Varsity Theater to the Carrboro Farmer's Market! (Yes, I am blessed. You could be too if you didn't live on that cul-de-sac. ;-} )

Of course it helps that I work from home. But my partner works at UNC and he walks or rides his bike every day.

Anyway, we could really use some freaking sidewalks, and more pedestrian crossings on West Franklin! I would like to take the bus more often, but they have some long-standing usability issues (ie: the schedule) that continue to present a psychological barrier.

Ruby, I think the bus schedule is really easy, but, then again, I take the bus a lot. The CW goes right down West Rosemary, and I usually take the F, which goes down Franklin. I've even taken the bus to and from doctors appointments, starting from campus, during the day. I often bike as well.

I'm with you on more pedestrian crossings on West Franklin. I'd love to see a stoplight just for pedestrians, like near the Carolina Coffee Shop.

The sidewalks on the south side of West Rosemary are terrible! And Rosemary is poorly lit. It's really bad for walking at night.

My guess is that most folks who casually drive around here do not work on campus. Anyone going to and from campus is already aware of walking, biking, and taking the bus. I think it's kinda weird that not driving is some crazy experiment, actually.

Even though we're only about a half-mile from downtown Carrboro, we do drive for groceries.

I think I speak for most students when I say that I probably drive a bit more than I should, but that most of my day-to-day vehicle use is when I'm running late or when I need to go somewhere that isn't campus or downtown. Walking up Hillsborough Street from Bolinwood Drive every morning is a bit of a pain in the ass, but it's good for me, and there's no point in parking on campus anyway. People grouse about campus parking all the time, but let me tell you, the relative lack of it gets people walking/busing. That holds true for most of my friends. Most of us enjoy it.

Don't forget the "Yellow Bike" program in this mix, it's an idea that's still sticking around (as it should if we're serious about being the standard bearers for progressive transportation in NC).

FYI - There's a meeting for the group Biking for Sustainability at ibooks tomorrow night at 6:30pm, where this topic will be on the table.

This thread kind of relates to the "look both ways" thread from last week, but in answer to Ruby's questions specifically, no I haven't gone totally car free. I managed to do it in Brooklyn, NY and even in Greensboro and Raleigh as an adult, although it was much easier in Brooklyn.
I carry the mantle in my three person family of being the most keen to not drive. My teenage daughter is unfortunately very typical of her peers, wants/expects a ride everywhere she goes. Usually her fashions won't fit riding a bike or even walking. She has taken the bus maybe 4 times, but mainly she won't be bothered. I haven't given up though and discussed some strategies with my wife on how to get her to bike more. This includes me going much slower, taking frequent breaks and trying to keep it light when riding with her. I'm open to more suggestions in this arena....
My wife working in Durham has a much more difficult time than me trying to fit public transportation or cycling into her busy schdule, but I make up for both of them at times. For example, I didn't use but one tank of gas in my Toyota 4cyclinder pick up from Labor Day until the end of October. I try to combine trips, minimize distances, shop local etc... everything I can do to avoid driving, which includes pissing off my daughter by not driving her places.
As far as what local government can do, like ours which I think is trying harder than most, they can continue to advocate for and implement safe walkable/cycling communities. It'd be nice to find a way to prod the DOT to finish the bike lane on Estes to N. Greensboro. Maybe a brief handout on how to read the bus schedules might encourage those who find manuals of that type confusing? Maybe have the most common destinations highlighted? I haven't done the bus here and in New York it was always the subway for me because it was so much faster.
For me it is all about the bicycle though, I love riding and I welcome bike lanes, wider shoulders, bikeways, whatever you want to call them. I don't agree with Mr. Pein from last weeks thread that they are seperate unequal situations, although he makes some reasonable points, I just don't agree with him that bicyclists can ride out in the road with cars all the time. My aura of self-righteousness hasn't developed enough to deflect angry motorists yet I guess.
So far since January 1, 92 commuting miles, 36 sport miles.

I lost my plates for a month two years ago due to a bureaucratic snafu. Apart from renting a car when work took me out of the area a couple of times (and of course, doing a lot with the car locally before returning it), I went car free. It was hellish. Public transportation here basically seems to be organized around commuting to the university and little else. It would take me about an hour to get to Carrboro, sometimes more (a twenty minute ride). Its important to remember that most residents of Chapel Hill don't live in the immediate vicinity of downtown, and given the steep hill it sits on, walking and biking is going to be unfeasible for most people outside of it. We could certainly use some sidewalks. In my area (near 15-501 and 40, within the border of Chapel Hill), we could also use development with an eye toward making the area walkable--just a little development with a sandwich shop, a convenience store, a dry cleaner would go a long way, given the very dramatic amount of construction actually happening here. And buses that criss-cross town, so, to take one example, people commuting to work up here (Blue Cross/Blue Shield, after the University and Hospital probably the biggest employer in town) could get to work by bus even if they were coming from the Timberlyne area. I personally find green puritanism and heroics distasteful and counterproductive. Lets look for practical ways to reduce car use, rather than act as if going car free is a serious proposal for most people.


I don't understand why you believe I'm self-righteous when I emphatically support bicyclists' rights to use the road, rights the law has established. Just when can't "bicyclists ride out in the road with cars all the time" as you assert? Where does your slippery slope start and end for bicycle drivers?


Wayne, why does it trouble you so much that some folks are uncomfortable with riding in traffic? I realize you like it, but not every cyclist does? Your crusade against bike lanes is based on all kinds of great research, I am sure, but it seems to me that bike lanes encourage biking. What is wrong with that?

You managed to have a bike lane removed from my neighborhood, but I still don't understand why.

I would go carfree if I could afford to live in town. Although I don't bike much anymore, I love riding the bus. It's one of the best entertainments around. Just yesterday, the entire bus was in stitches due to a signage problem on the bus. The front sign wasn't working and the side sign had the wrong route name. The driver had done everything he could to fix the problem and finally resorted to shouting out the route name as soon as he opened the doors at a stop. That strategy worked well for the small stops but once we got to campus, we had to spend 5-8 minutes at each stop because people READ the side sign instead of LISTENING to the driver. So they got on, then realized what he had said, went up to ask which route, then went back to tell their friends, who went up to ask. Then they got off and those who hadn't boarded started the routine all over again. Hilarious.

The driver's sense of humor made the whole thing improv comedy. Riding the bus is about more than transportation and expediency.

No amount of dialogue I could have with you would ever matter to you, you know you are right armed with your research, stats and again I'll say it, self-righteousness assumptions (read your own posts). But the majority of people are not going to be enticed to confront traffic in the manner you advocate because you tell them it is safer. Like it or not, cars are king of the road. Bike lanes are more inviting to cyclists. They promote cycling, you promote your vision of how it should be. You ridicule and undermine the practiced and accepted methods of others to pursue a less confrontational way to coexisit in a motorized environment. Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. Not all cyclists are convinced you are right.

You go Pat! No way in my right mind I'm commuting down NC 54 w/no shoulder or down Erwin Road. Mark, what bike lane did we lose in downtown Carrboro?


It doesn't trouble me that people on bicycles are afraid of people behind the wheel. Phobias should be countered with rationale thinking, not with a stripe.

What troubles me is that those with phobias dictate infrastructure design, and government micromanagement of bicycle drivers, both of which adversely affect me and others who are not phobic.

Every road that has a bike lane is simply a wide lane in which bicyclists' space has been reduced to a narrow width at the worst part, while motorists are given the choice middle part. This enables motorists to pass faster than they would without the stripe, because any ambiguity is removed and there is no need for caution. Is this good for bicyclists? Bicyclists would largely still ride in roughly the same spot at the side without the stripe, but they could choose their lateral postion with impunity. Motorists could still pass, but would do so with more caution. Further, there wouldn't be constant debris in bicyclists space.

I've compiled four similar newspaper stories into a pdf file that should be required reading for anyone connected with urban design. They describe how the lack of road lines in appropriate situations increases ambiguity and thus induces motorist caution. I'll send it to you or anyone else upon request.

I don't know which road you speak of, but if it was removed there was a good reason. You should profusely thank me for having the bike lanes signs removed from E Poplar. That was a giant lawsuit waiting to happen and an unbelievable embarrassment. Frankly, they should be removed from every road in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. Pathway Drive? That's a residental street with a steep downhill. Do you REALLY want bicyclists riding that close to ubiquitous driveways at high speed? It doesn't have a centerline (centerlines are used on higher order roads), yet it has minimal width bike lanes (glorified shoulders) that are supposed to be used on higher order roads to encourage higher speed. Same with Fidelity St except no hill. There the bike lane gets as narrow as one foot. Is it a low speed street without centerline, or a high speed street with shoulders?

I don't believe that there would be any less bicycling if every bike lane stripe here was removed. Instead of a disconnected system of debris filled bicyclist reservations, there would be a continous stretch of clear wide roads.



Such hostility! Why do you think riding my bike is confrontational?
I suppose it's because you believe cars are king and bicyclists such as yourself are loyal subjects? That is a very distorted vision of the transportation system. Just because motor vehicles are overwhelmingly popular doesn't make them "king."

It's almost as if you've not understood a thing I've written. Imagine any local road that has a bike lane striped on it. Now imagine the stipe removed. How does removing the stripe make a more "confrontational way to coexist in a motorized environment" like you assert?

Same Roads. Same Rights. Same Rules.

Wayne, your shock seems a little disingenuous to me. You are known as having radical ideas about cycling, and that's not good or bad, but you can't really claim the mainstream after all that you've done and said. Please continue to share your opinions, but don't be surprised if everyone doesn't agree.

All, please note when you have made your case and consider not prolonging the arguments needlessly. Thanks.


What is mainstream is that most bicycling is on normal roads. I know that shocks you, but it is true. My "radical ideas" about cycling is what has been the norm for 100 years, ever since bicyclists were the first to push for paved roads. I realize I'm not in the mainstream regarding my distaste for bike lanes. I never claimed otherwise.

Bike lanes were invented in the 70's in Davis, CA as a way to deal with ubiquitous bicyclists and the "problem" they created for motorists. Since then they've been viewed by some as a way to entice motorists out of their cars and by some as a panacea for their paranoia. However, in Davis, even as more and more bike lane milage has been implemented, the modal share of bicycling has gone down.

You may be surprised that at one time I was briefly a bike lane proponent. It's natural to think that bike lanes are wonderful. But it quickly became apparent that the same space without the stripe was superior. I've clearly stated a number of reasons why, but those who disagree that wide lanes are better simply say "It makes me more comfortable."

I realize that many people think bike lanes are wonderful because they feel "comfortable" in them. I understand that fully and empathize with them. But that is a psychological issue. I consider it radical to be soley concerned about perceived comfort. I consider micromanaging bicycle drivers radical jsut because we are human powered. I consider arguing a point that one is not well informed in radical. Unlike most people, I've spent many thousands of hours in discussions in bicycling newsgroups, on listserves, and doing research. I wouldn't passionately argue one side of gay rights, abortion, nuclear, or any other hot topic unless I had really invested energy into understanding the issues fully, both sides. And I actually ride my bike for the vast majority of my trips. My wife too. The policy of placing bike lanes was/is implemented largely by non-bicyclists. Think about that.

Finally, I've clearly stated that I think it is reasonable to have bike lanes on freeway design roads where high speed is enabled and encouraged and there are no cross intersections or driveways to cause bicyclists trouble. However, for normal roads we don't want to encourage high speed motoring, so why design them that way (with bike lane shoulders) and clear bicyclists out of motorists way to better enable high speed? Is that radical? Is it radical to say get rid of bike lanes because they demonstrably collect debris in spite of regular sweeping (ever hit bike lane debris at night descending a hill at 35 mph)? Is it radical to say get rid of them because they have been demonstrably screwed up by the paint layers (one side of the road; 1' wide; inappropriate treatment at intersections on MLK, etc.) Is it radical to say get rid of them because of the other problems with them I have noted?

I'm still waiting for requests for the paper that I said I would send. It actually is concerned with pedestrianization, but has broader implications to bicycling.

Wayne "radical" Pein

Wayne, I don't believe the presence of a bike lane removes the right of a biker to use any other lane. So, why can't there be bike lanes and bikers can choose to use them or not? Isn't that win-win? From these comments, some bikers do prefer a bike lane. Why would you want to deny them that, if it doesn't effect you?


It's a fallacy that bicyclists can choose not to ride in a bike lane. Yes, it's technically true, sort of, but motorist harassment makes it unrealistic as a matter of course. If bicyclists choose to not ride in a bike lane or even on a paved shoulder that is not signed as a bike lane, like the new shoulders on Estes Dr Extension, or the one on the southbound side of MLK Blvd (Airport Rd) on the approach to Estes Drive, motorists expect you to ride there, and will enforce that by "buzzing" bicyclists (physical intimidation), and aggressive honking. I do it sometimes just to test the reaction. It's ugly.

Further, §20-146(b) says, “Upon all highways any vehicle proceeding at less than the legal maximum speed limit shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for thru traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the highway...”

So, IF a bike lane is a legitimate lane (I believe they are not, but for legal purposes who knows), then bicyclists ought to operate in it as a matter of course. At the least, a bicyclist operating outside the bike lane as a matter of course will typically have to justify why he was not riding as far right as practicable.

It's a little known fact that motorists harrass bicyclists on a regular basis.

Same Roads. Same Right. Same Rules.

What you all are missing is the fact that motorists rely on lines to know where to drive. The bike lane marker helps keep us and bicyclists out of harm's way. Sounds pretty simple to me.

Forgive me if this lands in a random spot in the thread. I am a newcomer and my comment may take time to post. I find the inconsistent coming and going of bike lanes in CH/Carrboro to be extremely chaotic and dangerous for both the cyclist and driver. Take Weaver Street - the bike lane is seemingly good to go from Town Hall to WSM, but oops, hit the light just before WSM and the lane completely disappears. While riding the "bike lane" along Hwy 54 from Hatch into Carrboro, the amount of debris- stones, trash and even dead animals- is tremendously harrowing. One attraction for the wide right lane- without white lines segragating the cyslist into a "bike lane" - is that the state will maintain the whole lane. Right now, "bike lanes" are literally in the gutter. For example, take MLK Blvd- heading south from I-40-- there are so many gutters in the center of the bike's path (oh yes, they are marked off with a warning white lines...) but for skinny road tires, one slip into the grate and wow- there's a messy landing. I have always been pro "bike lanes"- they seem to be such a good idea. However, I changed my mind after taking an Effective Cycling class at the Carrboro Town Hall several years ago. There are many sites on Google that show up with a key wordsearch for "Effective Cycling." I have found it worthy of consideration and encourage others to check it out. The main attraction is that the cyclist has much more flexibility and operates more predictably in line with traffic flow. For instance, how does a cyclist, segragated into a bike lane, make a left turn? Motorists assume that the cyclist will stay straight in the bike lane! Another dangerous place in a bike lane for a cyclist is when a car is turning right- the bike stays in the lane and the driver turns directly in front of the cyclist. Freeing a cyclist from the confines of a "bike lane" allows that cyclist to move out of the lane to accomodate the right turning car. Effective cycling does not advocate riding bicyles on sidewalks, nor running red lights. The cyclist shares the lane- and stays to the right as long as s/he is riding more slowly. A cyclist who is riding at the speed of the traffic, would be in the center of the lane. There's alot more to it and I really had to get onto the streets and practice! It does not come intuitively- yet I find that riding style gives me more visibility and takes me out of the gutter.


What you say makes intuitive sense, but in practice does not hold true. Without bike lanes motorists do not hit bicyclists from behind unless there are egregious circumstances. It's very rare. However, like I've said, bike lanes are warranted on freeway design roads.

Motorists do not typically run into the back of slow front loaders, stopped busses, other vehicles stopped to turn left or right, or other vehicles stopped at signals, so not hitting narrow bicyclists with moving legs traveling in the same direction is not that difficult.

The main mechanisms of car-bike collision are turning/merging movements, and bike lanes do not prevent these and may in certain circumstances exacerbate them.

Instead of relying on lines, I recommend relying on watching what is in front of you, at the least, but it's better to watch several vehicles in front.


Here is a letter I wrote and that was published in the local papers supporting the use of wide outside lanes rather than bike lanes.

June 26, 2001

To the Editor

The CH Town Council is considering the use of a wide outside lane for cyclists in place of a bike lane. I wholeheartedly support the use of wide outside lanes in creating a safe biking environment. A wide outside lane is a right lane that is wide enough for a car and cyclist to share. A bike lane is a lane that is separated from car traffic with a painted line.

The major cause of car-bike collisions is turning and crossing traffic (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1977)- not cars overtaking slow bikers going in the same direction. Bike lanes create an illusion of safety for cyclists, when in fact; the hazards they create are quite significant.

The mind-set that cyclists belong in bike lanes and not in traffic lanes creates expectations that put the cyclist at risk. Bike lanes imply to the motorist that the cyclist will stay in the bike lane and will go straight. Bike lane users that are going straight are in danger of being hit by a car turning right in front of him. Bikers may try to stay in the bike lane to the last moment and then turn left from the far right bike lane. For a bike lane user, a driveway becomes a potentially dangerous intersection.

In contrast, a wide outside lane allows for cyclists to ride in the flow of traffic. The cyclist's position in the lane is determined by his speed relative to the traffic and his directional intention. This allows for the cyclist traveling downhill at 30 miles per hour (possible in hilly Chapel Hill) the option for taking the entire lane, as he is traveling at the same rate as the traffic. It allows for the slower uphill climber to travel in the far right of the lane. It allows for the straight-through cyclist to stay in the through lane, as opposed to the right turn lane. The cyclist is encouraged to stay out of the gutter and ride visibly in the lane, which creates safety for the cyclist. It creates a climate of cooperation with the cyclist and motorist.

“Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles,” says John Forester, author of the book, Effective Cycling. Bike lanes neither make cycling safer nor reduce the skill required. Wide outside lanes, on the other hand, give recognition to cyclists as legitimate road users and create an environment of predictable traffic behavior for cyclists and motorists alike.

Wayne and Laura,
Slowly, slowly, I'm beginning to get your point.

I'm a biker. Years ago I road a lot more than I do now. I've experienced the abuse Wayne mentioned. Keeping very close to the right edge on a busy two lane road, I've had a tennis racket swung at my head, I've been spit at. My brother crashed twice because cars turned right right in front of him. "I put on my turn signal," one woman told him.

My tactic has been to not exacerbate the situation. Ride as defensively as possible and don't antagonize the idiots out there, when I am on the losing end of the situation. I maintain my right to be on the road, but I want to be as much a part of the solution of the car/bike

I never thought of bike lanes as part of the problem, but like I said, I'm beginning to see your point. Also, Laura emphasizes allowing cars to pass whenever possible, and that seems a more moderate approach than the way I am reading Wayne.

Thanks, Ed
There are roads in CH/Carroboro that I absolutely will not ride on specifically because I do not want to tie up traffic- Estes from MLK Blvd to Carrboro for one. The new shoulder there is very dangerous because bikers feel that they have space to ride safely and then suddenly, the shoulder totally disappears. A cyclist is then either precariously on the edge of the road, or in the middle of the lane going uphill, tying up traffic. I also will not ride in the beautiful countryside - Dairyland, Old Greensboro, etc. There are too many blind curves and hills. There is no safety shoulder- no room to move over for cars that come up from behind at a greater speed.

My favorite place to ride in CH is Franklin Street. There is no bike lane. I generally take a whole lane. This assures that I avoid hitting open car doors. Two lanes going the same direction, one of them being a wide outside lane, allows me to move freely as my speed and direction dictate. In the downhill sections, I often gain enough speed to warrant passing a slower car. On the uphill, I stay to the further right in the lane, allowing for cars to pass me. I move freely, also changing lanes as my direction changes- i.e- I turn left from the center of the left turning lane. The joy of riding comes from riding in a lane that is clear of hazardous debris and fully monitoring my place in the road dependent on my speed and direction.

Reading the posts from a previous thread, I see there has already been much discussion along these lines. I encourage folks to look into incorporating wide outside lanes into CH/Carrboro planning.

I have to admit it's been years since I went carless, but I didn't learn to drive until I was 25, so I had many years of carlessness in Chapel Hill/Carrboro.
I didn't bike due to a physical injury. For a number of years, I walked just about everywhere, until I foolishly got an apartment on a busline. That was the most frustrating year.

I am constantly surprised to hear that the bus system has the exact same problems ten years later. And I just heard the same complaints not more than an hour ago.

If you want people to be serious about taking the bus to work:

1)Buses need to run when UNC students are on holiday. The workers are still going to work, even the UNC workers. And during the winter holiday the weather can be prohibitive to walking or biking.

2)Buses need to get people to work AND home from work. That means they need to run when people in the service industries are getting off work. That means movie theatres, restaurants, Weaver Street Market. This is also a safety issue.

3) This is a subset of 1 and 2. People - especially people in the service industry - work on weekends.

4)Getting to work late (or missing a class entirely) because the bus just passed you by - again - too full for one more passenger is not reliable bus service.


You have misinterpreted me. I certainly allow motorists to pass me using my lane. That is generally standard operating procedure. But I don't feel obligated to do that, and do not allow passing when it is not safe to do so.

Most cyclists, even so-called experienced ones, ride too far to the right in the lane. They mistakenly believe that is being defensive, always defering to overtaking motorists, but there are several negative outcomes of doing that. One is that motorists try to squeeze by even if there is insufficient room.

Bicyclists must often control overtaking motorists to varying extent. At the least their lateral position should be assertive to attract attention and induce caution. Being a "gutter bunny" is counterproductive.

One sad reality, however, is that there is a constant level of harassment and stupidy in motorists no matter how one rides. That is why it is important to understand the mechanisms of various collision types and the countermeasures to avoid them.


I've often said Franklin Street is one of the best streets to ride on. You're doing it right!


Something no one has mentioned, but which causes a lot of friction between motorists and bicyclists: when bicycles pass stopped cars at stop lights and stop signs. Bicyclists, if you want to be considered a vehicle, act like one. You shouldn't do this.


Motorists will pass stopped motorists if there is room. Why shouldn't bicyclists?

Why shouldn't they take advantage of their narrowness? If motorists can pass moving bicyclists within the lane (taking advantage of bicyclists' narrowness), why shouldn't the bicyclist be able to pass the stopped motorist?

There are rules that are applicable to motor vehicle drivers that do not make sense for bicycle drivers. For example, NC §20-149(a) requires a driver to pass another vehicle with a minimum of two feet of clearance. The 2 foot passing requirement is clearly deficient clearance for single track, lightweight, unprotected bicycle vehicles (the Uniform Vehicle Code requires 3 feet and even that is too little). Moreover, the minimum clearance requirement does not address speed differential, a key element in the risk of collision and of wind blast, flying debris, and splashing water, all which can be dangerous to bicyclists.

That said, if a bicyclist performs a non-standard maneuver, it is always bicyclist beware, and sometimes passing motorists is just plain stupid.




It is just plain dangerous for a cyclist to pass stopped cars on the right. A door could open at any moment to let a passenger access the sidewalk. The goal for the cyclist is to be as visible as possible. Drivers do not expect to see bikers passing on the right and therefore do not look for them there. This behavior also disregards something we hopefully learned in grade school- that is- to not cut in line.

By the way, what other streets do you recommend for great rides?

A concise and illustrated safety resource for cyclists is
"How to Not Get Hit by Cars" and can be seen at http://bicyclesafe.com/


for some rainy Saturday reading-- there's an extensive collection of the pro's and con's of bike lanes at www.answers.com. type in "bike lane debate"



That is why I said it is always "bicyclist beware" (proceed with caution) and that there should be sufficient room. I don't advocate passing on the right as a matter or course. As far as "cutting in line" is concerned, it is not quite relavent since by my definition there is sufficient room, and the motorist is not negatively affected.

Rosemary St, Hillsborough St, east Estes Drive, Laurel Hill Road are all decent. MLK is fun descending, but nothing special ascending. Umstead Rd in nice. Of course, there are many rural roads around here that are nice.


When you say, "there are many rural roads around here that are nice," I wonder- what is the strategy you use as a cyclist on a rural road with no shoulder? When I ride out in the Orange County countryside, I often find myself totally disappear to motorists with all the rolling hills and sharp curves.


The curves and hills really shouldn't be a problem for motorists to slow to avoid you, though it seems they are. Roads are designed with a "stopping sight distance" such that a motorist can come to a complete stop prior to striking a stationary object. You moving in the same direction creates a margin for error, and the motorist needs (at worst) to slow only to your speed (rather than stop) to not hit you. Of course, this is predicated on the motorist doing roughly the speed limit or a little more, and paying attention.

You have to watch out for drivers who will try to pass when there is a vehicle in the oncoming lane. You don't want a 3-abreast situation on a narrow road, so you've got to ride far enough into the lane to force them to slow behind you.

Drivers can be jackasses, but take comfort in the fact that they really don't want to hit you.


This reminds me of an old sailing verse:

"Here lies the body of Michael O'Day,
who died maintaining the right of way.
He was right, dead right, as he sailed along,
but he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong."

"You don't want a 3-abreast situation on a narrow road, so you've got to ride far enough into the lane to force them to slow behind you." I assume you are reacting to this, Ed, right? As a motorist, when cyclists hug precariously to the edge of the road, I have the impluse to pass even when I know it is potentially hazardous. Holding back for a few minutes is usually all it takes for the roadway to open up. As a cyclist, I do sometimes "claim the lane," essentially forcing motorists to wait until there is more room.

"In a world that is never risk free, well-informed cycling emerges as reasonably safe." John Schubert, www.adventuringcycling.com

As I said earlier on this thread, as a motorist when I encounter a cyclist on a narrow road I would prefer that the cyclist take more, rather than less, of the lane so that I am forced to slow down and choose my pass carefully. I would much prefer this scenario over one in which the cyclist's tire slips off the edge and they fall, perhaps in front of my vehicle.

I would like to vent my frustration, however, at cyclists who ride in the early morning on such narrow roads (e.g., Sunrise, Whitfield, Erwin) without lights on their bikes. I know that they are a minority but they really stand out, and not in a positive way. Kudos to those that have the stobe lights on the back of their bikes - you can really see them at a good distance and plan accordingly.

Just catching up on some OP reading and noticed the comments on the zip cars.

Unfortunately students don't really use them because you have to be over age 21 in order to rent them. Traditional college freshmen and sophomores (who are most likely to live on campus and not own cars) can't even use the zip cars because of their age. It would be nice to promote carless living while they're young but, because of bus problems and zipcar regulations, instead a good portion of us wind up paying hundreds of dollars a semester to park our cars in private lots and drive on the weekends and after-hours to get the things we need/want.


Don't ride a bike. It's far too dangerous for your style of riding.


Ed- buy a motorcycle, it is much safer and a lot less work! Take my word for it.

johnk wrote:

"Ed- buy a motorcycle, it is much safer and a lot less work! Take my word for it."

One out of two ain't bad. If you are a baseball batter.

By every typical measure of exposure, motorcycling has a far worse death and injury rate than bicycling.

Yes, being the engine is more "work." But there are a lot of benefits to that work.


Yeah, you are right, it is a lot of work sometimes!

"...Furthermore, skilled cycling is not the province of only the super-fit. Integrating safely with traffic depends much more upon technique than physical strength, which is a decisive advantage in only a few situations." John Franklin

"...Safe cycling is mainly about adopting sensible techniques, for cyclists can cope with a wide range of traffic conditions by learning a not-onerous set of cycling skills." John Franklin

"Cyclists live some 7 years longer than people who do not cycle, and during that time they lead much healthier lives, with fewer illnesses and less time off work." studies in UK

for complete article:

Anyone interested in an Effective Cycling class at Carrboro Town Hall this spring?? Now that the weather is warming up, my bike is calling me...



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