By Captain Comannokers
NoC Transportation Czar
In their infinite songwriting wisdom, the band Toto told us in 1978 to “Hold The Line.” It’s a song about the tricky game of timing in relationships – well, at last that’s what I think it’s about, I mean, this band was splitting time between singing songs about Rosanna Arquette, George Lucas’ THX1138 and blessing the rains down in Africa with lines like “As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti,” so really, all bets are off for me de-coding Toto lyrics.
Anyway, I’m co-opting “Hold The Line” as a cycling mantra for getting around the streets of Lexington.
Let’s use North Limestone as a good example. Once you cross over Main Street there is a right turn lane for Short Street – don’t slide over into that turn lane if you plan on continuing straight on Limestone – hold the line! (Sing the Toto riff here if you’re feelin’ it).
Once you cross over Third Street and are passing Lexington Traditional Magnet School (LTMS), there is usually a wide right-hand lane to ride in, due to the fact that there is no street parking Monday-Friday during the day – still, hold the line!
If you ride close to the curb in front of LTMS, but then approach parked cars as soon as you pass through the light at Fourth Street, you are setting up a precarious situation for yourself and motorists. You are essentially merging back into the line you should have been holding. If cars in the right-hand driving lane have other vehicles flanking them on the left, they will probably take their chances putting the squeeze on you, rather than colliding with motorists on their left. Or, they may need to hit their brakes suddenly and give you a honk (and maybe something extra?) when they see you swerving around parked cars that you were directly behind moments ago.
Had you been holding your line, cars may have had to slow down until they had ample room on their left to make the pass – and hell, it might have even annoyed some motorists to do so – but that’s OK, because that’s the proper way to share the road and it’s ultimately safer for all parties involved.
The League of American Bicyclists website recommends that you “ride in a straight line, not in and out of parked cars on the side of the road. Take the lane position that serves your destination and when moving through certain situations holding your line makes you more predictable to overtaking autos. When it is safe, then move back to the right and allow vehicles to pass.”
Per usual, it is about approaching particular situations and traffic issues as they arise; it can be tricky and there are some strange anomalies out there (and I’m not even talking about people). So ride ready and think ahead. If you take away one thing from this installment my good biker, I hope you’ll remember to hold the line – it would also behoove you to note that, “love isn’t always on time.”
Next issue, I’ll ponder the mystery of why staples and nails litter streets and bike lanes worldwide (as opposed to, say, ham sandwiches or cotton balls). Until then, this is your Captain, over and out.