Jun 222011

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.

Want more cycling tips? Check out www.bikeleague.org or www.lexrides.com. Continue the discussion on the NoC website at www.noclexington.com.

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  5 Responses to ““Hold the Line””

  1. Indeed — drivers need to see consistent and predictable riding. Hold the line. And show clear intent when needing to come off the line.

  2. Absolutely. I let people honk. Usually they start when they notice that I’m not going to ride in the door zone along Limestone after passing Vine – if I’ve hit green, I’m at 25 mph anyway and having to slow for cars. I give a friendly wave. Sadly, only 50% of motorists right turn signal on Vine (it’s one way, so why signal?) meaning you must take the lane and assume that they don’t see you. Suggested next topic. Does the “Rose Street Death Squeeze ruin the *whole* Vine Street Bike lane?” I vote yes.

  3. Euclid crossing South Ashland on the way toward High Street is another tricky one. The bike lane ends, onstreet parking begins, the left lane goes straight and the right lane is turn-only. All in one intersection.

  4. In regards to zipping down S. Limestone as you approach Vine – that is a dangerous spot for sure – it is true a lot of motorists do not use their turn signal turning onto Vine and the bike lane comes to an end as well. I proceed with definite caution making sure I know if the vehicle(s) in front of me are turning or not (regardless of turn signal). Best way to do that in my opinion is to become a part of the line of traffic (even if from the bike lane). If I am riding down the hill and there are two cars waiting at the light – I’ll likely just NOT try and rip right pass them, but just stay third in line. Granted, if there are 15 cars in line, I will move up to the front as long as the light at Vine remains red. If I am approaching the light and it turns green during a heavy traffic period, I’ll ease up a bit and find a comfortable spot where I am between two vehicles – so I am clearly behind one that I WILL NOT pass and if it takes the right hand turn I will be OK (even if I have to brake some more).; But in front of another vehicle that hopefully recognizes that I am travelling north and does not try and overtake me. It is always a tricky spot though – and I just gauge it by how much traffic there is and where I fit in on any given day. Thanks for posting your comment!

  5. Seth – also another VERY tough spot. I lived off of Fontaine for six years and rode that route everyday. Coming off the light at Ashland I try and make my move to the left and get into the thru traffic lane – easier said than done on many occasions, but in general as long as I was signaling clearly and confidently I could get over. But, doing so, I also committed to falling into the line of traffic that would either go straight onto Fontaine or left onto High. Meaning, I might find myself behind 10 cars at the light. Other cyclists often choose to right up along the right hand side of that traffic – and granted, I might have even done that a time or two when traffic was super, super heavy, but for the most part I fell in line and became a part of the regular traffic flow, which is the proper move….now taking a left onto Irvine off Fontaine during rush hour, that was a whole different kind of cycling hell that I would not wish upon anyone. Thanks for posting Seth!

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