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10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic: Part 6 of 10

10 Secrets to Cycling with TrafficToday we continue a series of 10 posts about cycling with car traffic. These are things we have learned from years of riding in downtown Toronto. Some of these tips you may have seen before in other places, and some will be new.

This is not meant to be a complete list… there are more secrets out there… but here are 10 that you’ll find very useful.

NOTE: These are geared towards downtown cycling, since that’s what I’m most familiar with. These all assume that you already know about proper lighting and safety (ie. helmets are useful, stopping at red lights is advised, etc.) precautions, and know that riding on sidewalks is one of the most unsafe things you can do, for both pedestrians and yourself.

Past tips are found at the bottom of this post.

6. Take That Lane

Take That LaneThis is just what it sounds like. Taking your place in the middle of a lane because it’s unsafe at the edge of it.

This is mostly done on streets where the traffic lanes are not very wide, so it’s not safe for you and a car to be side-by-side.  You need to be safe while out there on the streets, so you bike in the middle of the lane, effectively “taking” it. Most of the time (especially downtown), you’ll be moving at the same speed (or faster) than vehicular traffic, so you’ll fit right in to traffic.

If you’re moving slower than traffic, remember that you’re a vehicle and have a right to be there if you’re abiding by the laws, and move out of the lane whenever you get a chance.

Check out the full “10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic” series:

  1. Drivers Don’t Want to Kill You
  2. Ride in a Straight Line
  3. Play by the Rules
  4. Avoid the “Stoplight Squeeze”
  5. Signal Sensibly
  6. Take That Lane
  7. Make Them THINK You’re Unpredictable
  8. Ride With Others
  9. Avoid the Right Hook
  10. Practice Your Route

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  • Brenda Richardson

    I disagree with this tip. Riding in the centre of the lane exposes you to all kinds of grease and debris dropped by vehicles. Riding in the car wheel tracks is far safer, you will get the same result as your tip however you won’t end up with slippery tires. this is especially relevent at stop lights and signs as cars often sit here and drop oil.

  • duncan

    Interesting point, Brenda. Oil and other debris is certainly a hazard and you’re correct, riding in the right side “wheel grooves” is typically cleaner than the centre or far right of the lane.

  • I can’t think of any streets where the middle of the lane is dirtier… but I’m all for being educated. :)

    There is oil pitting on the Danforth immediately east of Pape where cars park. Interestingly, it’s mainly JUST this short stretch of the Danforth between Pape and Donlands where oil and fluids have damaged the asphalt.

    Thankfully, the curblanes are wide enough here that you can ride on a smooth part avoiding the pits and there is still room for cars to pass you.

  • Ryan

    Most of your tips are pretty good but this one is just stupid . I’ve seen many people do this downtown and they are traveling maybe ⅓ the speed of traffic . They ride with this body language that screams ” but this is my right to ride like this ” this in no way is more safe bc 9/10 times u will irritate the fuck out of someone in a hurry behind u in a car who will make a point of passing closely to let u know they are pisssed – I have yet to find a road anywhere in Toronto that is too tight for a car travel beside you.. A parked car and a bike in the middle. If you are not able to ride in a straight line and beaware of parked cars and the road in front of you – u need to practise more . You are. It fit to ride in the city sorry . This is not a hard skill . Please don’t follow the take the lane rule – all you are doing is putting other cyclists in danger by irritating drivers . The only exception is for those ppl who can easily ride at 30 Km’s /Hr – which is maybe 5% of bike riders in Toronto . Please please ..Don’t do this –

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