I have been bike riding in England for quite a while now, and if there is one thing I have learned from it is that you need to claim your space, no one else is going to give it to you!
It might sound harsh but never the less it is true.
When I first started riding my bike in and around Hereford, Paula told me that I shouldn’t ride too close to the curb, I had to move further out on the road. Why? Because the cars will have to go out wider and possibly on the opposite side of the road to overtake you – and they will give you more room. The next day I came to Paula and told her that a guy had beeped his horn and yelled at me – and the only thing I did differently was to follow Paula’s advice. Paula looked at me and said:” You know what, when people are yelling at you, you are doing it right!”
Taken in Gloucester – not whilst riding! I don’t know what they thought when they made this REALLY narrow bike path between parking spaces and the road, but one thing is for sure, you need more room to ride safely than that.
I know it’s not nice to be yelled at, but it definitely made me think: If you are riding two feet away from the curb, you ARE going to be seen and people have no choice but to give you more room. By doing that, you will be safer riding your bike.
Another thing that I have realised is that if you feel insecure at a busy junction; claim the space! Ride in the middle of the lane and go around in the junction like you were driving a big 4×4. By doing that, people are going to see you and you will get through the junction safe and sound.
This is not a cars vs. bikes thing but truth is, a lot of car drivers don’t know how much room you need as a bike rider simply because they haven’t tried to ride a bike on a busy road.
We can’t force everyone onto a bike in downtown Hereford to show them so we need to show them in another way:
CLAIM YOUR SPACE
I found this cartoon of Bikey Face, related to sharing the road and that it might not always be so easy.
But keep your head high even when people are beeping at you, because you got every right to be on the road AND feel confident riding your bike.