Today was another spectacular day to velo-commute. However, an interesting thing happened to me on the way home tonight. Let’s start with a little background.
I leave my house by 6:45 am. At that time there is little traffic. Still, as a commuter I follow the rules of the road. That said, I do take a few liberties when needed.
For example, I know the cycle of the lights pretty well. I know that if I’m at a light and there is no traffic moving in my direction at the light then it’s not going to change to let me through. So if I’m there through at least one cycle and still no traffic I’ll sneak through on someone else’s green light but only when it’s safe and when I know I won’t impede traffic or disrupt the flow of the intersection.
I will sometimes roll slowly through a stop sign after a car has passed and no one is waiting to get through.
However, during the afternoon commute, when there is much more traffic to contend with, I follow the rules implicitly. I stop at stop lights, behind traffic as if I am also a vehicle. I stop at stop signs and wait until it’s my turn, just like any other car.
So now I get to the interesting part of my story. I’m at an intersection where there are about 10 cars waiting to go through. It’s the less busy way through the intersection so the light isn’t as long as it is for cross traffic.
At this point I have two choices. 1.) Ride up along side of traffic to the light so I move in front of everyone or 2.) stay behind the last car and wait as a car would do. I chose the latter because it’s the right thing to do.
As the traffic in my lane starts to flow I get on and pedal easy, though I move to the right as I’m trained to do on a bike. Herein lies my mistake.
The car behind me sees an opportunity to move up past me, even though we are both moving slowly to the next light cycle. I really couldn’t believe this was happening though I shouldn’t have been surprised.
So as she slowed (yes, it was a woman) I kept moving and pulled in front of her and centered myself in the lane so she couldn’t do that again.
Here I was trying to do the right thing, acting as a vehicle, and she was going to crowd me out for it. Sheesh!
I know it seems like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth with the two scenarios for vehicular cycling. But they are indeed very different. If I thought that I could move through the intersections normally, as a car would, on my commute to work I absolutely would. With the lack of traffic it would be almost impossible to arrive at work within a reasonable time.
So what would you do in both of these situations? Do you encounter these same issues on your commute, or on your training rides when getting through intersections?