I came home today along Frome Street, across North tce and then down Frome Rd. There are at least two car lanes in the Frome St section, plus the bike lane. As I coasted in to the end of a queue of cars stopped at the North tce lights, ( ie in the left “car” lane) a car driver came down on my right and used his horn on me as he overtook – then stopped in the car queue, immediately in front of me. I pulled up alongside and asked him what was wrong.
“You cyclists should be on the left ”, he said, together with some other offensive remarks. I contradicted him, explaining that, the bike lane notwithstanding, I was going straight ahead, so why would I be on the left of the traffic stream – some of which is turning left itself, which would be right across my forward path ! This logic escaped him, and we dismissed each other in mutually abusive terms. ( memo to self : try to avoid scatological language in these cases, it’s unbecoming.)
However, thinking about it, I can see his point : There IS a bike lane at that place, a rather inadequately narrow one, but a bike lane after all. It’s just a particularly useless one : no good for straight ahead bike traffic, and little better for even left turning bicycles. To even travel in that lane is (IMO) technically illegal, as it almost always involves “under”taking/overtaking left-indicating motor traffic, which is itself illegal [ for very good reasons], apart from being dangerous – you can easily get squashed.
Now, it’s made me realise that , whenever I use intersections like that, I ignore the bike lane in favour of common sense, ie that “…any vehicle should position itself in the lane appropriate to its direction of travel…” So, when turning right, take the RHS; when turning Left, take the left lane; when going straight ahead, take the left-centre for that.
As far as I remember, it used to be the law that a bicycle – like any other vehicle - was required to “keep left” where the road is NOT divided into lanes ( ie you only had to Keep Left on single lane roads, few of which exist in city traffic arterials). To tell the truth, I am not sure if the new requirement to “use a bike lane where one is provided” [ even if it’s inadequate! ] trumps that old provision…. If so, it’s more evidence for the inadequacy of the bike lane syndrome, whereby traffic engineers manage to get bicycle “advocates” off their backs, even at the expense of bicycle safety.
FWIW the “bike lane” on Frome Road west side is an abomination : narrow and rough, so I rarely use it. It’s quite a dangerous one, not least b/c of fast bicycles zipping past me way too close for their speed. But that’s a different story …
Being a cycle courier in the city for many years taught me that it doesnt matter what the rules are as long as you ride smart and assertive. Relying on rules is secondary to paying attention to what is going on around you IMHE.
'Flowing' with traffic is one of the best interval sessions around. I love TT'n in the middle of the road at 50 with the 'team cars' following behind. ;)
Ive never had a drivers license cos Im just having too much fun on my flash bikes in traffic. ;)