It Would Be Impolite Not To Accept
On this morning’s commute to Yellow Bike I witnessed another example of how hugging the curb can get you in trouble. I was queued up in the right hand lane at the intersection of Lamar and North Loop; traveling east on North Loop. Another bicycle traveler was queued up in the left lane. At the time I thought it odd but then I noticed that all the cars in front of me in the right lane were signaling a right turn. Strategic move on his part. He gets through the intersection without having to wait for the right turners and then can merge back to the right to continue on North Loop.
Which is exactly what he did. Only when he merged over to the right, he moved all the way over to the right. Hugging the curb in a clear invitation for motor vehicles to share the lane with him. Only on that portion of North Loop, the lanes are not wide enough to have a car and cyclist at the same time, despite the repeated attempts by motorists to do so. The risk in this section of road is further exacerbated by the fact that the left lane transforms into left turn only and through traffic needs to merge into the right lane. I always position myself in the middle of this lane, making cars either wait behind me or move into the left lane to pass.
As I was following my fellow two-wheeler I was suddenly lamenting that I had neglected to attach my helmet camera. This could be a great teaching moment. Because I spied a car in a big hurry accept his invitation to share the lane with him. The pass was easily within the minimum 3 feet required by Austin ordinance. I saw it before it happened and was pleasantly surprised that a mishap didn’t happen. A stray steering movement by either person and I would have been administering first aid and then providing my contact information as an accident witness. What’s even more disturbing is that I’m not sure the cyclist even perceived the close call and so will continue to make these provocative invitations to motorists to endanger his life.
Far Right As Practicable
The “FRAP” rule in Texas has several important exceptions. One of the most important is that if the lane is too narrow to safely share, the the cyclist has the right (dare I say obligation) to use the whole lane and motorists are required to move into the adjacent lane to pass. The state vehicle code is a little ambiguous about what constitutes safe passing distance. The City of Austin (and other intelligent communities in Texas) are less ambiguous with their 3-foot passing laws.
Another close call. Another lesson. Some will learn from it. Some will continue put themselves in danger in a misplaced attempt to be “courteous” to motorists.