Monday, June 19, 2006
Thursday GITAP was a "day off" - with the option for a 100 mile ride. I had done the rest stop the day before I was aching for real miles, and Gary (who I carpooled up with and was game to do it too, so off we went.
Just before I'd left for this trip, I'd gotten a copy of the spanking new Rockford, IL "bicycling map" and the back had lovely graphics explaining how and when to get out into the lane. I'd contemplated the wording - "Force the driver to use the left lane to pass you" or something like that, and wondering about rephrasing it a little less agressively for our map.
Coming back, it was early afternoon and we were on a two-lane road with fast traffic. It was when Gary put into words that drivers were being jerks and squeezing by us tightly at high speeds that I realized this was exactly what those words were talking about. I envisioned the road in thirds and moved my wheel out to the "1/3" line on the right.
I still kinda thought this would just mean they passed every bit as closely, just that same 3 feet further out that I'd moved. WRONG.
Instantly, drivers responded differently. They slowed down a goodly distance back and crossed that midline and went well into the left lane to pass, leaving us much more room. Basically, since there was obviously no way to fit all of us in the same lane, they stopped trying to act like two cars and a bike could fit comfortably, and waited for 2-vehicles-only situations. This included twice where the auto had to wait those eternal seconds because of too much approaching traffic. They did, without hostile behavior.
We paused at a store for Gatorade. Got back out on the road. I automatically went back to townie riding, on that right fringe... and suddenly the drivers were dangerous again. The instant I remembered to move back out, they gained competence.
Somehow, I don't think it was coincidence and that only the bad drivers went by when I was hugging the line.
It *is* counterintuitive. Yes, I would prefer to do it with some kind of tag on the bike that makes it look like I'm doing some kind of big time charity thing so that I'm "special." (Being on "Team Weird from Behind" means people tend to think I'm special anyway :-)) I suspect it also works about 10 times as well when there are two riders.
I still might change the wording. I dont' think we were "Forcing" anything; it was more of an automatic response... which is far better :-) I wish I had an emotion meter to see which made the drivers *feel* more inconvenienced, but the bottom line is that more often there was more room, and it didn't seem to incur road rage.