British Cycling: Effective Traffic Riding - Filtering in Traffic

Cyclescheme, 24.04.2015

British Cycling: Effective Traffic Riding - Filtering in Traffic

What happens if traffic slows down and congestion occurs? Quite logically, we could simply join the queue and wait patiently in the primary position with everyone else. However, this is where the bicycle really comes into its own in the urban environment.

Let’s look at what an effective rider would do in a typical rush-hour commuting situation when the traffic ahead starts to slow.

The first consideration would be to ‘take the lane’ that they’re already in. How soon they do this would depend on the volume and speed of the traffic and their own speed; sooner rather than later being the watchwords. We assume, of course, that appropriate observing and negotiating are going on throughout.

Filtering

The next consideration will depend on a number of things. Is there a junction ahead? Is it traffic lights or a roundabout, or some other form of road layout? Is the rider going straight on or turning left or right? If necessary, moving to and ‘taking’ the appropriate lane comes next. Remember, up to this point, our rider is still thinking like a driver but, as the traffic ahead slows, the rider now has the advantage.


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Assuming we’re on a multi-lane road, the next consideration is where do we filter? Is it to be down the left-hand side, between the lanes, or on the outside? There’s no right or wrong answer; every situation is different. Let’s look at each in turn.

Filtering

Filtering on the left

Filtering on the left is what most untrained cyclists do. It intuitively feels ‘natural’ and it’s what most drivers will be expecting. Cyclists need to be as visible as possible to other road users all of the time. Let’s look for a moment at the average driver’s behaviour when wanting to know what’s going on behind them.

They will probably use their off-side mirror by default, but rarely – unless a professional – will they use their near-side mirror. Left-filtering riders are far less likely to be seen. Passengers, especially during commuting periods, will often make a sudden decision to exit a stationary car or van in the left hand lane.

Filtering

Many a car door has been opened into a cycle lane – with painful consequences!

Filtering up the left hand side of high-sided vehicles is a complete NO. Several cyclists can be situated at the side of the vehicle without being seen by the driver.

Filtering between lanes

Filtering

Filtering between lanes can be useful. There’s little likelihood of car doors opening and the rider is more visible. However, it does present some hazards. Drivers don’t always proceed in straight lines and the space between lanes can narrow quite quickly. The rider needs to be constantly aware of drivers who decide to change lanes, often without indicating and/or any use of mirrors.

Filtering

For more tips on effective traffic riding including how to filter on the outside and what to do when congestion eases, head over to the British Cycling Insight Zone.


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