I take the lane when I need to, but as fellow blogger cyclostat can attest to, too few drivers understand that cyclists have a right to the road and don’t know what to do other than get really angry at you for being “in the way”, especially when taking the lane on a highway as the only route option:
But it was a chance moment, in an otherwise uninterrupted harassment bonanza. The honking began, and our fear responses were potentiated by our previous highway experience. Stocky men yelled at us from trucks. Obese women honked from vans. Southeast asian men came within inches of our handlebars. The back and forth between me and the drivers was standard. Get on the sidewalk; fuck you. Move over; fuck you. You look like fags; fuck you. Only afterwards did I realize that my comebacks were lacking in variation. Whenever someone would yell at us, I could only yell the same two words back. They came out like a growl – a combination of hard breathing and unadulterated rage.
Point being, no matter how “in the right” or confident you are as a cyclist, being harassed really sucks, especially for being in the legal right. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone just got along? If only drivers knew we had a right to the road? A while back some folks toyed around with the idea of a bike-mounted laser that projected bike lanes on the street behind the rider. Impractical, but an interesting idea on the right track.
You may have seen the “bicycle may use full lanes” signs on the BU bridge or around Brookline, but I don’t think there are enough of them, and others agree. I discovered BAUFL.org, which exists to get the “Bicycle May Use Full Lane(BAUFL)/Bicycle Allowed Full Use of Lane(BMUFL) message across. They sell BAUFL stickers:
and encourage you to “Put them on your cars and your friends cars. Every person who sees your campaign stickers will be delivered the message that Bicycles Allowed Use Of Full Lane. ”
I’m surprised they don’t mention to stick them on the back of your own bicycle, so that when you’re taking the lane, you are getting the message across to drivers immediately behind you. The San Franciso Bicycle Coalition has the right idea with these
T-shirts they sell::
Which actually cites the California law allowing cyclists full use of lane.
This gave me an idea: Why not just print one of these “bicycle may use full lane” signs out and stick it to the back of my bike so that any driver behind me will see it and know what to do when I’m taking the lane? Heck, I’ll even cite the Massachusetts Law M.G.L. 85.11B allowing full use of the lane(up to two abreast)/. Some people ride with the reflective orange triangles intended for slow-moving vehicles, and for a little while, I even rode with a reflective vest. But riding with a sign that sent out an informative message about exactly how to deal with us slow moving vehicles seems to make a lot of sense.
So I went to work to recreate the sign on my computer. Here’s the PDF if you’d like to print your own. I took a quick trip to Staples to retrieve some adhesive laminating sheets to make it waterproof, and soon after, I had myself a nifty Bicycle May Use Full Lane sign:
And with a little duct tape, I stuck it onto my rear fender.
The hope is that with this sign, drivers will see it, understand the message immediately, and pass without any confusion about what to do or get angry at me for taking the lane. And that this benefit will outweigh the air resistance created from the sign. Whether drivers actually will react like this remains to be seen. Perhaps the real test will be riding North on Rt1a to see if I get the same treatment that Cyclostat did. Stay tuned for updates!