Friday, September 2, 2016

A Lesson in Control and Release

I found myself praising my daughter for learning a lesson in lane control and release, but it was really that she taught me the lesson. (Spoiler alert; no daughters were harmed in the making of this blog post.)

Most sites seem to call this "lane control" rather than "control and release," but what often happens over the course of a ride is both control and release. A person on a bicycle takes the middle of the right lane - rather than riding on the very outside edge - in order to control traffic behind them. When the lane widens, or a shoulder or bike lane are added to the lane, the person on a bicycle can move over to allow traffic behind them to pass safely.

In Anne Arundel County, bike lanes, shoulders, choke-points, and narrowing occur at random. The bad news is that people on bicycles sometimes have to take an aggressive stance to prevent people in automobiles from trying to "squeeze by." The good news is, it probably won't be long before the bike lane or shoulder magically reappears. (This is all bad news for people on bikes, who don't appreciate disappearing bike lanes or random choke points like the one below.)

An example of an AA County choke point. It's supposed to "calm traffic," but doesn't actually impede automobile traffic in any way, and is the opposite of "calming" for people on bicycles.

One road in particular tends to suffer from narrowing and widening lanes, as well as drivers in a hurry. In places, the shoulder can be measured in millimeters, while in other places there's a shoulder wide enough that it might be another lane (though it isn't marked as such). In much of the road, the lane is too narrow to safely be shared, but just wide enough to be tempting.

It was in this section that my daughter tried - unsuccessfully - to control the lane. She was passed by people in cars trying not to cross the double-yellow, because there was oncoming traffic.

When I bike this road, I always remind myself to put on my big-girl pants, steel myself, and take that lane. People in cars on this road will always try to share the lane with me if I don't take all of it, and that's a pretty bad situation for a person on a bike to be in. (Check out that first link in this post. No, really. It won't take long, I promise. Here it is again.)

My daughter's experience is one I've had. While I was busy clucking my tongue that she had to learn that lesson the hard (thankfully, not the hardest) way, I forgot that I was still learning it, too. Sometimes it's helpful to hear someone you love talk about a shared experience. It's a reminder to do what you need to do to stay safe, and validation that you need to do it. Thanks, Daughter.