How do motorists and cyclists misunderstand each other (2)?

Continuing from the first article, this second part is to illustrate another misunderstanding – cyclists riding two abreast.

Many motorists consider cyclists riding two abreast as “selfishly blocking the whole lane”. Some of us cyclists are drivers too and we do understand it can be frustrating to follow a group of cyclist. However, there must be a reason why the RTA (Road Traffic Act) allows cyclists to ride two abreast. In fact, there is a very good reason, and it is not only safer for the cyclist but is also more convenient for the motorist.

Consider the following scenario, a car sharing a traffic lane with 4 cyclists travelling as a group. If the 4 cyclists are riding in single file, it is tempting for a driver to overtake within the same lane even though this is not the right way to do. Trying to “squeeze” to overtake within the same lane is dangerous because the driver may need to inch out of the lane and risk impact with cars coming from behind on the second lane. Furthermore, it will take a longer time and distance for them to clear the whole group of cyclists. Finally, if the driver wants to make a left turn, he would have to stop and wait until all 4 cyclists cleared the junction completely. During the waiting period, he may block the traffic behind and may miss the last one or two cyclists and “left hook” them.

Here is a short animation showing four cyclists riding in a single file can cause longer delay before a car can make a left turn.

4 cyclists in single file, car follow behind before turning left

4 cyclists in single file, car follow behind before turning left?

Sometimes an impatient driver may try to overtake the group of cyclist, but he would be blocked by the row of moving cyclists and worst, he had to come to a total stop and blocking the traffic. The car still need to wait for the whole row of cyclists to clear before making the left turn.

4 cyclists in single file
4 cyclists in single file blocking a car from turning left

Alternatively, the two abreast riding formation makes it a lot easier for the same red car driver to proceed without any stopping moment. The driver will feel more relaxed as he won’t have to worry about cyclists coming from behind in his blind spot. Simply slow down, follow the group of cyclists for a short while, let them all clear the junction and the driver can make a safe left turn.

cycling 2 abreast
it is easier for driver to follow cyclists riding two abreast

Some people may feel riding two abreast is “blocking the traffic” and therefore it is prohibited. This is not true. As long as the cyclists keep to the left lane, faster vehicles can change to the next lane and overtake on their right. This scenario is no different to fast vehicle overtake another slower vehicle.

To make it more clear, below is a demonstration of a group of cyclists occupying all the lanes and blocking the traffic. This is clearly not the way to go and is indeed prohibited by Road Traffic Rules.

Hopefully, this short article helps to dissolve another misunderstanding between cyclists and motorists. Next time when you see cyclists riding two abreast taking up the whole lane, thank them for being considerate instead of getting angry 

How do motorists and cyclists misunderstand each other (1)?