Is it just me [Overtaking Cars]

I just wrap myself in an American flag and hang a set of truck nutz from my saddle, and the rednecks leave me alone.*

  • no, not really; but I bet it would work. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I haven’t ridden without rear lights in a long time, so I don’t have a control to compare to. I would say 90% of passes are fine. 10% are terrible and made up of at least 3 archetypes - entitled (cars rule and my time is important), punishers (let that be a lesson to you for riding your bike), and the unaware (these may be the most dangerous).

My latest example of an entitled driver - on a scenic road with a 25 MPH limit and lots of pedestrian/bike traffic decide he HAD to pass at the precise moment that 2 runners, 2 dog walkers, and 2 bikes were convening. He literally could have waited 5 seconds and that would have been down to just the 2 runners.

I think flashing lights only help with the 3rd, most dangerous type. The others are willful in their actions. I use a Varia and an additional bright complex pattern on my helmet.

For all three, I take the lane when I deem it unsafe to pass. I tend to go early in the morning to avoid most traffic, and avoid certain roads all together. I am not sure what else I can do other than gravel riding. :slight_smile:


I’m just here to say that the thread title had me thinking about how I sometimes have to overtake cars to finish my interval :thinking:

I agree with others that under normal riding conditions, I feel safer/more visible riding in the lane than over on the shoulder with a ton of high vis stuff. It gets pretty dark here in the winter though and I use the best lights I can to see and be seen riding in the off season. Highly reflective shoe covers are also great.

In addition to the points made here about lane position, it. can be really tough for a driver turning out of a parking lot or side street to see a cyclist moving up the shoulder at speed. Major roads tend to have good sight lines but it can be tough to see around parked cars/bushes/bus stops for smaller roads or parking lots. If I’m moving at any kind of speed and there isn’t a clearly defined bike lane, I will want to be further into the lane to be more visible to cross traffic. Not really directly connected to your question about overtaking but I think it is a good think to think about when you position yourself on the road.


That’s what I thought the thread was going to be about when I saw the title. More applicable for me when commuting than training; passing a line of cars stuck in traffic is pretty satisfying. Though overtaking a left turning car (from my side of the road, not oncoming) probably makes me the most nervous. Mainly on wide double lane roads where another car could squeeze by on the shoulder (if I wasn’t there).

More generally, I usually ride a few feet out from the edge of the road as a default position. Though if it’s a low traffic country road than I’ll move over to the edge when my radar chirps at me and then move back when it’s clear.

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Too true.

True, the cars who are paying attention are more likely to give you room the closer you are to the line IME as well.

But that one car in a million that might kill you is being driven but someone looking down at their smartphone or flat out drunk. There are broken beer bottles on the sides of every single major road in Southern California.

I rode close to the line for over a decade but have begun moving further inwards when necessary. That said, I think the biggest factor in safety is route choice.

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There’s not as many bottles on the roads in the UK in fact not seen any for years. It’s the “phone drones” that are the main issue and I see so many - not just cars but commercial vehicles too. They’re the real (potential) killers.

I would agree with your observations. I also offer:

  • some years ago a study was conducted that showed a fast-blinking (8x /second) red light creates a subconscious ‘panic’ state, this was dumbed down to ~4/sec for (first) motorcycle rear blinky lights and now cycling lights. Approaching drivers cannot help but look at it and are therefore more attentive.
  • as others observe, riding close to the shoulder seems to lead motorists to NOT move over, as if you’re a mailbox or a sign - you’re not really on the road, so no need to move over. Claim your lane!
  • Try this (don’t endanger yourself): As a car is approaching, do ‘something’ - anything - that shows your a human. I usually reach toward my jersey pocket, or scratch my leg, blow my nose - anything, really, that amounts to a visible action. Watch how much further vehicles now pass you. This simple action seems to differentiate you from an inanimate object in many drivers’ minds.
  • In Ontario, the provincial police have confirmed it is not an offense for a vehicle to cross the yellow centre line when passing (a bicycle). Too bad no one knows this. The lines are essentially ‘recommendations’. There is nothing in the HTA prohibiting a vehicle from crossing the centre line to pass another vehicle.

Same problem in many US states. Crossing the yellow line may be legal or is even required in some states whenever the opposing lane is clear, but that never occurs to the uninformed.

Great idea! I wish my Varia unit projected a holographic ride buddy that does that automatically. Or a scary clown that turns around as the vehicle nears.


I don’t think this is true. If you were driving a farm tractor at 10mph, they would cross the yellow line to go around you. It’s that they think they can squeeze through with a bike.

i’ve gotten into arguments with drivers that think they can’t pass on double yellow, and i’ve pointed out similar circumstances that they would pass cars that are disabled or tractors without hesitation. Implicitly I think they realize the damage a car or tractor can do to their vehicle with a close pass so they give more room, but don’t give the consideration for bikes


The issue from state to state is that some do say you can cross the double yellow specifically others just say that you must give them room but have no exception to crossing the double yellow in writing. In the exceptions in some states they do call out slow moving farm vehicles, even require them to pull over to be passed once safe, but then never carve out an exception for bicycles in some cases.

My state is vague and never says anything about being allowed to cross the double yellow (last I checked/found) but when they updated to require 3ft for cyclists worded it something like the vehicle may only return to the right hand side of the road once safely clearing the cyclist. For those of us who have spent far too long reading state codes we clearly understand that this would indicate you can cross the yellow, but you take that without any other context and it can be confusing.


Here is one example: New Virginia Bicycle Laws Take Effect July 1 | Regan Zambri Long (
I doubt many drivers know this or any enforcement has occurred since enacted.

Even if that were true, and sometimes it is, the proper response to not being able to pass is to slow down, follow the vehicle (I.e. Bike) in front of you and wait until you can pass safely and within the rules. There is nothing in traffic law that gives a driver the absolute right to pass something in front of them at any time they wish.

Lots of issues between drivers and cyclist stem from the fact that many drivers think they have an absolute right to drive at (or above) the speed limit without any responsibility to whomever or whatever they are overtaking almost as if they were a passenger on a train that will just keep rolling along no matter what rather than them having control, and responsibility, over their vehicle.


I actually don’t care that much to be close passed, I ride in an urban area so get close passed daily. Its the people who don’t pass and just tailgate angrily and/or lay on their horn that I get into arguments with. When I tell them to just go around they have plenty of space they try to throw the double yellow back at me

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That’s the rule in the UK (except its a double solid white centre line), no overtaking unless the vehicle you are overtaking is going less than 10mph. Once drivers pass their test though they seem to instantly forget the rules, overtaking regardless a slower vehicles speed (they might be going 50mph but the speed limit is 60mph :roll_eyes:) and often regardless also over twistyness/ lack of visibility. :roll_eyes: :roll_eyes:

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From “Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road”

Passing a bicyclist — When passing a bicyclist, you are required by law to allow at least
3 feet of space between your vehicle and the bicyclist. More space is better, especially
when driving at higher speeds. Since lanes on most roads are too narrow (less than 14 feet)
to legally pass a bicycle within the same lane, drivers usually must merge over at least
partially into the next lane to pass. If needed, wait to merge over and do not pass until it is
safe to do so.

Passing a bicyclist in a no-passing zone — When driving in a no-passing zone, you may
pass people biking in the same direction if:

  1. They are traveling at a speed of less than half of the posted speed limit.
  2. You are able to overtake and pass the bicyclist without exceeding the speed
  3. There is sufficient distance ahead on the left side to pass safely.

The same document mentions several times that bikes are to ride as close to the curb as they safely can. I have noticed that the farther out into the lane I am, the more room cars give me when they pass.

I only ride on 2 types of roads.

  1. The ones where there is a line separating the shoulder (or bike lane) from the lane. I ride to the right of that line and do not expect or want the cars to do anything other than drive down the center of their own lane. I LIKE not being in the way. If they don’t cross the line, they won’t hit me. If they don’t have to slow and wait for a chance to cross into the oncoming lane, then they have no reason to be bothered by my presence.
  2. Roads that may not have a line but where it’s either wide enough that they can pass without moving over or sparse enough that they can easily move over without being held up.

I am well aware that in the past 10 or so years a lot of places have passed laws ordering cars to give a wide berth to increase safety but all it does is make us a PITA. Drivers weren’t hitting bikes bc they were too close. They hit us A) intentionally because we as a group are a PITA and B) because they weren’t paying attn. These new laws make A worse and did nothing to help B. So I am fully aware that drivers are required to pass ridiculously wide but I don’t want it or need it. I just want them to not cross into the shoulder and hit me.

Whenever it happens to me the driver seems to always makes it a point to gun it as they pass. May be the doppler effect, but reading fb comments from people in my area, they just don’t believe cyclists should be on the road and are trying to scare you.

Interesting to read a few posts up that in va, drivers are now required to move over a lane… but where i ride, the lanes are not divided. I mostly stick to gravel since it slows down the drivers.

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The “you may cross the line to pass” rule also exists in Québec. Everyone understands it for farm vehicles, half don’t understand it also applies for bikes.

This said, yes, I do feel safer with blinking lights. I think it’s half psychological on my part, feeling more confident I’m visible, and half drivers giving more room for weird psycho reasons.

But if you want to make an impact on drivers, try running at night with a headlight. That thing is like a laser cutting through metal. It moves cars like Moses parting the seas. Drivers have no clue what that blinding light bobbing around is, and assume it’s a 10-ton truck.

I was today years old when I learned the British spell it kerb instead of the American curb. Who knew?!?!