Defensive Cycling

Noticed this Opinion piece by Chaelan MacTavish in PSU’s paper, The Vanguard. While the language and tone is decidedly anti-car I think it brings up a good point.

“There are enough bad drivers that a daily ride means defensive cycling.”

Riding defensively (especially in the city) is important not only for your own safety but for gaining respect from cars. When I’m riding downtown I usually take up the entire lane as long as I’m going close to the same speed as surrounding traffic. I’ve noticed some riders timidly hugging the right side of the lane…ever so afraid of being “in traffic”.

I’m not saying riding among the cars is the right thing for everyone…but don’t be afraid to claim your space on the road. You’ll often find that the more space you claim, the more space you’re given.

Have you had any close calls lately? Let me know.

Yes, the PSU editorial is anti-car (or anti-Hummer if you want to get specific), but I think his point about drivers using the bike lane as a turn lane is right on. I can’t tell you how many times, when on my bike, drivers have just blindly turned in front of me. I don’t see this as much downtown as I do in my home neighborhood of SE Portland.”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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