June 24, 2013

Letters to the editor: 'Far right' not always best place for bikes

Regarding Jim Brown's viewpoint on June 17, "Another View: Rules of the road should apply to cyclists as well as drivers":

click image to enlarge

A bicycle commuter navigates traffic in Portland in 2008. A reader says, “I am a driver and a cyclist, and when in my car I see much more bad, rude and dangerous driving from other motorists than I ever do from cyclists.”

2008 File Photo/John Ewing

As a 10-year-plus transportational cyclist, I agree completely. Well, almost.

Most people are unaware that there is much more to the "far right as practicable" law than just that phrase. There are many situations where it is advantageous for my safety to be farther into the travel lane, or even in the middle of it.

The law allows me to use a full travel lane in many situations, including preparing for turns, avoiding right-turning traffic, avoiding debris and in any lane that is too narrow to share side by side without the motorist crossing at least partially into the next lane.

In practice, this works out to pretty much all the time on big multilane roads such as those around the Maine Mall, and on narrow two-lane roads whenever oncoming traffic would prevent an overtaker from giving me enough space.

If you see a cyclist fully using a travel lane, chances are they know what they are doing and are acting legally. Please give the cyclist the benefit of the doubt, and pass only when it is safe to.

Note that you are allowed to cross a double yellow line to give the cyclist plenty of room (of course, only when safe). For the full text of the "far right" law, Google "Maine statute 29-A 2063."

By the way, when I wave to motorists, I always use all five fingers.

John Brooking


I was appalled to read the comments by Jim Brown about cyclists and rules of the road in the Press Herald ("Another View: Rules of the road should apply to cyclists as well as drivers," June 17).

I don't know what reality he is living in. I am a driver and a cyclist, and when in my car I see much more bad, rude and dangerous driving from other motorists than I ever do from cyclists.

I would be the first to admit that not every cyclist follows all the rules, but most who I know and observe do, because they have so much more to lose than a motorist driving a car.

Staying as far to the right as practicable doesn't mean a cyclist can't enter the travel lane to avoid unsafe conditions. I see automobile drivers slow at a stop sign and then roll through without coming to a complete stop all the time.

In my experience, most drivers are considerate of cyclists and give them room, but then there are always those drivers who blow by at a high rate of speed, closer than the 3 feet the law requires.

As for the finger salute, it seems to me that many motorists know how to do that.

But the most outrageous line was the pathetic attempt at humor referring to "cyclists I run into (no pun intended)." Given the tragic event June 14 in the Trek Across Maine, this shows an insensitivity that I find truly sad.

Even if he wrote his column before that day, it shows a lack of understanding and feeling about who the true loser will most likely be when an automobile or truck and a cyclist collide.

Lawrence Furbish


Assigning police to enforce dog licenses is 'over the top'

Last Monday morning, around 9:30, I was drawn to my front yard by a big commotion. There was a Cumberland police officer sitting in his truck talking to my housekeeper, with our three dogs barking up a storm.

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