The well-written Oct. 24 front-page article, “Tension on the roads shifts into a higher gear,” as well as several recent pieces by Shoshana Hoose in the Maine Sunday Telegram, describe flashpoints for car-bike conflict.

However, there is an additional dangerous but common situation that needs to be emphasized: What happens when a car trying to pass a cyclist meets an oncoming car?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the time, the driver will continue to try to pass, although there is no room to allow the 3 feet required by law between the car and the bike.

Usually this means that both the cyclist and the oncoming car are endangered as the passer veers across the yellow center line. All too few passing motorists are willing to slow and allow the few seconds needed to avoid a potential collision.

Cautiously “taking the lane” by the cyclist when he or she first senses the impending squeeze is about the only available alternative short of being suddenly forced off the road.

Taking the lane safely requires that there is time to move to the central portion of the travel lane (a left hand signal helps), thereby preventing the onrushing potential passer from passing until it is safe. Experienced road cyclists employ this maneuver for the safety of all three vehicles involved.

David L. Adams, M.D.


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