Attention Florida Cyclists: Do You Know the Safest Lane Position? It's Probably Not What You Think!

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: So what is the safest lane position when you're riding on the road in Florida? It probably is not what you think. Our guest is Keri Caffrey this morning from the Florida Bicycle Education, excuse me, the American Bicycle Education Association. And many of you know Keri through Cycling Savvy. It was a program she started really with the cooperation with the Florida Bicycle Association back in 2008 or 2009, is that right Keri?

Keri Caffrey: In 2009, Mike Wilson and I.

Jim Dodson: Okay, all right.

Keri Caffrey: Started it and with the help of the Florida Bicycle Association.

Jim Dodson: So talk to us a minute. I think the information you're gonna give is gonna be counterintuitive to a lot of information that people have. We all know about the restriction in the law that says we're supposed to ride as close to the right-hand side of the road as practicable I think the word is.

Jim Dodson: We have to contend with bicycle lanes and when to be in the lane, when to take the lane. So what is your position? What is your educational position on where cyclists are safest riding?

Keri Caffrey: Okay, so this is a little bit of a nuance discussion. First of all, you're right, the law is quite confusing. Even the word practicable, which most of us don't use on a daily basis. But basically practicable means what's safe for you under the circumstances in which you're riding. So we break down main position into how we behave on two-lane roads versus how we behave on multi-lane roads. The difference primarily is that on a two-lane road you have to balance safety and courtesy. Because it's not as easy for motors to pass. On a multi-lane road, they have another lane to pass and you have to maximize your position to encourage them to make that lane change early on a multi-lane road. And I'll describe a little bit about why that is. But the first thing that people need to understand about lane position is it's not your distance from the edge, it's your distance from the lane line. Because the lane line is what the motorist is queuing off of. The distance between you and the lane line is what the motorist is looking at to determine if they can pass in the lane or if they have to move over into another lane to pass.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Keri Caffrey: So what your objective, on a two-lane road in particular your objective is to close up that space enough that even the most spatially challenged motorist will understand that their car can't fit there. And once they understand that, they know they have to at least part of that oncoming lane and therefore they have to wait until the oncoming lane is clear. What I tell people is that's gonna be a little bit different based on the width of the road and the road that you're on and the traffic dynamic. So what you wanna do is you wanna pick a position that you think is gonna work. And then if people are passing you too close or trying to squeeze in the lane you know you're too far right. So just move left until you get the behavior that you want.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Keri Caffrey: Go ahead.

Jim Dodson: Well you and I talked in preparing for this talk and for years I had been taking the position that you want to ride in the right wheel line. And you're like Jim, you need to be further left than that in many situations.

Keri Caffrey: Yeah.

Jim Dodson: I think that my concern for many people listening to your presentation is that it seems counterintuitive to them. I think we think intuitively if I stay to the right I'm going to be safer because I'm gonna be out of the lane, I'm gonna be away from where the cars are going. But your instructions and what you teach through Cycling Savvy Course is and we'll talk about that in a minute. But the further left you go, in most situations quite frankly, the safer you're gonna be, because it forces the motorist to make a decision at an earlier stage in the decision process about passing and lane use.

Keri Caffrey: Correct. So generally we're talking about lanes that are too narrow to share. And I should probably give you a little bit of a definition of that. Because the way the law is written, it would seem by that first paragraph of the law that it must apply to most lanes, right? Because why would you have a law that didn't apply to most lanes?

Jim Dodson: Right.

Keri Caffrey: But the majority of lanes in Florida are 10 to 12 feet wide. So if you think about the width of a cyclist a cyclist needs four feet of operating space. So we're about two feet wide with our handlebars and whatnot. But we're on a balanced vehicle so in the design standards we're assigned a minimum of four feet of operating space. And we could be in that space at any time. So that is our width essentially, our design width.

Jim Dodson: Moving a little bit left, a little bit right, you're not riding.

Keri Caffrey: Correct.

Jim Dodson: A vertically straight line.

Keri Caffrey: Exactly.

Jim Dodson: That you occupy with three feet right.

Keri Caffrey: Yes, and then motorists are required by Florida law to give us three feet of passing clearance. In my opinion that's an absolute minimum because at speed that's way too little. So, I don't want somebody passing me three feet away at 50 miles an hour.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Keri Caffrey: But so take those two together, you have seven feet. So in a 10 feet lane, that leaves three feet for a car, and 12 feet lane, that leaves five feet for a car. And most cars are around seven feet wide with the mirrors and everything. So the vast majority of our lanes are too narrow to share. So you might as well pitch that statute out because it doesn't apply to those lanes because the exception under section three clearly says the lane is too narrow to share.

Jim Dodson: Yeah and you use the word substandard. The law gives you an out if you're on a substandard lane. And this is the issue with statutory construction. Substandard means nothing to the average person

Keri Caffrey: Right.

Jim Dodson: Who is reading it.

Keri Caffrey: It actually means nothing to statute. Substandard has no definition in statute. There's a history to how that ended up in the statute and it has to do with how those exceptions were constructed in California. And it was put in there, thinking it meant one thing when it really didn't apply to anything in statute or even in traffic design. Because the standard width lane is 12 feet. So a 12 foot lane is too narrow to share. So it's unfortunate that word is in there because it's very confusing. It really doesn't mean anything.

Jim Dodson: So your instruction and I agree with you is that the requirement that cyclists ride is close to the right-hand lane as practicable really doesn't apply in the vast majority of roads in Florida. Because they're all less than 14 feet. So we're already in a position where we're outside of the confines of that statutory lane.

Keri Caffrey: Exactly, exactly, so on a, there's the line.

Keri Caffrey: Yeah, so share.

Keri Caffrey: So position here.

Jim Dodson:With us today.

Keri Caffrey: I'm sorry, so in this one, this is the two-land road. And so you have communication. You are communicating with motorists. So if you communicate to motorists, you're communicating to motorists it's easy for them to squeeze past you if you're over on the edge. Because most motorists don't really know how wide their car is. They don't know how wide lanes are. They don't have any experience with this. And so if it looks like their car will fit. And remember they sit on the left side of that car, so they don't know how far that car is from what they're passing so unless.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, and how do they judge three feet from the right-side of the car when they're on the other side of the vehicle anyway.

Keri Caffrey: Yeah, exactly, so you really need to tell them. You need to communicate with them by closing up that distance making it very clear that it's not okay to squeeze pass, that they do have to change lanes. And then another thing that you'll run into on two-lane roads in particular is that motorists have somewhat poor judgment about when it's safe to pass. And again it's a lot of times because they misjudge the cyclist's speed, they don't have a lot of experience with passing cyclists. So if you as a cyclist recognize that the conditions for passing are unsafe. For example, they're 50 feet away there's a stop sign or a blind curve of something then you move your lane position. You actually go out and you do a block. You move out toward the left side of the lane and put your hand out and tell them not to pass. So that's the two-lane road scenario.

Jim Dodson: And so where is your recommendation for someone to ride on a two-lane road? So you're on a two-lane road, you're in town, the speed limit is 25, 30, maybe 35, but that would be unusual probably for most two-lane roads.

Keri Caffrey: Yeah, they're.

Jim Dodson: What are your recommending for line position?

Keri Caffrey: So your lane position, of course it's gonna vary based on whether it's a 10 foot lane or whatnot. The right tire track or the left side of the tire track is often pretty close to where you'll be on a two-lane road.

Jim Dodson: Okay.

Keri Caffrey: But again you're really gonna want to look at your distance from the lane line and say my distance from the lane line is way smaller than a car. So nobody's gonna mistake that they can squeeze past me.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Keri Caffrey: So that, on a two-lane road that's kinda what you're looking for.

Jim Dodson: Alright, so let's step up the equation a little bit here. So now you're on a four-lane road, two lanes in each direction typically you've got a higher speed limit. You may or may not have a bike lane. I think.

Keri Caffrey: Okay.

Jim Dodson: Image for that.

Keri Caffrey: Yeah, we do. There's a great image and that's actually taken from the car so you can see what the driver is seeing.

Jim Dodson: Okay.

Keri Caffrey: So on a four-lane road or a six-lane road, typically your speeds are gonna be a little bit higher. So if you're on a two-lane road, motorists conflict when they pass you, is in front of them, right? They're looking at traffic that's coming toward them. And so they're gonna make decisions differently than on a four-lane road where the conflicting traffic is actually behind them because they have to change lanes to pass which means they have to check their blind spot and move over. So what you don't wanna do is ride so far right that the motorist from a distance thinks they can fit in the lane and they stay in the lane until they get up to you and then realize they can't stay in the lane, right? And then all of a sudden now they are faced with a choice they have to slow down because they have to check behind them to make that lane change. And so now you're gonna have this dilemma where it's like well do I slow down and make a safe pass or do I just bump over into that other lane at the last second and hope for the best. Well you might get a fair amount of passing clearance from that when they bump over into the next lane. However, whereas having them do a lane split pass on a two-lane road is not an issue because they're looking at their conflicting traffic. When they do the lane split pass on a multi-lane road they could get surprised by a vehicle that was in their blind spot. And I'll tell you what, if they have a choice between hitting a hard thing and a soft thing they're probably gonna hit the soft thing. So they're coming back at you. So what you wanna do is you want to be either more emphatic about making it clear when you move over into the lane. You're actually not gonna be in the right tire track because that's not clear from a distance. You're gonna move even further left than that because in that photo from the windshield view. You look at that and even the most spatially challenged person knows from a distance they're gonna have to change lanes.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Keri Caffrey: The cool thing about this is that the motorists recognize so far away that they need to change lanes that they never have to take their foot off the gas. And so what's interesting was that before I tried this I thought well yeah okay maybe it works but people are gonna honk at me, yell at me, and throw things at me. But the truth was, I actually got less incivility. People honked at me less. I rarely have people honk at me. And the reason was because I wasn't actually interfering with them and making them slow down. I was communicating with them so that they didn't have to slow down so that they could pass me more easily so.

Jim Dodson: So you're.

Keri Caffrey: It's so counterintuitive, but it's amazing it works.

Jim Dodson: So what you're doing is you're advancing the point of decision for the driver. The driver needs to make that and will naturally make that point of decision much sooner. Thus either slow down slightly, they'll move over more quickly. They'll take the left lane more readily.

Keri Caffrey: Yes.

Jim Dodson: Than waiting to the last minute and they're faced with a dilemma.

Keri Caffrey: Exactly and then the other advantage to that is that when they move into that left lane earlier they expose you to the vehicles behind them which allows those vehicles to move into the left lane earlier. And so then you end up clearing out that right lane at a distance and you don't have people end up piling in the right lane. And I actually put a link to a video where we demonstrated the difference where riding in the right tire track. Mike was actually the one riding and I took dashboard video. Riding in the right tire track, he wasn't visible until the very last second because the motorist waited. Even though the other two lanes were clear they waited and they just bumped out around him. And so that actually creates another high-risk situation for the cyclist. Because if somebody comes flying up and all of a sudden you bump out then you're gonna run into an issue with the person following and possibly not seeing you until the last second.

Jim Dodson: You know this is really, we're gonna talk about a more advanced study of this than just this conversation we're having today. And we're gonna tell people where you can get the full course that Keri teaches online and in person. We've had some people sign in Serge and Victor and Harris Hickman. I think you know some of these folks and.

Keri Caffrey: Hi guys.

Jim Dodson: Big heads up for the information, thanks guys for signing in. So talk about lane position too, you and I discussed it. It's not just the going down the road in the through lane. But you're approaching an in intersection and lane position has a big influence in terms of safety for vehicles turning out of a driveway vehicles making a left turn. They are approaching you and they want to turn left. Or vehicles trying to negotiate through an intersection. Can you just talk about that for a minute?

Keri Caffrey: Yes.

Jim Dodson: Changes that dynamic.

Keri Caffrey: These are the common intersection crash types and they're primarily the fault of the motorist almost always in these cases shown here. But what happens is when the cyclist is riding too far right the cyclist could be invisible to motorists because they could be screened by trees or passing cars. Or the cyclist could also be irrelevant to motorists. Because if it's too easy for motorists to pass sometimes they just don't even notice. And that's often the case with the right hook. So the three common intersection crashes are the right hook where a motorist passes you and then turns right immediately in your path. The left cross where the motorist turns left across your path and the drive out where the motorist enters the roadway into your path okay? So riding further left increases your visibility. First of all, for the right hook riding further left makes you relevant to the drivers and so if they have to change lanes to pass you before turning right the vast majority of them are just gonna slow down and wait until you pass the intersection and then turn right behind you. And then for the left cross, for one thing it increases your visibility. It makes you more relevant to them but it also allows you to avoid what we call a moving screen which is where a motorist passing on your left hides you from that left-turning driver until all of a sudden they clear the intersection and there you are in the left turn.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Keri Caffrey: And so when you notice those conditions it's best to negotiate away from the edge if you are particularly in a bike lane you might wanna negotiate away or at least not enter the intersection until you can see that left-turn pocket. So moving further left increases not only your visibility to those conflicting drivers but also your vantage to see them. Make sure you can see that left-turn pocket and the driver in that so that you can react if they do violate your right-of-way. And then the same is true for the drive out. You wanna make yourself clear of any sign obstructions that would be on the right side of the road. Trees and poles and things like that. You wanna make sure that you can see the driver of any car that's waiting at that intersection to come out and they also can see you. So it's a two-way vantage and visibility. And motorcyclists are taught this too for exactly the same reason. It's about improving your ability to react as well as their ability to see you.

Jim Dodson: So we see the circumstances every day in our practice. I've got multiple cases of every one of those examples that you gave. One of the things that I talked to cyclists about is this goes hand-in-glove with what you're saying. Motorists tend to make split-second decisions. They're scanning the terrain ahead, suddenly there's a break I can make it and they go and their focus is on the cars coming which are a threat to them. They're not focused on things that are out of that visual line that they're looking at. This goes into a whole discussion about visibility which we can talk about at another time which I talk about all the time to raise your visibility level by what you wear. But lane position is hand in glove with that.

Keri Caffrey: Um-hum, absolutely.

Jim Dodson: So you're cutting down, you're increasing the odds that the motorist is going to see you timely and be able to make appropriate decisions before executing the turn or making the pass or whatever they're going to do. And I appreciate your thoughts on that Keri.

Keri Caffrey: Now you're absolutely right. And you can dress up like the mothership but if you're outside of their field-of-view or hidden by another vehicle, they're not going to see you.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, a little bit of a disclaimer here too. Motorists are sometimes unpredictable. They sometimes despite the cyclist doing everything right the motorist can make a mistake and do the wrong thing even when you're in the proper lane position. So there is no guaranteed safe place to be on a bicycle. Whether it's on the sidewalk on the right-hand side of the road or in the position that Keri's talking about. I think what we have an obligation to ourselves and others is to execute it. You look at the circumstances and make a decision you think is best for you and the safest view to get you from point A to point B without being hit by a car. But cars have to do the reasonable thing. They need to slow down, they need to watch, they need to not run into us. We can't guarantee that in every situation regardless of the position you take on the road. But again this is all part off you want to increase the odds. And what you're talking about increases the odds of being seen and avoided.

Keri Caffrey: Yeah, we're doing the best we can to reduce risk.

Jim Dodson: Correct.

Keri Caffrey: This is a multi-prong approach to reach the vision zero goal. It's the cyclists doing the best we can because obviously it's our skin in the game. But we also need to teach motorists because these particular mistakes are very predictable. At least that's one thing about motorists is that when they make mistakes they're pretty predictable. And we need to teach them not to make those mistakes and to be more attentive as well.

Jim Dodson: Yeah and they all fall into patterns. They fall into patterns of decision making and choices and conduct both on drivers and on cyclists as well.

Keri Caffrey: Yeah, absolutely.

Jim Dodson: So address for a minute if you would. The law says that there's a bike lane. The law seems to indicate that you need to be in the bike lane. What's your instruction relative to bike lanes and when you believe it's best to get out of them?

Keri Caffrey: Well, our laws was kinda mashed together. They shoved the bike lane statute into the lane position statute, which makes it a little bit confusing because the same exceptions apply. Except obviously the narrow lane exception wouldn't because you have a bike lane. So the exceptions basically again, you have to leave it to make a left turn. You can't make a left turn from the bike lane. You have to merge into the travel lane or left-turn lane if there's one. You can leave the bike lane to pass slower traffic. You can legally pass slower traffic in the bike lane but you need to be careful that's a whole another discussion. Because you're coming up into people's blind spots. And then you can leave the bike lane to avoid any unsafe condition or potential condition that could be developing that would be unsafe. So some examples of that would be if the bike lane is next to parked cars and entirely in the door zone as in there's no buffer between the bike lane and the parked cars as there should be. Then you don't have to ride in the bike lane and subject yourself to potentially being doored. You can leave the bike lane because it is an unsafe condition. So that's one thing, door zone bike lane is not mandatory. If there are parked cars there you don't have to ride in something that could subject you to being killed basically.

Jim Dodson: And we actually have miles of that kind of that of situation here Pinellas County on Golf Boulevard running along the coast. There are a number of places where there's a bike lane next to where cars parked or there's a sharrow and there's no bike lane and you're right next to the door zone. So you're gonna talk about that as well.

Keri Caffrey: Yeah, well and the sharrow should be placed in the effective lane which on that picture is the green part. But they don't always get placed in the best spot. The thing about the sharrow though, it doesn't have any legal regulatory meaning. So it doesn't matter where the sharrow is you can ride where it's safe and not worry about it.

Jim Dodson: It's a reminder to motorists really.

Keri Caffrey: Yeah, it should be a reminder to motorists that the bicyclist should be expected to control the lane on that particular road. But again, they're not always put in the best place. And then so my other reasons to leave the bike lane would be if you have poor sight lines and you're approaching an intersection. You might negotiate your way out of the bike lane in order to pass that intersection in a place where you have better vantage and visibility. Similarly if you have a lot of right-turning traffic at a particular intersection I personally will leave the bike lane and go ahead and control the lane, pass an intersection that has a lot of right-turning traffic. Sometimes if I'm just passing intersection after intersection and there isn't a lot of traffic I will simply look over my shoulder and check for traffic before I get there rather than going in and out in and out because that's kind of a pain. Same thing with left-turning traffic. I also if I'm on a road that I'm not familiar with and I'm approaching a big intersection that I can't see the other side of, a lot of times, I'll leave the bike lane before I go through the intersection. Because I don't necessarily know that there's a bike lane on the other side. We have a lot of it right, I'm sure you have them in your town I have them in mine where the bike lane ends at an intersection and there's absolutely no indication whatsoever that there's no bike lane. So anytime like I teach my students, anytime you feel that the bike lane is putting you into a conflict. A lot of times there's bike lanes that are improperly striped to the right of a right-turn lane. We have some bike lanes that go to the right of a high-speed ramp and then all of a sudden jump over that ramp at the interchange. So I'm going to choose the position that's going to be the safest for me. And if I think the bike lane is gonna put me in a conflict I'm not gonna be in the bike lane. But I always tell the students, it's like if you choose to do that and then all of a sudden you see that the bike lane really isn't creating conflict or it becomes a safe place again you can go back into it really easily. What's not easy is getting out of a bike lane when you suddenly discover that it's running you to the right of an interstate on ramp and now you're trapped there. It's really hard to get out of it. So I think that you always have to balance it against your safety when you're choosing where to be.

Jim Dodson: Very interesting up in The Villages they have, I'm not sure if you've been there, but they have roundabouts. Many of the roads up there have bike lanes. Some are two-lane in each direction. They have bike lanes on the right that end abruptly at the roundabout.

Keri Caffrey: With no warning.

Jim Dodson: Negotiate out of the bike lane into the traffic lane and I'm sure there's a safe way to do it. But we have a lot of conflicts that occur in the roundabouts up there.

Keri Caffrey: Sure. Well, you should never have a bike lane in a roundabout. Because that's a series of right turns. Bicyclists and motorists go the same speed in a roundabout typically because the speeds are bicycle speeds. But they need to do a better job of guiding bicyclists out of the bike lane as they approach the roundabout. End it earlier and put some sharrows leading up to it. There are a lot of designs where they will actually take the bike lane and lead it onto a sidewalk so the bicyclists can become pedestrians in a roundabout. And if you don't wanna control the lane through the roundabout that's an option. But it will take you a lot longer to get through the roundabout that way because you're gonna have to deal with crossing traffic.

Jim Dodson: Correct, so I know that in your teaching isn't just really Keri's opinion. I know that you've got data and studies in law enforcement and what have you. So talk a little bit about how you have come to teach what you teach.

Keri Caffrey: Well I did a fair amount of studying probably 15 years ago. Because I had gotten to the point in my own riding where I was facing so many conflicts and I was tired of being a road warrior. And I was like I either have to find a better way to do this or I'm just gonna quit. And so I started doing some research and I came across a lot of the original vehicular cycling content written by Forrester and others and started implementing some of those ideas. And it really changed my experience. And just changing my lane position changed my experience with motorists. I mean I thought that all motorists were just jerks and they were stupid and they were mean and they were trying to kill me. And when I changed my behavior they all got a lot smarter. I mean the percentage of problems that I had went down so dramatically that it's actually rare for me to have conflicts anymore on the road when I ride. It's amazing how much easier things got just with that one simple change. But then with Cycling Savvy, our advice about riding on multi-lane roads and moving further left. That came from studies, Brian De Souza and Dango Tierres in Southern California went out and did a video study where they changed their lane position on the same stretch of road and rode it over and over and over again and determined where you needed to be to get those full early lane changes. And then the next level that I wanted to take it to for Cycling Savvy was not everybody wants to be a road warrior, go out and control a lane to get where they're going, right? Sometimes like a lot of us even myself included I like riding on quieter streets just because they're quieter, I don't want all the noise. And so what we did was we developed a number of strategies to allow people to get through busy interchanges and even deal with crazy stuff like diverging lanes and things like that with a minimal amount of traffic. To be able to problem solve the environment use traffic signal time, use an understanding of traffic flow. Use communication to be able to connect those networks of quiet streets without having to really be in the thick of heavy traffic. And so that's what Cycling Savvy is about. It's about that toolkit of giving people these strategies to be able to ride where they want the way they want without having to feel like they have to be like super commuter road warrior strong and brave and whatever that is.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, well I appreciate that a lot and I know it's just what you're about is to make cycling enjoyable and safe and increasing the experience for us through effective communication with motorists. And I think a lot of people are familiar with the League of American Bicyclists, the LAB and particularly some of the bike clubs tend to rely on the LAB for instruction. So how is what you do compare or mesh or differ if it does from what the LAB teaches?

Keri Caffrey: It's pretty similar in a lot of respects. The crossing crashes and typical crash prevention is very similar. We have taken it a little bit to the next level because the, and I'm a League certified instructor as well. They pretty much stick with a lower speed environment and they don't do the interchanges and the more complex roadways. They broke Forrester's original 30-hour college credit program, they broke it into sections. And so the first section, which is the one that almost is exclusively taught has a lot of, there's a lot of bike fit and nutrition and tire changing and things like that. Takes up a lot of the time so they don't have a lot of time to go into the more complex roadway scenarios. My feeling is it's hard enough to get people to take one bicycling class. So I need to give them everything. If they're gonna take one bicycling class, I wanna give them the full tool set to get through every roadway environment. So what we decided was we're gonna let the bike shops do bike fit and tire changing and all of that. Because bike shops are already doing that and we want our students to develop a relationship with their local bike shop, that's important. It's an important partnership. And so let's let them do that and bring people into their stores and then we will teach the stuff that we've really problem solved and really gotten good at which is the traffic stuff and the full monty. The whole scenario all the way through. So our students come into our class. They do the classroom section where we go through all the stuff on screen. And then we take them from basic balance to emergency drills in the morning on the bike handling session and that is very similar to what Billy teaches. We only have a couple extra drills that we put in there so that we can step people up from basic balance all the way to the instant turn and get them to be successful at it. We inserted some other drills. So we do that in the morning and then we'll take those same people we'll go through an interchange and diverging lane situation by the afternoon. I mean it's amazing to see somebody who struggled with basic balance and starting and stopping at 9:00 in the morning who is rocking a diverging lane through an interchange with the biggest smile you have ever seen. I mean there is nothing like the expression of joy of self mastery for somebody to do something that they never even knew was possible. I mean it gets me up in the morning.

Jim Dodson: Well, that's great, and I understand that feeling. We're gonna talk about the next course that you have and some online information as well. Just have a little program break here. I hope you're enjoying the program with Keri this morning. You know this is amazing information and we want to get it out to as many people as possible. One of the things that we run into in our practice. People calling from around the state wondering you know Jim you're in Clearwater and I have a situation up here in Palatka or Orlando or wherever they might be. How does that work, can you help me up here? And the answer is absolutely yes. We're never more than a phone call away. There's never a charge, to talk about what we can or can't do. As a matter of fact, I tell clients in my practice you won't write me a check at any point. If you have a successful case and we can get it resolved for you, you know we're gonna get paid a percentage of the recovery. You're not gonna ever sit down and write a check to me you're not gonna be billed for time or telephone calls or anything like that so. If you know someone that needs us or you have a need for us, we're only a phone call away. And I urge you to get your questions answered. Don't sit there kinda wondering. And certainly don't call 1-800 mystery lawyer who advertises they do bike cases you deserve better than that. So Keri, talk to me a minute about the cone of surveillance. We got a cool graphic on that. I think that was very interesting when I saw that for the first time. Maybe Kati can bring that up. Talk a little bit about that.

Keri Caffrey: Okay, so this is something that, and I don't have the citations for this, but there have been studies on eye tracking that show that as speed increases as distraction increases people develop tunnel vision. And the reason we put this out was to show that there are places that motorists can't or that they aren't looking because it's not relevant or they should be looking that they may not necessarily be looking. And part of the issue here is that people will say to us oh gosh if I ride out in that middle of the lane position somebody is just gonna run me over because they're looking at their phone. Well on that type of a road, most of the time, I mean there's no accounting for completely negligent ridiculous people. But for the most part, the people who are occasionally glancing at something else are also glancing up. The only place they're looking is right in front of them. Generally their cone of surveillance has narrowed down. Because the only thing that's relevant to them is that they not rear end a car. So that's kinda why we put that graphic out there. It was to show that really that position in the grand scheme of people being not all that attentive is actually off to the side where they glance up and they don't notice anything and then they glance down and they drift off the road for example.

Jim Dodson: Right, okay. And you talked a minute about, you talked a few minutes ago about door zone, dooring issues and the door zone. Door issues are not limited to the driver's side of the vehicle.

Keri Caffrey: Right.

Jim Dodson: There are places where we have vehicles parked and the bike lane is to the right of the parked vehicles. We have those here as well. Talk a little bit about how to avoid the door zone.

Keri Caffrey: Well first of all the best defense is to not be there, right? So staying out of the door zone, and not just it's strike zone 'cause the strike zone is about four feet from the car space. There's varying widths three to four feet. But if you're just outside the strike zone and the door opens suddenly in your path you're going to swerve into traffic. So we also add in a buffer of, I think that starts at about a foot and a half, but it depends on your temperament, right? To buffer yourself from that, so that you don't swerve into traffic. Because it doesn't matter what's going on in the front of your brain. If that happens, your autonomic nervous system is taking over and you're swerving into traffic. So staying 5 to 6 feet, 5-1/2 to 6 feet away from the car doors is going to keep you from that problem. Then what happens and now we're talking about a bike lane next to a general use lane or a wide-ish general use lane. Now you have to determine how far you are from the lane line because basically once you eliminate the door zone you're left with a narrow lane. So now you have to treat that effective lane like a narrow lane and close up the distance so that you don't end up with people squeezing past you and basically pushing you back into the door zone. So the position that you take, actually I think you guys have a photo of that as well. The position that you take is going to seem really far out there but that's because you then have to control that narrow effective lane.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, I think Kati just put that one photo up.

Keri Caffrey: Yup, there it is, yeah. And something to notice about that is where the tire tracks are there. Motorists don't drive in the door zone.

Jim Dodson: That's true, yeah.

Keri Caffrey: Right cause they don't wanna get doored either. Now it is always the fault of the person who opened the door if you open it in front of a car and the car takes the door off it's your fault for opening the door. If you open it in front of a cyclist and kill them it's your fault but as a cyclist I would prefer not to rely on people to look before opening a door they should, but I personally am not going to rely on that.

Jim Dodson: By and large they don't.

Keri Caffrey: Right. And then when it's on the passenger's side it's a whole another issue as you mentioned.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Keri Caffrey: And those bike lanes should be buffered, they should have a buffer that eats up the door zone so the cyclists aren't riding in it.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, we've had that exact case. Someone on the passenger's side popping out. But people who are exiting a vehicle by and large make the same quick decisions as they do as drivers. It's like I've got an opportunity I'm gonna pop out of the car here. And they're looking for cars, they are not even giving a cyclist consideration at all.

Keri Caffrey: Or they're on their phone while they do it.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, right, right, right. So you have some effective information about communicating with drivers and I was very fascinated with this. And I think our viewers will like it as well. So talk about some of the ways that we can effectively communicate with the driver.

Keri Caffrey: Okay, so you have the control and release which is my favorite. Here's a situation if you look at this image where the lane position, the initial lane position is really just a passive communication. Again, that distance to the lane line is closed up and it's saying you need to use some of the other lane. The next image over is we're approaching a blind curve and I don't want the motorist behind me to make a bad decision and interfere with oncoming traffic or worse create a problem for me. So I've got my arm out and I moved over to the lane line and that's just saying don't pass me. If you make it hard to pass and then you communicate with your arm out, they are very compliant. It's amazing, I have tons of video of a motorist wanting to pass and me sticking my arm out or whoever I was filming behind me sticking their arm out and the motorist just backing off. And then releasing them, I like to communicate that I'm gonna cooperate with the pass so that they understand that I'm not gonna like speed up or try to prevent them from passing. And so what I do is I usually will move over a little bit to the right and then I'll wave. I'll give 'em a little thank you and that says hey thanks for waiting and go on ahead. And I almost always if I look over when they're passing I see their hand up too, they're waving back to me. So even if they've had to wait a little while and we know that motorists don't like to sit behind cyclists and wait. But even if they had to wait a little while most of the time I will get a return thank you wave. It's amazing when you communicate and make yourself a human it makes people behave so much better.

Jim Dodson: So Serge has an interesting comment here, he said "I don't wanna have to rely on every single car occupant "I pass in my entire life not ever making a simple "and common error like opening the door without checking "for a cyclist."

Keri Caffrey: Right.

Jim Dodson: Which is the point that Keri is making Serge, thank you. So let's talk a minute about the, well let me give a heads up to when you were talking about communication and waving I have to give a shout out to Mark Scheifer at Gulf Coast Velo who's put together this Safe Cycling Coalition in southwest Florida. And one of the things they're doing is being proactive as cyclists about let's wave to people in advance. Let's acknowledge people with our hand. Let's give them a wave, let's give them a nod. A little bit more of the positive communication that we can make as cyclists on the road to lower the temperature of the potential animosity between cyclists and drivers.

Keri Caffrey: Exactly, do this when you approach a stop sign and there's other motorists there. Let them know that you're stopping first of all. Second of all, smile at them. Because people can't not smile back to you. That's another, it's like an automatic response. They will have to smile back to you. Their brains are gonna release oxytocin. They're gonna feel happy and they're gonna associate that with cyclists. So yeah absolutely, anytime you can reward somebody or you smile at them it makes them feel good. You want them to feel good with cyclists.

Jim Dodson: I mean we have thousands and thousands of cyclists on the road if we can all do this what a huge impact it would make. So Keri this has been great information and I much appreciate you taking the time to be with us this morning. Talk a little bit about your course opportunities. You've got a in-class course coming up in March. And you also have an online access to course material. Talk about that a minute.

Keri Caffrey: Yes, so we have an online anytime course. We have a free essentials course so you can go create a free membership and you can see the essentials course and that is all the basic safety stuff. We wanted that to be free, we don't want money to stand in the way of people getting that information. We have a basic course and a mastery course. And those are bundled in a Ride Awesome membership. And that really is, that membership is our way of making money to sustain our organization to provide the information that we provide. So the mastery course, the basic course is safety oriented. Lots of animations and videos, it's also the rules and some history and things like that. The mastery course is really the meat of the Cycling Savvy strategy. It's a very robust course. It probably has 30 or 40% more material than we can teach in a classroom because we're limited for time. Our in-person class we teach obviously the basic safety and strategy in the classroom and then we have a bike handling session and then we have a tour. And it's a tour of your city where we take people through all these features and give them the first-hand experience with them. We have a class coming up in Orlando in March, March 22, 23. And there will also be a class in Gainesville in March. Now that one if you have a UFID, if you're staff, faculty or student that is free. So you go through their sustainability department for that. We have scholarships, so if you have a financial need if you can't afford the cost of our course we have 50% scholarships for that. All you have to do is contact us, there's links all over the site for that. And we also have a scholarship fund. So if you want to donate to help other people get a scholarship you can do that on our site as well.

Jim Dodson: So Kati is running information on the screen about go to for this information. You can sign up for the courses, you can sign up for the online course. So Keri, this has been great, I very much appreciate it. I think this is information that we really need to get out to the cycling community. You and I have talked about maybe doing some other things to help promote this and I look forward to pursuing that conversation. Thank you very much for joining us today and I appreciate you and the work that you're doing for cycling of Florida.

Cycling Savvy Thank you Jim, I'm grateful for you having us on thanks so much.

Jim Dodson: Thank you, have a great day.

Cycling Savvy You too.

Jim Dodson: Bye.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.