Taking the (Residential) Lane

Posted on May 10, 2012 ยท Posted in Commuting, Roads

The last mile or so of my commute home is through the residential portion of Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Like many residential neighborhoods in Seattle, the streets on Capitol Hill are remarkably narrow. How narrow? On many, the fact that parking is permitted on both sides means there is only one lane. If two cars are headed in opposite directions, one must dive into an open parking place or driveway to let the other pass. That narrow.

These streets are also notable for having uncontrolled intersections, many of which have “traffic calming circles” in the center.


(feel the calm?)

So, of course, I almost always take the lane when riding through my neighborhood. In fact, on many streets there’s really no other option unless you like being passed very closely while riding right in the door zone. Which I don’t.

While this doesn’t usually cause much consternation with drivers, I’ve had three occasions this week where I’ve been passed by drivers DESPITE my trying to take the lane (these were on some of the wider streets where two cars can pass abreast). In two of these cases, they passed in the half-block before getting to a “traffic calming” circle, forcing me to practically climb up their asses as they had to slow down to navigate around the circle.

While I still think taking the lane is the safest thing to do in most cases, it sucks when drivers won’t respect it – particularly when they pull off dangerous moves to get around.