4. Yield Before Moving Laterally
A bicyclist must move laterally on the road when preparing for turns, when moving to a visible lane position or when avoiding hazards. It’s essential to LOOK BACK and to the side before any lateral movement in order to yield properly and avoid violating the right of way of other road users (§ 20-146 (d)(1)). Doing so without swerving requires some practice, but is easy to learn. To practice the LOOK BACK, ride on a straight line or marking in an empty parking lot or deserted road. Try to keep your tires on the line as you turn your head and twist your shoulders around and then straight. Be sure to practice turning in both directions for both leftward and rightward lateral movements. Start with both hands on the handlebars, then try combining the LOOK BACK with hand signals. Hand signals can help you communicate your intentions, but make sure you don’t sacrifice control of your bike.Remember not to leave your head turned too long, because conditions in front of you can change fast.
If a sufficient gap in traffic does not appear right away when you need to merge laterally, make a hand signal and look at the driver operating behind the space you’d like to merge into. The driver will often see your signal and let you in. If not, try the next driver behind the first one, and so on. Eventually someone will let you merge. In some situations traffic is just too dense or too fast for this to work exactly when you want it to. Merging sooner, when a large gap is available, rather than later, when you need to be in position already, can make this easier. Merging very early may puzzle some drivers who aren’t used to seeing cyclists operate away from the curb, but it makes you easier to predict and is much safer than trying to merge too late.
Don’t mindlessly follow the right edge of the road when the usable lane width fluctuates. This can lead you into a conflict an overtaking vehicle when the space narrows. Ride in a reasonably straight line, providing yourself enough usable pavement to maneuver safely. If you want to help other drivers pass by moving right where the pavement widens, be prepared to slow down and wait before you merge back into the path of traffic.