I feel the need to explain to the good people why sometimes it is necessary for a cyclist to bike in the middle of the road. It all comes down to safety.
You average cycling commuter is very conscious of his or her safety. When you ride the same route every day you see traps that you know will eventually catch you and hurt you.
One such trap is the curves on High Street between the cinema and the campground. The road is not wide enough for a car to pass a bicycle. The car has to cross into the oncoming lane. The corners are blind on this stretch of High Street. It does not take a lot of imagination to picture the car passing you getting struck by another vehicle and crushing you into the retaining wall. When I ride this stretch of road I will ride in the middle of the road. I let them pass me as soon as it is safe for them to do so. My presence in their lane may cost them up to a minute of their time.
Another trap is Ward Street, heading downhill past City Hall. The dangers of this stretch are many-fold. The oncoming lane splits into two lanes at that point, breeding possible confusion. The downhill lane in the morning looks wider than it is on account of the empty parking spaces. Many people try to pass me when turning the corner onto Front Street. The lane is not wide enough to accommodate the maneuver When I get passed there the vehicle passing always gets too close for comfort. As a rule, I ride in the middle of the road at this point. I believe I delay traffic for no more than ten seconds.
When I ride in the middle of the road, I do not do so because I want to wantonly delay the vehicles behind me. I would much rather the car in front of me, no longer a hazard. I ride in the middle of the road so that a motorist cannot pass me, risking my life in order to save 30 seconds of his commute. And when some jerk starts honking and screaming at me to get out of the way, I smile, comforted in the knowledge that I avoided a dangerous trap. Then, when it’s safe to be passed, I flip ‘em the bird and get out of the way.
Dave R. Grevy, Nelson