Riding Tips - White Lines

When we are trying to introduce students to the principles of Hazard Perception one of the thrusts that we use is the, "more paint more danger" principle. For those of you who haven't done any training, in short: Where there are no hazards you normally just get a lane line in the centre of the road. Where things get worse (junction etc) the line lengthens. When things get even worse (no visibility) the lines become solid. A simple principle which even if you don't know the theory will actually prick the sub conscious.

That was then and this, as they say, is now. Bucks, where I live, are now employing something known as "ladder hatching." This is the metre wide hatching in the centre of the road that goes for miles. They are putting this everywhere. In fact the A413 from Aylesbury to Buckingham (a great biking road) is now completely covered in this stuff, or solid white lines for its entire length. Its aim is to put people off overtaking.

Its not illegal to cross these lines. The Highway Code says, "If the area is bordered by a broken white line, you should not enter the area unless it is necessary and you can see that it is safe to do so." Necessary - well if it's necessary to overtake then its ok to enter them. The problem is the miles and miles of these things just bring the whole system into disrepute. They are on long straights, where even cars can overtake in safety. There is now less paint at junctions as the nearside line disappears to make a turning right slot. There is no extra warning of bends or hill crests. This is pitching traffic signs at Plankton level.

As time goes by and people see cars regularly overtaking on these lines (and we do in marked police cars and bikes) they too will have a go, probably choosing the wrong place; a junction or hill crest to perform this manoeuvre. You can't teach people how to safely overtake simply by trying to put them off doing it.

Yes, before anyone writes in I know they make a handy bike-overtaking lane! I'll just get down from this soap box now.

©Rapid Training - 2002



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