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Filtering. An introduction
 

The biggest benefit of being on a bicycle is the fact that you are not delayed by traffic and congestion. At the opposite end of the scale is the potential risk to yourself or others if you ride through traffic in an unsafe manner.

All too often I hear about cyclists who say “I was squeezing down between the cars and the kerb, when I got knocked off”, or who say “I always ride on the pavement when the traffic gets heavy”, or worst of all who say “I jump the red lights so I don’t get caught in the traffic rush”. All of these are dangerous, wrong, and should NOT be repeated.

Here I hope to discuss a way of making very good progress through traffic, with 100% safety to the rider. Please feel free to digest this discussion, and then use it if you feel it is of benefit to you. Drop me an email if you have questions.

I’ll start by mentioning my commute to work the other day, and then we’ll break that down into more detail.

Step 1
Long queue (20+ cars) of traffic at a red light, I check over my shoulder to make sure it's clear, then pull out around the back of the queue and filter down the centre white line to near the front of the queue.
 
Step 2
As I approach the front, I carefully watch the lights (the sequence of which I know) and slow even more. I come almost to a halt 5 cars back from the line. As the lights are about to change I start accelerating. When they go green I am 1.5 cars back from the line and able to check the junction is clear. The front car pulls away, leaving a biggish gap behind it as the second car starts moving.
 
Step 3
I slip gently sideways into that gap and claim the whole road width (in preparation for the next junction) but then as the traffic settles down and I see the next junction is also clear I slip further sideways back to the normal cycling position on the road.
 
Step 4
I repeat this exercise at every junction I come to, and the net result is that I overtake hundreds of cars on my commute, never stop, never jump a red light and am the fastest person on the road. Sometimes I get the approach absolutely spot on and so go through the green light at 25 to 30mph (having checked it's clear) whilst at other times I filter back into the traffic a few cars back from the lights.

So, in detail, what exactly am I doing (and why)? Click on a step number to find out.

 

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