From Commute By Bike, I could not agree more.
Here’s the top five reasons why I started claiming the lane (and why you should to):
1: Drivers give you more room - The day I started claiming the lane is the day I stopped getting regularly buzzed to close by cars. As mentioned above, when you are all the way to the right then cars will almost always try to squeeze by. When you claim the lane, they are forced to slow down and wait for an opportunity to pass you which means they take plenty of room to do it.
2: You are more visible - Drivers are used to looking for other large, metal boxes. And they’re used to looking in the middle of the lane ahead of them. When you hug the side of the road you are often outside their field of vision. By claiming the lane you are much more likely to be seen by oncoming traffic.
3: You avoid dangerous debris and obstacles - the sides of roads are usually covered in debris. Stuff that can slash your tires and/or fly up and hurt you. There are also things like sewer grates and uneven shoulders to worry about. By claiming the lane you avoid all of this.
4: It’s an easier, more enjoyable ride - When stuck squeezing the side of the road or riding on the sidewalk, feelings of stress abound. Constantly watching the terrain ahead of you, swerving out of the way of obstacles, slowing down for pedestrians and many other things that you are forced to pay attention to are reduced when you claim the lane.
5: You are making a statement - While not as important as the previous safety related reasons, this has long term effect. On many roads bicycles are seen as an annoyance that shouldn’t be allowed in the road with other “real” vehicles. By claiming the lane you are making a statement that we belong on the road and have all the same rights as cars. read more here