Personally I’d Find A Different Route
This video appeared on Cyclelicio.us a few days ago. It shows that you’re far, far "safer" to take the lane on a dual carriageway than to ride along the hard shoulder. In so doing, the overtaking traffic gives you a much wider berth than if you’ve already marginalised yourself to the edge of the road:
There are several roads a little like that near here - The Coast Road, the A19 south of the Tyne Tunnel, the Spine Road to Ashington, etc. And I’ve pretty much decided that none of them is safe for cyclists. Few roads in the UK have actual hard shoulders (a kerb in town, or a ditch out of town seem to be the norm), except motorways. The speed limit on those is 70mph, and even if it weren’t ilegal to ride your bike along these roads, you’d be nuts to try.
Back to the point though. If you ride in the "Oh I’m sorry for daring to be on the road" position at the edge of a road with fast moving traffic, then you’re out of the direct line of sight. Drivers will either squeeze past without leaving their lane, or you run the risk that because you’re not right in front of them , they just won’t see you. This might not result in a direct hit, but a wing mirror across the buttocks at 60mph can still be pretty lethal.
If you assert yourself and take the lane (as a tax-payer, it’s your right after all), then you run the risk that drivers’ perception of speed is severely warped. Most of us are really bad at judging how fast we’re approaching a narrow, near-stationary object, and before the driver’s brain has had time to calculate the approach speed and relative vectors of their own and your motion, they’re driving over your rear wheel. This assumes of course that the driver is paying attention to the road ahead, and not fiddling with the stereo, shouting at the kids in the back, sending a really important text message, closing some really really important deal on the phone, or freaking out at the cup of scalding coffee they’ve just tipped into their lap. If any of these things are going on, then they won’t even see you before they hit you.
So you’re pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The only way to win these kinds of games is to choose not to play. No, I don’t mean take the car instead, I mean find an alternative route to cycle. In the UK, these are invariably a little less direct than the nice straight routes that are built for Important Motorists. But as a result they’re also a lot less convenient for motorists, and so tend to be quieter. Sometimes you can even hear the birds singing.
Of course, if we had a sensible government, maybe we’d end up with something like this, shown by David Hembrow in the Netherlands: