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  1. #1
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    Right Turn on Red

    I seem to encounter this situation on a frequent-enough basis that I'd like to get the group's opinion on how to handle it. Here's the sitcheeation: An intersection with clear lines of sight in the direction of oncoming traffic, I've got a red light and am looking to make a right turn. A right turn on red is legal at this intersection. The road I'm turning onto has either a 1. WOL, 2. wide shoulder, or 3. bike lane. FWIW, it's usually a wide shoulder. In each case, how would you make the right turn?

    I started typing out options but then this turns into a poll and I'd rather it just be a discussion. In this situation, provided there are no intersections/driveways shortly after the intersection I'm pulling out of, I will make the right turn when there is a wide shoulder or safe bike lane even with a steady stream of oncoming traffic. With a WOL, I will wait for a gap in traffic before I pull out.

    Sorry for the lack of pictures. On of these days when I'm not in a rush to get to work or the bank, I'll have to snap some. They might make the discussion a little easier, or not.

  2. #2
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    I do a similar turn most mornings on my commute. I turn into the shoulder, then get up to speed and merge into traffic. I don't wait for a gap in traffic to turn.

  3. #3
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    DC, what's the speed limit on the streets you are turning onto? The two places I encounter this have a 40 or 45mph speed limit. I'm generally not in the traffic lane much on either road due to constant traffic so merging with traffic isn't really on my mind.

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    Senior Member iamtim's Avatar
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    Generally, the law about right turns on red lights goes something like this: you may make a right-hand turn on a red light when it is clear and reasonably safe to do so. I would think that a bicycle, which is treated as a vehicle with all rights and responsibilities as cars, would have to follow the same law.

    Now, if there's a bike lane you are turning in to, and there are no cyclists or cars in the bike lane, I would think that's "clear and reasonably safe". If there is no bike lane, and you are dealing with a WOL, I think that legally you'd be not following the law if you right-turn while traffic is going past.

    *shrug* Just my $.02, and remember IANAL.

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    I'd agree with iamtam. If the bike lane/shoulder is clear, the right turn is legal. Otherwise, you need a traffic gap in the sharable WOL.

    One problem could arise if you use both a car and a bike on that route. Your bike habit of turning when the bike lane is clear could be a problem. Then again, I'm a retrogrouch who never really accepted this newfangled "right turn on red" nonsense.

    Paul

  6. #6
    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    I seem to encounter this situation on a frequent-enough basis that I'd like to get the group's opinion on how to handle it. Here's the sitcheeation: An intersection with clear lines of sight in the direction of oncoming traffic, I've got a red light and am looking to make a right turn. A right turn on red is legal at this intersection. The road I'm turning onto has either a 1. WOL, 2. wide shoulder, or 3. bike lane. FWIW, it's usually a wide shoulder. In each case, how would you make the right turn?.
    If turning from a bike lane to a bike lane, I would do my turn whenever the bike lane seemed clear of traffic and it was safe to do so. If using the shoulder (something I rarely do, we don't have shoulders hereabouts) or a WOL I would wait for the traffic lane to be clear before turning.

  7. #7
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    In this situation, provided there are no intersections/driveways shortly after the intersection I'm pulling out of, I will make the right turn when there is a wide shoulder or safe bike lane even with a steady stream of oncoming traffic. With a WOL, I will wait for a gap in traffic before I pull out.
    Don't have any shoulders or bike lanes around here, but I do make right turns on to a few wide streets in town. I make the turns regardless of oncoming traffic, after looking to make sure that the motor vehicles are far enough to the left to make the turn safely. Never a problem here. If there were shoulders or bike lanes I'd do the same but probably only give a cursory look (if that) at the position of oncoming traffic.

  8. #8
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    Interesting to hear different sides on the WOL as that's the one instance where I question what I'm doing. Since I'm legally allowed to share the lane, if I can pull out without bothering the cars in that lane, then I'm still legal (in my opinion). I think the main reason I don't do that is drivers may think I'm pulling out in front of them and do something stupid (swerve, slam on their brakes, etc.). With the bike lane/shoulder, I feel as though they expect me to be there anyway so they don't question what I'm doing.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH

    One problem could arise if you use both a car and a bike on that route. Your bike habit of turning when the bike lane is clear could be a problem.

    Paul
    My bike habits have almost caused issues for me but not in that situation. There are two covered bridges I go over on the way to my parents, both marked as one lane bridges. On both you could tightly fit two cars (I've seen it done) and I can easily fit through on my bike with another car so I usually do. I've almost made the mistake in the car of not worry about yielding when another car is on the bridge.

  10. #10
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    I also do a right-turn, sometimes on red, onto a shoulder where the traffic on the road is 40 - 45 MPH.

    I wait for a gap, so I don't freak the on-coming motorist out due to the small reaction time. It's bad to have lateral motion in front of me (as a motorist) with little or no time to assess and react.

    If it were 30 MPH, I wouldn't bother.
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  11. #11
    accident-prone gboy's Avatar
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    What really frustrates me is motorists who think they can make a right-turn before I can, even though i signal my attention beforehand. They pass me and then stop to make a proper right-turn, while I could have already done so while not slowing anyone down.

  12. #12
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    ...I will make the right turn when there is a wide shoulder or safe bike lane even with a steady stream of oncoming traffic. With a WOL, I will wait for a gap in traffic before I pull out.
    Sounds ok to me. The main thing is using your judgement for each situation.

    I say that because I have a right-on-red scenario with a bike lane on my right, and even some space to the right of the bike lane. But sometimes, believe it or not, motorists cross over the intersection into the bike lane. In that case, it makes it risky.
    No worries

  13. #13
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gboy
    What really frustrates me is motorists who think they can make a right-turn before I can, even though i signal my attention beforehand. They pass me and then stop to make a proper right-turn, while I could have already done so while not slowing anyone down.
    I always make right turns from the middle of the lane so cars never squeeze me. I also don't always turn into the bike lane or shoulder. Makes for much more comfortable right turns, not worring about cars behind squeezing you.

    Al

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    I always make right turns from the middle of the lane so cars never squeeze me. I also don't always turn into the bike lane or shoulder. Makes for much more comfortable right turns, not worring about cars behind squeezing you.

    Al
    I get "squeezed" quite often when approaching stop signs. I'm always in the middle of the lane but that doesn't seem to help. The driver will attempt to pass and realize they won't make it around me but they either move over anyway or just stop in the oncoming traffic lane. In the latter case, they'll pull away quickly, moving back into the right lane. I just stop and wait for them to go. I've tried directing traffic with hand signals in these cases but it hasn't seemed to help. Just this morning I had my hand out as a guy pulled around me approaching a stop sign. Apparently he didn't see the car coming in the opposite direction which had to stop (in addition to me having to slow way down) to allow the passing driver to get back into the right lane in front of me. I will never understand this.

  15. #15
    Señior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I wait for a gap to avoid spooking the drivers. From their point of view, they don't know that you're going to stay to the right as you approach their lane. I don't want to cause them to veer towards the oncoming lane.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
    I wait for a gap to avoid spooking the drivers. From their point of view, they don't know that you're going to stay to the right as you approach their lane. I don't want to cause them to veer towards the oncoming lane.
    --- When I am driving and I see a cyclist turning from the street on the right, I watch him like a hawk to make sure he does not wobble or veer into my lane.
    So when I am on my bike, in order to avoid spooking the oncoming motorists, I make the turn slowly and deliberately and make eye contact with the oncoming driver.
    "The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well." Ivan Illich ('Energy and Equity')1974

  17. #17
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    If it's a long red light, you could always step off the bike, walk a few feet around the corner on the sidewalk, place your bike back on the right edge of the street, mount up, and start riding. The cars coming by can already see you, and know you'll be on the right side of the lane. They will act the same as if you were going through the intersection with them in a wide lane.
    I've done this at long lights where there's no right turn on red.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  18. #18
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I always wait for a gap, even if just a small one. A lot of motorists fear cyclists. Even if there's no way I'd be making the turn into their path, many are afraid I might. I think it's harder for them to read whether we're going straight or turning sometimes.

    So I try to time it so that they won't be afraid. I would do the same whether there's a bike lane, WOL or whatever (in my town the bike lanes are gone by the time you reach the intersection.)
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  19. #19
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    (in my town the bike lanes are gone by the time you reach the intersection.)
    No wonder you like them so much.

    I just go with the flow of traffic. I won't turn into a NOL or WOL if cars are coming in the same lane. If there is a BL I don't unless there is somewhat of a gap, most often I don't turn into the BL - debris, rough around the corner, but mainly if a car is coming you never know if it is going to right turn into the driveway that is right after the intersection you are turning from. Where I ride every intersection has driveways (for gas station, for shopping center) on every corner.

    Another good reason not to turn into BL at night is there can be a shadow cyclist in the BL, I turned right in front of one once and they had to slow hard. I did not see them at all even with me looking while fully stopped, they had a very small dim front light aimed at ground and car lights overwhelming my vision. I told them they needed a new light and (this was in Nov.) they said they knew and they were getting one for Christmas.

    Al

  20. #20
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    As I was cycling home yesterday a motorcyclist made a right turn into the BL ahead of me, got up to speed and merged into traffic. A lot of times there is no gap so I understand why they did this.

    Al

  21. #21
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    FWIW, I usually wait for something of a gap, even if it is bike lane to bike lane. Right turns on red are arguably more dangerous than left turns, since the cyclist is not crossing traffic, but merging into it, so the danger of a collision stays with the cyclist longer.

    Now, if it were a steady stream of traffic and wide shoulders/WOL's/BL's, I would break with my principle and make the turn regardless of traffic concerns.

    I encounter a similar dilemma at 'T' type intersections, where I have a red on the top of the 'T', with a clear bike lane ahead. I see absolutely no issue with running the red because there will be no cars crossing my path. However, I am unclear on the legality of this (actually, I kind of think it is illegal), but at the same time, it is one of those laws which does not make sense. So every time I am in this situation I am very tempted to run the red.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  22. #22
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    I encounter a similar dilemma at 'T' type intersections, where I have a red on the top of the 'T', with a clear bike lane ahead. I see absolutely no issue with running the red because there will be no cars crossing my path. However, I am unclear on the legality of this (actually, I kind of think it is illegal), but at the same time, it is one of those laws which does not make sense. So every time I am in this situation I am very tempted to run the red.
    I understand the dilemma. The other factor that comes into play is pedestians (and cyclists riding on sidewalk/x-walk) who may be crossing the top of T bike lane from either side and either direction of the stem of the T.

    Al

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff

    I encounter a similar dilemma at 'T' type intersections, where I have a red on the top of the 'T', with a clear bike lane ahead. I see absolutely no issue with running the red because there will be no cars crossing my path. However, I am unclear on the legality of this (actually, I kind of think it is illegal), but at the same time, it is one of those laws which does not make sense. So every time I am in this situation I am very tempted to run the red.
    I forgot to bring that situation up in my original post. I was actually b!tched out by a driver for for doing just that, except it was a stop sign and not a red light. I was turning off a narrow back road onto a more major road with a bike lane in addition to a shoulder. His comment was "If you're going to slow down traffic, at least obey the stop sign." Meanwhile, he ran it right behind me Honestly, my main reason for not stopping there is that I'm usually crawling behind cars waiting at the same stop sign (like I was in the situation I just described) and it's on a pretty steep hill. If I have to put a foot down, getting moving again is a slow process.

  24. #24
    Senior Member filtersweep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamtim
    Generally, the law about right turns on red lights goes something like this: you may make a right-hand turn on a red light when it is clear and reasonably safe to do so. I would think that a bicycle, which is treated as a vehicle with all rights and responsibilities as cars, would have to follow the same law.

    Now, if there's a bike lane you are turning in to, and there are no cyclists or cars in the bike lane, I would think that's "clear and reasonably safe". If there is no bike lane, and you are dealing with a WOL, I think that legally you'd be not following the law if you right-turn while traffic is going past.

    *shrug* Just my $.02, and remember IANAL.
    Sure, but when I am driving, it freaks me out when bikes do this as I approach- I assume they are running the light and that I'll t-bone them...

  25. #25
    Senior Member LCI_Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    I encounter a similar dilemma at 'T' type intersections, where I have a red on the top of the 'T', with a clear bike lane ahead. I see absolutely no issue with running the red because there will be no cars crossing my path. However, I am unclear on the legality of this (actually, I kind of think it is illegal), but at the same time, it is one of those laws which does not make sense. So every time I am in this situation I am very tempted to run the red.
    My take on California law is that this is illegal, even if the bike lane is unbroken by a crosswalk or limit line.

    Don't forget there could be other cyclists making the left turn from the cross street into the bike lane. There's an intersection like this in my area, but I'm usually approaching from the bottom of the "T" and making a left turn. I have almost been, ummm, "T-boned", by cyclists who have run the red in the situation you describe.
    -- I speak for myself only, not LAB or any other organization of which I am a member.

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