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Old 08-10-06, 11:57 AM   #1
Ed Holland
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Don't honk, I'm just another vehicle turning left!

Well, after a few months of regular (commuter) cycling here in the USA, there seems to be one thing that consistently annoys impatient motorists: My desire to turn left when the occasion requires it.

The last few days, I have received admonishment from fellow road users, simply because I left the cycle lane to two or three lanes to reach the left turn lane at a traffic light. Well, tough, I'm there and I'm not going anywhere else. The issue is that often, I need to pick a gap in traffic to make my way over, perhaps 200 or 300 yards ahead of the intersection, otherwise there's no way to make it. Of course sometimes I'm caught by traffic before I get there, and sometimes I have negotiate a little traffic in each lane as I move over in stages.

This morning, as I look behind, signal and prepare to move, the first car slows & the driver gestures to allow me into the next lane. Another guy, completely unaffected by any of this, driving a car intended to compensate for his inadequacy, honks and makes unpleasant gestures. Why?

Yesterday, different place same deal except some eejit in a minivan decides to honk and shout just because one of the vehicles isn't box shaped with four whels. I blew him a big kiss

It's not a big gripe - none of this do I find remotely threatening, and I'm certainly not about to let this modify my riding style. I'd just like to ram their sorry, ignorant and impatient heads through their windscreens - or see this itinerant 1% of drivers change their ways.

Thank you,

Ed
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Old 08-10-06, 11:59 AM   #2
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they didn't 'smile and wave' and ask you for some grey poupon? must be your notions, Ed.......
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Old 08-10-06, 02:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Holland
It's not a big gripe - none of this do I find remotely threatening, and I'm certainly not about to let this modify my riding style. I'd just like to ram their sorry, ignorant and impatient heads through their windscreens - or see this itinerant 1% of drivers change their ways.
Ed
OK so presumably you are riding along in the proper lanes, being predictable, checking and signaling like any other responsible member of traffic would and should...

So the question that comes to my mind is did you give these guys (gals) enough room to make their moves? Did you give them a fair warning of your intentions.

Now if all of that is yes, presumably. Then what exactly is it that tweaks these folks... could it be that they don't understand that this is how we are supposed to turn... and that we have every legal right to be on the road in the same places they are?

Could it be that they only see bicycles as toys or as something that belongs on sidewalks? Is it possible that those motorists believe that bikes don't belong on "their" roads? Could it be that they have up until now simply tolerated bicycles and have done cyclists a "favor" by not hitting them?

I wonder if those driver know that cyclists have the same rights to the road as motorists?
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Old 08-10-06, 02:49 PM   #4
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Even peoiple who are generally friendly toward cyclists just don't get that bikes turn left like cars.
This is why i'm always extra careful when turning left, even with my left hand out, I am always looking for that person who's gonna try to pass me as I turn left. Ouch.
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Old 08-10-06, 02:57 PM   #5
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After more than a few folks taking offense to my negotiating for position in order to turn left, I've gotten in the habit of looking back and signalling several times and much sooner than I think necessary.

Sometimes when there many cars, I signal as often and as early as possible. Seems to cut down on me 'surprising' the anxious types. When you get a gap, take it assertively, but be damned sure you've been noticed. (or be quick w/ plan B)
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Old 08-10-06, 02:59 PM   #6
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Ed Holland, I totally share your frustration... it's annoying how many drivers get bothered by this. It happens on one lane roads too... I pull out in to the lane and wait there with my hand sticking out for the opposing traffic to pass... and what do I get but a bunch of impatient motorists honking and swerving around me.

If I were a car turning left, I'd block the whole lane and they wouldn't even be ABLE to go around me at all!!! They should be thanking me for taking up so little space when I need to make a left turn
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Old 08-10-06, 03:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by genec
OK so presumably you are riding along in the proper lanes, being predictable, checking and signaling like any other responsible member of traffic would and should...

So the question that comes to my mind is did you give these guys (gals) enough room to make their moves? Did you give them a fair warning of your intentions.
Absolutely yes. Check, signal and manouver if there is a clear spot. I'm not looking to make wild swerves out in front of traffic. In some cases, drivers are courteous and allow me to move into the lane on seeing my visual check and signal, just as many drivers do for another car seeking to move lanes. Fair play. In about equal measure to the most considerate drivers some seem to get 'tweaked' and lean on the horn. The rest don't bat an eyelid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
I wonder if those driver know that cyclists have the same rights to the road as motorists?
I think it is down to personality and conditioning. Some people get irate even at the contemplation of slowing, they are simply impatient. As a driver and cyclist, I see examples of similar behaviour towards motorists. As a cyclist, to turn left in these situations requires that I move left in good time - otherwise there is no chance to reach the turn lane safely. The result is I must travel in the "normal" outside lane(s) before reaching left turn lane. Despite being a fit & decently fast cyclist, I'm doing 20+ and motorists generally expect to travel at, or above the posted limits (35, 40 etc.) regardless of other traffic. What happens when they meet a cyclist on the main part of the roadway? To some I'm "in their way", to many others, not a problem.

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Old 08-10-06, 03:12 PM   #8
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nm, Jack, moxfyre

Couldn't agree more. Anticipation, predictable behaviour and declaring ones intention to other road users are everything.

Ed
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Old 08-10-06, 03:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ed Holland
I think it is down to personality and conditioning. Some people get irate even at the contemplation of slowing, they are simply impatient. As a driver and cyclist, I see examples of similar behaviour towards motorists.

Ed
Honestly I have too... some motorists should never have been given licenses... but then we don't do personality tests at the Department of Motor Vehicles now do we...

But that aside. I personally feel that far too many motorists just don't know that they are supposed to share the road with cyclists.

I talk to motorists all the time and one of the questions that I ask often is "do you know the rights of bicyclists on the road?" The answers I get back amaze me... I firmly believe that this lack of understanding is the basis for most of the bizarre treatment we get on the road. (assuming that 80% of the drivers simply treat us well... and only 20% give us some sort of bizzare treatment... of that, perhaps 2% are the ones that should not be driving anyway)

Oh and that "bizzare treatment" doesn't always mean aggressive... I have had motorists just "freeze" on me, not knowing that I was right where I was supposed to be.
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Old 08-10-06, 03:55 PM   #10
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I seem to have problems with lefts in 2 situations.

If I get into the left turning lane too soon, cars get angry at me when they pass on the right to get ahead of me into the turning lane. This is what bugs me the most. I've never had someone cut me off to get into a turning lane while driving a car

If I don't give the drivers in the 2 lanes before the turning lane enough room (that's enough room in their minds, not enough room according to the laws of physics and automobile design) they sometimes get pretty angry. I'm a bit more understanding here because it comes down to a difference of perceptions. being the guy in the lighter slower vehicle, I probably should yield to their perceptions lest I be forced to yield to their momentum. I encounter this more on 4+lane roads. I recently changed my commute to avoid riding on such roads because I wanted a longer commute. (5 miles was leaving me wanting a little more)
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Old 08-10-06, 04:03 PM   #11
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5 miles was leaving me wanting a little more
Good on ya... funny how there seems to be a "nice ride" length. I get the feeling I am "just getting started" at about 10 miles... (takes that long to work the kinks out of these ole bones)
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Old 08-10-06, 05:58 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Ed Holland
nm, Jack, moxfyre

Couldn't agree more. Anticipation, predictable behaviour and declaring ones intention to other road users are everything.

Ed
Ed,

Sounds like you're doing all the right things in a safe and predictable manner. Fact of the matter is that regardless of how responsible we are there's always that percentage of beligerant motorists with a bad attitude. Just keep in mind that it is they who shouldn't be there if they're going to drive with that attitude, not you - every safe co-operative interaction with a motorist confirms that.
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Old 08-10-06, 06:15 PM   #13
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Sounds like you're doing all the right things in a safe and predictable manner. Fact of the matter is that regardless of how responsible we are there's always that percentage of beligerant motorists with a bad attitude. Just keep in mind that it is they who shouldn't be there if they're going to drive with that attitude, not you - every safe co-operative interaction with a motorist confirms that.
Unfortunately, it is also "they" who can turn you into a pancake, while you can't do much more than ding their hood and make them wipe the blood off the windshield.

It'd be nice if ignoring agressive motorists would allow me to stop worrying about them
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Old 08-11-06, 07:28 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Holland
This morning, as I look behind, signal and prepare to move, the first car slows & the driver gestures to allow me into the next lane. Another guy, completely unaffected by any of this, driving a car intended to compensate for his inadequacy, honks and makes unpleasant gestures.
Despite the loud, obnoxious sorts, I'm grateful for the courteous, helpful drivers.

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Old 08-14-06, 08:01 PM   #15
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I live in Mountain View too Ed (unless you're in Oxford at the moment), but I never seem to have problems with motorists complaining about my left turns. I complain to them all the time when they do stupid things but never the other way around, I'm sure it'll come one day though. What streets or parts of Mountain View were you having people complain?

Maybe you're just catching guff from motorists from my crazy riding and ridiculing of motorists...wouldn't surprise me.
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Old 08-14-06, 08:35 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by moxfyre
Unfortunately, it is also "they" who can turn you into a pancake, while you can't do much more than ding their hood and make them wipe the blood off the windshield.

It'd be nice if ignoring agressive motorists would allow me to stop worrying about them
That's exactly why all the persons I know are too afraid and/or slow to ride with me in traffic.
They all have this fear of being turned into a "pancake" or a "road waffle".
Yet, another reason why I probably ride solo all the time.
As for dealing with these aggressive attitudes, I just tend to follow the riding style of the "Crotch-Rocketeers" on their Kawasaki Ninja's.
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Old 08-15-06, 06:06 PM   #17
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I live in Mountain View too Ed (unless you're in Oxford at the moment), but I never seem to have problems with motorists complaining about my left turns. I complain to them all the time when they do stupid things but never the other way around, I'm sure it'll come one day though. What streets or parts of Mountain View were you having people complain?

Maybe you're just catching guff from motorists from my crazy riding and ridiculing of motorists...wouldn't surprise me.
I'm in Mountain View most of the time now, as my job has moved from the UK. The main points of my route are from Alpine Road then taking Foothill to El Monte Ave. This was one of the aggro hot spots. Then I travel a block south on El Camino, turning left onto Shoreline. This turn has also provoked a response. Mind you, El Camino seems to be a headache for everyone... My trip is 14 or 17 miles depending on the exact route chosen to reach Alpine Rd.

In general, Like you, I find most traffic trouble free and often considerate. This makes premeditated ill behaviour stand out. There is, of course, the occasional dumb move - but there's not much that can be done about that...

Cheers,

Ed
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Old 08-15-06, 10:00 PM   #18
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If I can easily merge into a dedicated left turn lane, or if I am on a minor street with a low speed limit, I don't hesitate to make a vehicular left turn. However, there are plenty of situations, such as making a left turn from a prime arterial in heavy, fast traffic, in which I have no problem making a two-part turn.
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