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View Poll Results: Turning left in intersection with a bike lane for through cyclists, what do you do?

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89. You may not vote on this poll
  • Sit in the bike lane waiting for traffic on my left (and opposing) to clear.

    7 7.87%
  • Leave the bike lane before the intersection and merge to a vehicular left-turn position

    83 93.26%
  • Continue through, turn 90 degrees at the opposite corner, and go straight from there

    15 16.85%
  • My usual choice is not listed.

    4 4.49%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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  1. #1
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Question for those who use and like BL's

    A simple poll plus more discussion questions. Answer either or both ways as you prefer. Note that you can check more than one answer, if your answer is that it depends.

    Almost all bike lanes are only indended for directing THROUGH cyclists through an intersection. In the presence of a bike lane, then, what is the expectation for cyclists going some other direction, especially turning left? That's the poll question. (I would merge to a vehicular left-turn position.) A follow-up question is, how are cyclists educated about this - osmosis, word of mouth, efforts by advocacy groups and/or city governments, all of the above, others? How about motorists?

    It occurred to me recently that back before I was a bike commuter, at which time I was at most only an infrequent recreational cyclist on neighborhood streets, I had never encountered a bike lane on my bike. I remember that one of the the first times I encountered one as a car driver, I found one intersection to be extremely confusing, where it became dashed and went out into the road to the left of a right-turn only lane. Could that be safe? What if the cyclist really wanted to turn right? Or left? Were they allowed to leave the bike lane to do so? Was I, the car driver, allowed to go through it to turn right? What if I, the car driver, wanted to turn right from a general travel lane that had a bike lane on its right? What am I supposed to do?

    Since I've became a largely vehicular commuting cyclist, I am no longer able to imagine how a beginning cyclist would learn the answers to these questions in an area where there are a lot of bike lanes. Or how motorists in those places learn, since I am not in on of those places. Hence this thread.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  2. #2
    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    I voted first two, because I will not turn out into traffic if it's busy enough, and I will stop and wait in the bike lane till traffic has cleared up enough for me to get over the two lanes I need to for most left hand turns around here.

    However I usually just merge into traffic lanes as long as it's safe.

  3. #3
    Je pose, donc je suis. gcl8a's Avatar
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    I picked all three, not to be annoying, but because that's what happens around here.

    Legally, in Denmark, you're supposed to wait for traffic to pass before you turn left. On pretty much any road -- regardless of bike lanes.

    At intersections with traffic lights, you're supposed to do the "L" turn -- go through, stop, and wait for the green.

    Without traffic lights, you're supposed to wait for traffic to clear. There are several places in town where there are little 10 foot long "bike lanes" on the right hand side of the road with left pointing arrows in them -- little waiting areas for left turners. I should get a picture of one.

    It all drives me nuts, so often I will ignore the rules and take the lane. I often get honked at for it. Someday, I'll probably get deported for my behavior.

    (Edit: I don't know that I qualify as "liking" bike lanes, but I tolerate them in the overall scheme of things)
    Last edited by gcl8a; 09-20-07 at 01:19 AM.

  4. #4
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Since I don't qualify as "use and like BL's", I'm not voting in the poll. I ride in them when it's safe and reasonable to do so, but I can't honestly say I like bike lanes.

    If I did vote, I would vote, "Leave the bike lane before the intersection and merge to a vehicular left-turn position". Of course, that implies that I would look back and signal/negotiate as required before moving left.

  5. #5
    genec genec's Avatar
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    I usually leave the lane and merge over, but I have on rare occasion used the L 90 turn trick... especially if I am moving very slowly relative to the rest of traffic.

  6. #6
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Greater than 90% of the time I merge left safely as HH described into the vehicular LTL.

    However under certain conditions I will make a right turn, then a u-turn and line up behind vehicular thru traffic. This morning was such a condition as the sun was very low and looking back behind me (with both mirror and turning head) I could not clearly see due to the intense sun/glare. That made it hard to safely negotiate a merge.

    One thing I would never do (in addtion to turning left from right position) is go thru, then turn 90deg as this can put one in a sudden dangerous condition as the light changes and there is often not any room ahead of lead car to position oneself.

    Al

  7. #7
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    To clarify that first option (too bad it won't let me edit the poll options), I mean "waiting for same-way motor traffic passing you on your left (and opposing traffic) to clear".
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  8. #8
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
    To clarify that first option (too bad it won't let me edit the poll options), I mean "waiting for same-way motor traffic passing you on your left (and opposing traffic) to clear".
    Here is a video of a cyclist doing what I think you are describing:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkikKJ28SJU

    One thing you can't fully see is that the pedestrian paused in the x-walk before stepping on sidewalk to let them thru.

    Al

  9. #9
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Leave the lane and merge over, for me.
    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

  10. #10
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    Here is a video of a cyclist doing what I think you are describing:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkikKJ28SJU

    One thing you can't fully see is that the pedestrian paused in the x-walk before stepping on sidewalk to let them thru.

    Al
    Pretty much. There was no bike lane that I saw, but if there had been one there, that's what I mean. Also, I didn't see any through traffic between you and him, only the left-turners you were behind. Maybe there had been through traffic that finished going through before you turned the camera on, and he waited for it? If so, and there had been a bike lane, that's what I mean.

    [edit after watching it again: I see. The light was red, and he rushed the green to do his maneuver. It worked well in this case because there WAS no through traffic next to him.]

    But the same question can also apply to a bike lane to the left of a right-turn only lane in a channelized intersection. That would put the cyclist who waits in the manner your video shows even more in the middle of the intersection, unless they waited to even enter the intersection until the traffic was clear. In that case, they might (a) miss the light altogether, or (b) hold up through cyclists behind them.

    P.S. You gotta work on those squeaky brakes, man! They sound like mine!!
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  11. #11
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Can someone address my second set of questions? (Sorry I'm such a verbose poster.)

    Basically: How are cyclists expected to know how to take turns in bike-laned intersections? How are motorists to know what to expect them to do?
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  12. #12
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
    Can someone address my second set of questions? (Sorry I'm such a verbose poster.)

    Basically: How are cyclists expected to know how to take turns in bike-laned intersections? How are motorists to know what to expect them to do?
    You are asking questions that cannot be answered. There is no debate about that. The debate is about whether it matters that these questions cannot be answered, and, if so, how much. The bike lane supporters seem to think it doesn't matter, or doesn't matter much.

    Those of us who think it matters, and matters significantly, don't like bike lanes, largely because of this.

  13. #13
    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
    Can someone address my second set of questions? (Sorry I'm such a verbose poster.)

    Basically: How are cyclists expected to know how to take turns in bike-laned intersections? How are motorists to know what to expect them to do?
    Just follow the rules of the road. Its not rocket science. The only reason bike lanes confuse some motorisst and cyclists is that most people are completely ignorant of traffic law.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
    Can someone address my second set of questions? (Sorry I'm such a verbose poster.)

    Basically: How are cyclists expected to know how to take turns in bike-laned intersections? How are motorists to know what to expect them to do?
    Cyclists aren't expected to "know what to do" because there is no one definitive answer to your question. Every cyclists will do what makes sense to them and is comfortable to them. Some (alot) of cyclists are not comfortable being out in the traffic lane. There's nothing wrong with that either, so they would likely not merge into traffic but rather cross the intersection then turn left onto the perpendicular bike lane and procede when clear. Someone like me would negotiate a lane merge and take my place in the line of left turning vehicles.
    This is what makes bike lanes somewhat of a good thing, it gives people options. We need options, we are human afterall.

    as for "how do motorists know what to expect" that can only be answered assuming that cyclists obey the laws. If the cyclist is signaling and indicating with his motions that he is about to merge left, the motorist should assume that they cyclist is about to merge and take proper action. If there is no signal or indication the motorist should assume that the cyclist is going through the intersection.
    It's like asking how do motorists know what to expect from other motorists. The fact is, so long as everyone obeys the laws, there should be no problem. But this is not always the case, wether it be motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, or politics.

    I don't vote in polls, but if I did vote in this one I would chose the option that gives me the most options, so I would take any of the above steps depending upon how I felt at the time and which would be the fastest for me assuming I was pressed for time. If you time it right, you can cross the intersection and turn left and catch the next light perfectly and never have to "wait" at all, and still be perfectly legal and safe.

  15. #15
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    You are asking questions that cannot be answered. There is no debate about that. The debate is about whether it matters that these questions cannot be answered, and, if so, how much. The bike lane supporters seem to think it doesn't matter, or doesn't matter much.

    Those of us who think it matters, and matters significantly, don't like bike lanes, largely because of this.
    And then there are manuals like this that the general public is exposed to when they attempt to get a driver's license.



    Of course that cycling public may not get this data as they are not required to get a license... and that is where cycle training is important.

    Now getting all cyclists and motorists to use and regard this method is another story all together.

  16. #16
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
    Can someone address my second set of questions? (Sorry I'm such a verbose poster.)

    Basically: How are cyclists expected to know how to take turns in bike-laned intersections? How are motorists to know what to expect them to do?
    Read the CA driver's handbook, or the handbook for your state...

    The example in the CA driver's handbook looks like this:


  17. #17
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
    Pretty much. There was no bike lane that I saw, but if there had been one there, that's what I mean. Also, I didn't see any through traffic between you and him, only the left-turners you were behind. Maybe there had been through traffic that finished going through before you turned the camera on, and he waited for it? If so, and there had been a bike lane, that's what I mean.

    [edit after watching it again: I see. The light was red, and he rushed the green to do his maneuver. It worked well in this case because there WAS no through traffic next to him.]

    But the same question can also apply to a bike lane to the left of a right-turn only lane in a channelized intersection. That would put the cyclist who waits in the manner your video shows even more in the middle of the intersection, unless they waited to even enter the intersection until the traffic was clear. In that case, they might (a) miss the light altogether, or (b) hold up through cyclists behind them.

    P.S. You gotta work on those squeaky brakes, man! They sound like mine!!
    You are right, there is not a bike lane on this 25mph road entering a 45mph arterial. There is however a post mounted on the curb with a button facing the street that says ~"Press for Bicycle Crossing" It has the similar effect as a BL at an intersection to position cyclist to the far right independent of their desired destination. I have found that in all cases my bicycle (and in a few case I have tested by lone alumimum front wheel) activates the inductive loops so I have never had the need to use this button found at many intersections in Tempe.

    There was also no other thru traffic at the time, but I also noted the cyclist never once looked back when making the left crossing turn.

    As to the brakes, that is on my Lemond Poprad with Avid Shorty 4 cantiliever brake, notorious for having fork shudder and/or brake squeal even when set up perfectly. After over a year of trying to fix it with the very compentent LBS, Lemond send me a replacement carbon folk which has helped a lot, but still not perfect. I rarely ride this bike anymore.

    Al
    Last edited by noisebeam; 09-19-07 at 06:48 PM.

  18. #18
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    how do bicyclists learn to transit intersections without bike lanes? can a bicyclist that understands how to ride on the roads use a bike lane to spool up to travel straight thru the intersection?

    Can Helemt Head, Noisebeam, or Sgoodri use bike lanes?

    I like Gene's pictures, and could easily be modified to include bike facilities.

    there are some bike laned roadways that provide space approaching the intersections for left turning bikes in Seattle, with painted turn arrows in the bike boxes.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  19. #19
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Read the CA driver's handbook, or the handbook for your state...

    The example in the CA driver's handbook looks like this:

    Hey, I LIKE that picture. It tells the cyclist to just pull right out in front of that car to make a left turn, or go around a car to the left then cut across in front of it to make a right turn. No wonder cyclists and drivers have no idea what's going on.

    I chose the second and third answer in the poll. I do it the same as if there were no bike lane. IN heavy traffic just make the left turn by going through the light and stopping to wait for the green for cross traffic.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  20. #20
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
    Can someone address my second set of questions? (Sorry I'm such a verbose poster.)

    Basically: How are cyclists expected to know how to take turns in bike-laned intersections? How are motorists to know what to expect them to do?
    repetition, law, familiarity, and education (learning on the road)

    what ever did the first drivers who encountered a left turn only lane do? did they plow right through because that arrow said so?

    what ever did the first drivers who encountered an HOV lane do? or a bus only lane? or a right turn on red? or a no turn on red?

    i'll concede that some BLs can be unsafe - but so can car lanes! they tend to get fixed over time, and we tend to think that the motor vehicle traffic markings are perfect and have always been so. if something doesn't work it is in our power to change it... and its also in our power to adapt to changes in markings and control devices.


    i think it would go a long way to the safety of all road users to have a comprehensive educational program in order to obtain a motor vehicle license. understanding the rights of all users of the public rights of ways would help ease the friction between bus, car, truck, ped, bike, and buggy.

    we raise the limit on drinking, but we give the keys to land missile cars and SUVs to 16 year olds with scant real world training.

  21. #21
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    And then there are manuals like this that the general public is exposed to when they attempt to get a driver's license.



    Of course that cycling public may not get this data as they are not required to get a license... and that is where cycle training is important.

    Now getting all cyclists and motorists to use and regard this method is another story all together.
    I hope you're kidding. That diagram is horrible. It makes it seem like the left-turning cyclist shouldn't start merging left until he is 1-2 car lengths from the intersection!

  22. #22
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    bleaugh bleaugh. HH must have a better idea.....much better to have no instruction or education phamplets for either drivers or bicyclists. WAIT! that intersection has no signal....and the cars have no drivers!

    GHOST CARS ARE DANGEROUS!
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  23. #23
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patc View Post
    Just follow the rules of the road. Its not rocket science. The only reason bike lanes confuse some motorist and cyclists is that most people are completely ignorant of traffic law.
    However ignorant most people are of traffic law, they understand the underlying principles well enough to operate relatively safely and efficiently the vast majority of the time when they are operating motor vehicles. I, for one, have driven almost half a million miles in my life and have yet to be involved in a crash.

    What the vast majority doesn't understand is how those same traffic principles apply to bicyclists in traffic. And bike lanes add to the confusion by encouraging behavior contrary to those principles by their very nature, especially at intersections without right only lanes. At such intersections they encourage through and left-turning cyclists to keep too far right (see Gene's diagram above for another example of encouraging left-turning cyclists to keep too far right for too long), and right turning motorists to keep too far left.

  24. #24
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    WOW! that's a lot of driving, Head! Half a mil? Are you SURE you've commuted by bicycle?

    watch out for cars like the ones in the CA drivers handbook without drivers, people!

    not all bike lanes encourage those behaviors, HH.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    bleaugh bleaugh. HH must have a better idea.....much better to have no instruction or education phamplets for either drivers or bicyclists. WAIT! that intersection has no signal....and the cars have no drivers!

    GHOST CARS ARE DANGEROUS!
    No, it would be much better to have diagrams that showed proper behavior for bicyclists, such as those produced by the League of American Bicyclists.

    There is a similar diagram on p. 21 in the LAB Road 1 manual which also arguably shows the left turning cyclists starting his merge early, but the lack of cars in the diagram at that part of the intersection makes it not appear nearly as close as in the one that Gene posted, and there is a note next to the left-turning cyclist that clearly states:

    Make your move well
    before the intersection.

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