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Old 01-05-08, 04:01 AM   #1
NaBlade
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Where would you place yourself in this situation?

Need your opinion on this. I was on a 4-lane street coming up to a major intersection (2 lanes going each direction). I normally avoid busy streets but got caught on this one. The area was totally unfamiliar to me, not having ridden it.

About 200 yards from the intersection, I saw that the street widened to accomodate a new 3rd lane on the right that was an exclusive right-turn-only lane (road was painted with arrow). Needing to go straight through the intersection, I positioned myself in the center lane but did not take control of it. As I neared the intersection (about 25 yards away), I realized to my dismay that the lane I was in, which was now a center lane, was BOTH a through-lane and a right-turn lane, as indicated by signs hanging over each lane above the intersection.

Shoulder-checking a few times, I maintained my position through the intersection in the middle lane. One car narrowly passed within inches of me and almost hooked me as he made his right turn from the center lane. By this time I was officially in the intersection but still inside the area if you imagined where the center lane turns right and connects to the center lane of the cross street. Almost immediately, another car behind honked continuously at me, obviously wanting to make a right turn. He could not and I made it across, but I knew I made a mistake somewhere. Should I have controlled the center lane at the time I saw the lane markers? In the future (knowing what the center lane is now), should I slide over to the left most lane, which is an exclusive through-traffic-only lane? What else could I have done?
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Old 01-05-08, 04:34 AM   #2
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(I'm waving my hands around, trying to visualize this... )

How fast was the traffic? Was the second car (the one that got blocked) unable to use the far right turning lane?

I might've just stuck by the curb and waited at the corner -- sometimes the multiple turning lanes are too unpredictable to take easily, especially if traffic speeds are significantly higher than I can ride and if I'm unfamiliar with the area. I'm less impatient when I'm on a bike than when I'm in a car, so I don't mind waiting through a cycle.

A crazier option would've been to move to the left side of the center/thru lane, which would have given that second car some room to pass on your right and make its turn. That way, in principle, you would've "taken" the through-lane portion of that lane. It's how I stay out of right hooks on the busier (and slower) streets in my urban neighborhood.
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Old 01-05-08, 05:13 AM   #3
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I suggest positioning yourself in the center of the right most through lane, the through/right turn lane. I would take that position, or even to the left of that, to mitigate right hooks. This position will also help mitigate left hooks by putting you in a position more visible to oncoming traffic.

The heavier the traffic, the earlier you will have to negotiate for and move to this position.

Unfamiliar multilane intersections can be confusing. I have been known to put myself in a bad position in unfamiliar intersections both in the car and on a bike. Not something to get worked up about. Everybody does it.

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Old 01-05-08, 06:02 AM   #4
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Take the left mixed turn/straight lane. That's about the only safe thing to do. Prevents the hook, puts you in the right place on the far side of the intersection.
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Old 01-05-08, 06:49 AM   #5
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I have this exact situation in a few places on my commute, the only
difference is Im ready for it. Fortunately for me, my lanes are pretty wide
so I ride a little over (4" to the left)of the center line between the right turn lane
and straight thru lane. Cars can get by me on either side. I also look left and
right as a communication to them I am aware they are around and I will not
veer into either lane. As for the angry motorist beepage......thats just to be
expected, after all you probably made that guy actually lift his foot to place
on the brake pedal thereby forcing him to arrive at the next red lite 50' away
1.5 seconds later than he would have.
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Old 01-05-08, 08:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaBlade View Post
Need your opinion on this. I was on a 4-lane street coming up to a major intersection (2 lanes going each direction). I normally avoid busy streets but got caught on this one. The area was totally unfamiliar to me, not having ridden it.

About 200 yards from the intersection, I saw that the street widened to accomodate a new 3rd lane on the right that was an exclusive right-turn-only lane (road was painted with arrow). Needing to go straight through the intersection, I positioned myself in the center lane but did not take control of it. As I neared the intersection (about 25 yards away), I realized to my dismay that the lane I was in, which was now a center lane, was BOTH a through-lane and a right-turn lane, as indicated by signs hanging over each lane above the intersection.

Shoulder-checking a few times, I maintained my position through the intersection in the middle lane. One car narrowly passed within inches of me and almost hooked me as he made his right turn from the center lane. By this time I was officially in the intersection but still inside the area if you imagined where the center lane turns right and connects to the center lane of the cross street. Almost immediately, another car behind honked continuously at me, obviously wanting to make a right turn. He could not and I made it across, but I knew I made a mistake somewhere. Should I have controlled the center lane at the time I saw the lane markers? In the future (knowing what the center lane is now), should I slide over to the left most lane, which is an exclusive through-traffic-only lane? What else could I have done?
As soon as you realized it was a straight and right lane, you should have signaled left and made your way to the left tire track of that lane... however, no doubt motorists may still be confused by your move as few cyclists ride in a true vehicular manner.
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Old 01-05-08, 08:18 AM   #7
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I'd ride in the thru lane just as you did, but I'd be in the middle of the right wheel track, and the closer I get to the intersection the more towards the center of the lane I'd move, blocking the way of possible right hooks. UNLESS I was moving faster than traffic, then I'd move to the left lane to pass. That is assuming a green light. IF it was a red light I'd lane split to the front of the line.
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Old 01-05-08, 09:26 AM   #8
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To avoid being right-hooked, you have only two rational choices, both of which have been voiced above.
1) Wait curbside for a break in traffic. In fast-moving heavy traffic, this is a tenable last resort for more timid or less physically self-confident cyclists, such as I. Admittedly, it is neither vehicular nor "effective," and it does pay undue homage to the concept of cyclist inferiority.
2) Take the center, if not the left tire track, of the right-or-through lane. This works best in lower-speed traffic.

I generally dislike the all-too-common optional through-or-turn lanes on high-speed roads because through motorists tend to move much faster than turning motorists, and because bicyclists cannot safely lane-split, as I sometimes do between a through-only lane and a right-turn-only lane.
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Old 01-05-08, 09:29 AM   #9
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To avoid being right-hooked, you have only two rational choices, both of which have been voiced above.
1) Wait curbside for a break in traffic. In fast-moving heavy traffic, this is a tenable last resort for more timid or less physically self-confident cyclists, such as I. Admittedly, it is neither vehicular nor "effective," and it does pay undue homage to the concept of cyclist inferiority.
2) Take the center, if not the left tire track, of the right-or-through lane. This works best in lower-speed traffic.

I generally dislike the all-too-common optional through-or-turn lanes on high-speed roads because through motorists tend to move much faster than turning motorists, and because bicyclists cannot safely lane-split, as I sometimes do between a through-only lane and a right-turn-only lane.
Yes, these types of turns are clearly a manifestation of auto centric road engineering. Coupled with high speeds and worse, heavy traffic, such situations are dicey indeed.
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Old 01-05-08, 09:31 AM   #10
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Left-of-center of the middle lane.
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Old 01-05-08, 07:09 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the informative replies. All three lanes were filled with cars bumper-to-bumper moving just a little bit faster than me.

So everyone agreed that I should have moved more into the middle of the center mixed right/through lane. The only differences are where to position myself: either right-tire track, middle, or left-tire track). Thus, my mistake was that I stayed where I was, and allowing that one car to pass me and potentially right-hook me. I will keep this in mind for next time.

As for stopping and waiting at the curb by the right-turn-only lane, that would only leave me the option of using the crosswalk as a pedestrian since the right-turn-only lane was filled with cars. That's not too bad of an option, if the alternative is a right-hook.
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Old 01-05-08, 07:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E View Post
To avoid being right-hooked, you have only two rational choices, both of which have been voiced above.
1) Wait curbside for a break in traffic. In fast-moving heavy traffic, this is a tenable last resort for more timid or less physically self-confident cyclists, such as I. Admittedly, it is neither vehicular nor "effective," and it does pay undue homage to the concept of cyclist inferiority.
2) Take the center, if not the left tire track, of the right-or-through lane. This works best in lower-speed traffic.

I generally dislike the all-too-common optional through-or-turn lanes on high-speed roads because through motorists tend to move much faster than turning motorists, and because bicyclists cannot safely lane-split, as I sometimes do between a through-only lane and a right-turn-only lane.
Don't beleive that 'cyclist inferiority' BS you read hereabouts from armchair experts. There's nothing inferior about making decisions based on your safety and knowing your personal limits, quite the opposite in fact.
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Old 01-05-08, 07:49 PM   #13
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Don't beleive that 'cyclist inferiority' BS you read hereabouts from armchair experts. There's nothing inferior about making decisions based on your safety and knowing your personal limits, quite the opposite in fact.
I stay out of peoples way and dont feel inferior at all......
Superior actually. As I pass long lines of cars in the lanes,
roads, sidewalk, gutter, hop medians, jump kerbs etc Im quite
happy that there are no restraints, self imposed or otherwise
on my chosen mode of travel. Conversely, if I need to move
over or a car passes me it doesnt require me to up my meds, either.
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Old 01-05-08, 08:50 PM   #14
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You have to take the lane in this situation, center or left. Right side of the lane will surely result in a hook.
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Old 01-05-08, 10:15 PM   #15
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I've read a lot of threads in this forum, and this is one of the most useful. I would have said that the OP did the right thing, but I think now that the advice to stay to the center-left of the center lane was correct. I learn things from you guys.
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Old 01-06-08, 03:55 AM   #16
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Even many of John Forester's harshest critics acknowledge the merits of the sections of his book, Effective Cycling, that deal with lane positioning. The rule here is simple: If the lane you're in serves multiple destinations, then ride in the part of the lane that corresponds to your destination.

In other words, if the lane serves N destinations, then ride in the "Nth" portion that serves your destinations.

Specifically:

If the lane serves two directions (say straight and right), then mentally divide the lane in half and:
  • if you're going straight, then ride in the left half.
  • if you're going right, then ride in the right half.
If the lane serves straight, left or right, then mentally divide the lane into thirds and:
  • if you're going straight, then ride in the middle third.
  • if you're going left, then ride in the left third.
  • if you're going right, then ride in the right third.
This is essentially what Forester means by "destination positioning", and is just as appropriate for motorcyclists as well as bicyclists.

The reason it works is because riding this way improves (but of course does not guarantee) your conspicuity and predictability.
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