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Old 03-28-08, 07:30 AM   #1
zipster
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Intersection Question/Advice

I'm seeing a very bad trend at an intersection on my commute. Let me explain.

There's an intersection controlled by traffic lights. There are two lanes on my side of the road. One lane is designated for straight and left turns only, and a right lane designated right turn only. So, I do what I am legally allowed to do and take control of the straight/left turn lane and wait for the light. As the light turns green I look over my right shoulder, and sure enough someone "timed" the light and just blasts straight thru the right turn lane at ~20 mph. Motorists are tempted to do this because on the other side of the intersection are two lanes.

Map (I am heading NW waiting to cross HWY 61. Also there are pavement arrows not depicted in the picture.)

There a few good take-aways from this experience for me.

1 - Taking control of a lane I am legally entitled to offers protection. In this case I avoid positioning myself for a right hook if I stayed in the right turn lane(illegal anyway). I wish it was an optional straight/right turn lane.

2 - Never, ever, assume motorists will obey traffic laws. This is the 3rd occurrence I have witnessed at the intersection.

3 - Motorists can come from out of nowhere - as in this case timing the light. Had I begun to merge to the right I most would have been seriously injured or killed. Experience and street smarts save me time and again.

I'm really getting tire of this. Now for my question. Is it worth while for me to get the plate number and report it to the local police? I don't mean to play traffic cop here, but some people just blatantly disregard the turn lane and put my life in danger just to save seconds. I'm not even sure it would get "noted" on the person's record. I'm almost tempted to take control of the right turn lane to go straight, but then I'd be as guilty as any other motorist breaking the law. Perhaps I should make a complaint to the city to make it a optional straight/right turn lane - problem solved in that case.

Sorry to be long-winded, and I hope I making some sense here.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 03-28-08, 09:04 AM   #2
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I can see why there is an issue. How often does a motorist use the RTOL for thru travel?

If you stay in the legal thru lane across the intersection and don't merge right until after you are fully crossed does that give better timing to check if someone is illegally going thru the RTOL and then safely merge behind or negotiate in front of them (yes, i know the later is unlikely)

The other alternative if this RTOL blowing is common is to join the club and go thru from the left side of the RTOL.

If it is not changed to thru/RTOL one thing that could help reduced illegal use is if a gore area was painted 'blocking' the thru lane. Drivers could still go thru but there would be more visual deterrent. See that dark car in process of turning right? Make the triangular space to its left painted as a gore area (with one side of the triangle having a nice curve defining the right turn)

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Last edited by noisebeam; 03-28-08 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 03-28-08, 09:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zipster View Post
I'm seeing a very bad trend at an intersection on my commute. Let me explain.

There's an intersection controlled by traffic lights. There are two lanes on my side of the road. One lane is designated for straight and left turns only, and a right lane designated right turn only. So, I do what I am legally allowed to do and take control of the straight/left turn lane and wait for the light. As the light turns green I look over my right shoulder, and sure enough someone "timed" the light and just blasts straight thru the right turn lane at ~20 mph. Motorists are tempted to do this because on the other side of the intersection are two lanes.

Map (I am heading NW waiting to cross HWY 61. Also there are pavement arrows not depicted in the picture.)

There a few good take-aways from this experience for me.

1 - Taking control of a lane I am legally entitled to offers protection. In this case I avoid positioning myself for a right hook if I stayed in the right turn lane(illegal anyway). I wish it was an optional straight/right turn lane.

2 - Never, ever, assume motorists will obey traffic laws. This is the 3rd occurrence I have witnessed at the intersection.

3 - Motorists can come from out of nowhere - as in this case timing the light. Had I begun to merge to the right I most would have been seriously injured or killed. Experience and street smarts save me time and again.

I'm really getting tire of this. Now for my question. Is it worth while for me to get the plate number and report it to the local police? I don't mean to play traffic cop here, but some people just blatantly disregard the turn lane and put my life in danger just to save seconds. I'm not even sure it would get "noted" on the person's record. I'm almost tempted to take control of the right turn lane to go straight, but then I'd be as guilty as any other motorist breaking the law. Perhaps I should make a complaint to the city to make it a optional straight/right turn lane - problem solved in that case.

Sorry to be long-winded, and I hope I making some sense here.

Thanks for any advice.
Zipster,

This is not long-winded at all. It's an excellent description of the situation. I didn't even have to look at the map to understand what you were describing. For an example of long-winded, keep reading .

First, good job looking over your right shoulder before moving right. Hopefully that's an automatic habit and not something you have to remember to do. That's the most important thing there.

As to reporting traffic violations like that to the police, unless someone is injured they almost certainly won't do anything with an eyewitness report. I wouldn't bother. EDIT: you might report to this to whatever political office has jurisdiction here - if you can convince them it's an issue they might push for a change.

If they can time the light, so can you. You might consider trying the following. While you're standing at the red, when you see the yellow phase in the other direction indicating you're soon to get the green (or maybe a little earlier), stick out your right arm as boldly and assertively as you can muster, straight and parallel to the ground, taking it down (to have two hands to get going and accelerate) and taking off as soon as the light turns green (after checking for late yellow red-light runners). I would probably throw in a look back over the right shoulder while holding my arm out there like that while still stopped at the red. Of course, you still look back after you're moving forward and before moving right, but having that arm out there clearly signaling an intent to merge left while still stopped might grab the yahoos' attention and inhibit them from timing the light and going straight from the right only lane, and encourage them to properly slow down and get into the straight/left lane behind you.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 03-28-08 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 03-28-08, 09:24 AM   #4
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You should request increased enforcement from the local police. Explain how often you experience this and when. After a few tickets are handed out the behavior should stop.

After alerting the police, follow through with a letter or e-mail to the elected city officials pointing out the danger these scofflaws are creating.
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