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Old 05-06-09, 04:22 PM   #1
UnsafeAlpine
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Turning left.

I wasn't sure whether to post this question here or in the Vehicular Cycling subforum. I chose here.

4 lane, 40mph speed limit, bike lane http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=4...16236162361622 (the direction is on the other side of the median.) I ride at a max of about 17mph on this stretch. Sometimes the wind blows right up the middle and I hit maybe 12 or so. I turn left onto a side street and I've been wondering how to get over there. I've had a couple of sketchy moments when I try to get across traffic at the last minute to avoid holding up cars in the left traffic lane. I'm beginning to think that I should move over to the left traffic lane when I can and then move into the left turn lane, cars be damned.

I was almost hit today. I left the bike lane, merged with the right traffic lane, started to merge with the left traffic lane and then realized the guy doing 40 or 50 wasn't slowing down. Very scary. I always use hand signals to signal my intentions but short of putting a motor on my bike, or acting like a pedestrian and going to the intersection's crosswalks, I'm not quite sure what the safest thing for me to do is. Any pointers for me?
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Old 05-06-09, 04:30 PM   #2
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or acting like a pedestrian and going to the intersection's crosswalks
If the street is dangerous, what's wrong with this option?
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Old 05-06-09, 04:34 PM   #3
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If the street is dangerous, what's wrong with this option?
I hate acting like a pedestrian. I think it helps reinforce the idea that bikes don't belong on the streets. That may be an exceedingly weak reason, though.
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Old 05-06-09, 04:48 PM   #4
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Personally, i'd rather let my safety come before what other people think about me, but other than the crosswalk, I don't think you can really do anything differently to make it safer, I mean, you're already using signals and trying to be seen, after that it's up to the drivers to show you courtesy.. (hah)
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Old 05-06-09, 05:11 PM   #5
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Start early and do one step/lane at a time. Don't merge until the driver has slowed in response to your merge request or if there is no vehicle for considerable distance back in the lane you are merging to. Early always works better.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYudFGGsit4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlrHNeBDr9M
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Old 05-06-09, 05:18 PM   #6
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Typically on arterials, I start in the right lane (they don't build bike lanes around here). When I get into the left turn lane "zone" I slow down and look for a gap; when I see one, I jump across the left through lane straight into the turn lane. (note I never actually merge with traffic in the left lane)

If I don't make it across, I either pull to the right for a two-step left or continue straight to make a U turn.

It might not work as well with two lanes to cross, but that's just what I do.

p.s. I treat lane changes the same as a yield sign; If there is a car that'll be on my tail within a few seconds, I don't change lanes.
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Old 05-06-09, 05:30 PM   #7
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If I did your tour correctly, I went west on Horsetooth, and made a left onto Manhatten. There's a light there. I would proceed west on Horsetooth on a green light, cross the intersection and stop and pop into the bike lane that takes you south on Manhatten. At that time this light would be red. I sit there and wait for the green, and then proceed south.
I do this often when the traffic is heavy/unforgiving.
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Old 05-06-09, 07:41 PM   #8
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My vote would be turn right, turn around into the queue, and then come straight across on green. I only say that because it's obvious you don't feel comfortable merging through those lanes. (I can't say that I blame you.)
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Old 05-06-09, 07:50 PM   #9
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My vote would be turn right, turn around into the queue, and then come straight across on green. I only say that because it's obvious you don't feel comfortable merging through those lanes. (I can't say that I blame you.)
+
this is called a 'box left turn' and it works
and you won't be getting off your bike and walking like a pedestrian thru the crosswalk
also, depending on the signal ordering, you may actually get to the cross street faster than the cars in the left turn lane

+1 if you can pull this off trackstanding
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Old 05-06-09, 09:25 PM   #10
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If I did your tour correctly, I went west on Horsetooth, and made a left onto Manhatten. There's a light there. I would proceed west on Horsetooth on a green light, cross the intersection and stop and pop into the bike lane that takes you south on Manhatten. At that time this light would be red. I sit there and wait for the green, and then proceed south.
I do this often when the traffic is heavy/unforgiving.
I've come through that intersection a few times including tonight. For me it depends on traffic. If it is light, I'll merge left and turn with left turn lane. If it heavy enough, I'll go straight across Meadowlark and cross southbound with the light.
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Old 05-07-09, 10:57 AM   #11
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Traffic lights usually create significant breaks in the flow of traffic. I use a glasses mounted mirror tor see where these breaks are, early enough to plan my moves.
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Old 05-07-09, 03:41 PM   #12
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What noisebeam said.

When he says early, he means ridiculously early. (At least that is how it ought to seem at first- ridiculously early.)

Most roads will have "platoons" of cars or waves of traffic. While the left turn is still a long way off, merge behind a platoon of cars. Ride large. Center yourself in the lane. The lead cars in next platoon will see you from a long distance away and merge to avoid you without a fuss and in an almost elegant way.

Do it a few times and you will soon be amazing your friends and causing anxiety attacks on your Mother.

Tailwinds!
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Old 05-07-09, 05:43 PM   #13
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I'll mention that I found that frequent and repeated looking over your shoulder more effective then signaling and always confirm the other guy is yielding before moving into their path. It should not be scary what's happening in the other lane, always be fluid and a part of traffic and have options. If I can't get in the left lane because no one is yielding I'll move back over to the right and do a two point turn, or I'll keep going straight and do something else. It's not worth pushing it if it does not go smoothly.
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Old 05-07-09, 07:01 PM   #14
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I do not make a vehicular left turn from a fast (say, 40mph/65kph or higher) street, particularly one without a dedicated left turn lane, unless there is an extremely generous break in traffic. If I cannot easily merge into the left lane without worrying about getting struck from behind, I prefer to make a two-part or box-style left turn, which does not necessarily require one to act as a pedestrian. Simply proceed straight across the intersection in the right lane or bike lane, pulling over to the right as you approach the far side. Stop in place, pivot your bicycle, and position yourself appropriately for through traffic in your new direction.
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Old 05-07-09, 08:16 PM   #15
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When I need to make a left turn, I cross over at a prior intersection and ride on the opposite side of traffic until I get to where I need to make my turn. I know that I shouldn't be riding against the flow of traffic, but if it's only for one or two blocks then it's really no big deal. I ride as close to the curb as possible so I don't interfere with the flow of traffic. I'm just not fast enough to merge into traffic, at least not on a big comfort bike. I always seem to get stuck behind the endless wall of cars and I end up missing my turn. So I have to cheat a little to make my left turns and save myself some time.
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Old 05-08-09, 03:28 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
I was almost hit today. I left the bike lane, merged with the right traffic lane, started to merge with the left traffic lane and then realized the guy doing 40 or 50 wasn't slowing down. Very scary. I always use hand signals to signal my intentions but short of putting a motor on my bike, or acting like a pedestrian and going to the intersection's crosswalks, I'm not quite sure what the safest thing for me to do is. Any pointers for me?
A vehicle that's already in the lane you want to mere into has right-of-way, so you need to scan behind to see what's there, yield to him, then when the coast is clear, merge into the new lane and set up for your turn. When there's a line of traffic coming and you don't have far to go before you miss your turn, you need to slow, and negotiate with the driver behind you to let you in ahead of him/her. Most motorists aren't very gracious about that, especially letting a slower vehicle ahead of them. Let 'em go by, and hope the next guy along has better manners. Eventually someone will let you in, or you can cruise on through the intersection and go around the block to get back on track to your destination.

Better yet, look/wait for a gap in traffic to make your lane change. Much easier on your nerves than trying to slow dance with the cars.

Another option is the "Box Left Turn," or if there's a crosswalk, a Pedestrian left turn.
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Old 05-08-09, 05:51 PM   #17
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A vehicle that's already in the lane you want to mere into has right-of-way, so you need to scan behind to see what's there, yield to him, then when the coast is clear, merge into the new lane and set up for your turn. When there's a line of traffic coming and you don't have far to go before you miss your turn, you need to slow, and negotiate with the driver behind you to let you in ahead of him/her. Most motorists aren't very gracious about that, especially letting a slower vehicle ahead of them. Let 'em go by, and hope the next guy along has better manners. Eventually someone will let you in, or you can cruise on through the intersection and go around the block to get back on track to your destination.

Better yet, look/wait for a gap in traffic to make your lane change. Much easier on your nerves than trying to slow dance with the cars.

Another option is the "Box Left Turn," or if there's a crosswalk, a Pedestrian left turn.
All good advice. That some motorists will not respond to your signaled desire for them to slow and yield to you so you can merge is a good reason to start the process early. I've found that there is usually much more resistance to the first merge out of the bike lane than the second merge from outside to inside lane, so don't be discouraged at first. I can't think of a time it has taken more than a few passing motorists until one responds for that first merge.
Also a mirror is helpful, not primarily because you can see gaps and monitor traffic patterns better, but also because if you turn you head to look it can cause a motorist to slow or otherwise respond to you when you would have rather if they passed quickly (for example if there is a big gap right behind them, then they slow a bit, but not enough for you to merge and that big gap closes) I still most often turn head and look back before I am ready to merge, so the mirror is not a substitute for that.

Al
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Old 05-08-09, 06:18 PM   #18
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I'll mention that I found that frequent and repeated looking over your shoulder more effective then signaling and always confirm the other guy is yielding before moving into their path.
+1

I noticed people begin to slow down when I start to turn my head to see if there is a gap to merge in. I always look, look again, then signal while glancing and merging.

Oh, and spin crazily while drafting behind a car, you will catch up to speed.
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Old 05-08-09, 07:34 PM   #19
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I've got a street like you describe, but the traffic here is probably not so bad. 75% of the time I get a good enough gap that its just a look over the shoulder and then out of the saddle to merge right through left to the turning lanes.

If traffic is too bad, parallel along the right is a set of parking lots that work more or less like a frontage road. I double back through that and make another pass at it, with a better idea of the flow of traffic as I'm heading toward it along the side. If for some reason that doesn't work - if I'm short on time, for instance, and its a green light ahead - I continue with the flow of traffic through the light, merge through to the left as soon as possible and take a U-turn then back to the intersection for an easy right. I hate to have to stop, so I haven't done a "Box Left Turn" in ages.
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