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Old 09-24-04, 06:54 PM   #1
jgeezer
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Right Turn on Red Strategy

Since Mass. went to right turn on red along with the rest of the country, I have tried to figure out a way of stopping at a traffic light with the minimum amount of exposure to getting hit. What is the consensus on handling this problem. There are no bike lanes on the roads that I travel on, and even if there were it would become another travel lane. If I pull to the right or along the curb I run the risk of having somone squeeze by and turn directly in front of me. If take the lane it can get very ugly, bikes are not alone on this score, if a car takes up the right lane and doesn't turn horns and words are exchanged. Sometimes if I have the room I move forward into the intersection and allow turning vehicles to turn behind me. This works if the intersection is sufficientl large such that you don't move into traffic.
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Old 09-24-04, 07:10 PM   #2
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AZ like Mass. is a right turn on red signal after stop state. I do not know if the streets here are wider than the ones in Mass. or if drivers here are just used to cyclists. When I pull up to a corner with a red light, I generally try to place my bike about 3 feet or so from the curb and the front wheel even with the cross walk. Thats far enough away from the corner to move closer if I have to and not far enough into the traffic to create a problem. AZ law requires drivers to give bikes a minimum of 3 feet clearance. Drivers wanting to turn right have to pull up past me before starting their turns. When the light turns I always wait for the car to proceed into the intersection first just to make sure the driver has not decided at the last minute to make a right turn.

On narrower streets I take the lane and move to the right when I get about 1/2 way across the street. This allows a driver to make the right turn behind me.
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Old 09-25-04, 11:36 AM   #3
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Here in California we have been a right turn on red state for a long time. I will approach the light and move as far to the right as possible and stop before the line. I then move up into the cross slightly then go if I see an opening that I can do it in. It also depends on the width of the street amoung other factors.

One of the main problems is that the signals here are not triggered by bikes, not big enough. That means that if traffic is heavy and I am taking the lane the light will not change and the cars behind get mad. If I can I always lets the car have the front and go after them...
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Old 09-25-04, 01:53 PM   #4
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I believe my58vw is responding to a different issue, specifically right turn on red as a bicyclist. I disagree strongly with the first two posts, which address right turn on red by motor vehicles, in potential conflict with through cyclists. Please read one of the three Gospels of John: John Forester's "Effective Cycling," John S. Allen's "Street Smarts," or John Franklin's "Cyclecraft." All three authors advocate moving AWAY from the curb at intersections, so that right-turn-on-red traffic can proceed BETWEEN you and the curb, rather than around you and across your path. Do not set yourself up for a right-hook (left-hook in the U.K., Japan, India, Australia, etc.).
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Old 09-25-04, 05:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by John E
All three authors advocate moving AWAY from the curb at intersections, so that right-turn-on-red traffic can proceed BETWEEN you and the curb, rather than around you and across your path. Do not set yourself up for a right-hook
I agree. In Toronto I ride in traffic often, and since right on red has been legal for decades, I've always been aware of it and kept it in mind when at a light.

However, I tend to try not to put myself in a position where it's an issue. If I'm in traffic and the light turns red, I stop behind the car in front of me. I do not squeeze up the right side past traffic, even if there is room. Why? Aside from being pointless (the light is red, so what's the rush?) there is a much greater risk of injury from people who don't expect you to be there. So I stop in traffic, in the lane, and wait.

If there is a right turn lane, I stay to the left of it. If I happen to be first at the light and there is no right turn lane, then I will take up a blocking position in the lane, and wait until a car approaches from behind. If they are not turning, no problem. If they are turning, I'll move to the left and forward a bit to let them squeeze by. Better to have them turning AWAY from you instead of towards you.

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Old 09-26-04, 03:45 AM   #6
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However, I tend to try not to put myself in a position where it's an issue. If I'm in traffic and the light turns red, I stop behind the car in front of me. I do not squeeze up the right side past traffic, even if there is room. Why? Aside from being pointless (the light is red, so what's the rush?) there is a much greater risk of injury from people who don't expect you to be there. So I stop in traffic, in the lane, and wait.
Not necessarily. I stopped "waiting in line" years ago because of too many scary situations being caught in the middle of the rush when the light changes (lights take a long time to change here in Queensland). I find it much safer to be out in the front, especially as my reaction time seems to be much faster than that of the average driver -- I can be out of the intersection before any of them have even moved 90% of the time. Of course, in summer I adopt neither policy and merely look for a shady spot. Anyone who's ever cycled in a Queensland summer will know exactly why.

In answer to the original question, I do exactly as John E says. Move well away from the kerb and let the idiots behind me fight it out among themselves.
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Old 09-26-04, 05:01 AM   #7
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I either take the lane and to hell with the honks, or take the left side of the lane and turn around and make eye contact and wave them through to turn right between me and the curb, as if a traffic cop. People seem to appreciate that I'm looking out for their interests. By the time the light changes, the right-turners behind me have all gone, and only people going forward (with me) are remaining. Yeah, sometimes I hamg back from the front, if conditions look really bad for some reason up there. But then I still might get right-hooked.

THE MIRROR IS INVALUABLE FOR READING THE INTENTIONS OF THE CAR COMING UP FROM BEHIND YOU. YOU CAN EITHER SEE THE TURN SIGNAL OR SEE THEM SLOWING AND EDGING OVER TO TURN IF THE DIDN'T SIGNAL. ALSO LISTEN FOR ENGINe RPMS DECREASING.
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Old 09-26-04, 08:38 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by jgeezer
Since Mass. went to right turn on red along with the rest of the country, I have tried to figure out a way of stopping at a traffic light with the minimum amount of exposure to getting hit. What is the consensus on handling this problem. There are no bike lanes on the roads that I travel on, and even if there were it would become another travel lane. If I pull to the right or along the curb I run the risk of having somone squeeze by and turn directly in front of me. If take the lane it can get very ugly, bikes are not alone on this score, if a car takes up the right lane and doesn't turn horns and words are exchanged. Sometimes if I have the room I move forward into the intersection and allow turning vehicles to turn behind me. This works if the intersection is sufficientl large such that you don't move into traffic.
If I am 1st in line at the light (rare), I pull over and stop like about 6' from the cross walk and wave 'em on -NOT trusting turn signals. When no more cars are turning and light is STILL red, I move slightly into the crosswalk. FINALLY when the light turns, I check over my shoulder to make sure nobody's barreling up from behind, and go on my way.
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Old 09-26-04, 09:05 AM   #9
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Exactly why are we stopping at reds to make right turns? Are we waiting for the green or something?
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Old 09-26-04, 09:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by operator
Exactly why are we stopping at reds to make right turns? Are we waiting for the green or something?

Well, red means stop. So we stop. If it's clear and legal, then we make the turn.

Also, in Minnesota at least, you can turn left on a red from a one-way street to another one-way street. Is this the same for y'all?

Last edited by Laggard; 09-26-04 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 09-26-04, 01:00 PM   #11
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Not in AZ, right on red only, if not posted otherwise.
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Old 09-26-04, 01:42 PM   #12
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95% of the time I take the lane at an intersection. So if there is a separate space for right turning traffic and I'm going straight, then I'm well away from the curb, and in the center of the straight lane. I hate having to worry about someone turning in front of me and cutting me off. If I'm turning right, well then of course I'm closer to the curb. This also means that while I'm waiting to go straight at a light without a distinct right turn lane, then I might be blocking cars from turning right. But hey, if I were in a car the situation would still be the same, so I don't sweat it. If I start moving around the road to let people squeeze by either on the left or right, then I'm afraid I'm gonna get hit. Better the car waits a few seconds than my getting run over.

Most times at intersections I'll wait in the lane even if I'm a few cars back. Then I try to accelerate with traffic through the intersection, staying in the lane so that no one tries to turn in front of me. Immediately after the intersection I'm back over to the right edge of my lane. (There have been a few times though when the line of cars was REALLY long - then I said screw this and rode up the shoulder and made my right turn. That was a good feeling, passing by all those cars just sitting there, stuck in traffic.)

The thing that worries me is waiting in the line of cars at a light, and having someone behind not brake fast enough and then causing a change reaction of fender benders. I would get squashed pretty good.
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Old 09-26-04, 01:45 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Laggard
Well, red means stop. So we stop. If it's clear and legal, then we make the turn.

Also, in Minnesota at least, you can turn left on a red from a one-way street to another one-way street. Is this the same for y'all?
Wow stop at reds? That's like me lining up behind 3 km of traffic and waiting in the gridlock. I usually just slow down.
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Old 09-26-04, 08:19 PM   #14
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Thanks for the input. For the most part I adhere to what seems to be the consensus. Allow the traffic to turn behind you if you are going straight through the intersection. That means I take move away from the curb and hold the lane until someone comes up from behind and wants to make the turn. If that occurs I move over or forward to allow them to turn behind me.

As for the question of why stop at red lights at all if you are turning, first of all it is the law and is required and, second this is Mass. with some of the worst drivers in the country. That means for the most part traffic laws are considered advisory. Some anecdotal evidence of this is a comment a fellow worker at an insurance company gave me about his lousy driving. His take on red lights was the following, "Unless traffic stops me I don't stop for red lights. I also don't look to see if anyone having the green will stop as I go through because if I make eye contact they will assume that I will stop." I was dumbfounded and vowed not to let this guy drive me anywhere. But I keep the comment in mind every time I get to an intersection or a 4 way stop.
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Old 09-27-04, 09:22 AM   #15
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I do what the particular situation demands. If a small two lane road I move the the left and let right turning cars turn right. If a larger 7 lane road (common here) I take the lane and don't let cars pass. I always line up in traffic and never push up to the front. It always works for me, never had outwardly expressive impatient car drivers and never a risk for a right hook.

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Old 09-27-04, 09:43 AM   #16
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Massachusetts has always been right on red. What I do is to get over to the right most portion of the left lane (or next lane over from the right most lane if it's a multi lane street). That way I'm not in anyone's way and I don't have to weave in and out of lanes. If I"m turning right, I jsut turn right, unless I'm turning into a speedy road and need to check that someone's not flying into the same place I'm about to turn.
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Old 09-27-04, 04:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgeezer
Thanks for the input. For the most part I adhere to what seems to be the consensus. Allow the traffic to turn behind you if you are going straight through the intersection. That means I take move away from the curb and hold the lane until someone comes up from behind and wants to make the turn. If that occurs I move over or forward to allow them to turn behind me.

As for the question of why stop at red lights at all if you are turning, first of all it is the law and is required and, second this is Mass. with some of the worst drivers in the country. That means for the most part traffic laws are considered advisory. Some anecdotal evidence of this is a comment a fellow worker at an insurance company gave me about his lousy driving. His take on red lights was the following, "Unless traffic stops me I don't stop for red lights. I also don't look to see if anyone having the green will stop as I go through because if I make eye contact they will assume that I will stop." I was dumbfounded and vowed not to let this guy drive me anywhere. But I keep the comment in mind every time I get to an intersection or a 4 way stop.
Just like i'm sure you've never broken any laws ever. You'd be clearly ******** to come to a full stop at a red light when you KNOW there is no cross traffic.
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