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Thread: Left Turns

  1. #1
    Senior Member GeezerGeek's Avatar
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    Left Turns

    To make a left turn I always move into the left turn lane and line up with all of the cars. A couple of days ago a biker passed all of us staying just to the right of all the cars pretty much between the two lanes. When the light changed he stayed beside the cars and turned with them.

    His method is more efficient but which one is safer?

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    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Yours is safer. When I make turns I take the lane in line with traffic and then after making the turn, I move to the right as soon as it is safe. He is presuming the cars actually know he is there and is really riding where he could be in their blind spots. It is always best to act like a car when in traffic. I mean that is the point any way is to be treated with the respect a vehicle is due. If thats the case we need to act like any other vehicle on the road.
    Matthew 6

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    The Iceman cometh! Bop Bop's Avatar
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    I agree! When I make a left I also take the left lane and line-up with the cars. When the light changes and traffic allows I make the left and move right when safe.

    When I move from the right lane to the left lane I hand signal my intention and again as I am making the turn.
    "Angel, Bop Bop loves you!!!"

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    Get outdoors! :) Becca's Avatar
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    As the other two posters said, yours was the safer turn. Keep doing it exactly that way! I do the very same thing.

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    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    It's safer to stay in the lane with the cars, but it's legal to do what the other cyclist did in some states.

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    On another note, i'm not that familier with signaling turns. I dont do a lot of road-riding but i've always just put out my arm to the side i'm turning. Is that still what everybody does, is there other ways signaling?

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    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue_neon
    On another note, i'm not that familier with signaling turns. I dont do a lot of road-riding but i've always just put out my arm to the side i'm turning. Is that still what everybody does, is there other ways signaling?
    here is another way that was at one time the legal way where using your left arm pointing to the left meant left turn and pointing up with your arm at bent at you elbow meant right turn and holding your arm down meant stop. I don't think anybody really knows these anymore so I just point in the direction I am going.
    Matthew 6

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    What the rider who stayed in the right hand side of the turn lane did may actually be safer, though I admit that I don't practice it. I am reminded of one case where I was in the left side of the left turn lane when a big van that was in a big hurry caught up with me in the turn and turned with me. It was a very harrowing experience as I barely averted a collision with considerable effort. When you come out of the turn you also always head for the right side of the road to get out of the way of traffic. This means that you must cross the traffic lane you were in unless you were in the right side of the turn lane. I think it may be a different situation at every intersection. What about intersections with double or tripple turn lanes. I think that there I would turn to the right side of the right turn lane.

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    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    I get in line with traffic and stay in the center of the lane until the turn is complete and/or it is safe to go to the right (into bike lane/ghetto or just to the side). Too many close calls with people making U-turns (legal here in CA, usually) who like to swing a little right before executing the U-turn.

    I think I would just find a way to avoid double or triple turn lanes . . . find another route or use the crosswalk if at all possible. But that's just me. I don't trust cars at all.

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    I stay to the right of the left turn lane, unless it serves both left turn and straight ahead traffic; then I get in the middle of the lane.

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    Senior Member GeezerGeek's Avatar
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    I always use my left arm for turn signals as taught in the old school The problem is that everytime I signal a right hand turn people wave back at me.

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    No the most safe?, but I usually move up on the right of the left turn lane. Like approaching a red light or stop and you're going straight, move up on the side of the traffic. Why wait in line with the cars? *&%# traffic, try not to let it slow you down unless safety dictates it. Sometimes I wait in line with the cars, like when the turn is up a hill or traffic looks to be moving soon/ too tight to advance between lanes.

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    Upgrading my engine DXchulo's Avatar
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    Bekologist:

    If you want the respect from car drivers, you're going to have to follow the same rules. Think about if someone on a motorcycle did this. This happened all the time when I was in Costa Rica, and it was pretty weird. If you want to use the roads (that were made for cars in the first place), then you should respect the rules and follow them. Otherwise you're giving all drivers a good reason to think we're all just *******s on bikes.

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    I used to move up to the front of the line when waiting to turn. I thought that if I passed every car in the group, they'd see me and would know I was there. I'd make sure I wasn't in the first driver's blind spot when waiting. I don't do this anymore, now I wait in line like I were a car. I feel safer that the driver behind me sees me, and can't try to pass me. When leaving a light I'm just as fast as cars so I don't hold up traffic, and I move to the right after the turn is completed.

    You're a vehicle, same rights, same responsibilities. If you're in doubt about what to do when cycling, first think of what you'd do in a car, then make sure it's safe.

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    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, wait in a line of cars, sucking tailpipe, to turn left? only if safety or necessity dictates I do so. If I wanted drivers respect, I'd make em breakfast in the morning. Hand out bagel sandwiches in a traffic jam.

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    I think it all depends upon lane width and how long the line of stopped cars is. Often in the DC area, we have gridlock -- the line of backed up cars can extend for miles. Since nobody is moving (or will move significantly for the next hald hour), they present no hazard -- just pass them. This happens a lot when there is snow.

    If the lane is wide, so that it can be easily shared by a car and a bike, then I'll stay on the right side of the lane and move to the head of the queue.

    On the other hand, if the lane is so narrow that it feels like you are filtering forward, then stay in line. The cars you squeeze by at 12 mph will soon be squeezing by at 40 -- not safe. Best to stay in line. When traffic is moving well, the queues are short and little is gained by advancing to the front.

    Paul

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    Upgrading my engine DXchulo's Avatar
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    Alright, so you don't want their respect....

    Just never complain if one nearly runs you off the road!

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    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    I'm sorry, wait in a line of cars, sucking tailpipe, to turn left? only if safety or necessity dictates I do so. If I wanted drivers respect, I'd make em breakfast in the morning. Hand out bagel sandwiches in a traffic jam.
    Nobody said anything about respect. For me, it's a matter of self preservation. Saftey does dictate in nearly every case where there are cars around, AFAICT.

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    Safer is going to depend on the intersection and the condition at the time of the turn. For example, one lane left turn with a red signal and light traffic, I will pass the cars in the left turn lane and make the turn on the right side of the cars and turn wide so as not to interfere with them. A green signal in the same situation, same turn if I can safely get into the left turn lane and not interfere with straight thru or left turn traffic. Heavy traffic, multi left turn lanes, I have moved to the right and crossed with the ped signal, walking the bike. I never take the lane because car vs. bike, bike losses even if I'm in the right. And if you take the lane and obstruct traffic, ie slower vehicle(I know a bike is not a vehicle) you can be cited in California. I ride with the notion that I'm doing it for enjoyment and exercise and the object is to get where I'm going alive. Too many nuts to take the chance of having one of them run me over and get out of it by saying they just didn't see me. Sometimes proving a collision was intentional or accidental is next to impossible.

  20. #20
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    On many of the intersections in my neighborhood, biking into the middle of traffic is just not an option. I usually cross traffic as if I was crossing like a pedestrian and then wait on the opposite corner for the light to turn and then go forward.

    I know it isn't the fastest way, but at most of the corners where I would want to make a left turn, it's definitely the safest. I have a wife to think about now, so doing the kind of crazy **** I used to do as a kid doesn't cut it for me, and as I said in my neighborhood, moving with traffic on a bike to make a left turn is just not worth it. It's dangerous enough in a car.

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    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by super-douper
    I used to move up to the front of the line when waiting to turn. I thought that if I passed every car in the group, they'd see me and would know I was there. I'd make sure I wasn't in the first driver's blind spot when waiting. I don't do this anymore, now I wait in line like I were a car. I feel safer that the driver behind me sees me, and can't try to pass me. When leaving a light I'm just as fast as cars so I don't hold up traffic, and I move to the right after the turn is completed.

    You're a vehicle, same rights, same responsibilities. If you're in doubt about what to do when cycling, first think of what you'd do in a car, then make sure it's safe.
    You're saying that you wait in that 1/4 mile of cars at a traffic light with your bicycle, and don't ride past them on the right up to the light? If it takes 5 or 6 lights for all the cars in front of you to get through, you wait with them also? Even if there's no bike lane, on a wide right lane I ride past them. It's also legal here in California to ride past the cars turning left and line up near the front of the first car in the rightmost turn lane, just like a motorcycle.

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    Senior Member legitimate user's Avatar
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    Check your state law, a lot of it is situational too. I prefer to stay out of the path of cars and keep to the far right of the right most turn lane. With a group, the method you described that you used works well because there's so many in the way of the car. If I'm alone and the intersection is really bad I might just wait for the crosswalks.

  23. #23
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    Doesn't look like anyone noticed your avatar, GeezerGeek. Do you ride a recumbent bike? If so, it may not be safe for you to ride between the cars because of reduced visibility - Drivers can't see you as well as a standard bike, and you can't see around the cars as well as someone riding a standard bike.

    If riding a recumbent, I would be more likely to line up with the cars.

    If riding a standard bike, I would be more likely to go between the cars.

    Hope this helps,
    Tom

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    Senior Member GeezerGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JavaMan
    GeezerGeek. Do you ride a recumbent bike? If so, it may not be safe for you to ride between the cars because of reduced visibility - Drivers can't see you as well as a standard bike, and you can't see around the cars as well as someone riding a standard bike.
    Good observation and a good point. It is easy to sneak around cars unobserved with my Infinity recumbent.

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    Climb on my trusty steed BeTheChange's Avatar
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    I've accepted that I'm not going to get any respect while on a bike and by following the rules (in town anyways) it isn't going to teach anyone that bikes belong. Because I've sat in line with the cars in the middle of the lane through the intersection just to have some jackass decide that he can't wait to get through the intersection and peel out around me almost hiting me and oncoming traffic. So untill people who drive cars know what the laws are (which will never happen) I'm going to ride to go to the front of the line. Even when I'm following all of the rules people love to honk at me, hell when I don't follow the rules they honk less. So as long as I feel I'm safe in the situation I'll do it (no crazy deathwish stunts or anything). Peace.
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
    -Mahatma Gandhi

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