Advocacy & Safety - Advice on HWY Navigation
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10-28-06, 03:21 PM
Hey guys! Im new to road biking and I commute to work when the weather permits. However there is this crazy intersection on my route that is a little tricky and a little scary. How do I turn left from a 6 lane HWY onto a four lane HWY and still "get to the right lane". The problems i run into are getting to the far left on the three lanes then getting to the far right on the 2 lane (and not get runned over). There is a light at the intersection that allows two lanes to turn left ; does anyone have rules or guidance so i dont hurt myself? I definitely have lights; helmet; reflective belt. i need navigation instruction.
10-28-06, 03:41 PM
You have a few options.
1. Go straight on 6 lane road but pull off to the right and stop at the straight lane of the 4 lane road. I would only suggest this if the 4 lane road was generally empty. You don't want to plop down in front of a line of traffic as it's rude, places you in the middle of the intersection, and if the light were to change in the middle of you doing this, you are in a very bad spot.
2. Turn right onto 4 lane road, make a u-turn, and go straight across 6 lane road. Not possible on roads with center medians or heavy traffic on the cross street.
3. Learn how to negotiate lane changes. This may seem impossible to do with fast moving traffic but you'll quickly find that most drivers are very courteous and will slow way down to let you get to your destination (the left turn lane). If you are starting from the shoulder, you'll want to begin your merge left very early. You'll need to both signal and look back to get the driver's attention and watch for them to let you over. This same negotiation will need to be performed 2 more times and since the first driver you encounter won't always let you in, it's good to get a head start. Worst case, you get over too soon and a few left lane drivers need to slow down for a little while. Also, you'll find that the hardest merge is out of the shoulder into the right lane. If you have the chance, get the right lane early and get those drivers to slow down (you'll need to trust that they will). A mirror is very useful for spotting gaps in traffic.
If you are currently trying to spot a gap then shoot across al three lanes I could see how this might be dangerous. When you negotiate merges, you get traffic to slow to your pace temporarily making the merge much easier and safer.
Do as I very frequently do -- simply make a two-part left turn. Contrary to what some folks may claim, it is safe, easy, and expedient, if done attentively and courteously. It is particularly easy to make a two-part left turn if the road approaching yours from the right has a right-turn-only lane, permitting you to position yourself between through ahd right-turning traffic when you pivot in place 90 degrees left/anticlockwise.
10-28-06, 06:11 PM
Sometimes, though not always, you can make your turn somewhere else. For example, perhaps you could take a parallel street to the 6 lane street and turn left from it instead. Or you could go one block too far on the 6 lane street and make a 3 rights. Or you could go a block too far on the 6 lane street and maybe there's an easier left the next block up (or conversely maybe an easier left one block earlier). It just depends on the streets, and it might not work, either.
10-28-06, 07:56 PM
How do I turn left from a 6 lane HWY onto a four lane HWY and still "get to the right lane". The problems i run into are getting to the far left on the three lanes then getting to the far right on the 2 lane (and not get runned over). There is a light at the intersection that allows two lanes to turn left.
I understand the challenge in merging left through three lanes of highway-speed traffic (and the above posters give good advice on how to negotiate the merge, and on alternative ways to make the turn.) But I'm unclear on why you're having trouble ending your turn in the rightmost lane of the 4-lane highway.
You mention that there are two left-turn lanes at the light; by chance are you using the one on the left? If you use the rightmost of the two turn lanes, you should end up in the lane you want just by following the normal lines of the turn. If the problem is that people are trying to squeeze past you in that same lane while you turn, then positioning yourself in the center of the lane might be enough to get them to follow you through the turn instead. Once you're through the turn, you can merge right onto the shoulder (if that's where you want to be) of the new road.
But I'm unclear on why you're having trouble ending your turn in the rightmost lane of the 4-lane highway. The problem of the left-turners is indeed easily solved with the technique you describe (just block them for the duration of the turn). Another potential problem, however, is right-turners who naturally don't expect somebody to suddenly appear in the right-most lane and who often do not even signal their turn (or signal at the last minute, or you can't see them until last minutes etc).
Sometimes, when such a situation comes up, I do what a car driver would do: turn from a left-turn lane into the left-most lane on the new road and then negotiate my way back to the right same way one would negotiate lane changes for merging left.
However, with two left-turn lanes and an advanced green for left, I don't see how there can be any problems not getting to the rightmost lane of the new road. Is the OP trying to go into the leftmost left-turn lane for his turn or what?..
10-28-06, 09:52 PM
I can see a problem if you have a left turn lane and a left + straight ahead lane. I would then get to the right of the left turn lane, but when the traffic allows me to turn I would first go straight ahead before starting the turn so I am in the RH turn lane as I am making the turn.
use a mirror to look for gaps in the traffic. Traffic lights on the 6 lane street should create gaps across all 3 lanes in your direction. This will make it easy for you to get to the middle of the road. If you have to do this early, motorists wont have a problem passing you on your right.
10-28-06, 11:29 PM
I wouldn't mess with the lefts. Just go straight across the 4-Lane highway, staying to the right. Then postion your bike to go straight across the 6-Lane highway, staying to the right. This may not always be the fastest route, but it is the safest way.
I have a similar situation every morning. Unless I leave very early, when the traffic is light, I stay out of the left turn lanes. If the traffic is light, and if I can be first in line, I typically take the entire lane.
10-29-06, 08:09 AM
Thanks!! I am going to try these on my commute this week. I appreciate the speedy replies and hints. The way I have been doing it is starting on the very far left lane of traffic on the 6 lane hwy. I can cross the three lanes fairly easy b/c the light outside of work lets me accomplish this. So Im in the far left lane and then it diverges into two left turning lanes. Here is where i get the most anxious b/c traffic doesn't always allows me to take the merge to the far right turning lane to make the left turn at the light. If I could merge easily then I would be in the right lane on the four lane hwy and everything is good. However I seem to get stuck in the far left lane of the four lane traffic. Just to add the dynamics my top speed is around 20 and the speed limit for both roads is 45.
10-29-06, 08:20 AM
However, with two left-turn lanes and an advanced green for left, I don't see how there can be any problems not getting to the rightmost lane of the new road. Is the OP trying to go into the leftmost left-turn lane for his turn or what?..[/QUOTE]
Yes, it seems due to the traffic and an advantage of a redlight, that I get to the far left lane before taking a left turn. Hence where the problem is.
10-29-06, 08:21 AM
[However, with two left-turn lanes and an advanced green for left, I don't see how there can be any problems not getting to the rightmost lane of the new road. Is the OP trying to go into the leftmost left-turn lane for his turn or what?..]
Yes, it seems due to the traffic and an advantage of a redlight, that I get to the far left lane before taking a left turn. Hence where the problem is.[/QUOTE]
Go to the rightmost left-turn lane.
In general, when on a bike, go into the rightmost lane that serves your destination. (Note: do not confuse this with rightmost portion of the lane. Choice of lane is one matter, choice of position within the lane is a different matter entirely).
I am going to try these on my commute this week. I appreciate the speedy replies and hints. The way I have been doing it is starting on the very far left lane of traffic on the 6 lane hwy. I can cross the three lanes fairly easy b/c the light outside of work lets me accomplish this. So Im in the far left lane and then it diverges into two left turning lanes. Here is where i get the most anxious b/c traffic doesn't always allows me to take the merge to the far right turning lane to make the left turn at the light. I can't quite picture this very well, I guess.
Meaning that if you keep to the rightmost portion of the far left lane, I don't see how you fail to end up on the rightmost left-turn lane when it diverges. Can you find this in satellite view on Google maps and post here in highest resolution or something?
And which traffic is it that is preventing you from merging: the traffic behind you or the traffic beside you changing lanes?
Are you signalling before trying to merge? How far in advance do you start signalling?
10-29-06, 03:56 PM
on the 6 lane hwy, i get all the way over to far left lane b/c the traffic light helps me out on that one; its just when I stay in that lane and I turn left then I am scrambling to merge to the right and hence traffic. I am new to road riding so im trying to do the safest thing and not kill myself. I don't want this obstacle to stop my commuting. I would love to know how you manage a merge correctly from the far left turn position to the far right turn position. I think if I knew how to get that google map; it would be a lot clearer for people to see and explain. i will work on that.
Just give us the location (state, city/town - or nearby town if it's not really in a municipality, the names of the two roads) - and we'll find the Google map for ya. :)
BTW, if you're new to road riding, here is an excellent manual that sums up the basics of safe vehicular cycling: http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm . You can also come to the Advocacy and Safety forum to discuss riding tactics on various roads or in particular situation. A&S is a bit of a war zone though, so learn to ignore the bullets (they are shooting at others, not at you) and just read the useful bits. :)
10-29-06, 07:48 PM
Betwwen traffic lights on the 6 lane road you are riding right in the middle of the road. However when you get to the traffic lights where you want to make a left, you should merge over to the right hand side of that lane. As you make the left turn you shou merge into the middle of the lane to your right, then when you have completed the turn you get to the side of the road and wave your thanks to the car that was behind you and let you merge.
10-30-06, 05:30 PM
Thank you guys!!! Chephy THANKS FOR THE WEBSITE!!! I think anyone new to road biking should read that. This forum has taught me a lot about position and taking the lane. I commuted today on my bike and I had a lot more confidence. I took the lane on the main HWY today and had less cars trying to run me off the road and overall felt safer. Thank you all for who took time to give me your input. Happy cycling!
10-30-06, 05:45 PM
Very often i get off my bike & use the crosswalk just to get across a local 4-laner where it gets to the mall where i grocery shop. It's well & good to discuss techniques for executing various maneuvers, but too many close calls over the years have taught me that motor vehicle drivers are the wild card & they're not necessarily paying attention to lights, signs, or any rules of the road.
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