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  1. #1
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    Passing cars at red lights

    Anyone else do this?

    If I'm approaching a red light, I invariably do the VC thing and stop behind the car in front of me, i.e., I take my place in the line.

    However, if I'm pedaling towards a red light (where cars are already stopped) and, say, 3 cars pass me just to get to the red light, I'll pass those three and take what would've been my place in the line all along. The way I see it, if the cars wouldn't have tried to pass me, we'd have ended up in this position. I think it's stupid/dangerous to pass anybody just to come to a stop a few yards ahead.

    Does this make sense? Am I just being petty?

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    I always pass all the stopped cars and shoot out of the queue first, if the road is wide enough... Why not? They'll pass me anyway. This is the fastest for me, and them as well.
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    Made in Norway Lectron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LóFarkas
    I always pass all the stopped cars and shoot out of the queue first, if the road is wide enough... Why not? They'll pass me anyway. This is the fastest for me, and them as well.
    Yep. And it will give you nearly a 100m head start and the cars will pass in a much safer way.
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  4. #4
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    I tried to be VC for a while, take the lane and wait in my place in the queue. Traffic would pull away ahead of me and I usually wouldn't make it to the light before it changed. Plus the cars behind me wouldn't make the light either. Delayed me and pissed off the drivers.

    Now, if there is room to get by safely, I filter to the front. When the light changes, I swing a little to the right to give the cars going straight plenty of room to get by. I might even cross slow enough to time my reaching the other side with the light changing so all the cars that get through the light get past me easily.

  5. #5
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    This has been a discussion for quite a while here. Safety first.

    I'm one of those who usually take my place in line. It does irritate me that cars will pass (even if I'm riding fast) just to get to the light first. Jerks.

    I usually still take my place in line with the car that ends up in front of me. I'll try to stay at his right rear corner until we get through the light. Most times than not, they will hang a right at the last second and not signal. I'm safe either way.

    Occasionally I will slowly cruise up to a car that DOES actually have a right turn signal on. Either way, be safe. Be predictable.
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  6. #6
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    I just take my place...I can usually stick close enough to the last car before me in the lane if I'm geared down at the start and gear up by the time I'm at the light...I haven't missed a light I wouldn't have missed anyway.
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    Keep those cars in front of you. That way, you can see what they're doing, and you don't have to rely on their driving skills for your safety. The fewer cars that pass you, the less chance you have of getting killed by a bad or distracted driver.

    Sure, it's annoying when someone passes you in front of a red light, but I'd rather have that type of driver in front of me than behind me.

    Of course, this depends on where you ride, too. I live in a city where I can ride as fast or faster than the cars drive, and I can time the lights so I hit greens most of the way. For me, staying behind the clumps of cars is the safe thing to do.

  8. #8
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    Depends on the width of the road. If narrow, I just get in line. if wide, I pass em all.

  9. #9
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    Yes and No. It all depends.
    I guess that covers it all. I will usually wait my time in the queue if the road is narrow. However if I am turning right I often filter to the front. And if the road is wide enough I will filter but slowly, being very cautious of drivers turning right. What ever car you cross the intersection in front of (never beside) make sure they see you before entering the intersection. Staying in the queue makes this easier but may piss off drivers if you can not keep with traffic accelerating. Intersections are where everyone and especially cyclist need to be most attentive.
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  10. #10
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    I always take my place, and when I do, I move to the exact middle of the lane to make my intention clear. How easy it is to do this depends on the circumstances, primarily where the light is in its cycle and how many cars are around. It's easiest when you can match your speed with the cars, and use a mirror to keep track of what's behind you. Sometimes I'll signal.

    For backups, a good rule of thumb that I first heard here, and follow, is take your place when the line is short enough to get through on the next green, otherwise feel free to pass until you find a spot where you can get through on the next green. I think this is the best compromise between convenience and safety.
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  11. #11
    RT
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    I've never had any trouble filtering to the front of the line and bursting out first to get across the intersection. No one in a car has ever taken issue with it. I do get some weird looks from people in the right-turn lane as they sandwich me into the middle of two lanes, but that's how it is. If you act like you belong there (which we do), no one bothers you.

  12. #12
    jim anchower jamesdenver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danimal123
    Anyone else do this?

    If I'm approaching a red light, I invariably do the VC thing and stop behind the car in front of me, i.e., I take my place in the line.

    However, if I'm pedaling towards a red light (where cars are already stopped) and, say, 3 cars pass me just to get to the red light, I'll pass those three and take what would've been my place in the line all along. The way I see it, if the cars wouldn't have tried to pass me, we'd have ended up in this position. I think it's stupid/dangerous to pass anybody just to come to a stop a few yards ahead.

    Does this make sense? Am I just being petty?
    i usually just scoot right up to the right. i know some people disagree with this, but one of the reason my bike commute is so efficient, is not waiting through red light cycles.

    most of my intersections are single lane, with the option to go left, right, or straight. if you DID wait like a car, you'd wait on a lot of left turners, and most likely sit through another red light cycle.

    i go right to the front, but if someone's making a right turn (on a red) i give them their space. never been an issue, some people pass me again, but usually at an intersection most people are headed different ways anyway

  13. #13
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    I take my place in the back of the line regardless of the three morons who just had to be where they are...I'd rather they be up front where I don't have to be concerned with them.
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    If there is a wide (sharable) outside lane, a bike lane, or wide shoulder, I head to the front. If the lane is too narrow to share, then I get in line (but watch for right hooks). If it feels like I am "filtering", that is one sign of a non-sharable lane.

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    I'm another one who will take my place in line, unless it's really backed up and that would mean waiting more than one light cycle. In that case I will usually work my way up to where I can get through on the first green.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toddorado
    I've never had any trouble filtering to the front of the line and bursting out first to get across the intersection. No one in a car has ever taken issue with it. I do get some weird looks from people in the right-turn lane as they sandwich me into the middle of two lanes, but that's how it is. If you act like you belong there (which we do), no one bothers you.
    I agree with this 100% and would further say that this is much safer than taking your place in line because the cars in front of you don't know you're there whereas the ones you roll by at the light will all see you. Case in point, just this past weekend I was approaching an intersection as the light turned green. There were about 10 cars in the right traffic lane ahead of me. I was in a marked bike lane. Just as I was about to enter the intersection a car right hooks me. No turn signal, no entering the bike lane which at this point is a combo rt turn/bike lane. I scream at the top of my lungs, brake and veer sharply to the right - all the way across the intersecting streets crosswalk - to avoid being hit. Now if I had been ahead of that car, it would have been more likely to see me and less likely to hit me!

  17. #17
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyCool
    I agree with this 100% and would further say that this is much safer than taking your place in line because the cars in front of you don't know you're there whereas the ones you roll by at the light will all see you. Case in point, just this past weekend I was approaching an intersection as the light turned green. There were about 10 cars in the right traffic lane ahead of me. I was in a marked bike lane. Just as I was about to enter the intersection a car right hooks me. No turn signal, no entering the bike lane which at this point is a combo rt turn/bike lane. I scream at the top of my lungs, brake and veer sharply to the right - all the way across the intersecting streets crosswalk - to avoid being hit. Now if I had been ahead of that car, it would have been more likely to see me and less likely to hit me!
    Word. Filtering-up is ultimately safer IMO. But so is going through red lights when the coast is clear, but most folks will probably grill me for saying so. It minimizes the time you spend in traffic with the cars (I haven't written a proof for it but that's what my intuition tells me) plus it makes your commute faster.
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  18. #18
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    I have no problem filtering unless the lane after the intersection is too narrow to share. In that case, I filter to the front and then stay put and let the cars pass me until the light turns yellow. Then I go last but do not miss the light cycle. If I can enter the intersection earlier as a VC rider, then I will do that instead.

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    I do the same thing as I would on a motorcycle, meaning that if there is enough space to move alongside cars to the front, then I will. This is legal in California (it's called lane-splitting, and I beleive is illegal in most states, although I have no idea why).

  20. #20
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    I avoid putting myself in the situation where I pass someone, just to cut them off by being in their way for a right turn.

    If someone is signalling right, it only makes sense to pass to their left. If the line of cars is extremely long, I'll filter (though not past a truck) if there is room, and place myself to the left of a right turning car.

    If the lane is narrow, just take the middle of the lane. Motorists are much less likely to deliberately run you down than to miscalculate how much room you need.

    I've had one accident when I was young (and foolish) where I burned by a line of cars at a light and got smacked by a right turner. I don't feel it was his fault (I was going about 30kph to his right).

    Finally, as a motorist (I do drive sometimes :-() I get really frustrated when people go straight through an intersection on my right while I'm signalling right. It just doesn't make any sense for anyone to do that, with the exception of pedestrians.

  21. #21
    RT
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    Quote Originally Posted by notfred
    I do the same thing as I would on a motorcycle, meaning that if there is enough space to move alongside cars to the front, then I will. This is legal in California (it's called lane-splitting, and I beleive is illegal in most states, although I have no idea why).
    It's funny you bring that up, because lane-splitters always bothered me. Something about all motorized vehicles being the same in traffic, regardless of number of wheels. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how it has always struck me.

  22. #22
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toddorado
    It's funny you bring that up, because lane-splitters always bothered me. Something about all motorized vehicles being the same in traffic, regardless of number of wheels. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how it has always struck me.
    Personally, I care more about getting the entire flow of traffic to its destination as fast as possible. IF that means that smaller vehicles filter and lane split, so be it; as long as it is safe.

    "Life is unfair". When car drivers opt for smaller and more efficient vehicles, they will be able to split as well.

  23. #23
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyCool
    I agree with this 100% and would further say that this is much safer than taking your place in line because the cars in front of you don't know you're there whereas the ones you roll by at the light will all see you. Case in point, just this past weekend I was approaching an intersection as the light turned green. There were about 10 cars in the right traffic lane ahead of me. I was in a marked bike lane. Just as I was about to enter the intersection a car right hooks me. No turn signal, no entering the bike lane which at this point is a combo rt turn/bike lane. I scream at the top of my lungs, brake and veer sharply to the right - all the way across the intersecting streets crosswalk - to avoid being hit. Now if I had been ahead of that car, it would have been more likely to see me and less likely to hit me!
    This doesn't make sense to me. If you hang back and stay in line behind the cars, who cares if they know you are there are not as they are in front of you. As soon as you go to right of them in bike lane or wide lane you put yourself at risk for the very right hook you encountered.

    I almost always (with exception below) stay in line behind cars, even if it means getting out of bike lane, which I do very often.

    The only time I move forward is when the line is so long I'll miss the green cycle. Then I very carefully and slowly filter/move foward but only far enough so that I will make the green cycle. But I really don't like this for the case when the light does turn green as you are filtering to the right, then you have to merge back between cars in gap so as not to be in very dangerous right side of cars that may be turning right.

    For what its worth I never ride to right of cars at intersections and stay positioned well into lane and have never in over 10k miles of riding ever had a right hook or even near right hook incident from a car in the same lane. They are the least of my cycling concerns.

    Al

  24. #24
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LóFarkas
    I always pass all the stopped cars and shoot out of the queue first, if the road is wide enough... Why not? They'll pass me anyway. This is the fastest for me, and them as well.
    This is the answer I was going to give. I've been doing it since I started riding in 1987.

    A right hook is impossible if the cars are not moving, noisebeam.
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  25. #25
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    What I want to know is one thing when doing this...

    Is it legal to pass the cars on their right when stopped waiting at a stop light? Especially if you are sharing the same lane, even though it is wide enough?

    If it is legal, and you have the room to pass safely with out damaging anyones car by scraping there doors etc, then fine, go ahead and do it.

    If it is illegal to pass a car on the right in the same lane, while waiting at a stop light, then we are all in the wrong, and should not be doing it... ever.
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