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  1. #1
    sdime
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    Filtering Etiquette in heavy traffic area

    I realize that when there isn't a bike lane filtering up to the front of the line at a traffic light is frowned upon by some straightlace cyclists. However, what would you do if the traffic is backed up half of a mile? Which one of you would not filter in this case? It would take 20-30 minutes to cross the intersection if you don't filter. However, it would only take 5 minutes if you do.

    I have to struggle with this dilema everyday. Because of extensive road construction, the traffic backup occurs daily, for the foreseeable future. I'll been honked at every other day by crazy motorists, who are probably mad because I was looking very smug as I rode straight to the front of the line. This is really the only route to take; other routes are worse. It's beginning to bother me because today this motorist also went berserk as he drove past; I can see his head bobbing and turning violently back and forth and his hand waving about. It also might have something to do with my retaliation after his honking by intentionally moving over to the middle of the lane.

    edit: Just to clarify a bit, the berserk motorist honked after I had passed the intersection when traffic was flowing smoothly. I think he is pissed off that he just waited 30 minutes at the light and had to wait some more for me (the road was very narrow, and he was driving a wide body BMW SUV that wasn't going to be able to squeeze thru without killing me.)
    Last edited by sdime; 06-28-07 at 07:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    Filtering is fine. BUT--it's give and take. You 'let' them pass in the same lane you're in and you pass them in turn. It's mutual. Be a dick about it and it isn't. Move along and don't start stuff with the p/o'd genius in the two ton steel cage. Doing otherwise just costs you time, effort, piece of mind.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdime
    I have to struggle with this dilema everyday. Because of extensive road construction, the traffic backup occurs daily, for the foreseeable future. I'll been honked at every other day by crazy motorists, who are probably mad because I was looking very smug as I rode straight to the front of the line. This is really the only route to take; other routes are worse. It's beginning to bother me because today this motorists also went berserk as he drove past; I can see his head bobbing and turning violently back and forth and his hand waving about. It also might have something to do with my retaliation after his honking by intentionally moving over to the middle of the lane.
    Why the "retaliation"? Look -- if you were filtering past stopped cars, honking at you was a stupid and petty to do, and he probably knew it the second he did it. So you were a jerk in return, and he's now gone from thinking, "wow, that was a stupid and petty thing to do, I kinda wish I hadn't done that," to, "Oh yeah? Well fsck you!!!"

    Of course, you said you "intentionally mov[ed] over to the middle of the lane", which makes me think that you weren't filtering past stopped traffic, but past slowly moving or stop-and-start traffic. I think that's still permissible, but you have to be cool about it. You may have startled the hell out of the guy, who didn't see you coming (not having eyes in the back of his head) and who reacted to what he saw as an unsafe move by hitting the horn.

    So, y'know...if you want to know how to do this and avoid conflicts, I think you have to a)sit in their seat a bit, to understand what provocative behavior is, and b)don't escalate.

  4. #4
    sdime
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    He saw me alright. See my "edit" in the original post. The honking started after I had crossed the intersection and this guy caught up to me. After he started honking, I decided to not let him pass by squeezing me because there is a three-foot high concrete barrier on my right. What pissed me off was the fact I was trying to be as accommodating as possible by riding extremely close to the concrete barrier, before he started going nuts.

  5. #5
    the greatest swindle srsly's Avatar
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    this sounds like a hellish place to ride a bike. that really sucks that there aren't other routes you can take. personally i don't filter if there's no shoulder, i.e. downtown. i'm of a mind that when you're on your bike and in the road you're a vehicle and you should act accordingly. on the other hand you don't ride a bike to work to sit in traffic. sometimes it can't be helped. i'm lucky enough that my route, even during the recent construction, was still reasonably bike friendly. just keep your head and be as polite as possible.

    i've had to drive a bit this week and after watching what some bikes do in traffic i have to say i'm shocked. the things some people do just scare the crap out of me. i saw two guys on fixies squeezing through stop-n-go traffic on a bumper-to-bumper street downtown going pretty quick, with no helmets. i also see people just get up on the sidewalk and then back into traffic when it suits them.

    i guess my point is filter when it's prudent. around here it's law that a bike can take the lane when it's reasonable to do so, but that "reasonable" leaves a gray area. just be safe about it.
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  6. #6
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    As far as I know, filtering forward is illegal so it's good to minimize the inconvenience it causes to others. And since you don't have a bike lane after the intersection, you are going to slow people down a little.

    I have seen a lot of sidewalks along high-speed streets that see no pedestrian traffic whatsoever and don't cross too many driveways. If you have a sidewalk like that you could ride on it for long enough to let the last 20 or so cars you passed (illegally?) to pass you. Even if it's less than ideal due to driveway crossings or intersections where you might not be seen (sidewalks that are set back from the road provide less visibility) you might do better using the sidewalk and going really slow every time you go into a spot where a car could cross your path.

    Otherwise, I guess you ride on the road and do your best not to make people mad. I'm not going to tell you "don't filter" because I sure would, in your situation.
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  7. #7
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    There's only one thing I know for sure - if you get into a pissing contest with a car, you will lose.

    I've never heard anyone say approriate filtering is wrong, I think that's a strawman argument. If you can slide by a half mile of stopped cars, do it. Constantly darting in/out of traffic isn't particularly cool, nor is intentionally impeding traffic, even if the motorist behind you is a tool (are the motorists behind him equally toolish?)

    I don't have opportunity to filter much on my commute, but my general rule is not to make cars pass me more than once. So basically, try not to keep refiltering through the same traffic at multiple lights.

    In the end, just be as considerate to the drivers as you'd like them to be to you. Ignore jealous honks from idiots who wish they were moving.

  8. #8
    sdime
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    I agree now that I was wrong to retaliate, but boy blocking and screaming at him sure made me feel a lot better than just taking it like a lamb.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdime
    I agree now that I was wrong to retaliate, but boy blocking and screaming at him sure made me feel a lot better than just taking it like a lamb.
    I have a short fuse too, I know how it is. If it was me (and I thought of it), I'd point out that if he'd get his fat ass on a bike and ditch the SUV, he'd move more than half a mile in 20 minutes.

    I think I've been leading a charmed life or something, only honked at once this month. However, I've carefully chosen my route to get one with little traffic and a 35mph speed limit. Is that particular stretch of road the only way to get from point A to point B?

  10. #10
    sdime
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    This route is 5.2 miles, and has bike lanes for most of the way except the construction area (about 1 mile). The speed limit is mostly around 45mph. A second option is about 8 miles; no construction, speed limit of 35, but also virtually no bike lane at all. The third option is really far; like 15 miles, no bike lanes.

    Good news is after the construction is done, the 5.2-mile route will have almost all bike lane. I have no idea how long it will take 'em to finish. One year, two, three. Who knows. There is also a small bridge that is being rebuilt. I imagine a bridge would take longer.

  11. #11
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    That doesn't sound like much fun at all!

    Too bad you don't have any back roads. I added about 2 miles to my commute to avoid roads that have ramps onto the freeway. The bike lane on those roads are absolute death traps. Now my commute is 1.5 miles of fairly residential roads, half a mile of a main road with low traffic, and 4 miles of MUP. Pretty nice!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by cerewa
    As far as I know, filtering forward is illegal so it's good to minimize the inconvenience it causes to others.
    It's legal in my state as long as it's filtering to the right.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  13. #13
    Plays in Traffic 1ply's Avatar
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    I WOULD filter past all stopped cars. It's not my fault that they can't

    Seriously though, my only real filtering opportunities are on stretches of road that also have a bike lane so I go right up to the front of the line. The only time I don't is when I'm coming up to a stretch with no bike lane after the intersection and there is a bus or truck that's first in line or near the front. I will let them get on their way as it's harder for them to pass me after the intersection. The cars can suffer - it's a lot easier for them to move slightly over than it is for a bus.

    Besides, buses are our friends.



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  14. #14
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I haven't encountered many problems with filtering around here. Traffic backs up pretty bad around Redmond and Woodinville, especially on 202 since that's really the main conduit between the two cities. A few of the main intersections can get backed up for over 1.5 miles during rush hour, and there's no way I'd sit in traffic (breathing the exhaust of the car in front of me) waiting to inch forward when I can very safely cruise up the right-hand side of the line.
    Sure, there's some people that get cheesed-off over it. I've had people yell at me, or try to edge over into the shoulder (as if that's really going to stop me,) but I typically just shrug it off. When I cross an intersection (especially the light at the bottom of the big hill on my way home) I make sure to ride waaaay over to the side, allowing traffic enough room to pass me. (It's not a marked bike lane, but it's about a 6' wide shoulder at that point and if I rode in the lane, the low divider on the left would make it impossible for cars to pass me for quite a while. I don't feel the need to irritate anyone, nor do I feel unsafe riding the shoulder up this hill.)
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  15. #15
    Senior Member acroy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdime
    I realize that when there isn't a bike lane filtering up to the front of the line at a traffic light is frowned upon by some straightlace cyclists. However, what would you do if the traffic is backed up half of a mile? Which one of you would not filter in this case? It would take 20-30 minutes to cross the intersection if you don't filter. However, it would only take 5 minutes if you do.

    I have to struggle with this dilema everyday. Because of extensive road construction, the traffic backup occurs daily, for the foreseeable future. I'll been honked at every other day by crazy motorists, who are probably mad because I was looking very smug as I rode straight to the front of the line. This is really the only route to take; other routes are worse. It's beginning to bother me because today this motorist also went berserk as he drove past; I can see his head bobbing and turning violently back and forth and his hand waving about. It also might have something to do with my retaliation after his honking by intentionally moving over to the middle of the lane.

    edit: Just to clarify a bit, the berserk motorist honked after I had passed the intersection when traffic was flowing smoothly. I think he is pissed off that he just waited 30 minutes at the light and had to wait some more for me (the road was very narrow, and he was driving a wide body BMW SUV that wasn't going to be able to squeeze thru without killing me.)
    I hear ya! I also deal with backed-up TX traffic and filter on through. forget waiting, that's part of the reason i ride a bike instead of drive. let the drivers get jealous... it also gets them thinking. I occasionally filter on by my co-workers heading into the same office - I arrive first! it gets them thinking, there has been more interest in bike commuting since I've been doing it these years.

    As far as people honking at ya: kill em with kindness. Smile & wave. if it gets verbal, be passive. "did I hold you up?" "are you just upset I get somewhere faster?" "try riding a bike, you can go to the front of the line & is a great stress reducer"
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  16. #16
    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    Filter.


    When I have a major backup like that on my primary route I either move to the sidewalk or move to a parallel street. When I do the later, which runs through a residential neighborhood, I take the whole lane. I previously notice the ppl that were cutting through the neighborhood were doing so at an extraordinary rate of speed. kids playing etc pretty scary. As a bonus (yes it's immature) I can really irritate drivers trying to save time by cutting through the neighborhood.
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  17. #17
    Blasted Weeds Tude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CastIron
    Filtering is fine. BUT--it's give and take. You 'let' them pass in the same lane you're in and you pass them in turn. It's mutual. Be a dick about it and it isn't. Move along and don't start stuff with the p/o'd genius in the two ton steel cage. Doing otherwise just costs you time, effort, piece of mind.

    What he said, in so many words

    I'm the bicyclist who is heavily involved with bicycle advocacy, am a member of advocacy agencies and I'm quite verbal about enjoying the right to using the road as any other vehicle. Blowing lights, riding on the other side of the street and just being a, using Clifton's word, DICK about your bicycle - and I say something.

    I want to be considered and be able to enjoy the road - by ignoring the laws just tells car/truck drivers - uh-huh - just another jackarse on a bicycle - who doesn't belong on the road anyway.

    That is the attitude I fight.

  18. #18
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    For me, it's very situationally dependent. My default rule is to filter to within one cycle of the traffic light, then (if I'm going straight through the intersection) take a place in line, because I don't think it's safe to ride to the right of traffic through the intersection, at least the first 1/2 of it. Taking your place makes you more visible and makes motorists more cautious with you, in my experience. But this behavior can be modified by several factors.

    First, I only feel comfortable filtering to the right if there are not a lot of turnouts to the right, and if there is a good several feet of space. If either of these conditions are not true, sometimes I will actually pass on the left instead, or maybe I will just try to be patient and wait in line. In the case of a cement construction wall to the side, which I have also had occasionally (not on my route, but on the road I sometimes take to buy lunch), I've either waited or filtered very slowly on the right, maybe even just pushing myself along. I don't want to take the chance of getting too close to a car mirror or to the wall while going too fast. Plus, I think showing that you're being careful and aware of the risk gets you more respect from those around you. In any case, I still always take a place in line within one light cycle, unless I am turning right at the intersection, in which case I might just stay right and do a right turn on red.

    I do feel like you've got to be sensitive to the fact that you're really probably breaking the law, and so it should be approached with an attitude of humbleness and patience. Riding a bike does not give you the right to break the law, even if in this situation most people expect it and you probably aren't going to get ticketed for it. (Unless, that is, you don't have a bell! )

    That said, it's taken me several years to do so without the big *-eating grin on my face!
    Last edited by JohnBrooking; 06-29-07 at 09:46 AM.
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  19. #19
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    safety first.

    cars split (share?) lanes with me, i split (share) lanes with cars. the drivers can bugger off.
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  20. #20
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I don't have a problem with it. The Vehicle Code requires cyclists to ride to right side as far as practicable. If motor traffic is inching along, it's far more practicable for me to sail along on the right. And in a construction area with a three-foot barrier, I'd probably take the lane.
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  21. #21
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    safety first.

    cars split (share?) lanes with me, i split (share) lanes with cars. the drivers can bugger off.

    Precisely.

    Why do we say a car passes a bicycle and a bicycle filters past a car?

  22. #22
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS
    Why do we say a car passes a bicycle and a bicycle filters past a car?
    According to the vehicle code in most places, passing is expected to be done on the left, consistent with the rule about slower traffic staying to the right (like bikes, usually). Passing on the right is usually prohibited, which is why it is probably illegal even for bikes, unless another law explicitly make it okay for bikes, which is the case in some places. Anyway, that's probably why we say "filtering" when we mean "passing on the right". I would call a bike passing on the left just "passing", and is more consistent with the spirit of the law, if not the letter as well. In some places, the bikes-to-the-right rule contains an exception for passing slower moving traffic, to make it clear that bikes are allowed to pass on the left just as cars are supposed to.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
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  23. #23
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tude
    Blowing lights, riding on the other side of the street and just being a, using Clifton's word, DICK about your bicycle - and I say something.
    I have said that previously, but it wasn't me this time. (Although I do agree with the sentiment.)
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  24. #24
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    As long as you can keep up with traffic, pass on the left, no worries about cars turning hard right into you or unexpected doors. Move to the right when the cars speed up. I rarely get honked at in my city commute.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Winter76's Avatar
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    I filter past cars whenever it's safe to do so, I'll even hop the curb to get past the JAMs that know I'm coming and stop right next to the curb.

    Perhaps try looking apologetic instead of smug as you go by them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by madfiNch
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!

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