How to make a left hand turn
Okay, so here's a little drawing I threw together to demonstrate what I did today.
The circle is me, the arrows show my direction, and the boxes are traffic lights (sorry for the awful drawing). I started off on the right hand side of the road, next to the sidewalk. I signaled to move over to the left side, in order to be in the correct position to make a left hand turn.
When I moved, people started giving me dirty looks, so I must have done something wrong. I rode on the left hand side of the left lane, very close to the divider for about a minute until I reached the intersection, did I move too soon? I'm very confused, please help.
1. How do you know the looks were dirty? Was there a trail of mud coming from their eyes?
2. You did right but you should have been on the right side of the left lane (hugging the lane) so that you would be noticed by the traffic going straight also on the outside of traffic.
3. Always use hand signals so that people understand your intentions.
Thank you for your answer.
Am I allowed to stay on the left hand side of the left lane whenever I want, or only when I want to turn? I think I might have moved there to early, I was still a couple minutes from the intersection.
And a guy stood his head out of the window and yelled "get off the road", he looked pretty young and wore his had backwards so I didn't take him too seriously, but seriously enough to ask here.
Please don't conclude that you did something wrong because a driver gave you a dirty look. Getting dirty looks from drivers will happen to every bicycle commuter who travels on the roads. You got a dirty look because they felt inconvenienced, not because you did something wrong. You have the right to be on the road, and you are obligated to follow the same rules as the cars do. You did the right thing.
Originally Posted by Mozzywoods
I've not seen any law in my city that requires me to stay in the right lane. There's the general rule of thumb that slower traffic should keep right, but if you need to make a left turn, move left when appropriate and safe.
Originally Posted by Mozzywoods
Ignore the guy in the hat. A bicycle is a vehicle, and you have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as any other vehicle.
In the right lane
Mozzywoods, the left hand turn is the most difficult bike maneuver. Especially on a busy street.
IMHO, there's no shame in getting off the road and crossing as a pedestrian if there's no other way.
What you need to figure out is when traffic is just impossible and make adjustments. Personally, I would err on the side of caution.
What state are you in?
Basically, cyclists are allowed to make left turns just like a car. To do this competently, takes a bit of practice and experience (it isn't exactly easy). You have to move left earlier than you may be doing currently and you have to be able to keep tabs on traffic behind you.
Note that it's harder to do the left turn thing on high speed roads.
The better you get at making left turns, the fewer complaints you'll get from other drivers!
Last edited by njkayaker; 07-27-10 at 10:45 PM.
Thanks for the help guys, this site has a great community!
Bike addict, dreamer
What the posters above said is all good advice: take the lane to avoid being squeezed, that's legal in most states, be confident and make your intentions clear by signaling your turn, yeah, basically do what a car would do, don't worry about getting dirty looks from drives, that's "normal". Make an eye contact with them, that helps a bit. And yes, if in doubt or if you feel unsafe just cross the intersection as a pedestrian, walking your bike. There is nothing wrong with that, that's actually one of the advantages of riding a bike: you can dismount and become a pedestrian in a second and pass a traffic jam safely on the sidewalk
Be visible, wear bright colors, otherwise the above maneuver may not be safe. I always wear either red or yellow shirt/tops.
Move across lanes when there is a suitable gap in the traffic - this means you may have to do it a long way from the intersection. A helmet or glasses mounted mirror is a great help when watching for a gap in the traffic. When in the LH lane I would have stayed in the middle of the lane until I got to the traffic lights, to avoid being left-hooked by a car turning at the lights, then move over to the middle of the road as I passed the lights.