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  1. #1
    bike rider jimmythefly's Avatar
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    OK to ride between stopped traffic?

    A brief search didn't bring me anything, apologies if this has been covered before. I'll be commuting to work starting next week. I'm quite comfortable riding in traffic in all conditions (well about as comfortable as you can be -sometimes it feels like I'm an ant on a pool table and 8 year olds are trying to squash me with the balls) My question:

    I'm riding in traffic on a city street, vehicles pass me, all is right with the world. Up ahead a traffic light turns red. Cars stop.

    Do I

    a) stop behind the car currently in front of me, just as if I were a car myself.
    b) ride down the side of the lane to stop at the light next to the first car in line.

    I'm asking specifically about traffic light situations. Generally I wait my turn as If I were a car at stop signs. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I have been told by fellow cyclists. The law says you are to stop where you are? I don't . I don't believe it either..I should check in with the DMV handbook...Seems it did not address this specific topic..If so, that would take away most of the advantage of bike commuting to work..Why...Cars don't think our bike lane a traffic artery.?
    as a side issue...One problem I find difficult at stop lights..Preparing to get into the left turn lane...Ever try to get over there when all cars are stopped and you want to get over there before the light changes...
    Some motorists will not allow you to do such, even tho they can't move.. They will inch up to not allow it...Safest is to cozy up to pedestrian walk and try to move over there before the light changes, or they will intentionally pin you in and break your legs.

  3. #3
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    I usually inch my way up the side of traffic on the right. One time I went up the middle and fell on the side of a car because I underestimated the space. Dood didn't do anything, which was cool, but after that, I just stay to the right unless it's a one way... then I stay to the left and sneak up the left side instead.

    Koffee

  4. #4
    Retrogrouch in Training bostontrevor's Avatar
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    There are a few schools of thought. One is that you're slower than other traffic so there's no reason to pass everyone if they're just going to have to pass you again in a little bit. If the premise is true there's some merit to this line of thought. In that case you hold position unless you don't think you'll make it through on the next cycle in which case you move up to the 2nd-in-line position.

    On the other hand, if there's a chance that you'll be able to pass and not be passed again I say go for it.

    As to the legality, I don't know. That's going to be defined by Seattle and WA state law. Here in Mass cyclists are explicitly given the right to move up on traffic on the right side. Personally I try to pass on the left, even if it means moving between two lanes of stopped traffic, instead of taking the chance that someone who's not expecting moving traffic to the right of the rightmost lane will decide to move out of line and take a right turn and hit me. It's happened to me before. Or you could just get doored. That's probably not fun either.

  5. #5
    contrarian lala's Avatar
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    sometimes it has to be done, outa sheer boredom if nothing else.
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  6. #6
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    If I didn't get to self-righteously blow by all the cars waiting for lights I think I would leave my bike at home. That's the joy of the commute. I don't care that they'll pass me again later on. What I try to do is make sure it's surprising to them how far I got before they came up to me again. My hope is somebody'll say to themselves, Gee this driving thing really isn't much of an advantage, is it. Maybe I should ride my bike instead, too.

    I do it on the right if there's enough room. I lane split on my Vespa, too, at lights if there's enough room. I laugh all the way to the front.
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  7. #7
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Off the go i'm faster than cars across an intersection.
    So I often run the gauntlet to get to the front, or to a turn lane, then I get over and out first.
    If short city blocks and less cars, i'll get in line if going straight.
    It's best to be careful if in the park side lane, a car sitting parked may open a door, 'tween lanes of traffic almost never.

    Oh hell, i ride over meridians, hop curbs..any thing to bust some speed, but I ride well, and in a manner that gets me out of the way.

    I love cruising past backed up traffic..I figure it might be some incentive for them to consider cycling as a way to commute.

  8. #8
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    When I do pass on the right at a stop light, I don't EVER stop to the right of the first car at the light. I either move directly in front of them (after makeing eye contact), or stop several cars back (when the light turns, and traffic moves, I signal my intent-preventing a possible right hook).

    By crossing intersections while "taking the lane", I've also found left turning drivers actually see me better, preventing left hooks. Never take the lane immediately behind a huge land tank (SUV, box truck, etc), which will block your (and oncoming traffics) site lines. Never, ever pass trucks or buses on the right-if they do turn right you may get crushed.

    It's also a good idea to keep up on your "emergency turning skills", in case you are planning to pull up to the front of the line of traffic-but the signal turns green-as you are rite next to the lead car (and it decides to turn right).

  9. #9
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Yeah, dude. move to the front of the line if there's enough room to do so. If you're comfortable riding between lanes, or on the left, do it. Get up ahead of the lead car. I don't get right in front, because I think that's rude, but ahead of the cars bumper to be visible. When making a turn, I usually give a hand signal if its appropriate. Then, bust balls when the light goes green. If you're cranking you can get a half or full block before the cars catch up. I wouldn't wait in line at stops, either, but roll to the front of the line, stop until it's your directions' turn, and ride. Is this all proper VC, I don't think so.

  10. #10
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    Check your Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), or equivalent state legislation - I know in BC, for instance, bikers are prohibited from passing any vehicle that is signalling a right turn (which is often the case in traffic lines).......meaning if you are passing on the right (including intersections) and someone signalling smacks you, not only are you hurting (or dead), but you're also at fault. But, in BC, cyclists are considered slow-moving vehicles and governed by and large by vehicular laws under the MVA.

    That said, if there's a long line and it's not moving, and you can move up - I have no idea what the law is here. I actually haven't encountered the situation on my commute since I started (a very short time ago) - I commute mainly via side streets (it's the most direct route). So, when approaching a light and there's a couple vehicles there, I take the vehicular cycling route, and stop behind the last vehicle, "taking the lane". I don't get ahead (for a whole 5 secs, anyways), but I find the traffic respects me more, by not trying to edge past on my left - I have yet to get a mirror bump. And then, I am not starting out next to a vehicle, the time I find I am most unstable (especially on some uphill starts on my ride).
    Duc in Altum!

  11. #11
    Senior Member royalflash's Avatar
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    Sometimes I do and sometimes I don´t- at least in most of Europe it is not illegal to cycle past stopped cars- it is called filtering.

    You have to be careful while doing it- there is a chance of getting doored or hitting a ped (they often cross without looking when the cars are stopped) or being turned in to or something so I would recommend that you drive past the cars quite slowly and stay alert. When you get to the front of the queue then move out in front so the car drivers can see you and you can get a lead. Don´t lurk about inside the pack of cars. If the cars start off before you get to the front and you end up crossing the intersection with a car then be sure the car is not turning into you even if it is not signalling to turn.

    Sometimes it is not worth the bother (if it is only a couple of cars) and also it can annoy the car drivers so then I just position myself as if I were a car and wait.

    Personally I love it though when I am in my car (rarely) and a cyclist keeps up with the flow of car traffic. It is the best advert for bike commuting. But I suppose I am not normal.
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  12. #12
    bike rider jimmythefly's Avatar
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    Thanks y'all! My inclination was to move on up the line, and now I feel like at least I'm not breaking some unwritten code of commuting. I figure moving up is expected, and driver's won't get mad and start hating bikers just because of this, which was my worry.

    I love really standing on it and getting across the intersection way ahead of cars froma dead stop! 'Course they always catch me in about 100 feet, but it's worth it and gives me a bit of room before they have to pass me again.

    Partially, I feel that when a car doesn't totally move into the other lane to pass me, it's in effect given me permission to share the lane with it, so moving up at the stop is perfectly OK.

    Yes I have developed sophisticated rationalization mechanisms.

    Thanks again for all the tips, I can't wait to ditch the 25 min. drive for my new 2 mile commute.

  13. #13
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    I always check to see if cars are turning right. that will be my first clue if I want to do it. Of course not all cars use turn signals. so if there is plenty of space I am ygo forward but I will usualy not get in front. I iwll be right at the tail of the front car. that way the car behind me can see me and I don't worry what the car in front will do (maybe turn left) if there are only a few cars I get in line.

  14. #14
    Campy or bust :p cryogenic's Avatar
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    Generally speaking, I'll move up on the right and go to the front of the line when a huge line of cars is stopped. I also tend to get in front of the front car (provided it's not turning right) so that they can see me. I have lane split on occasion, though only in one section of town where it was actually feasible to do so. Cars are generally pretty amused/amazed when I blow by them on the right hand side as they sit stuck in traffic. I'm smiling and enjoying the ride. They're moaning and groaning about the horrible traffic. Makes the commute all that much more worthwhile.

  15. #15
    Slow Moving Vehicle Jean Beetham Smith's Avatar
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    On a 2 lane street, I pass on the right. I also pull forward so I am visible to the 1st car in case they are not signalling they want to make a right turn. If they are signaling for a right I stop behind them & wait for them to "right on red" At multi-lane intersections, I take the right turn lane to get to the front of the line then lane split the right turn and straight ahead lanes. This puts me in position to be passed by right turning cars, be visible to the straight ahead cars both behind me and oncoming, and more importantly, to be visible to the oncoming left-turners. If the intersection allows, as is often the case at the intersection of 2 multi-lane highways, I will actually pull about a bike length ahead of the stop line to make myself even more visible. I do this partially because I am short and often ride a bike with 2x 24" wheels and extra small frame. I would be prime "I didn't see her" roadkill without these defensive maneuvers.
    Help grow the future of cycling in the world. Volunteer at your local "earn-a-bike" program. In the Boston area http://www.bikesnotbombs.org/about

  16. #16
    cab horn
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    Don't pass stopped cars on the right, pass on the left. More room, less doors. Use your judgement appropriate for the specific situation you find yourself in.

  17. #17
    cut my gas use in half Jessica's Avatar
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    Truth be told, I go thru stop lights as if I were a law abiding pedestrian. CA state law says I am a slow moving vehicle, but I feel more comfortable using the system made for pedestrians. If I wait in line, I significantly slow down the cars behind me (I am slow...) and most of the lights I encounter have either bike lanes or crosswalks painted, so I use them.

    I know, this is not vehicular cycling, but I cannot slam thru as a vehicle, I am much closer to pedestrian speeds than many of you.
    And I am sure there are other choices I haven't thought of, yet...

  18. #18
    misses the city
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    My philosophy is that if it's okay for drivers to pass me when I am going slower than they are, it should be okay for me to pass them when they're going slower than I am.

    For the drivers who complain about having to pass me again, well, if you hadn't blown past me in your effort to get to the red light, this wouldn't be happening at all, would it?

  19. #19
    Senior Member bidaci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmythefly
    Do I

    a) stop behind the car currently in front of me, just as if I were a car myself.
    I would never stop directly behind a car. You are less visible to motorists and if the next car coming doesn't see you in time, you may get rearended and sandwiched. I've had this happen on a motorcycle when I didn't have my stoplight activated.
    Bill

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  20. #20
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica
    Truth be told, I go thru stop lights as if I were a law abiding pedestrian. CA state law says I am a slow moving vehicle, but I feel more comfortable using the system made for pedestrians. If I wait in line, I significantly slow down the cars behind me (I am slow...) and most of the lights I encounter have either bike lanes or crosswalks painted, so I use them.

    I know, this is not vehicular cycling, but I cannot slam thru as a vehicle, I am much closer to pedestrian speeds than many of you.
    The primary problem with cycling in crosswalks in your example, is that you are less maneuverable than a ped (you can't "jump" out of the way). Also, although many cyclists state that they "go slow" in cross walks (or go fast&"zip" across)-they are easily faster than walking speed. Walking speeds are what drivers "expect" in crosswalks.

    A right turning driver will be looking left for cross traffic (perhaps after a quick right look-if at all-that the crosswalk is clear), once the right turning driver has an opening they will turn-a "slow moving" cyclist will then be partially across the cross walk (in an unexpected position to the turner) as the right turning driver looks for peds again, they will be looking near the curb-then be turning. The cyclist could easily get clipped in the rear wheal (or worse).

    Just an observation--I don't drive much now a days (mostly bike), but I've allmost clipped 2 cyclists (one as described above, one a "wrong way" cyclist) while driving--and I ALLWAYS look for cyclists (as well as looking left&right before turning).

    Crosswalks are for walking. I dissmount and walk if crossing in one.

  21. #21
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Oh, that's a bunch of BS about expecting "walking speeds" in the crosswalk. A car that sees a bike in the cross walk won't expect anything of which you say. It's not like once you get into a car you lose all depth perception and all ability to judge relative speed.

    What's likely to happen is if you are travelling against traffic in a cross walk, cross traffic won't look in your direction (your right turning motorist won't look to his right) and may hit you. This happens to me all the time as a pedestrian and makes me want to carry a bike flag so I can wave it in front of cars who aren't looking my way.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  22. #22
    Enjoy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camel
    Never take the lane immediately behind a huge land tank (SUV, box truck, etc), which will block your (and oncoming traffics) site lines.

    It's also a good idea to keep up on your "emergency turning skills", in case you are planning to pull up to the front of the line of traffic-but the signal turns green-as you are rite next to the lead car (and it decides to turn right).
    Some street-smart advice...good thinking!

  23. #23
    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bidaci
    I would never stop directly behind a car. You are less visible to motorists ...
    I've found that the quickest way to get the attention of overtaking drivers is to postion my vehicle right in the middle of the marked travel lane (which is usually where they are too 8-)
    Quote Originally Posted by bidaci
    ... and if the next car coming doesn't see you in time, you may get rearended and sandwiched.
    Trade offs. The decrease in your visibilty and predictability caused by not traveling where almost every other driver travels (and expects others to travel) is, IMHO, a greater danger.
    Quote Originally Posted by bidaci
    I've had this happen on a motorcycle when I didn't have my stoplight activated.
    Daylight visible tail lights are now available for those bicyclists who want one. For example:
    http://www.cateye.com/en/products/vi...d=7&subCatId=4
    Humantransport.org: Advocacy on behalf of humans traveling under their own power

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bidaci
    I would never stop directly behind a car. You are less visible to motorists and if the next car coming doesn't see you in time, you may get rearended and sandwiched. I've had this happen on a motorcycle when I didn't have my stoplight activated.
    how will you handle the situation: if the car at the red light --- was parked/stopped in such a way --- was blocking your access to park/pass to its right-hand side.? Be it the car in the front of the line, or the 3rd, 6th, from the front, etc.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    I have been told by fellow cyclists. The law says you are to stop where you are? I don't . I don't believe it either..I should check in with the DMV handbook...Seems it did not address this specific topic..If so, that would take away most of the advantage of bike commuting to work..Why...Cars don't think our bike lane a traffic artery.?
    as a side issue...One problem I find difficult at stop lights..Preparing to get into the left turn lane...Ever try to get over there when all cars are stopped and you want to get over there before the light changes...
    Some motorists will not allow you to do such, even tho they can't move.. They will inch up to not allow it...Safest is to cozy up to pedestrian walk and try to move over there before the light changes, or they will intentionally pin you in and break your legs.
    Yes, abput that left-nad turn lane: If I understand You correctly. What I (also) do, if it's too difficult to get into that lane, as I'm approaching a bunch of cars in front of me. {depending which bike {road or cruiser** I'm using, I'll simply pass the cars, via the bike lane or in between the car lanes. And then cross the cars horizontally, via the pedestrian crosswalk. they hate that!!! And I will be the front one in that left-hand turn lane, period.

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