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Old 10-10-13, 10:39 AM   #1
barolo
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How to handle highway exit

I'd appreciate a bit of advice. I'm cycling from Vancouver to Richmond, British Columbia, for my morning commute.

I ride into this situation each morning, and I am unsure of the best way to handle it.

Here's the spot on google maps:

https://www.google.ca/maps?ll=49.143...90205&t=m&z=11

I'm cycling on the shoulder/bike-lane of Westminster Highway. At the exit to Hwy 99 south, I want to keep going straight. Cars are going pretty fast, and there are a lot of big trucks. I'm riding up hill, and towards the end of my commute, so I am not going very fast.



Should I ride along the left edge of the exit lane, attempting to leave sufficient room for exiting cars to pass on my right (the red path on the attached photo)? Should I stick to the shoulder, and try to zip across the exit lane at the last minute, when safe to do so (the yellow path on the photo)? Or some other option?

Thanks!
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Old 10-10-13, 10:44 AM   #2
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Neither. Take the lane. Merge into the right-hand traffic lane well before the exit. Taking the yellow path and quickly zipping across the lane could easily be timed wrong and you could get nailed. Taking the red path allows the situation of being sandwiched between two cars, a dangerous situation.
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Old 10-10-13, 10:47 AM   #3
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I stay inside, left of of the Fog line, so Exiting Driver merges off to the right of me ..
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Old 10-10-13, 10:48 AM   #4
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Thanks for the reply, awsimons. What you say about taking the lane makes sense, I think.

As for any fast-moving dump trucks, etc, in the lane that I merge into - obviously I'll try to not cut anybody off, but since I cannot possibly keep up with the general speed of traffic, they will just have to suck it up and live with my slowness for that stretch of road?

Last edited by barolo; 10-10-13 at 10:51 AM. Reason: Further clarification
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Old 10-10-13, 11:00 AM   #5
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To me, the red line is the worst option. This line invites unsafe passes from traffic in lanes to your left and right.

I wouldn't follow the yellow path for three reasons. First, I am not going to make a right hand turn so I am not going to position myself to ride as if I were. Second, the shoulder virtually disappears and you are going to have to ride into the right turn lane anyway or way too close to it for safety. Third, if the traffic is or gets heavy you may run out of road to cut over back onto the shoulder of the through lane and either have to stop in a vulnerable position with little shoulder or be forced to exit the road to the right.

At some point prior to reaching the turn lane, at a break in traffic, I am going to signal a left turn and move into the rightmost through lane until I pass the exit and can safely travel on the shoulder again. In order not to run out of shoulder, the heavier the traffic, the sooner I am going to look to get out in to the through lane.

Edit: Took too long....


Yes merge into the lane when safe and any traffic behind you will have to slow and/or move over into the leftmost lane to pass.
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Old 10-10-13, 11:07 AM   #6
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Thanks so much for the thorough answer! I'm really glad I asked. You've convinced me that taking the lane is the safest approach.

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To me, the red line is the worst option. This line invites unsafe passes from traffic in lanes to your left and right.

I wouldn't follow the yellow path for three reasons. First, I am not going to make a right hand turn so I am not going to position myself to ride as if I were. Second, the shoulder virtually disappears and you are going to have to ride into the right turn lane anyway or way too close to it for safety. Third, if the traffic is or gets heavy you may run out of road to cut over back onto the shoulder of the through lane and either have to stop in a vulnerable position with little shoulder or be forced to exit the road to the right.

At some point prior to reaching the turn lane, at a break in traffic, I am going to signal a left turn and move into the rightmost through lane until I pass the exit and can safely travel on the shoulder again. In order not to run out of shoulder, the heavier the traffic, the sooner I am going to look to get out in to the through lane.

Edit: Took too long....


Yes merge into the lane when safe and any traffic behind you will have to slow and/or move over into the leftmost lane to pass.
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Old 10-10-13, 01:14 PM   #7
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Thanks so much for the thorough answer! I'm really glad I asked. You've convinced me that taking the lane is the safest approach.
I don't know... fietsbob gave you a less thorough maybe, but no less viable option. What is it about "taking the lane" that is so attractive? I mean, any road that has exits is going to have speed limits in the 45mph arena. Do you really want to get in the middle of a lane with 45mph traffic and "make them suck it up"? Really? In a situation like that, and I ride regularly on highways like that here, I am over to the rightmost edge of the lane that is not peeling off for the exit. That's where drivers expect you to be, and they can pass you on your left as needed. Most won't. A few might. Being struck in such a situation has never happened. To anyone. In my city. Ever. What is "unsafe" about that? A few weeks ago someone posted about the death of a cyclist that was to all appearances struck from behind while cycling in the right-hand lane of traffic when there was a perfectly serviceable shoulder to his right. There were NO follow-up posts to my observation that had that cyclist not been a "take the lane" advocate that he might be alive today. None. One of the shortest threads in the history of the Commute forum. So very sorry to break it to you barolo but you are being given typical, for this forum, (and A&S) knee jerk cyclist entitlement advice. Its what you wanted to hear, however. Consider this though. Bob and me have been riding for a long time. A real long time. The take the lane upstarts, not so much. Your choice. Just wanted to even up the sides in the argument.

H
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Old 10-10-13, 01:33 PM   #8
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Here is one I frequently take; Harbor Drive in both directions. As I approach the merge I turn my head and establish eye contact then drif across if I am certain its safe. Otherwise I stop and wait for a gap in the traffic. This happens a lot more northbound than it does southbound. The cars exiting the interstate north approach a traffic signal, then a guard gate where they have to stop, so this slows them down some. Cars exiting the interstate to SB Harbor have a sharp turn that slows them somewhat.

http://goo.gl/maps/dx31q
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Old 10-10-13, 01:49 PM   #9
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Thanks for the feedback!

So it sounds like you think I should be IN the rightmost through-lane (ie, NOT in the exit lane, where the red line in my diagram is, and NOT on the shoulder, where the yellow line on my diagram is). However, perhaps there is some question about where, within that lane, the bike ought to be. You are saying that I should be in the rightmost part of that lane, so that cars can still pass me on the left, within that lane - is that correct?

There is some uncertainty in my mind as to what exactly it means to "take" a lane. I just thought it meant "be in" the lane. I didn't necessarily think it meant "be in the very center of" the lane.

I did not understand fietsbob's advice, because I was unfamiliar with the term "Fog line". Sorry :-(


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I don't know... fietsbob gave you a less thorough maybe, but no less viable option. What is it about "taking the lane" that is so attractive? I mean, any road that has exits is going to have speed limits in the 45mph arena. Do you really want to get in the middle of a lane with 45mph traffic and "make them suck it up"? Really? In a situation like that, and I ride regularly on highways like that here, I am over to the rightmost edge of the lane that is not peeling off for the exit. That's where drivers expect you to be, and they can pass you on your left as needed. Most won't. A few might. Being struck in such a situation has never happened. To anyone. In my city. Ever. What is "unsafe" about that? A few weeks ago someone posted about the death of a cyclist that was to all appearances struck from behind while cycling in the right-hand lane of traffic when there was a perfectly serviceable shoulder to his right. There were NO follow-up posts to my observation that had that cyclist not been a "take the lane" advocate that he might be alive today. None. One of the shortest threads in the history of the Commute forum. So very sorry to break it to you barolo but you are being given typical, for this forum, (and A&S) knee jerk cyclist entitlement advice. Its what you wanted to hear, however. Consider this though. Bob and me have been riding for a long time. A real long time. The take the lane upstarts, not so much. Your choice. Just wanted to even up the sides in the argument.

H

Last edited by barolo; 10-10-13 at 01:51 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 10-10-13, 01:57 PM   #10
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I know this place! As others have said, stay to the left of the line dividing the lanes, and prepare your move well in advance. This might mean speeding up or slowing down before the turn lane starts to ensure you can merge safely.
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Old 10-10-13, 02:19 PM   #11
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Thanks for the feedback!

So it sounds like you think I should be IN the rightmost through-lane (ie, NOT in the exit lane, where the red line in my diagram is, and NOT on the shoulder, where the yellow line on my diagram is). However, perhaps there is some question about where, within that lane, the bike ought to be. You are saying that I should be in the rightmost part of that lane, so that cars can still pass me on the left, within that lane - is that correct?

There is some uncertainty in my mind as to what exactly it means to "take" a lane. I just thought it meant "be in" the lane. I didn't necessarily think it meant "be in the very center of" the lane.

I did not understand fietsbob's advice, because I was unfamiliar with the term "Fog line". Sorry :-(
Barolo some people believe it is safest to ride in the middle of a lane that is too narrow to permit a safe pass within the lane by a car. Others believe that it is best to stay to the far right of such a lane and allow cars to squeeze past if they feel they can.

I obviously believe it is safest to take the lane. There is plenty of literature for and against vehicular cycling. I suggest you to seek out all the literature and make an informed decision.
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Old 10-10-13, 02:27 PM   #12
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I hate to rain on your parade but I sincerely think this is one of those situations where there is NO best answer.

Regardless of what you do there are going to be those people who ignorantly or maliciously cut you off or pass too close or worse yet run you over. All I can do is recommend you watch like a hawk, never assume ANYONE is NOT going to kill you and get across as quickly as you can. Is there an alternate route you can take that is safer? Perhaps even one that might take you out of the way a mile or so just to avoid this situation.

Personally I favor taking the lane, but I've almost been clipped, right hooked and passed way to close more than a few times. There are a few intersections, roadways and even whole roads I jut refuse to ride on because it is not worth the risk to me.

What ever you do, stay safe friend!
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Old 10-10-13, 03:57 PM   #13
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That is a bit of a bear of an exit due to the slight uphill grade there. I used to just look over my shoulder in that spot and move to the left - into the through lane - and stay there just until you clear that exit lane.

As you say, you aren't going fast there and your best friend could be the traffic light on the other side - but I agree with one of the posters above. Move left, enough to be in the lane and stay there until you can't be right hooked by someone going for the exit. Then back to the bike lane and a big thank you wave to the person behind you for being understanding.

how are you coming in from Vancouver? Oak street? Your only other real choice do alternate route would be way up around Bridgeport area probably, which if you are heading toward somewhere like Smallwood would be a royal pain.

Last edited by wapiti; 10-10-13 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 10-10-13, 03:58 PM   #14
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Actually, I appreciate you raining on my parade, thanks :-) We're talking about my safety here, so I'd much rather be aware of all the dangers than be ignorantly confident in my approach. I've been hit by a car pretty hard before, and I don't want it to happen again!

I don't think there is a safer alternate route - I spent ages choosing the route that I take, and the spot that I mentioned is the only little stretch that feels strategically challenging. The whole rest of my 20km route is quite straightforward.

I think I'll just have to try both options (right hand side of the lane, and "taking" the lane) and see which one feels safer. I can probably also try to time my rides with lighter traffic, by dragging my butt out of bed early enough to miss rush hour. Which will mean darkness, but good, bright bike lights can help that. Missing rush hour might mean that I'm able to find a break in traffic sufficiently large enough that no one will even have to try to pass me on that little stretch. And it will also perhaps be a good incentive to get in better cardio shape, so I can sprint that section fast enough. :-)

Thanks for the advice, it's appreciated.



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I hate to rain on your parade but I sincerely think this is one of those situations where there is NO best answer.

Regardless of what you do there are going to be those people who ignorantly or maliciously cut you off or pass too close or worse yet run you over. All I can do is recommend you watch like a hawk, never assume ANYONE is NOT going to kill you and get across as quickly as you can. Is there an alternate route you can take that is safer? Perhaps even one that might take you out of the way a mile or so just to avoid this situation.

Personally I favor taking the lane, but I've almost been clipped, right hooked and passed way to close more than a few times. There are a few intersections, roadways and even whole roads I jut refuse to ride on because it is not worth the risk to me.

What ever you do, stay safe friend!
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Old 10-10-13, 03:59 PM   #15
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I hate to rain on your parade but I sincerely think this is one of those situations where there is NO best answer...

What ever you do, stay safe friend!
While there may be NO best answer, one good answer is wear a rearview mirror.

I wear two eyeglass-mounted mirrors, right and left. With the right hand mirror, I can view the entrance or exit ramps to my right, and stay wide of them, while watching upcoming traffic on my left, all while almost continuously looking straight ahead.
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Old 10-10-13, 04:09 PM   #16
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Interesting! I had not thought of a wearable mirror. I can see how that could be helpful here. Thanks for the suggestion.

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While there may be NO best answer, one good answer is wear a rearview mirror.

I wear two eyeglass-mounted mirrors, right and left. With the right hand mirror, I can view the entrance or exit ramps to my right, and stay wide of them, while watching upcoming traffic on my left, all while almost continuously looking straight ahead.
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Old 10-10-13, 04:26 PM   #17
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I'm coming in from Vancouver via the Skytrain bridge. This is my route:

http://www.strava.com/activities/87996865

I don't want to take Bridgeport, because I'd end up riding a long way on No. 6 road, which I dislike. Doesn't feel safe.



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That is a bit of a bear of an exit due to the slight uphill grade there. I used to just look over my shoulder in that spot and move to the left - into the through lane - and stay there just until you clear that exit lane.

As you say, you aren't going fast there and your best friend could be the traffic light on the other side - but I agree with one of the posters above. Move left, enough to be in the lane and stay there until you can't be right hooked by someone going for the exit. Then back to the bike lane and a big thank you wave to the person behind you for being understanding.

how are you coming in from Vancouver? Oak street? Your only other real choice do alternate route would be way up around Bridgeport area probably, which if you are heading toward somewhere like Smallwood would be a royal pain.

Last edited by barolo; 10-10-13 at 04:29 PM. Reason: more route info
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Old 10-10-13, 06:08 PM   #18
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I'm coming in from Vancouver via the Skytrain bridge. This is my route:

http://www.strava.com/activities/87996865

I don't want to take Bridgeport, because I'd end up riding a long way on No. 6 road, which I dislike. Doesn't feel safe.
Even when I lived there I would not have ridden on Bridgeport. Still no shoulders or bike lanes on 6? Just the ditches still?
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Old 10-10-13, 06:44 PM   #19
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Boy, this is a tough one. Not really any good choices.

I have a similar situation on one of my standard rides. What I finally came to do was to use a mirror and sort of gauge the traffic coming up behind me. If the car coming up behind me was going right, I'd take the lane. If the car was going straight, I'd ride the red line or on the left side of the turn lane. If the traffic is nuts, I'd get off on the shoulder and stop until it's safe to go through. But my turn lane is much shorter than yours which makes that more viable.

In this case, if the stop light is red, the traffic is going to be completely different than if it's green (or worse, a stale green and everyone pushing through).

I'm a big "take the lane" guy, but I get less gutsy about that when it's in high speed dense traffic. In those conditions, I just wish I wasn't there and try and avoid it the next time even if it's a significant detour.

So I'd advocate that strategy or better yet, find a way around this one especially if the traffic is heavy.

J.
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Old 10-10-13, 06:53 PM   #20
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I understand your aversion to 6 Road as I ride it every day. Have you tried the River/Vulcan/Viking/Maycrest route? This cuts off most of 6 Rd and is quite popular for Vancouverites going to that Commerce Court area.
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Old 10-10-13, 09:54 PM   #21
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Still no shoulders or bike lanes on 6? Just the ditches still?
Nope. Six still sux. Good ol' Ditchmond. :-)
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Old 10-10-13, 10:12 PM   #22
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I understand your aversion to 6 Road as I ride it every day. Have you tried the River/Vulcan/Viking/Maycrest route? This cuts off most of 6 Rd and is quite popular for Vancouverites going to that Commerce Court area.
No, I have not tried that route - I'm intrigued to hear that it is popular, and feel that I should give it a try if that is the case. However I can't quite figure it out, looking on Google maps. How do I get to Maycrest? Viking to Cambie, Cambie to No 6, No 6 to Maycrest? Or am I missing some neat little back way of avoiding No 6?

I really, really dislike No. 6. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like all the worst drivers just hang out on No. 6, waiting to either obliviously or maliciously do me harm. I prefer my nasty 99-offramp on Westminster to dealing with No 6 :-P
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Old 10-10-13, 10:20 PM   #23
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Boy, this is a tough one. Not really any good choices.

I have a similar situation on one of my standard rides. What I finally came to do was to use a mirror and sort of gauge the traffic coming up behind me. If the car coming up behind me was going right, I'd take the lane. If the car was going straight, I'd ride the red line or on the left side of the turn lane. If the traffic is nuts, I'd get off on the shoulder and stop until it's safe to go through. But my turn lane is much shorter than yours which makes that more viable.

In this case, if the stop light is red, the traffic is going to be completely different than if it's green (or worse, a stale green and everyone pushing through).

I'm a big "take the lane" guy, but I get less gutsy about that when it's in high speed dense traffic. In those conditions, I just wish I wasn't there and try and avoid it the next time even if it's a significant detour.

So I'd advocate that strategy or better yet, find a way around this one especially if the traffic is heavy.

J.
That's two votes now for "use a mirror" - I'm thinking that does make sense. Thanks for the suggestion. I think I'll try using a mirror, and trying to avoid rush hour.

The taking-the-shoulder-and-waiting thing just feels wrong to me (I have only done it because that's what I've seen other cyclists doing), but maybe it's a good backup on the occasional day when traffic is particularly horrid.
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Old 10-10-13, 10:21 PM   #24
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No, I have not tried that route - I'm intrigued to hear that it is popular, and feel that I should give it a try if that is the case. However I can't quite figure it out, looking on Google maps. How do I get to Maycrest? Viking to Cambie, Cambie to No 6, No 6 to Maycrest? Or am I missing some neat little back way of avoiding No 6?

I really, really dislike No. 6. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like all the worst drivers just hang out on No. 6, waiting to either obliviously or maliciously do me harm. I prefer my nasty 99-offramp on Westminster to dealing with No 6 :-P
You can go south on Viking right through the "dead end" and cut through one of the many openings in the trees, through a parking lot, and on to Maycrest. Lots of people do this and even take the sidewalk on 6 under the 91 overpass; nobody cares.

I'm just on the other side of the 91 from you. I used to avoid 6 as well but eventually got used to it. If you're on the road, be assertive and don't hug the curb. The drivers aren't really that bad.
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Old 10-10-13, 10:27 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Mr. Hairy Legs View Post
You can go south on Viking right through the "dead end" and cut through one of the many openings in the trees, through a parking lot, and on to Maycrest. Lots of people do this and even take the sidewalk on 6 under the 91 overpass; nobody cares.
Cool! Thanks so much for that info. I'll give it a try soon.
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