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  1. #1
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    About crossing large intersections

    I am new to commuting. So please pardon my ignorance on this subject.

    I have started to ride on the roads around where I live. I have heard that riding a bike on the streets is like driving a car but it seems to be to be a bit different. Obviously you are traveling much slower and cars can run you over.

    I need some advice about riding on roads. I try to stay off the busy streets taking back roads and such. I have been checking out Google maps and the biking routes in my area. I have two questions.

    Below I have provided a link to an intersection near where I live. The road I will be traveling is the one headed from the bottom left to the top right (Lebanon rd). The road has a bike lane but the lane obviously ends due to the turning lane and later picks back up.

    Question one: Am I crazy to try and cross this intersection? I assume not if there is a bike lane.

    Question two: Exactly how do I cross this intersection? I would assume I would merge from the bike lane into the far right lane next to me and follow it through the intersection. I would “assume “ cars would not run me over trying to get to the turn lane. Also, another question would be if the light turns red would I stay in line in traffic of not? I assume I would.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@36.1982...!3m1!1e3?hl=en


    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
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    How busy will that intersection be when you need to cross it? What are the traffic speeds? How busy is the right turn lane after the intersection, before the bike lane reappears? Is the bike lane often used (are motorists used to seeing bikes)?

    Just looking at the map, it looks like an intersection I would avoid, if practical, but looks can be deceiving.
    Maintain your equipment. Plan your routes well. Practice stoppies often. Keep your head on a swivel.

  3. #3
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    Most likely not many bikes. Vehicle speeds are around 45 to 50. Not sure I could say how busy the turn lane would be but it is well used.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    I thought my closest major intersection was messed up...

    If I had to deal with that, I think I would be dismounting and taking the crosswalk- assuming there is one.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    I thought my closest major intersection was messed up...

    If I had to deal with that, I think I would be dismounting and taking the crosswalk- assuming there is one.
    Yeah I am already looking for another route. I think the road is ok with the bike lane up to the intersection.

  6. #6
    Fahrradfahrer jwarner's Avatar
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    Looks like an intimidating intersection. Without riding it myself, I think you have the right idea.

    A couple of suggestions.

    1. Stay predictable and visible... move in a predictable manner, make sure cars can see you, and that you behave in a manner they might expect.
    2. Keep your head on a swivel... Be aware of who is doing what around you. I tend to watch the dangerous thing. That is the people behind the wheel. Cars don't kill, people driving cars do. I spend a lot of time up on my pedals in confusing situations. I can see better, and I think it makes me look bigger.
    3. This is a case where I would probably take the whole lane (3/4 of lane from right line) shortly before the intersection, through the intersection, and fade back right as soon as I was out of the intersection, or as soon as it was safe. I am guessing as I haven't seen it on the ground.
    4. I see a bus stop there, and what looks like a parking lot. What do the people who get off the bus do? Can you do something similar to avoid exposure until you get this puzzle worked out?
    5. Scrolling around a bit... would it be better to cross at Plantation Dr? It doesn't look like it is too far away, and might be more favorable with less going on and more predictable traffic.
    6. For extra credit, I might try and follow a bus across staying visible to cars making a left or right turn behind the bus -- I would hug the left (road center side) line. My theory on this one is that busses move pretty slow, and I see stops on each side of the intersection. Might be a total crap theory on the ground.

    My 0.02 -- again, things may be totally different on the ground. Please take the time to plot this one out and see what makes sense. I might test ride it during low traffic daylight conditions to get a feel for it -- after I spent some time putting together a good plan. I might also take some time to ride around and look for alternatives, even if they aren't something a car would do -- like cross the main road at a different spot and grab dirt trail into a neighborhood (just an example, I didn't see any on the map -- this doesn't mean they aren't there).

  7. #7
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    I am now thinking of taking Juarez and crossing Old Hickory to the shopping center to Weber road to Andrew Jackson parkway to Rachel Square to Baton Rouge meeting up back at Andrew Jackson and then back on to Lebanon rd again. Or I could just take Andrew Jackson all the way but its 4 lanes at 40mph.

  8. #8
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    If you're going to cross that other road, you need to be in a straight going lane, and keep an eye out for people turning right off of that other road. Then, be super careful with those train tracks, those can be a PITA to cross, depending on how flat the whole thing is.

    I would probably eat that intersection for breakfast, however i've also been riding in traffic for 10 years with the worst clueless texting oblivious drivers, so my focus on my path & not having it go into a motor vehicle is fairly intense, and mostly automatic. For a beginner, i would say just be super aware & look with your ears as much as your eyes & assert your path, as long as it is legal to take that path. If you feel uneasy bout it, skip it & find another way.

    - Andy
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  9. #9
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikerdave222 View Post
    I am now thinking of taking Juarez and crossing Old Hickory to the shopping center to Weber road to Andrew Jackson parkway to Rachel Square to Baton Rouge meeting up back at Andrew Jackson and then back on to Lebanon rd again. Or I could just take Andrew Jackson all the way but its 4 lanes at 40mph.
    You are talking about riding an extra half mile to avoid that intersection. I'd do that too. For me it would be a no-brainer. I'm always willing to ride longer to stay safer.
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  10. #10
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    It doesn't look all that horrible to me, other than being a little longer across than normal across the intersection. I'd probably be in the right turn lane while approaching, and get right in the middle or the left side of it before it veers off and proceed through on the diagonal stripes. The turn lane splits off way back, surely no one is turning right at the actual intersection - but I'd try to stay beside a gap anyway if the speed allows.

    If several times I was getting squeezed after the intersection, getting honked, or that bus stop disrupting things, then I'd think about taking the through lane prior to the right-turn veering off. But it looks like plenty of room there without taking the lane.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    It doesn't look all that horrible to me, other than being a little longer across than normal across the intersection. I'd probably be in the right turn lane while approaching, and get right in the middle or the left side of it before it veers off and proceed through on the diagonal stripes. The turn lane splits off way back, surely no one is turning right at the actual intersection - but I'd try to stay beside a gap anyway if the speed allows.

    If several times I was getting squeezed after the intersection, getting honked, or that bus stop disrupting things, then I'd think about taking the through lane prior to the right-turn veering off. But it looks like plenty of room there without taking the lane.
    What you say makes a lot of sense. I did not think of that. Staying in the middle or left side of the turn lane would prevent cars from cutting you off and then travel through the strips. You can do this both ways too.

    Its also interesting the different opinions about it. Some would take the intersection while others would avoid it. I guess it depends on the comfort level of the individual.

  12. #12
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    Just for my own perspective, remember I'm new to this, would all of you consider this road too big or busy? It my alternate route to use to avoid the intersection.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@36.1986...pwTQ!2e0?hl=en

  13. #13
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwarner View Post
    Looks like an intimidating intersection. Without riding it myself, I think you have the right idea.

    A couple of suggestions.

    1. Stay predictable and visible... move in a predictable manner, make sure cars can see you, and that you behave in a manner they might expect.
    2. Keep your head on a swivel... Be aware of who is doing what around you. I tend to watch the dangerous thing. That is the people behind the wheel. Cars don't kill, people driving cars do. I spend a lot of time up on my pedals in confusing situations. I can see better, and I think it makes me look bigger....
    I actually live just before the start a similarly configured urban intersection (Kenmore Square) but instead of two roads crossing like an “X” from the bottom of the picture, in mine the two bottom roads trifurcate. The traffic though is at urban speeds of about 25-30 mph, with slowing traffic signals.

    Nonetheless, my own recommendation is to have a rearview mirror. I wear both left and right, which is useful for moving from right to left, passing and riding in the middle and left hand lanes. Better than swiveling IMO because you can more effectively keep your head directed towards your forward path.

    Also as mentioned, people driving, not cars kill. A recent thread made the argument that even eye contact is no guarantee of acknowlegement. The only reliable indicator of a driver's intent is the direction that the front wheels are pointing.
    Last edited by Jim from Boston; 10-18-14 at 10:53 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikerdave222 View Post
    What you say makes a lot of sense. I did not think of that. Staying in the middle or left side of the turn lane would prevent cars from cutting you off and then travel through the strips. You can do this both ways too.

    Its also interesting the different opinions about it. Some would take the intersection while others would avoid it. I guess it depends on the comfort level of the individual.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    If you feel that it's too dangerous to ride through that particular intersection , then find an alternate route, or use a sidewalk and pedestrian crosswalk.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for everyone's response. I have a better understanding of how people look at riding the streets. I think I will try an alternate route until I build up the experience to cross the intersection because I think it does have to do with a certain degree of experience dealing with how drivers behave.

  17. #17
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikerdave222 View Post
    Thanks for everyone's response. I have a better understanding of how people look at riding the streets. I think I will try an alternate route until I build up the experience to cross the intersection because I think it does have to do with a certain degree of experience dealing with how drivers behave.
    Sounds like a solid plan.

    - Andy
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TransitBiker View Post
    Sounds like a solid plan.
    +1
    Maintain your equipment. Plan your routes well. Practice stoppies often. Keep your head on a swivel.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Corben's Avatar
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    I assume those are three crosswalks there? I also assume cars would be required by law to stop when peds are waiting there to cross? Good luck with that one. Wear bright colors and claim a lane.

  20. #20
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoatw View Post
    Thanks! This is great

  22. #22
    Senior Member Lanovran's Avatar
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    General rule of thumb, where there is no bike-specific lane or path, is to take the rightmost lane that is serving your direction of travel. In the original intersection you described, assuming you're going straight through, you should scan behind you to check for cars, then signal and change lanes to get into the rightmost through lane (by which I mean "taking the lane," and not squeezing way over into the right side of it). This will do a few things: it will allow you to be visible and will let the traffic around you know what your intended direction of travel is, it will get you out of the way of drivers looking to enter the right turn lane, and it will let drivers behind you know that until the bike lane returns further to the northeast, they will need to change lanes to pass you safely.

    In any case, it does take some time and practice to get more comfortable and confident with riding on the road, as part of the traffic flow. For me, it helps to remember that just because someone in a car can run me over, it doesn't mean that they necessarily will run me over. There are people driving those things after all, most of whom don't wish to kill someone during their commute. It also helps me to remember that riding visibly and predictably will serve to keep the likelihood of a collision or unfortunate incident to a minimum. Best of luck to you in figuring out your route!

  23. #23
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    I would just take it in a day by day basis. If its not too hectic and congested I would use the lane, otherwise I would simply use the crosswalks.
    There's no "default technique" that will make a challenging condition "safe" if you're not comfortable doing it, and there's no guarantee it will produce the desired results.

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I see 3 cross walks why not use them?







    Most People Stop, Here.. The Highway splits into 2 one way streets going thru town proper but that is only for about 10 blocks.

    there is some problems there car in Rt lane stops , for Ped in Front of them, hurried city type have come around the stopped car

    And nails the Old Person crossing slowly that the other car stopped in the other lane stopped for.

    So you have to make sure the other lane stops too , before exposing your self in front of them .

    IDK about Tennessee.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-19-14 at 12:20 PM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    I see 3 cross walks why not use them?
    From the looks of it just getting to those crosswalks from where the bike lane ends would be quite dangerous unless you can get off in to the grass (and broken glass?). Then, depending on how long the signal cycles are (likely about 1:20), you'll have to make three separate crossings just to go straight on (from SW to NE), how long will that take? Once across, unless you're going to Hooters, you've got a gob of quite awful looking road and junctions ahead. Then there's the question of how bad/obnoxious are TN drivers?

    Junctions like this are a good reason that the U.S. has one of the highest rates of bicycle fatalities in the world.
    "Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt." - ATL Urbanist

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