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Old 06-02-09, 08:40 PM   #1
Heifzilla
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Red Lights & Stop Signs

I don't really understand something, so maybe someone can clear this up for me. I see/read about cyclists who move up between lanes of cars waiting in traffic or at red lights so they can be at the head of the line (or they just blow through the light, but that's a different can of worms).

I consider myself a vehicle when I am on the road. Which means I am subject to the rules of the road. When I am approaching a red light or stop sign, I take the lane and I get in line behind the car in front of me to wait for the red to change. Just like the cars around me. I sit there, sometimes pretty far back, and I move with traffic and wait my turn to cross the intersection, like I would in a car. Sometimes it takes me 5 minutes to get through the intersection, like it would had I been in my car. Since I *am* a vehicle, I do as other vehicles do.

It seems to me that I never read about anyone else on these boards doing this, and yet everyone insists they are vehicles and want to be treated like vehicles, but waiting in line like a car doesnt apply? If it is case of cyclists being impatient and not wanting to sit in traffic, how is this attitude any different than a motorist that doesn't want to be stuck behind a slow cyclist? It only slows your commute by a few minutes, and it is ok for someone to take the lane and slow down motorists, but not for cars to slow down a cyclist?

Or, is there some safety issue I am not aware of that makes sitting in line to go through a red light dangerous to the cyclist?

p.s. If you sit in line like I do, sorry, I never read about it on these boards but I certainly read about/see videos of/see real life incidences of cyclists riding up the lane past cars to get to the front of the line at a stop.

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Old 06-02-09, 08:43 PM   #2
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I have been rear ended waiting in traffic lines.
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Old 06-02-09, 08:55 PM   #3
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I have been rear ended waiting in traffic lines.
And you can be rear ended if you are taking the lane, too, if some moron comes flying up behind you. So why is it safer to take the lane while moving but not to wait at a stop?
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Old 06-02-09, 09:00 PM   #4
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From a safety stand point, I'd rather be at the front and get through the intersection fast and back into a bike lane. I figure if I sat back my visibility as a bicycle is lower and cars are going to want to pass at unsafe distance in order to get themselves through the intersection. No one has given me grief for doing this yet, and given that most cars move fairly slow off the line, I tend to get out of everyone's way much sooner.
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Old 06-02-09, 09:00 PM   #5
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And you can be rear ended if you are taking the lane, too, if some moron comes flying up behind you. So why is it safer to take the lane while moving but not to wait at a stop?
Because the vehicles keep moving and then stopping. It only take one vehicle to start a chain reaction, bumping the vehicles in front of them.

I don't wait in the lines.
I split the lane up to the front.
It is legal in Texas and California.
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Old 06-02-09, 09:05 PM   #6
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It seems to me that I never read about anyone else on these boards doing this.

p.s. If you sit in line like I do, sorry, I never read about it on these boards but I certainly read about/see videos of/see real life incidences of cyclists riding up the lane past cars to get to the front of the line at a stop.
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Old 06-02-09, 09:17 PM   #7
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Because the vehicles keep moving and then stopping. It only take one vehicle to start a chain reaction, bumping the vehicles in front of them.

I don't wait in the lines.
I split the lane up to the front.
It is legal in Texas and California.
Fair enough.

However, it just seems to me like it is yet another thing that will get motorists pissed off at cyclists

Last edited by Heifzilla; 06-02-09 at 09:21 PM. Reason: Lane splitting is not legal in Illinois.
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Old 06-02-09, 09:24 PM   #8
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I'll wait on the white line between the rightmost through lane and the right turn lane. It gives me a clear view, keeps me from inhaling as much crap, and it feels safer. And it's legal. I don't lean against vehicles at the light, and I don't slow traffic by doing this. What makes you assume bicyclists are doing this just for the purpose of being first in line?

When there's no right turn lane, and the rightmost through lane is very narrow, I'll get in line. Whenever you're standing between bumpers just a few feet fore and aft, it's natural to be a bit concerned. There are drivers that don't respect your right to be in the lane and will take the opportunity to show you how they feel as ride your wheel through the intersection. It's the option I take when there are no other options.
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Old 06-02-09, 09:51 PM   #9
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Its never bothered me. I'm not too concerned about bicycles or motorcycles splitting lanes and moving up to the front of stopped traffic. That way I know where they are. But splitting lanes through slow moving traffic is different - cars can change lanes pretty quickly and cut you off. Just my two cents.
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Old 06-02-09, 10:22 PM   #10
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What's normal and expected in one location, will be unexpected, dangerous, and draw the ire of motorists in another location. Even within a city, different regions have different expectations.

If you wait at an intersection in Pune for the traffic to clear, you will not get through until 11:00 at night. You have to pick someone who looks weak, and go. If you do that in Peoria where there's 1/100th the traffic, you're dead.

So the question is, in your location, are motorists expecting bikes to be moving between lines of cars to the front, or aren't they?
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Old 06-02-09, 10:25 PM   #11
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First, you should always do what you is safe for you since no one else will for your safety.

Second, most motorists really don't care where you are as long as you're not in their way. You don't earn any brownie points for yourself or other cyclists by waiting in line with cars.

And finally, although bicycles are legal vehicles, they have almost no similarity with cars. Weight, speed, and visibility are drastically different. When you're riding a bicycle, remember that it's a bicycle, not a car. Be mindful of its limitations and take advantage of its strengths.
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Old 06-02-09, 10:28 PM   #12
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First, you should always do what you is safe for you since no one else will for your safety.

Second, most motorists really don't care where you are as long as you're not in their way. You don't earn any brownie points for yourself or other cyclists by waiting in line with cars.

And finally, although bicycles are legal vehicles, they have almost no similarity with cars. Weight, speed, and visibility are drastically different. When you're riding a bicycle, remember that it's a bicycle, not a car. Be mindful of its limitations and take advantage of its strengths.
You just said it all real good.
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Old 06-02-09, 10:41 PM   #13
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As a general rule, at a traffic light I stop but will move up to the front of the line as far to the right as I can be without being in the way of anyone making a right turn. If I have to make a left turn I take the lane and move as far forward as safe or follow the other vehicles through the turn. Some of my friends modify that by moving to the right front fender of a left turning vehicle.

If there is no turning lane I will take the lane if the car in front of me is making a right and if it is not making a right I will pull to the crosswalk on the lead car’s right. But I will not split traffic at a light and have to try and out race two cars through an intersection. Now that is in California where right turns on a red light are legal and turn lanes are common place. I also live in a bike friendly small town. However I ride the same way in Orange County so I believe it is pretty common practice.
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Old 06-02-09, 10:58 PM   #14
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Second, most motorists really don't care where you are as long as you're not in their way. You don't earn any brownie points for yourself or other cyclists by waiting in line with cars.
Damn. And here I thought I was going to get the Super Cyclist of the Day Award, with included cookies and milk.
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Old 06-02-09, 11:51 PM   #15
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Or, is there some safety issue I am not aware of that makes sitting in line to go through a red light dangerous to the cyclist?
The safest place for a bicyclist to wait out a red light is lane splitting at the head of the line*, stopped just kitty corner off the front car, trying to make your butt look as big as possible. By waiting in front of a car like that, the driver will very likely have seen you. Once the light changes, a bicycle can out-accelerate a car for the first 20 feet or so. This means that you'll likely be through the intersection and safely in a bike lane before the first car catches up to you - and that driver will have seen you. If you're going straight and that first car decides to turn right (perhaps without signaling), the driver will have seen you and you'll also be out of their way before they can even make the right turn. If you're making a left (and lane split between the left turn lane and the straight through lane), you'll be safely in an empty zone before the first cars pass 10 feet to your left and 10 feet to your right.

* To the right of the rightmost straight through lane, or to the right of the rightmost left turn lane, or in rare cases to the right of the rightmost right turn lane.

If you wait in line behind other cars, a large gap may open up ahead of you as the cars ahead of you pull away. Drivers behind you may end up passing you. A yellow light runner may come flying up behind you without having seen you. (The car that passed you will have blocked the light runner's view.) Also - you might get caught by a yellow light. Most yellow light cycles aren't long enough for a bike to get through an intersection. This means you might still be in the intersection when the cross traffic gets a green light.

BTW, I'm in California and here it is legal to lane split between stopped traffic. It is very common for motorcycles to lane split on the freeway during commute jams. Even though they are only supposed to do that when the traffic is stopped fully, you can expect motorcycles to filter between cars whenever traffic slows to say 30.
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Old 06-03-09, 12:16 AM   #16
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Reason: Lane splitting is not legal in Illinois.
Don't think of it as lane splitting. Think of it as following your lane as far as you can. In other words, your bike lane, which extends all the way to the intersection. And even if no bike lane is marked, pretend you have a 2 inch wide bike lane - because you really do: If traffic were moving and you were keeping to the right, you'd be creating an impromptu narrow bike lane.
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Old 06-03-09, 03:40 AM   #17
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Since I *am* a vehicle, I do as other vehicles do.

It seems to me that I never read about anyone else on these boards doing this, and yet everyone insists they are vehicles and want to be treated like vehicles, but waiting in line like a car doesnt apply?
Motorcycles are vehicles, they split lanes.
A bike is more similar to a motorcycle than it is to a car.
If you want to have a model for acting like a vehicle, look at the motorcycle, not the car.
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Old 06-03-09, 04:13 AM   #18
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why should I wait in line? The traffic is caused by cars, not by bicycles. If it were a line of bicycles I would wait. It is just one more of the advantages to riding a bicycle.
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Old 06-03-09, 05:21 AM   #19
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When I am approaching a red light or stop sign, I take the lane and I get in line behind the car in front of me to wait for the red to change.
...
It seems to me that I never read about anyone else on these boards doing this,...
I do what you do. I guess I don't talk about it much because I live in a small town where the situation doesn't come up very often, and when it does it is usually at one particularly busy intersection. But when cars get backed up at that intersection, I get in line and I wait my turn. I do that because to do otherwise at that intersection would be dangerous. I'd be risking a right or left hook. I'd be confusing the drivers. And I'd be making them angry too. So I am polite and I follow the rules and I wait in line.

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Old 06-03-09, 05:39 AM   #20
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Lane splitting is illegal here. I wait in line...I gotta stop anyway and I can move through the intersection when the light changes as fast as any car. In over 40 years I have never been rear-ended while waiting in line at or moving through an intersection.

That said, if the line is long enough that I would have to wait for multiple cycles of the light...I have no problem using the advantages of being on a bicycle to shorten my own wait time, if the alternative is available, safe and fairly legal.

Don't let the impatience and feeling of entitlement of some cyclists impact how you ride - you do what works best for your safety and comfort.
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Old 06-03-09, 05:54 AM   #21
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Motorcycles are vehicles, they split lanes.
Depends on the state. It's illegal here.
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Old 06-03-09, 07:06 AM   #22
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Don't think of it as lane splitting. Think of it as following your lane as far as you can. In other words, your bike lane, which extends all the way to the intersection. And even if no bike lane is marked, pretend you have a 2 inch wide bike lane - because you really do: If traffic were moving and you were keeping to the right, you'd be creating an impromptu narrow bike lane.
I never thought of it that way and it does make some sense. I personally am not comfortable with it when there are a lot of cars waiting at the stop, and I absolutely will not do it on the left of the lane, which I see people do frequently.

I know that the left is where people mostly expect to see cars passing, not bikes, and I have actually seen motorists jump in alarm when a cyclist has ridden up the lane to their left. To the right, they at least somewhat seem to expect to see a bike. In my limited experience, anyway.

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Old 06-03-09, 07:11 AM   #23
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Motorcycles are vehicles, they split lanes.
A bike is more similar to a motorcycle than it is to a car.
If you want to have a model for acting like a vehicle, look at the motorcycle, not the car.
Only the the butthole motorcylists with chips on their shoulders do it here. It's illegal in Illinois, and I know it totally pisses off motorists when it happens.
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Old 06-03-09, 07:15 AM   #24
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Only the the butthole motorcylists with chips on their shoulders do it here. It's illegal in Illinois, and I know it totally pisses off motorists when it happens.
So why are you so concerned about pissed off motorists?

Most of them are pissed when they get behind a wheel.
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Old 06-03-09, 07:15 AM   #25
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why should I wait in line? The traffic is caused by cars, not by bicycles. If it were a line of bicycles I would wait. It is just one more of the advantages to riding a bicycle.
And people think motorists have entitlement issues.

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