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Vehicular Cycling (VC) No other subject has polarized the A&S members like VC has. Here's a place to share, debate, and educate.

View Poll Results: Do you ever use right turn lanes for through travel?
Never. 16 45.71%
Only in certain high speed/high volume/long empty turn lane conditions 11 31.43%
Regularly, but usually not. 1 2.86%
About half the time. 2 5.71%
Usually/habitually/More often than not. 0 0%
Almost always. 1 2.86%
Other. 4 11.43%
Voters: 35. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-22-07, 03:35 PM   #1
Helmet Head
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Using right turn lanes for through travel - do you ever?

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Originally Posted by genec View Post
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
Having said that, when traffic volumes and speed differentials are high enough, and the right turn lane is relatively unoccupied, I do use it for through travel, and would if I were driving a relatively slow motor vehicle (like a tractor) too.
But this basically violates the tenants of vehicular cycling and destination positioning... ARRRRRRRG!!!!
Good drivers and cyclists understand the underlying rules and principles upon which laws are based, and drive and ride accordingly. They don't follow the letter of the law like some kind of moron Nazi automatons unthinkingly following the letter of the law, no matter how unsafe or unreasonable doing so may be.

Once in a while the safe and reasonable thing to do is to drive or ride in the empty right turn lane for a while, perhaps to let a fast moving platoon of cars to pass that has just been released by a traffic light. Again, this is only when traffic volumes and speed differentials are high enough, and the right turn lane is relatively unoccupied.

The only times I can recall doing it is on uphills (thus causing the high speed differentials) and where the right turn lane is unusually long.
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Old 08-22-07, 03:50 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
Good drivers and cyclists understand the underlying rules and principles upon which laws are based, and drive and ride accordingly. They don't follow the letter of the law like some kind of moron Nazi automatons unthinkingly following the letter of the law, no matter how unsafe or unreasonable doing so may be.

Once in a while the safe and reasonable thing to do is to drive or ride in the empty right turn lane for a while, perhaps to let a fast moving platoon of cars to pass that has just been released by a traffic light. Again, this is only when traffic volumes and speed differentials are high enough, and the right turn lane is relatively unoccupied.

The only times I can recall doing it is on uphills (thus causing the high speed differentials) and where the right turn lane is unusually long.
Your supposition is based on "Good Drivers;" I contend that most drivers are not good drivers, but good enough drivers... that they don't tend to think about what they or others are doing, but simply mechanically go through the motions and avoid near misses most of the time. There is after all little incentive for most drivers to become "Good Drivers." Good enough gets the job done. This is NOT to say that all motorists are good enough drivers, just most. There are exceptions... professionals, and folks that really love to drive, or for some reason may have more than basic knowledge.

Based on that, anything out of the ordinary may not register with "good enough" drivers. A classic example is the Clairemont Mesa Blvd bridge over 805, where the far right lane is a merging on and off ramp for the freeway. One may chose to ride in that lane... as you avoid the main flow of traffic, but soon enough you will have to merge back into the main flow... and in the mean time, you are in the path of motorists either accelerating or decelerating for the freeway. You will cause confusion somewhere.

Of course honestly, it confuses some motorists when you are in the straight through lane... they expect you to be somewhere on the sidewalk or in that dirty narrow strip of road beyond the fog line.

I suppose my bottom line point is, this violates destination positioning, therefore will cause confusion for even the Good Drivers.

And just to rub the point in... John Forester says that your speed doesn't matter much and you should be able to practice VC anytime, anywhere.
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Old 08-22-07, 03:56 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Your supposition is based on "Good Drivers;" I contend that most drivers are not good drivers, but good enough drivers... that they don't tend to think about what they or others are doing, but simply mechanically go through the motions and avoid near misses most of the time. There is after all little incentive for most drivers to become "Good Drivers." Good enough gets the job done. This is NOT to say that all motorists are good enough drivers, just most. There are exceptions... professionals, and folks that really love to drive, or for some reason may have more than basic knowledge.

Based on that, anything out of the ordinary may not register with "good enough" drivers. A classic example is the Clairemont Mesa Blvd bridge over 805, where the far right lane is a merging on and off ramp for the freeway. One may chose to ride in that lane... as you avoid the main flow of traffic, but soon enough you will have to merge back into the main flow... and in the mean time, you are in the path of motorists either accelerating or decelerating for the freeway. You will cause confusion somewhere.

Of course honestly, it confuses some motorists when you are in the straight through lane... they expect you to be somewhere on the sidewalk or in that dirty narrow strip of road beyond the fog line.

I suppose my bottom line point is, this violates destination positioning, therefore will cause confusion for even the Good Drivers.

And just to rub the point in... John Forester says that your speed doesn't matter much and you should be able to practice VC anytime, anywhere.
As long as you properly merge into and out of the turn lane, what's confusing about it?

By the way, i do agree with not using the turn lane on CM Blvd @805.
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Old 08-22-07, 04:01 PM   #4
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I don't. But it is expected by other drivers really as many cases locally the BL ends and feeds right into the RTOL.

I have seen two intersections (in Phx proper) where there was a sign that read "RTOL except busses and bicycles"

I haven't been in a situation where I needed to use the RTOL for safety, but on a few occasions I havent' been able to successfuly easily negotate out of BL and just go thru using left side of RTOL like every other cyclists does.

I say easily as I could have forced the negotiation, but this leads to social issues like why was that crazy cyclist so intent in lining up with traffic and possibly missing the light when every other cyclist is passing using the BL and RTOL.

Here is a video example of me going thru in RTOL, to avoid merging back in slowly starting line.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqG9CEejPoI

In this example, which is nearly identical to above, except I merge out of the BL just before it turns into a RTOL.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsK-Pnv7yDo

Al

Last edited by noisebeam; 08-22-07 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 08-22-07, 04:04 PM   #5
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if i use right hand turn lane at all, i position well left (towards straight/through-way lane, illustating intended direction). it's usually no issue, does get me p/o-ed-scared when someone buzzes past to my right instead of passing on the left to merge right.
we do not have logical bike-lanes here in s nj, vb is a rairity!
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Old 08-22-07, 04:07 PM   #6
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I split the lane.
Ride the paint. Cars can get by on both sides.
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Old 08-22-07, 04:16 PM   #7
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I split the lane.
Ride the paint. Cars can get by on both sides.
The cyclists here who don't use the RTOL lane do this.

As in this example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvFujQrAk9M - public debut today!

I do wonder what that guy was doing staying on lane line till last second right turn. Maybe mesermized by the cyclist they were following?

Al

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Old 08-22-07, 05:15 PM   #8
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I use right turn lanes to go straight frequently, almost daily. I've been doing it for years and have almost never had a problem.

But I'm flabbergasted that HH does this because, as genec correctly implies, it violates basic VC-ist dogma. It puts the rider in exactly the same place that a bike lane to the left of a RTOL puts a bicyclist. As the world's most foaming-at-the-mouth bike lane hater, it's incredibly inconsistent of you, HH, to do this. You crack me up! But I digress.

Sure, I use right turn lanes to go straight. At one intersection I pass through frequently, most motorists are going either right or left; few (almost none) are going straight. There's often a backup in the left/straight lane while the RTOL is virtually empty. I ride right down the center of the RTOL 'til I get to the intersection; then, if the light is still red, I position myself on the left side of the lane (which, due to the corner radius, is quite wide at this point). Right turners can still turn right. When the light changes, I start through the intersection and, when I've verified that the nearist car is turning left, I float like a butterfly along my intended path. It works like a charm no matter when the light changes. The only minor drawback is that I have to ride through some debris on the left side of the RTOL where motorists never tread.

I use a similar technique at many other intersections (one in particular that used to be part of my commute where the backups in the left/straight lane were often easily a hundred yards or more (90% of the traffic was going left) while the right lane was virtually empty. I was going straight-- which lane do you think I used? ).

Last edited by JRA; 08-22-07 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 08-22-07, 05:43 PM   #9
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I use right turn lanes to go straight frequently, almost daily. I've been doing it for years and have almost never had a problem.

But I'm flabbergasted that HH does this because, as genec correctly implies, it violates basic VC-ist dogma. It puts the rider in exactly the same place that a bike lane to the left of a RTOL puts a bicyclist. As the world's most foaming-at-the-mouth bike lane hater, it's incredibly inconsistent of you, HH, to do this. You crack me up! But I digress.

Sure, I use right turn lanes to go straight. At one intersection I pass through frequently, most motorists are going either right or left; few (almost none) are going straight. There's often a backup in the left/straight lane while the RTOL is virtually empty. I ride right down the center of the RTOL 'til I get to the intersection; then, if the light is still red, I position myself on the left side of the lane (which, due to the corner radius, is quite wide at this point). Right turners can still turn right. When the light changes, I start through the intersection and, when I've verified that the nearist car is turning left, I float like a butterfly along my intended path. It works like a charm no matter when the light changes. The only minor drawback is that I have to ride through some debris on the left side of the RTOL where motorists never tread.

I use a similar technique at many other intersections (one in particular that used to be part of my commute where the backups in the left/right turn lane were often easily a hundred yards or more (90% of the traffic was going left) while the right lane was virtually empty. I was going straight-- which lane do you think I used? ).
Oh man, JRA's expression of astonishment has made me realize that I have made a big mistake in how I've been writing about this. I have not differentiated between:
  1. Using the right turn lane temporarily, but merging out of it before the intersection is reached.
  2. Using the right turn lane to go straight all the way to and into the intersection.
I do (a) sometimes, but not (b). I was not even thinking about (b). But in rereading all the posts related to this, i realize that's not clear.

I don't see what's wrong or non-VC about (a). After all, this is what is done inadvertently by anyone driving in a new area who suddenly realizes he needs to go straight but is currently in a right only lane. So he signals and merges. So what if he's there on purpose because he's relatively slow moving?

Last edited by Helmet Head; 08-23-07 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 08-22-07, 05:48 PM   #10
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Never use a lane that does not proceed in the intended direction of travel. It's illegal, unsafe and leaves you wide open to fault and liability.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:01 PM   #11
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After all, this is what is done inadvertently by anyone driving in a new area who suddenly realizes he needs to go straight but is currently in a right only lane. So he signals and merges. So what if he's there on purpose because he's relatively slow moving?
Wow, magic motorists that actually signal... what planet do you cycle on?
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Old 08-22-07, 06:13 PM   #12
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I do (a) sometimes, but not (b).
Which simply shows what a hypocrite your are.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:16 PM   #13
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Never use a lane that does not proceed in the intended direction of travel. It's illegal, unsafe and leaves you wide open to fault and liability.
But, never forget, it's OK if a card-carrying VC-ist does it.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:39 PM   #14
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Never use a lane that does not proceed in the intended direction of travel. It's illegal, unsafe and leaves you wide open to fault and liability.
Locally, buses, city works vehicles, and tractors use RTLs all the time to allow faster traffic to pass.

I stay on the left side of the lane to prevent getting hooked and re-merge well prior to running out of lane.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:45 PM   #15
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Never use a lane that does not proceed in the intended direction of travel. It's illegal, unsafe and leaves you wide open to fault and liability.
I agree in principle and that guides my riding. However, what do you make of the 2nd example of mine in post #4. I could have merged into slower lane of thru traffic before RTOL started and almost did (I was thinking of it)

Was it unsafe what I did?
Illegal - my strict law, yes, but I would never be pulled over for such (90% of cyclist stay in RTOL here and city is starting to post exceptions for bicycles in RTOL)
Liability, a wash I think, I wonder what the liability would be for a merge into one of those small gaps before RTOL ended resulting in accident (say driver I merged in front of was not paying attention and moved forward suddenly, me liable for unsafe merge)

That all said, I recommend staying in the thru lane and it is what I do with rare exception like the video.

Al
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Old 08-22-07, 07:20 PM   #16
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Locally, buses, city works vehicles, and tractors use RTLs all the time to allow faster traffic to pass.


I think many cyclists, including many vehicular cyclists, sometimes apply normal behavior as drivers of normal speed vehicles to decide what is appropriate for them when operating their bicycles. But that doesn't make sense. What makes sense, at least whenever you're moving slower than the rest of traffic, is to apply the normal behavior of drivers of other slow moving vehicles to decide what is appropriate for them when operating their bicyclists.
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Old 08-22-07, 08:42 PM   #17
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yeah, its funny how the rules of the road can be broken safely by bicyclists, even the most vehemently blowhard VC.

"RTO except buses and bikes" work admirably well for bicycling, and you can even ride the approach to intersections in them, as long as you keep an eye out for the right hook and the left cross. They are used by bikes and buses as straight lanes for proceeding thru the intersection.

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Old 08-23-07, 09:05 AM   #18
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What makes sense, at least whenever you're moving slower than the rest of traffic, is to apply the normal behavior of drivers of other slow moving vehicles to decide what is appropriate for them when operating their bicyclists.
I let faster-moving motor vehicles pass whenever there is room, within the lane or elsewhere, and I deem it to be safe.

The flip side to this is that I also pass slower-moving motor vehicles whenever there is room, within the lane or elsewhere, and I deem it to be safe.

I'm sure some motorized observers perceive the second part of this to be more lawless and reckless behavior than the first, but I can't please everyone.
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Old 08-23-07, 10:24 AM   #19
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I use the right turn lane for through travel when there is no one behind me or using it. I figure this way those going strait need not have to wait for me at all. Now if theres even a single car behind me then i take the normal strait only lane for strait travel and merge over to the far right lane as soon as im clear of the turn zone for cars turning right. Again i see no point in holding up traffic any more than is needed.
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Old 08-23-07, 11:47 AM   #20
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There are a few situations where I slide to the left side of the RTOL due to my intended placement on the other side of the intersection. But technically, it is traveling through the RTOL.

If the lanes are wide enough, I might even find myself on the dividing line between the lanes.
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Old 08-23-07, 11:50 AM   #21
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I find myself doing it every now and then, but I always ride as far to the left as possible, i.e., as if I'm still in the through traffic lane but on the "shoulder."

Furthermore, it is only when the conditions make sense for such riding.
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Old 08-23-07, 12:11 PM   #22
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Where would you people ride on a road with "RTO except buses and bikes" lanes? that continues thru the intersection?
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Old 08-23-07, 12:58 PM   #23
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Where would you people ride on a road with "RTO except buses and bikes" lanes? that continues thru the intersection?
Lots of these locally. Usually ride in the left tire track of said bus lane.

I'd move left in the unlikely event of an overtaking bus, or if there was no traffic in the lanes to my left (which would have blocked left hooks in the intersection).
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Old 08-23-07, 01:00 PM   #24
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Where would you people ride on a road with "RTO except buses and bikes" lanes? that continues thru the intersection?
Id take advantage of the special privilege given to bikes and buses unless doing so would hold up traffic. I know i hate when i get a car in front of me going strait in right turn strait lane and im going to turn right and can do so on red. So why do exactly what i dislike my self just because i can?
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Old 08-23-07, 03:09 PM   #25
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Where would you people ride on a road with "RTO except buses and bikes" lanes? that continues thru the intersection?
I first mentioned this actually seen "RTO except busses and bikes" in the context of a lane that does not continues on the opposite side of the intersection. In that case I won't use it.

But if it does continue across intersection and did not force me into gore areas, I'd use it if it was a better option for me at the time, staying far left biased and being watchful for left crosses.

Al
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