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Turning on a busy road

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Turning on a busy road

Old 05-28-15, 08:50 AM
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Jixr
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Turning on a busy road

Hi everyone.

I recently picked up a little road bike, and love the idea of riding my bike to work.
It's only two miles, and most of the way has paved bike paths, but the last little bit of about 3-400 yards or so, I have to turn on a very busy road, and I have to turn left to get to my office parking lot.

There is no bike lane, sidewalk, or really much of a safe path.

My question is if I'm in the right lane, and need to turn left, should I ride in the middle of the street and block traffic and risk getting rear ended? or ride on the side of the road and wait to cross when its clear?

There is a bike lane on the other side of the street, but I think most people recommend not riding against traffic

I'm planning on leaving earlier in the morning, and I'm swinging by the bike shop today to get a flasher and light.

Last edited by Jixr; 05-28-15 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 05-28-15, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
My question is if I'm in the right lane, and need to turn left, should I ride in the middle of the street and block traffic and risk getting rear ended?
Yes. It's legal to do. If you are careful, you won't get rear ended (the likelihood of that is very low). It might take some practice/experience to be able to do it well and confidently.

You aren't blocking traffic any more than a car making the same turn would. Especially, when you get better at it.

Bicycling Street Smarts

Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
or ride on the side of the road and wait to cross when its clear?
Walking across is an option but you'll find you won't need to do that very often.

Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
There is a bike lane on the other side of the street, but I think most people recommend not riding against traffic.
It's very unlikely that it's a two-way bike lane. If it isn't, it would be illegal to ride against traffic on it.

(Note that a bike path separated from the road is a different thing.)

Last edited by njkayaker; 05-28-15 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 05-28-15, 09:05 AM
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If you're on the road, you are a vehicle. Act like one.

If you're turning left, you have two choices. Merge left until you're in the left turn lane or on the leftmost side of the leftmost straight lane (where you'd normally turn a car from), or get off the road, dismount and cross the road as a pedestrian.

OTOH, that's the legalities. The reality is that when you're on a bike in a car-centric world, you do whatever you need to in order to keep from getting hit. No two people have the same situation.
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Old 05-28-15, 09:14 AM
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i've been a motorcycle rider for several years, and the amount of people that fail to see a giant 600lb touring motorcycle is pretty high, I figured less people would be aware of a 20lb bike.

If i do sit in the street and wait for a clear spot to turn in the office driveway, cars will probably drive around me, and one probably won't see me. I've been rear ended on a motorcycle because of the same situation.
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Old 05-28-15, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
If you're on the road, you are a vehicle. Act like one.

If you're turning left, you have two choices. Merge left until you're in the left turn lane or on the leftmost side of the leftmost straight lane (where you'd normally turn a car from), or get off the road, dismount and cross the road as a pedestrian.

OTOH, that's the legalities. The reality is that when you're on a bike in a car-centric world, you do whatever you need to in order to keep from getting hit. No two people have the same situation.
Pretty well covers it... although there is a third option... ride across the road on the bike, then stop at the corner, turn the bike 90 degrees to go with the traffic flowing on the cross street you wish to merge with, wait for the green light and then continue on. You don't have to dismount and walk across.

Whatever you do, don't make a left turn from the right side of the road.
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Old 05-28-15, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
If you're on the road, you are a vehicle. Act like one.

If you're turning left, you have two choices. Merge left until you're in the left turn lane or on the leftmost side of the leftmost straight lane (where you'd normally turn a car from), or get off the road, dismount and cross the road as a pedestrian.

OTOH, that's the legalities. The reality is that when you're on a bike in a car-centric world, you do whatever you need to in order to keep from getting hit. No two people have the same situation.
If I read his post correctly he really does not have the second choice and the first does not sound that good either.

It sounds like this is a busy street without any central left turn lane and he is turning into a driveway, not at an intersection. If that is the case it might be better to proceed to the next intersection and make a legal U turn. Of course in most of the places I think of that are like what I'm picturing it might be a mile or more to the next intersection.
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Old 05-28-15, 09:49 AM
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yeah, sorry, let me clarify.

I'm turning left into an office lot, no center turn lane, no stop light/sign, and going further down the road to turn around is not possible because the road merges onto a highway.

I guess until i get comfortable, Its probably just best to hop off the bike on the side of the road, and wait for a clear time to walk across.

My ride home is fine because there is the bike lane on the other side of the road.
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Old 05-28-15, 10:10 AM
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I have to turn left into a driveway at work, but I only have one lane. Generally I try to slow down and hit a gap in traffic. In my case I can usually continue coasting slowly even past the driveway and eventually U turn back and turn right.

If there's a gap early, I'll merge over and let the cars slow down behind me if I'm only going to be in the lane for 100 feet or so. I won't stay in the lane for 1/4 mile or anything.

The biggest problem I have is people slowing down to get past me. I'm in the shoulder, and usually there are gaps in traffic that I could get through, but drivers will slow down when they get near me, and that causes all the gaps to close up.
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Old 05-28-15, 10:12 AM
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Turning on a busy road.

Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
…My question is if I'm in the right lane, and need to turn left, should I ride in the middle of the street and block traffic and risk getting rear ended? or ride on the side of the road and wait to cross when its clear?...
I perennially recommend a rear view mirror when riding in any traffic, and I wear two, left and right, to include riding in the circumstances you describe.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I use both left and right rearview mirrors, in my case Take-a-Look eyeglass mounted ones...The additional right hand mirror affords a pretty good rearward view, but is particularly useful:
  1. Riding on the left-hand side of a one-way street

  2. Riding in the middle or left lanes of a two-way thoroughfare...
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Old 05-28-15, 10:17 AM
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Slowing and merging into gaps in traffic is probably the best way... but it requires a good eye to merge both the gaps on the left and right side of the street. Practice and a good mirror, help.
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Old 05-28-15, 11:13 AM
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First — pester city or county council and traffic engineers for a proper bikeway. And keep on pestering and get others to join you. Is this a good place to install a crossing? Maybe with some beacons of one type of bird or another? Tunnels (precast culvert) are surprisingly inexpensive and might be a good option to push for as well (for social safety a very wide tunnel is best).

Second — you can post some map coordinates for people to get a better idea of exactly what it looks like. If I'm guessing correctly there's no way I'd be acting like a vehicle in this instance. @Jixr covered the issues pretty well. Wait on the opposite side until you can cross safely. I'd likely ride my bike across because that would be faster than walking but I know many and maybe even most prefer crossing like this on foot.

Side note: Unless you're planning on racing or serious touring you might be happier with an upright city bike with a covered chain and IGH rather than a road bike for your next bike.
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Old 05-28-15, 11:17 AM
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https://www.google.com/maps/@30.3755.../data=!3m1!1e3

Here is the spot, I need to turn left into the two little buildings.

it might not seem like a busy street, but during rush hours its a mess of cars from people cutting through the residential areas trying to cut traffic on the high ways. ( to the point that in a car to make that turn in you may have to wait quite a bit for a clearing in traffic )

But when I ride to work i'm hoping to leave my house around 7 to help beat traffic.
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Old 05-28-15, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
Hi everyone.

I recently picked up a little road bike, and love the idea of riding my bike to work.
It's only two miles, and most of the way has paved bike paths, but the last little bit of about 3-400 yards or so, I have to turn on a very busy road, and I have to turn left to get to my office parking lot.
I applaud you, for riding your bike to work. Since you are new to riding on the road. How busy is busy i.e. Speed limit on the road in question, are riding on the side clogged with rush-hour traffic, or is work the opposite direction to the rush-hour traffic pattern. Also, When you say road bike, are you referring to a 10-Speed, or greater?
Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
There is no bike lane, sidewalk, or really much of a safe path.
Could you provide the general locale of your work i.e. 300 block of 5th Avenue. I would like to look at the road you are concerned about. Is that okay?
Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
My question is if I'm in the right lane, and need to turn left, should I ride in the middle of the street and block traffic and risk getting rear ended? or ride on the side of the road and wait to cross when its clear?
Due to your inexperience. I would say that you should ride on the side of the road and only cross when the traffic is clear. You may have to get off your bike and walk it across the street.
Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
There is a bike lane on the other side of the street, but I think most people recommend not riding against traffic.
It is illegal to ride against the traffic.
Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
I'm planning on leaving earlier in the morning, and I'm swinging by the bike shop today to get a flasher and light.
Lights from a bike shop are not that great. Unless you can find lights that can still be seen in the brightest sunlight, to the pitch black dark.
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Old 05-28-15, 11:38 AM
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and my bike is a generic hipster fixie. Nothing fancy, but it does the job and is good exercise. ( all the crap parts have been upgraded though )

My goal is to start riding to dedicate fridays to riding to work, and maybe more often depending on how things go. Ideally i'd like the idea of riding every day, but i want to eventually build up to that.
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Old 05-28-15, 12:10 PM
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Looking at that situation and knowing how inattentive drivers can be during the morning commute, I'd go with the "pull off to the right side and then cross the street when safe". No matter how many bright blinky lights you have it'd take just one person focused on texting instead of driving to really spoil your day.
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Old 05-28-15, 12:12 PM
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Is there a safer place to cross even though it may add some distance (not a bad thing) to your route?
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Old 05-28-15, 12:26 PM
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I do this maneuver every day, there's nothing to be concerned about. Just do it exactly as you would on your motorbike. Signal, be predictable and confident. It's maybe a bit scary the first few times. You won't be holding up traffic if you move to the left-most extreme of the lane, cars will be able to get around you on the right. In fact you will be much less a hindrance than a car in the same situation.
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Old 05-28-15, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
https://www.google.com/maps/@30.3755.../data=!3m1!1e3

Here is the spot, I need to turn left into the two little buildings.
https://www.google.com/maps/@30.3756...oyQlJFR7lQ!2e0

It looks like he's turning into the light-colored driveway. His lane appears to be fairly narrow. Even with more traffic, I suspect that a left turn from the lane is reasonable for an experienced cyclist. It's not going to be much more risky than actually riding in that narrow lane. (I don't care if he chooses to ride off the road to the right and walk across. It's legal to do, at least.)

The bike lane on the other side of the street isn't an option.
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Old 05-28-15, 01:29 PM
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yeah, well thanks for everyones views, I'm probably making it out to be a bigger deal than it is, but now living in a bigger city coming from a middle of no where farm town is a big change for me.
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Old 05-28-15, 02:15 PM
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If traffic is light I will make a vehicle left turn and get in the left lane, but if its really heavy (which it can be on the main road home) I make what they call here a pedestrian left turn. You just fallow the crosswalks but stay in the actual road, close to the crosswalks. No need to dismount or anything.
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Old 05-28-15, 02:39 PM
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If I were you I would ride to the side by those rocks and wait to walk, trot, or run across perpendicularly. But perhaps your trepidation is due to riding a fixie, which can make stopping and starting a longer more drawn out affair than a geared bike that can coast. If you are going to ride in traffic I would hope you at least have hand brakes. If traffic is really busy, does it ever come to a standstill? That would be sweet. Be safe.
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Old 05-28-15, 03:46 PM
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That appears to just be a 2 lane road without a center turn lane. I can usually get across them easy enough, but it depends on how busy it is.

Do not try to hide in the middle of the yellow line. It isn't big enough for a bike!!!


So, you have a few choices:
  • Stop in the middle of the lane like you're a car, and block traffic behind you.
    I don't like this, but it can be done. Stop in the middle of the lane if you do this, and signal that you are turning.
  • Pull off to the right, wait for traffic to clear, then cut across. Not bad for moderate traffic.
  • When convenient, less than a block from your destination, cut all the way across into the opposite bike lane/shoulder. Technically not the best, but it is generally safe enough to do.
  • Sometimes it helps to signal and "Take the Lane" 1/2 block or so before your turn (with a good gap behind yourself), then cut across when you can. That can often be pretty quick, and not too disruptive to traffic.

In the end, you'll have to find a method to get across that is comfortable for yourself.
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Old 05-28-15, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
That appears to just be a 2 lane road without a center turn lane. I can usually get across them easy enough, but it depends on how busy it is.

Do not try to hide in the middle of the yellow line. It isn't big enough for a bike!!!


So, you have a few choices:
  • Stop in the middle of the lane like you're a car, and block traffic behind you.
    I don't like this, but it can be done. Stop in the middle of the lane if you do this, and signal that you are turning.
  • Pull off to the right, wait for traffic to clear, then cut across. Not bad for moderate traffic.
  • When convenient, less than a block from your destination, cut all the way across into the opposite bike lane/shoulder. Technically not the best, but it is generally safe enough to do.
  • Sometimes it helps to signal and "Take the Lane" 1/2 block or so before your turn (with a good gap behind yourself), then cut across when you can. That can often be pretty quick, and not too disruptive to traffic.

In the end, you'll have to find a method to get across that is comfortable for yourself.
I was thinking two things since my latest reply and your response. My only disagreement is, the definition of 'moderate' traffic.

1. When on a four-lane road, the OP would just have to be concerned about the left lane of the direction he is headed. When on a six-lane road, it is almost like playing the video arcade game Frogger. Because he would have to account for the traffic in the middle and inside lanes he would have to cross.

2. I was also thinking about one of the early scenes from the movie 'Top Gun'. Where Cougar n' Merlin, and Maverick n' Goose had been in a dogfight with Soviet MiGs'(F-5). When they are back on the carrier, Cougar turns in his wings saying he lost his edge. Riding in traffic does require an 'edge'. The higher the speed limit, the bigger 'edge' needed to be able to ride with confidence and concentration.
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Old 05-28-15, 06:04 PM
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There are two maps of the intersection in question posted above. 2-lane road. Narrow shoulder to the right, wide shoulder to the left.

4 lane roads are OK if they have a center turn lane, or other buffer to the left of the rider. On a 2-lane one-way road, I just move over to the left of the road, just like I would otherwise be on the right. If I stay right too long, inevitably traffic catches up with me, and I have to pull over until the next traffic light bunches up the cars.

I can't think of a single 6-lane road around here without a center buffer. The I-5 Freeway does hit 6 lanes in a few spots... not my choice for Sunday rides.

Keep in mind that light cycles usually do create openings, either while you're riding, or while you're waiting. You just need a little patience. Or, you can cross at the nearest crosswalk.
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Old 05-28-15, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Jixr View Post
Hi everyone.

I recently picked up a little road bike, and love the idea of riding my bike to work.
It's only two miles, and most of the way has paved bike paths, but the last little bit of about 3-400 yards or so, I have to turn on a very busy road, and I have to turn left to get to my office parking lot.

There is no bike lane, sidewalk, or really much of a safe path.

My question is if I'm in the right lane, and need to turn left, should I ride in the middle of the street and block traffic and risk getting rear ended? or ride on the side of the road and wait to cross when its clear?

There is a bike lane on the other side of the street, but I think most people recommend not riding against traffic

I'm planning on leaving earlier in the morning, and I'm swinging by the bike shop today to get a flasher and light.
I do the latter: ride on the side of the road and wait to cross when its clear.
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