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Do center turn lanes increase safety for bicycle riders?

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Do center turn lanes increase safety for bicycle riders?

Old 08-11-21, 09:17 AM
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CrankyOne
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Do center turn lanes increase safety for bicycle riders?

Our county engineers are expanding many county roads (most of which are 45 MPH) in residential areas from two lanes to two lanes + a center turn lane. They say, repeatedly, that this increases safety for people riding bicycles on adjacent multi-use trails because drivers don't feel pressured by cars behind them and so take more time to make a safe turn. This sounds well and good.

EXCEPT, many of us have never noticed a difference in practice. Cars on the new 3-lane roads seemingly turn in to us just as often as before and as often as on the still existing 2-lane roads. Fortunately it's not that often on either and when it does the drivers pretty much always stop before hitting anyone.

I'm thinking that at one point I'd seen a research paper on this.

Does anyone know?
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Old 08-11-21, 09:32 AM
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I can't imagine a motorist feeling so much anxiety about holding up those behind that he or she would intentionally put a cyclist or pedestrian at risk. They make unsafe turns because either they don't see the cyclist or underestimate the speed. My guess is that the main motivation for your county is traffic complaints, not cyclist safety.
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Old 08-11-21, 03:07 PM
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I'm not sure if I know what a center turn lane is, then again we don't have many MUPs.
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Old 08-11-21, 05:19 PM
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That explanation seems like a stretch to me. It would more likely improve conditions for road riders as it gives cars more room to pass. But I can't see it having much impact on drivers turning across adjacent MUPs.
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Old 08-12-21, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
I'm not sure if I know what a center turn lane is, then again we don't have many MUPs.
I just looked up center turn lane, so now I know what they are...we call them Suicide Lanes down here in Florida.

I don't see how they would increase safety for MUP riders or any cyclist...that's not to say they're unsafe, just don't see a particular benefit.


.
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Old 08-12-21, 08:52 AM
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I am having a hard time visualizing what you are describing. How is the "Multi-use" trail interacting with the roadway in a residential area? Are people crossing the roadway to enter into their driveway?
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Old 08-12-21, 10:45 AM
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Centre turn lanes are for cars to turn left. They make no difference to the safety of cyclist who have to deal with right-hooks. Cyclists still have to look out for oncoming traffic turning left into their path regardless if the left-turning car is in a centre lane, a left turn lane or a through lane tuning left.

And as for cyclists using those lanes to turn left, they would have to cut through at least a lane of busy traffic from the far right side just to use them. Not a good idea.
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Old 08-12-21, 01:00 PM
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On my usual route back home I travel a busy street with center turn lanes and bike lanes. The center turn lane makes the left turn back into my housing area much simpler and safer. I ride the bike lane until getting close to my turn, wait for a clear space in traffic, signal and move to the center lane. Then I can adjust my speed as needed to make the left turn when clear, without having an impatient driver behind me while I wait to turn. Actually, this is the same process I use when driving this route. The "cut through a lane of busy traffic" situation can be done as safely or dangerously as the rider chooses. In this case a stop light several blocks back breaks up the traffic flow and it is not an issue.

I don't understand the reference to MUP trails - maybe it is in regard to a particular local situation.
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Old 08-12-21, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
Centre turn lanes are for cars to turn left. They make no difference to the safety of cyclist who have to deal with right-hooks. Cyclists still have to look out for oncoming traffic turning left into their path regardless if the left-turning car is in a centre lane, a left turn lane or a through lane tuning left.

And as for cyclists using those lanes to turn left, they would have to cut through at least a lane of busy traffic from the far right side just to use them. Not a good idea.

I do it all the time. Even on a 45mph road, these lanes are usually at traffic lights, and it sure beats trying to make the left hand turn from the right side of the road. You definitely signal the lane change and look behind you before starting it.
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Old 08-12-21, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I do it all the time. Even on a 45mph road, these lanes are usually at traffic lights, and it sure beats trying to make the left hand turn from the right side of the road. You definitely signal the lane change and look behind you before starting it.
Good for you.
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Old 08-12-21, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
Good for you.

It's literally what the state law recommends, by the way. This "not a good idea" was just an uninformed opinion on your part.
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Old 08-12-21, 02:23 PM
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We have very few MUPs that are parallel to roads, especially in rural areas.

However, as a driver, I like the center turn lanes. If I'm passing a cyclist either in a bike path, shoulder, or side of the road, then I'll move over, about halfway into the center turn lane to give some extra space.
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Old 08-12-21, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
It's literally what the state law recommends, by the way. This "not a good idea" was just an uninformed opinion on your part.
Aw, shucks.
Always finding a way to disagree with someone, eh? Can this thread be saved?

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Old 08-12-21, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
Aw, shucks.
Always finding a way to disagree with someone, eh? Can this thread be saved?

Look, you're the one who said that left turn lanes are for cars. You posted an off-topic piece of misinformation. At least in most of the US, that's wrong legally. Bicyclists are supposed to turn left from the left turn lane. I don't disagree with you, you're just plain wrong.
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Old 08-12-21, 08:47 PM
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At a light without an advance turn phase, then there is NO reason to go there. At best you save seconds. Lots of times I cross both ways, in the crosswalks, without stopping. Too many scenarios to generalize. Could be they are more dangerous, if they go for miles along endless shopping parking lots.
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Old 08-12-21, 08:55 PM
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My experience with this kind of "paint engineering' is that it comes at the cost of reducing the shoulder area, which is the biggest concern for me. I don't really like MUPs that are paralleling roads; they seem like glorified sidewalks.

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Old 08-12-21, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
...from two lanes to two lanes + a center turn lane.
It's a mess. Was talking to a young rider from Sam Marcos Texas. He describes what is called a "Continuous Flow Intersection". That's where traffic lights stop on coming traffic for drivers going through the intersection to turn and drive against the flow of traffic on the left side of the road. He said people who are not familiar with the intersection often just freeze up and stop not knowing what to do.

I asked what he does when he has to go through on a bicycle. He said he just waits at the preceding light and someone will signal to chase him through so he doesn't get run over. Thank goodness San Macros is a Bicycle Town. He said he has never had to wait long...

San Marcos Texas - I35 & Tx Hwy 80

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Old 08-13-21, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
I just looked up center turn lane, so now I know what they are...we call them Suicide Lanes down here in Florida.

I don't see how they would increase safety for MUP riders or any cyclist...that's not to say they're unsafe, just don't see a particular benefit.


.
The only way I could think of is that they might eliminate quick, impulsive lane changes. Around here, sometimes if someone is turning left, the person/people behind them will switch into the other lane so they can pass the person turning without having to slow down/stop. Sometimes it's obvious they do this on an impulse and probably without really checking the other lane, because they may need to make that decision quickly as soon as they see brake lights/a turn signal 2-4 car lengths ahead if they're going to do it without having to slow down. That could be a problem to anyone in that other lane, but especially bicyclists or even motorcyclists who are less visible (so less likely to be seen by someone who doesn't look or who only looks really quickly).
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Old 08-14-21, 09:28 AM
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When I commuted, there were bike lanes on both sides of the two lane road as well as a center left hand turn lane. I always found the turn lane very helpful when making my left turn since it gave me a ‘safe’ place to move to when making my turn. Never got cut off by drivers or had issues with drivers turning left across my bike lane. I think they are fantastic, but it depends on traffic volume, speed and the number of lanes.
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Old 08-15-21, 07:03 PM
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drivers that turn in front of a cyclist don't lack driving knowledge they just think, "Imma beat that rider with my turn, & i dont care if they get ran over... they shouldnt be on the road anyway!!!"
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Old 08-15-21, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Kat12 View Post
The only way I could think of is that they might eliminate quick, impulsive lane changes. Around here, sometimes if someone is turning left, the person/people behind them will switch into the other lane so they can pass the person turning without having to slow down/stop. Sometimes it's obvious they do this on an impulse and probably without really checking the other lane, because they may need to make that decision quickly as soon as they see brake lights/a turn signal 2-4 car lengths ahead if they're going to do it without having to slow down. That could be a problem to anyone in that other lane, but especially bicyclists or even motorcyclists who are less visible (so less likely to be seen by someone who doesn't look or who only looks really quickly).
seems like the posted MPH is too fast & needs a decrease. Slower traffic speeds helps reduce poor decision making based on reaction times.
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Old 08-16-21, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
seems like the posted MPH is too fast & needs a decrease. Slower traffic speeds helps reduce poor decision making based on reaction times.
Nah. People will do it no matter how slow the speed limit is (and if the speed limit is slower, they may be even more impatient). Truth is that some of these streets do need a dedicated turn lane because traffic *will* be held up at heavy times while a left turner waits for the oncoming lanes to clear. Which is why nobody wants to wait.
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Old 08-17-21, 01:53 AM
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I'm not sure. Better follow street lights, if any. Just always be cautious at all times. How about setting a licensed ID for cyclists and as a requirement you should first under go an exam of street rule, would that be feasible?
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Old 08-17-21, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ropetwitch View Post
I'm not sure. Better follow street lights, if any. Just always be cautious at all times. How about setting a licensed ID for cyclists and as a requirement you should first under go an exam of street rule, would that be feasible?
No. That would just stop people from learning to ride. Do you have any idea how much bureaucracy and administration that would take? Nationwide, that has to be in the billions of dollars in investment into something there's no reason to believe would be effective at anything other than discouraging bicycling.

So are you going to ban children from riding in the streets?

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Old 08-17-21, 09:07 AM
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Do center turn lanes increase safety for bicycle riders?

I believe they do if one is riding the road, for reasons already stated: Motorists overtaking cyclists can glide partially into the center lane to provide more buffer, and cyclists can safely use them when turning left. It seems questionable to me that there would be any benefit to cyclists riding on a parallel side path.
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