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When making a left turn on a green arrow, do you line up or move to the front?

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When making a left turn on a green arrow, do you line up or move to the front?

Old 08-18-20, 04:17 PM
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burritos
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When making a left turn on a green arrow, do you line up or move to the front?

I always though you could just move to the front and wait to the right of the lead car. But that might be presumptive, so now I just go like a car and just wait in line like a car. Is there etiquette or rules? I'm in California.
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Old 08-18-20, 05:04 PM
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Personally, whether going straight, right, or left I follow what the cars do. If the cars zip to the right and form an additional line, I'll do that and wait behind the last car. If the cars wait behind each other I'll wait behind them.
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Old 08-18-20, 05:08 PM
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I usually wait behind the cars.
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Old 08-18-20, 05:09 PM
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I will do either, depending on the situation. Mostly on how fast the cars are going through the straight ahead lane.
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Old 08-18-20, 05:39 PM
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If a bicycle/cyclist is supposed to be treated like a car - then it has to act like a car.

The only time I don't follow this rule is if I'm turning right on red and the cars in front of me are going straight.
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Old 08-18-20, 06:09 PM
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I almost always go to the front. Live in CA.
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Old 08-18-20, 06:53 PM
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I wait in line in the center of the lane like a car.

But I don't live in CA.
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Old 08-19-20, 12:52 AM
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I usually line up at a stop sign or split to the right at a light but if itís a big enough intersection Iíll go to the crosswalk.

In CA, used to splitting on a motorcycle but it doesnít make sense on a bicycle that you canít launch out ahead of traffic. Laws for lane splitting have always been vague

Last edited by Darth Lefty; 08-19-20 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 08-19-20, 06:21 AM
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line up
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Old 08-19-20, 07:38 AM
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I go to the front of the line and do as far right as possible. I live in New England and not had an issue with doing that.
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Old 08-19-20, 08:31 AM
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I'm not crystal clear on the question. Lane with a left turn and a straight option? Stay in the lane. If there's a left turn only lane, I'll get into that lane behind any cars already there. If traffic is backed up before the beginning of the left turn lane, I'll often swing to the left of traffic going straight to get into the left turn lane.
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Old 08-19-20, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
In CA, used to splitting on a motorcycle but it doesnít make sense on a bicycle that you canít launch out ahead of traffic. Laws for lane splitting have always been vague
I often split lane in my bicycle. And yes, I sprint like crazy, standing on the pedals on medium gears when the light turns green to get ahead of the traffic. I can get ahead of the traffic most of the time until reaching 20 mph. So before I hit 20 mph, I should have moved to the right-most lane.
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Old 08-19-20, 10:39 AM
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I'm in CA. and I line up, center of the lane.
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Old 08-19-20, 11:59 AM
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I try to avoid left turns if I can, but if I have to, I'll line up with the cars.
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Old 08-19-20, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I will do either, depending on the situation. Mostly on how fast the cars are going through the straight ahead lane.
this..... in general if all are stopped and I have room I move up to the front
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Old 08-19-20, 06:37 PM
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In CA, and only in CA, lane splitting is legal. You could do it in a car, if the lane was wide enough. (Yes, the CHP's official position is that lane splitting "is not legal, but it isn't illegal." I call BS. In any system based on English Common Law, which ours is, anything that is not explicitly illegal by written statute is, by definition, legal. "Legal" and "not illegal" are synonyms. Anyone who says anything else is on a power trip.)

I'm pretty sure that every other state makes this illegal.

Going to the front of the line, and then making the widest left turn you can, is documented to be the safest way to make a left turn from the light. Don't wait in the line. The cagers coming up from behind are focused on the license plate and tail lights of the car in front of you. They literally will not, indeed cannot, see you and your bike in between. You're outside of their depth of field, so you're out of focus... and blurry, unexpected objects that aren't being actively looked at get edited out by the brain's image processing software. Almost nobody ever gets hit on purpose, which means that "getting in the way of the cars" is by far the safest thing you can do in almost every traffic situation. If they honk and flip you the bird, you know that they saw you.

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Old 08-19-20, 08:08 PM
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I line up behind.
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Old 08-19-20, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
this..... in general if all are stopped and I have room I move up to the front
Is there a good reason to split lane and move to the front? We don't get anywhere any faster. It's not safer, is it? I did it cause I was mimicking other bikers. But now that lining up is an option, I feel better this move.
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Old 08-19-20, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by burritos View Post
Is there a good reason to split lane and move to the front? We don't get anywhere any faster. It's not safer, is it? I did it cause I was mimicking other bikers. But now that lining up is an option, I feel better this move.
Whoops, sorry. Missed Shannon's response. Now I'm torn.
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Old 08-19-20, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by burritos View Post
Is there a good reason to split lane and move to the front? We don't get anywhere any faster. It's not safer, is it? I did it cause I was mimicking other bikers. But now that lining up is an option, I feel better this move.
Sometimes it feels safer to me to have a few cars between me and the cars coming up behind.
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Old 08-19-20, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by burritos View Post
Is there a good reason to split lane and move to the front? We don't get anywhere any faster. It's not safer, is it? I did it cause I was mimicking other bikers. But now that lining up is an option, I feel better this move.
I like to do it because 1) I am more visible overall and visibility = safety IMHO 2) if it is fast cycling left turn I want to have all the time I can to get through the turn before it changes again IMHO safer
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Old 08-20-20, 12:01 AM
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There are lots of arguments for and against lane splitting, endlessly on any motorcycle forum. In practice, in CA, most motorcyclists ride between the 1 and 2 lane, and don’t split up to left turns because it feels like passing on the right.
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Old 08-20-20, 06:34 AM
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Although I am usually a stickler for doing exactly the "right" thing, this is one situation where I disagree with the established standard of waiting in line with all the other cars. A bike (at least MY bike) is too slow to be part of a process where everyone is rushing to beat the green arrow, and I think slowing drivers up this way has the potential to end badly, maybe even deadly.

My protocol is to slowly and non-aggressively make my way to the front, making eye-contact with as many drivers as possible, just to establish a human bond before I get there. Then I will try to visually explain to the lead driver exactly what I am going to do, demonstrating with my hands that I will be making a wide turn into either the far right lane or a bike lane. This often elicits a shared smile or a laugh that I think goes a long way in ensuring the driver doesn't want to flatten me out in the intersection.

When the arrow turns green and I begin my left turn, I will gently motion the driver that it's OK to follow me and that I am in control of my bike and where it is going. Typically, as the driver passes, he or she will wave or give me a nod of thanks for taking the stress out of the situation, and everyone goes home alive and happy.

I have been bike-commuting the same route at the same times for several years now, so I actually have a relationship with many of the drivers who do the same. I would assume it's a little more of a challenge to get this kind of synergy going if you're riding a new route, but I think it's worth a try.
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Old 08-20-20, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ShannonM View Post
In CA, and only in CA, lane splitting is legal. You could do it in a car, if the lane was wide enough. (Yes, the CHP's official position is that lane splitting "is not legal, but it isn't illegal." I call BS. In any system based on English Common Law, which ours is, anything that is not explicitly illegal by written statute is, by definition, legal. "Legal" and "not illegal" are synonyms. Anyone who says anything else is on a power trip.)


I'm pretty sure that every other state makes this illegal.
Your info is a few years out of date. I mostly know this because I also ride motorcycles and have been involved with lane filtering advocacy for motorcycles in 3 different states.

CA officially made it legal, and put restrictions on it that most motorcyclists consider very sensible for safety. UT has recently allowed filtering at lights only, with some additional restrictions that have so far, been well received.

Going to the front of the line, and then making the widest left turn you can, is documented to be the safest way to make a left turn from the light. Don't wait in the line. The cagers coming up from behind are focused on the license plate and tail lights of the car in front of you. They literally will not, indeed cannot, see you and your bike in between. You're outside of their depth of field, so you're out of focus... and blurry, unexpected objects that aren't being actively looked at get edited out by the brain's image processing software. Almost nobody ever gets hit on purpose, which means that "getting in the way of the cars" is by far the safest thing you can do in almost every traffic situation. If they honk and flip you the bird, you know that they saw you.

Be polite when you can, be rude when you must. And trust no one.

--Shannon
You say it's documented. Do you have a link? (I believe you, but would love to see some good studies!)

FWIW, I almost always filter up the right side of the left turn lane, and swing wide to the far right side of the lane I'm turning to. Like any situation, though, there is no one size fits all, and the answer is always 'it depends'. There is a section of my home commute that passes under an interstate, so that always means multiple traffic lights in a very short period (3 lights in less than 1/4 mile).

My normal route home, I make a left turn at the third. The first intersection three lanes: 1)left turn, then 2)straight through lane, then 3)straight through OR right turn lane. I'm in the right lane at this intersection, but I line up with the traffic, a little to the LEFT of center, so that right turning traffic can squeeze by and turn. There's plenty of room.

I stay in the flow of traffic through the second part of the intersection under the interstate, and sometimes will even get in the left lane in anticipation of moving to the left turn lane for the third light.

The left turn is actually a double left turn, and it is always backed up 5-6 or more cars in both lanes. The timing of this light is such that the first two through lights are always synced (in this direction) and the third is always a long wait. I get up to the front, and make sure to stick my bike out in front a bit to make sure they can see me. I ride either a recumbent bike or a velomobile, so I'm a little lower that a regular bike, but I pull out far enough (usually about halfway into the crosswalk) to see the driver in my rearview mirror.

Some other lights that tend to have lighter traffic, or slower traffic I will just line up with traffic and go through with traffic.
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Old 08-20-20, 09:53 AM
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Papa Tom:

I do the same thing. I will either wait behind or wait on the line separating the left turn from the go-ahead line. But in either case, I make eye contact, and I also pantomime that I'm going to stay to the right side of the left line and turn left. Most people understand--some roll down their windows and ask--and almost nobody has been an axxhole.
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