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Lane positioning question...looking for opinions

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Lane positioning question...looking for opinions

Old 04-05-11, 05:53 PM
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jzief128
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Lane positioning question...looking for opinions

Guys, got a question about lane positioning for a particular road I bike on. Let me preface this by saying that I am comfortable on the roads and feel fully comfortable with taking the lane when necessary. This one situation is tough though.

On my commute home, there is one intersection I come up to that has 3 lanes: left turn, straight, and right turn.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...290.34,,0,4.98

It is a smaller road crossing over a higher traffic road. During evening rush hour, a lot of people are leaving the university and use this intersection to go all three directions. Also, this stoplight is up a slight hill. The problem that I am having is with speed; my speed and traffic speed.

Sometimes when I approach the light I lose too much speed and am much slower than the cars going through. I always go straight through this light. So I'm not sure where to position myself when I come up to this light, as it turns green, and all the other cars behind me want to zoom through. If I take the center lane, I am really slow and hold up traffic. However, if I hug the right side of the center lane, I get people buzzing by me on both sides to go straight and to turn right.

Any suggestions on better placement? Thanks.
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Old 04-05-11, 06:02 PM
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My suggestion is to scope out a nice pickup truck as you approach and sneak into the bed to get through the intersection... or I'd probably take that side street on the map that looks like it's 2' of grass off the parking lot, just southwest of varsity...
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Old 04-05-11, 06:25 PM
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Ride exactly on the broken line dividing the centre and right-turn lane.
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Old 04-05-11, 06:39 PM
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What's the speed limit on this road? If it's over 30, I'd consider using the sidewalk in rush hour. blah blah blah, right to the road, but it's probably a lot less hassle for an intersection like this. If it's at 30, I would just ride in the right tire track of the center lane.
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Old 04-05-11, 06:39 PM
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I think you're already doing all you can in a situation like that. Riding exactly on the broken line as RoboChrist suggests might help give you a little more space for the 'buzzers' but that's about it.. sometimes I'll hop on the sidewalk for a bit if I feel like i'm going a lot slower than traffic until I can pick my pace back up then I get back in the street. I know a lot of people feel like they shouldn't be on the sidewalk, but whatever, i'm all for my personal safety first.
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Old 04-05-11, 07:15 PM
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I have an intersection that is very similar to that. There are usually three to four car behind me if I am first in the lane waiting for the light. If I tried to take the lane, I get cars crossing into oncoming traffic to pass me at a very close gap. One thing I do is to start off slow and veer toward the crosswalk after making sure cars in the right lanes are indeed turning right. I go through the intersection just barely staying out of the crosswalk at a much slower pace while letting those cars behind me pass by. In the event that there are too many cars that are going straight, then I will go up the crosswalk and into the sidewalk to wait it out. This is something I hardly ever do but only in this one intersection of mine that is similar to yours.
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Old 04-05-11, 07:40 PM
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I am actually one of those "get off the sidewalks" kind of guys, so I don't think that is an option for me. Regardless, this intersection is after a high speed jaunt down a hill, and then back up a hill to cross the road (where I lose too much speed). There really is not good way to get onto the sidewalk after the hill, and to take the hill on the sidewalk would be suicide.

Also, luckily, the situation I am describing only happens 1 out of 8 times probably. Usually I am the 1st in line at the intersection, or the light is red until I line up. Then its fine. It only is a problem when I start up the intersection hill, lose speed, and then it turns green with cars behind me.
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Old 04-05-11, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by jzief128 View Post
Also, luckily, the situation I am describing only happens 1 out of 8 times probably. Usually I am the 1st in line at the intersection, or the light is red until I line up. Then its fine. It only is a problem when I start up the intersection hill, lose speed, and then it turns green with cars behind me.
Maybe time your approach so you hit this section favorably everytime?
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Old 04-05-11, 08:08 PM
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Best thing for you to do is not worry about the cars behind you. I also don't agree with riding the lines as some have recommended. Doing so, I feel, would put you in the position of trying to merge back into the straight traffic and sandwich you between straight and turning lanes. Despite the fact that they are turn-only lanes, if motorists want to pass they will overtake in these lanes. A couple suggestions would be possibly waiting to let traffic flow calm a bit prior to going up the hill and possibly after going through the light. Maintaining lane control is key and is much more safe for you in the long run. You may get honks, but you are going within your means to get from point A to point B like everyone else.
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Old 04-05-11, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Maybe time your approach so you hit this section favorably everytime?
I wish I could do this. I can't see the light until I am at the valley between my "speed-up" hill and my "slow-down hill"
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Old 04-05-11, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ZCow View Post
Best thing for you to do is not worry about the cars behind you. I also don't agree with riding the lines as some have recommended. Doing so, I feel, would put you in the position of trying to merge back into the straight traffic and sandwich you between straight and turning lanes. Despite the fact that they are turn-only lanes, if motorists want to pass they will overtake in these lanes. A couple suggestions would be possibly waiting to let traffic flow calm a bit prior to going up the hill and possibly after going through the light. Maintaining lane control is key and is much more safe for you in the long run. You may get honks, but you are going within your means to get from point A to point B like everyone else.
+1 Take the lane. (The straight lane)
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Old 04-05-11, 09:52 PM
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I too would vote for taking the center lane. Anything else allows cars to try pass around you. What you don't want is the possibility of cars potentially passing on both the left and right side... sandwiching you. If traffic is really intense, can you change your departure time? Or is there another route?
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Old 04-05-11, 10:09 PM
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Another vote for taking the lane. It's really the only safe thing to do if you can't find an alternate route.
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Old 04-05-11, 10:12 PM
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This route is the best way for me to go, and I only run into difficulty every know and then. Overall, I think this thread has confirmed my thoughts that taking the center is for the best, even if I'm a bit slow. I guess this gives me more motivation to get faster up hills, I guess.

And this is all relative...30-35mph traffic or so, not a 50mph road or anything. The only reason cars get "zoomy" is that it is a short light at times.
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Old 04-05-11, 11:38 PM
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I would probably ride a fairly normal position about 1-1.5 ft left of the line. I never really take the lane, so I wouldn't personally consider it here, and riding the line often causes problems for me.

What I have been known to do is move right (out of the imaginary lane) going through an intersection to allow cars to pass me. I only do this under specific circumstances though, and only if merging back into the lane on the other side isn't going to be a problem. In places where I know merging back is an issue, I ride my standard position and cars just have to deal.
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Old 04-06-11, 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by jzief128 View Post
I am actually one of those "get off the sidewalks" kind of guys, so I don't think that is an option for me. Regardless, this intersection is after a high speed jaunt down a hill, and then back up a hill to cross the road (where I lose too much speed). There really is not good way to get onto the sidewalk after the hill, and to take the hill on the sidewalk would be suicide.

Also, luckily, the situation I am describing only happens 1 out of 8 times probably. Usually I am the 1st in line at the intersection, or the light is red until I line up. Then its fine. It only is a problem when I start up the intersection hill, lose speed, and then it turns green with cars behind me.
Ok, if you're a 'stay off the sidewalk guy' i can respect that, but as far as there not being a good way to get onto the sidewalk (if you wanted to try it anyway), i'm not sure what you mean, there's a big driveway entrance right there:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,0.053558&z=15

And a crosswalk entrance to the sidewalk right there:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...53558&t=h&z=15

Granted, i'm looking at it via google maps, so the real life situation might be totally different. You could always try bombing the hill in high gear so you have enough momentum to cruise up the hill without slowing down much. There's a couple hills here where that works ok for me. But then, being an NC native and having been on roads in the Raleigh area (in my car though) I seem to recall them being a little more hilly than here, so maybe that wouldn't work.. i dunno..

Anyways, personally, i'm a "use a bike's advantages over cars to stay alive" kind of guy, and sometimes that includes sidewalks for a block or two to avoid dangerous situations.
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Old 04-06-11, 01:35 AM
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+1 for taking and controlling the center lane until you are past the intersection and it is safe to allow motorist to pass.
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Old 04-06-11, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by RoboChrist View Post
Ride exactly on the broken line dividing the centre and right-turn lane.
He gets buzzed on both sides this way. I'd never do that.

Take the center lane, enough that you won't get buzzed by those going straight. So what if you will briefly hold up traffic? They'll live... and so will you.
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Old 04-06-11, 07:33 AM
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Getting buzzed on both sides at once is not fun. Been there, done that. I'd take the lane. They can wait.

I have a similar intersection near my house. It's a fun hilly road with a traffic light at the top of a hill. I take the lane. Strangely, I've never been harassed at that intersection, although I have less than 1/2 mile away.
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Old 04-06-11, 08:04 AM
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This might be the wrong answer but I would get in the right lane, towards the left side so drivers turning right will not be tempted to pass. These cars will be slowing down to turn anyway. If the light is red, I would pull all the way towards the left of the lane (almost to the lane division), and ride all the way up to the stop line, so you leave enough room for people to make their turn, but you also won't impede the drivers in the other lane going straight. The road after that looks very wide, with an area for parked cars. Unless you plan on taking the lane after the light, you can just cruise along in the shoulder area through the light and down the street.

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Old 04-06-11, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by RoboChrist View Post
Ride exactly on the broken line dividing the centre and right-turn lane.
Originally Posted by bhop View Post
I think you're already doing all you can in a situation like that. Riding exactly on the broken line as RoboChrist suggests might help give you a little more space for the 'buzzers' but that's about it.. sometimes I'll hop on the sidewalk for a bit if I feel like i'm going a lot slower than traffic until I can pick my pace back up then I get back in the street. I know a lot of people feel like they shouldn't be on the sidewalk, but whatever, i'm all for my personal safety first.
Riding the dashed line only encourages the 'buzzers' to try and squeeze by. Take the lane.

Originally Posted by colleen c View Post
I have an intersection that is very similar to that. There are usually three to four car behind me if I am first in the lane waiting for the light. If I tried to take the lane, I get cars crossing into oncoming traffic to pass me at a very close gap. One thing I do is to start off slow and veer toward the crosswalk after making sure cars in the right lanes are indeed turning right. I go through the intersection just barely staying out of the crosswalk at a much slower pace while letting those cars behind me pass by. In the event that there are too many cars that are going straight, then I will go up the crosswalk and into the sidewalk to wait it out. This is something I hardly ever do but only in this one intersection of mine that is similar to yours.
Veering to the right will also only encourage the 'buzzers' and leave you trying to merge into the traffic on the other side of the intersection.

Originally Posted by ZCow View Post
Best thing for you to do is not worry about the cars behind you. I also don't agree with riding the lines as some have recommended. Doing so, I feel, would put you in the position of trying to merge back into the straight traffic and sandwich you between straight and turning lanes. Despite the fact that they are turn-only lanes, if motorists want to pass they will overtake in these lanes. A couple suggestions would be possibly waiting to let traffic flow calm a bit prior to going up the hill and possibly after going through the light. Maintaining lane control is key and is much more safe for you in the long run. You may get honks, but you are going within your means to get from point A to point B like everyone else.
Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
+1 Take the lane. (The straight lane)
Yup. Control the situation. The other side of the intersection looks like a low traffic road or, at least, a slower speed road. You don't want to be playing 'pop goes the weasel' behind the parked cars when you enter the other road. I'd pull up behind the last car in the straight through lane square in the middle of the lane. When the traffic moves, move with it. If you are slower than the rest of the traffic, that's not really your problem.

One proviso: I always sprint across intersections. I try to clear them as quickly as possible. I ride with other people occasionally and they all want to saunter across all the intersections. I feel that intersections are where you risk the most and I'd rather get clear of them as soon as possible.
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Old 04-06-11, 08:29 AM
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I agree with the take the center lane suggestion. You will slow some cars down, but its just for a brief moment. As soon as you get into the intersection, you have room to move right and allow cars to pass on your left since this one lane is going to two on the other side. If you ride the line between the right turn and center, you are pretty much inviting cars to try to squeeze by you on both sides.

EDIT: On second look, it doesn't look like it goes to two lanes on the other side (at least no for long). Either way, you can give impatient cars a chance to pass as you go through the intersection and then carefully merge back into traffic on the other side
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Old 04-06-11, 08:31 AM
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The grade (incline) is what is creating most of the discomfort for the OP. on a flat section, this is a non issue because from a standing start, I'd bet he can get up to reasonable speed pretty quickly. on a hill, not so much.

Aside from looking for an alternate route to get up that hill, taking the center lane is the safest, IMO. Be prepared to smile & wave at some angry motorists who are upset with "another d-bag cyclist" however ... ..
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Old 04-06-11, 08:45 AM
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Stand up and pedal like crazy while taking the center of the through lane. Motorists are less likely to get mad or harass you if you look like you're doing the best you can.
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Old 04-06-11, 08:49 AM
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Definitely take the lane.
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