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Making left turn - wait in line with other cars or proceed to front, merge, and turn?

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Making left turn - wait in line with other cars or proceed to front, merge, and turn?

Old 11-14-11, 01:04 PM
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Making left turn - wait in line with other cars or proceed to front, merge, and turn?

Title explains it.

One place on my commute has a place where there's typically a long line of cars waiting to turn left from a stop sign. No bike lanes, just shoulder.

Would you wait several minutes in line with the cars to turn left, or proceed to the front, merge, and turn left?
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Old 11-14-11, 01:08 PM
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If you don't favor getting clipped I personally would take the lane and wait my turn in line. Most of other riders I've seen in such situations would probably ride on the right to the front then if no one was going just go left immediately... I wouldn't do that but I've seen it enough to think it might be the common choice.
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Old 11-14-11, 01:08 PM
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I wait in line.

A big consideration in this is what configuration is the road you are turning onto. For instance, if you are turning onto a single lane facility, then it probably doesn't matter much (though I consider filtering to be pretty rude behavior), but if you are turning onto a multi-lane facility then I think filtering would present a safety hazard. Since filtering will annoy motorists, you don't want to have to deal with them trying to "cut right" around you on the turn while you attempt to move right to the outer lane.
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Old 11-14-11, 01:15 PM
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I usually get in line. If it's a case where the forward travel lane is empty I'll sometimes filter up in the forward travel lane and just take the left, preferably right behind a car that's just turned left. That way the car behind will see you.
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Old 11-14-11, 01:20 PM
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Depends. Without a bike lane, you should technically wait your turn. However, if you can safely make your way to the front ...

I always try to wait in line to show motorists that I deserve as much respect on the road as they do.
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Old 11-14-11, 01:22 PM
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Do what is legal and safe.

If there is a law against filtering where you ride, or it is unsafe under the circumstances, don't do it. Around here, cars (even police cars) filter past me all the time, especially when I'm riding along, so filtering is clearly legal. Filtering past stopped cars is usually safe, just don't get caught between cars when the light changes.

As far as it being polite or rude, consult with Miss Manners. I don't spend my life worrying about what others think.
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Old 11-14-11, 01:50 PM
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I get in line. I'm a vehicle subject to and expected to follow the all rules of the road.

But with that said. I would find an alternate route that kept me from having to deal with that everyday even if it meant I it was a bit longer route, I'd rather be riding and moving than sitting in a line.
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Old 11-14-11, 02:02 PM
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If there is no safer way to cross but turn left with cars in front and behind you, I'd filter whenever it is safe. I always filter on both bicycle and motorcycle. Waiting in line can be just as unsafe.

As far as respect is concerned - those who respect bikes will understand my filtering, those who don't... well.. they just don't respect you whatever you do.
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Old 11-14-11, 02:08 PM
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heard it called the Copenhagen left turn, stay on the right,
continue thru the intersection.
untill you are on the far side of that street, stop.
then turn left when you are on the right side of that street,
and the cross traffic stops on the street you were on.
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Old 11-14-11, 02:20 PM
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There is no universal answer, it really depends upon the specific intersection, where you are located, what your local laws and regulations are, and what your local traffic expects.

With that said, I've found it safer at times to continue straight through the intersection in the right lane, then turn right into a corner business parking lot and exiting in a sort of self-made cloverleaf to continue on in what would have been your original intended direction. Other times I've found it easier and safer to continue straight through the intersection and make a u-turn part-way down the block, then come back and take a right turn at the original intersection. Still other times I've found it safer to turn right, do a u-turn or a left turn into a lot, then come back at the intersection straight through it now.

Also, you didn't state what kind of intersection it is: is it a 4-way stop, or a T-stop with non-stopping cross traffic, or a 2-way stop 4-way intersection where the cross traffic from the left and right do not stop. Those details sort of have an impact on the answer as well.

If none of these apply then try one thing, and if it doesn't work then try something else. The drivers will generally let you know in one way or another if your behavior is okay or not (ignoring the minority of drivers who think everyone else should get out of their way).

Be smart, and figure out what works, you are not limited to just one option - usually.
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Old 11-14-11, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by modernjess View Post
I get in line. I'm a vehicle subject to and expected to follow the all rules of the road.
Which rule of the road would that be? I have never heard of a law that prohibits passing another vehicle in the same lane. If so, every car that passes me without changing lanes is violating the law, which would make it the most violated law on the books.
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Old 11-14-11, 02:34 PM
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I've jumped to the front when there's a big separated area on the right side of the left turn lane. Otherwise it doesn't seem wise to cut in front and slow a whole line down, or get squeezed on the side. On the other hand it's very tempting to just filter through if the drivers in your area like to wait then jackrabbit at lights and turns.
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Old 11-14-11, 02:55 PM
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It always depends, but generally, I would filter up the left side of the turning lane and then stop behind the first car in line. When that car goes, I go on the inside of it, keeping it as a shield against oncoming traffic.

I don't see the harm to anybody waiting in line. If they don't like waiting, they can choose to ride a bicycle the same as me.

I don't like filtering on the right side of the turn lane because sometimes cars will suddenly change their mind and jump for what they think is an empty space, or drop off passengers will open the right side doors to step out.
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Old 11-14-11, 03:03 PM
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I've got a road on my commute where there's usually a long line of cars waiting to turn left at a traffic light, but a right turn lane and a bike lane (to the right of the right turn lane) appears about 150 feet before the intersection. I'm turning left at this intersection onto a road that has a bike lane. I generally pass the stopped cars and sit to the far left of the right turn lane (which is wide enough for cars turning right to fit comfortably to my right). If asked, my defense would be that the bike lane is misplaced and I'm waiting where it should be. No one has ever asked, of course.

On the face of it, what I'm doing may seem to be both rude and illegal. I don't know if I have a leg to stand on legally, but in terms of courtesy I think what I'm doing has the least impact on traffic. If there are only a few cars at the light when I get there, I'll get in line behind them. If there are more than a few my reasoning is that by taking the lane I would likely cause cars behind me to miss the light. The left turn part of the cycle is short. A line of cars takes an absurd amount of time to get moving, but once they start moving they get up to speed quickly. By the time I've waited for 4 or 5 cars in front of me to start moving and then covered the 100 feet or so to the intersection, I'm blocking the flow of traffic.
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Old 11-14-11, 03:18 PM
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Depends. At the work end of my commute, I am sometimes able to merge over to a 2 lane left turn lane with 2 lanes of through traffic and a right turn lane. I always wait in line here. On the way home, there is a t-intersection where the side road terminates in light-controlled left turn & right turn lanes. If traffic permits, I filter here- I can take the left turn wide so I remain out of the path of the turning traffic.
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Old 11-14-11, 03:27 PM
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In my spare time I drive a getaway car for some local bank robbers. I've found that filtering up on the right side and then turning left across the lane alongside other cars turning left is a great way to get an extra edge and a couple of car lengths on the Popo.
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Old 11-14-11, 03:35 PM
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Usually I wait, but I do have one intersection that's especially tricky at rush hour. Sometimes only one car makes it through per cycle, and then only by jumping through at the transition when oncoming traffic stops. At that intersection I still don't filter. It wouldn't help. Instead I either go straight and take the next left when traffic is stopped, or I stay right, stop on the far side of the intersection, and take the crosswalk when the light changes. I consider filtering and taking the lane to be mutually exclusive. If the lane is narrow enough that a car can't pass me, it's probably not wide enough for me to pass them and invite further in-lane passing once traffic is moving.
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Old 11-14-11, 03:54 PM
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It depends on the road, but typically I'd filter to the front and turn as quickly as possible to remove myself from traffic. As far as waiting in line, I don't see cars stop behind me while I'm riding to the right in order not to offend me, I don't see why they'd be offended that I passed them when they're moving more slowly. I'd also assume they'd prefer not waiting behind me while I rode in traffic in the center of the lane. Riding to the side of traffic has its benefits to us. Cars don't get to have it both ways...ie., passing me when they can but having me wait on the line so as to avoid offending folks. One of the benefits to cycling downtown is getting by traffic; it's faster.
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Old 11-14-11, 04:06 PM
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Most of my left turns are large intersections with left turn lanes and at least 1 or 2 straight lanes to the right. I filter to the front of the left turn lane if I arrived when the light is red and there is space for me to get by. If the light is green, or there are only a few cars then I get in line. On most of my left turns, i am turning into a very wide street or one with a bike lane, so I take the turn much wider than the cars and that gives me room to make their left turn behind me while I am making mine. I also try to hustle through these sections and make sure I am prepped to jump off the line when the light goes green. So far the only people that have made any stink about my left turn filtering have been people on this forum. Never had a honk, or a yell by a car driver on the road.
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Old 11-14-11, 04:24 PM
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Me, I'd wait it out or find a different route. From a politeness perspective, I think it'd just be rude to cut in front of all those cars just because I can. And from a safety perspective, it's a safer turn if I'm following the same lane of travel that the other drivers are expecting each vehicle to follow, plus all those cars I just passed are only going to pass me again once they get through the intersection. (Faster riders than me don't have this problem.)
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Old 11-14-11, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by when View Post
Title explains it.

One place on my commute has a place where there's typically a long line of cars waiting to turn left from a stop sign. No bike lanes, just shoulder.

Would you wait several minutes in line with the cars to turn left, or proceed to the front, merge, and turn left?
I wait in all situations. With a single lane where there are cars going straight and cars turning left and right, filtering to the front and and turning left could place you in a situation where the cars are going to right hook you or straight punch you. On a single lane with a turn lane, filtering to the front could leave you in a situation where you have cars passing you on the right where you have little space between you and the car next you you. On multiple lanes with multiple turn lanes, you could encounter a situation where the left turn lane has to wait until the end of the signal cycle leaving you stranded between moving cars. Or you could reach the light at the end of the cycle if the turn is allowed at the top of the cycle still leaving you stranded next to moving cars with very little space. You'd also be in a spot where there few drivers expect you. If they don't expect you to be there, you are even more invisible than normal.

Even in places where the lane is striped for filtering, like Seattle, I turn left in the full lane. It gives you control over the traffic. If you filter, you are depending on the good graces of the drivers.
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Old 11-14-11, 04:36 PM
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Depends on the intersection. There are a few bike boxes scattered around Minneapolis. If one is present, I'll normally filter up to the front of the intersection (via bike lane) and then scoot over to the far left of the bike box (in front of the far-left traffic lane).

Otherwise, I normally wait in line.
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Old 11-14-11, 05:42 PM
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In Denver where we have no fancy filtering lanes or bike boxes, I queue up and wait my turn to go left.
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Old 11-14-11, 05:54 PM
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I would slowly move up to the stop sign by riding to the right of the cars in the left turn lane. When I get to the stop sign I would stop and when the very next car in my left turn lane begins their turn I would follow off their right rear by a few feet until the turn is complete. Then I would continue on my way. I don't see how any logical car driver would be upset by seeing a cyclist do that move.
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Old 11-14-11, 05:57 PM
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That's exactly the way I do it. Go right after the guy, but keep up with him, so you don't get nailed by a Straight-through driver coming from across the intersection. Make eye contact with any straight-through autos throughout the turn if possible.

If there's a gas station or fast food on the corner beware that they may do a quick right into the driveway without a signal so keep your hands on the brakes. Often good to take the lane behind the auto as you complete turn.
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