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Seasoned road warriors -- help me navigate this intersection on my commute home

Old 01-07-15, 08:07 AM
  #1  
GAPavedTrailRdr
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Seasoned road warriors -- help me navigate this intersection on my commute home

Hi there, I am nearly ready to start commuting back and forth to work and took a trial run a couple weekends ago. This intersection gave me trouble and I'd like your feedback on how to navigate it. Drivers aren't watching the crosswalks and it's clear I need to ride on the road to navigate this intersection.

On the way home, I'll be commuting from the bike lane at the Southwest corner and need to cross to the bike path at the northwest corner. Traffic is heavy, but can be flowing at roughly 40mph, so I'm not comfortable trying to cross lanes as I approach to get to the left turn lane. I'm thinking the best approach is to wait on the right side for the red light, then cross over to the left turn lane, and wait there for the left turn light and move through with the left turn traffic. I'm thinking if I wait on the outside right of the first car, but before the second car, I should be able to fit into the flow easily.

Thoughts?

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Old 01-07-15, 08:17 AM
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Your plan sounds good if it's not feasible to change lines prior to the intersection. I'm not sure how drivers treat bicyclists in Atlanta, but up here I wouldn't have a problem if I signaled, made eye contact and changed lanes to get over to the left turn lane. 40mph roads are pretty standard. I'd start moving over about 1/4 mile away.

Another (much slower) option could be dismounting and walking the bike in the two crosswalks.
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Old 01-07-15, 08:22 AM
  #3  
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
dismounting and walking the bike in the two crosswalks.
might be worth a try. that is, if they stop for pedestrians
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Old 01-07-15, 08:24 AM
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If it bothers you, I would just use the crosswalks, from the bike lane to the path........ no shame in that!
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Old 01-07-15, 08:35 AM
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Generally I would aim for getting into the left turn lane as soon as it begins if possible. That would get me out of the right two through lanes and into a slower lane - (presumably slower because cars will have to either stop or yield to oncoming traffic before turning). Then as you say, get to the right of that lane. I'd probably either be in front or on the right rear bumper of the first car.

And since you are aiming for that path instead of making the full left, cars can easily pass on your left. Once you're going you need to be watching for the oncoming guy in that right turn who won't expect a cyclist to be heading for that path.

Doing this obviously takes some getting used to. Merging across two lanes requires signaling, braking, and looking behind, all at the same time. Same things you have to do in a car, really.
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Old 01-07-15, 08:52 AM
  #6  
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You got some great advice and options to explore. Just be sure to let the drivers know what it is you are doing and be predictable.

My order of preference is:
1. Use the turning lane as you first outlined
2. Use the crosswalk if the wait for an opening to is too long

Some days you can do option 1 with no issues and others my may have to use option 2. Be flexible and predictable.

I personally would wait in the bike lane until traffic clears up, usually in a minute or two as traffic flows in spurts (from what I've noticed). When clear, swing over to the left turning lane and proceed as usual.
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Old 01-07-15, 08:58 AM
  #7  
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If you are not comfortable with the transition into the left lane, then your best bet would probably be the crosswalks. However, if you'd like to wait for a red light and position yourself with the left lane traffic, don't get behind the first car, be on their passenger side front light. So the driver can clearly see you. It sounds like bike-awareness is a concern, so I would put myself right out front. That way, you can also control how much space is between you and the 1st and 2nd car when you start to turn and want to turn agian onto the bike path.
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Old 01-07-15, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by bigredkevbot View Post
However, if you'd like to wait for a red light and position yourself with the left lane traffic, don't get behind the first car, be on their passenger side front light. So the driver can clearly see you.
I agree being in front is probably the safest place, but it has always been a game time decision for me based on the position of that front car (assuming he is there before me). If there isn't enough space to his side or in front of him, I'll get on his right rear fender. If you're behind the car, the driver doesn't need to see you, in my opinion.

In this situation, since there is a crosswalk, there is probably always enough space in front. But if I wouldn't necessarily filter around him if it meant having to get into the lane of cars going straight.
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Old 01-07-15, 09:39 AM
  #9  
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How does the left turn light operate? Does the entire northbound flow get green all at once - left turn and straight?

Without being familiar with the intersection, I'd be at least a little leery of stopping in the crosswalk between lanes of traffic - if someone doesn't see you, or someone makes a late decision to turn left, you could be in trouble.

Is there any point where the northbound crosswalk gets a "Walk" signal while the left turn lane is red?
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Old 01-07-15, 09:41 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by GAPavedTrailRdr View Post
Hi there, I am nearly ready to start commuting back and forth to work and took a trial run a couple weekends ago. This intersection gave me trouble and I'd like your feedback on how to navigate it. Drivers aren't watching the crosswalks and it's clear I need to ride on the road to navigate this intersection.

...Thoughts?

I didn’t specifically analyze your situation, but my strategy after years of riding the crazy streets and intersections of Metro Boston is to wear two rear view mirrors. Among the several advantages include these situations:

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. I got the idea from a cycling companion who used only a right hand mirror. 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
  3. In a rotary
  4. On a curved road to the right
  5. When passing entrance/exit ramps from a freeway, with the right hand mirror, I can view the ramps to my right, and stay wide of them, while watching upcoming traffic on my left, all while almost continuously looking straight ahead…
Another useful tip is to look at the front wheels of cars to anticipate their movements, not to look at the car body or hood. Finally consider my Golden Rule of Cycling. and Corollary:

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I have a golden rule of cycling, “Do unto the peds, as you would have the cagers do unto you.”...

The ability of a cyclist to do damage is intermediate between that of a ped and a cager, but a cyclists’s own safety demands that he/she be the most attentive of the three, and assume the others are jerks.
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Old 01-07-15, 10:41 AM
  #11  
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I don't know about the drivers in Atlanta proper, but in Roswell/Alpharetta crosswalks scare me. Drivers don't stop or slow down, they don't even look.

Personally I think I'd try to make that turn with regular traffic, queuing up with the cars and swing wide at the end, but if I couldn't get over easily ahead of time maybe filter all the way up past the stop line. Some of them might not like it but to the path at the far end there's room for them to get around you on the left if they just can't help themselves.
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Old 01-07-15, 10:57 AM
  #12  
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I have a similar intersection but without the part where you need to navigate to the path. It's the navigating to the path part that's real dangerous because people are going to wing themselves out there and stop just short enough to avoid incoming cars before they make the right. Be careful because they're going to be looking for cars and you may blend in really well. The safest is taking the crosswalk but if you do the turn lane stay alert and assume drivers won't see you.

Jim has good advice about the front tires.
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Old 01-07-15, 11:43 AM
  #13  
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I can see how merging into the left turn lane would be difficult, but I don't understand the worries expressed about walking the cross walk. Isn't there a traffic light at that intersection to help you walk across safely?
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Old 01-07-15, 11:50 AM
  #14  
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If there are lights,use the crosswalks or use the lights to filter through to the left turn lane,not my favorite thing to do but sometime you have to do things you don't really want too for your own safety........No lights,wait for an opening and go,either get in the left turn lane or use the crosswalks.

Last edited by Booger1; 01-07-15 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 01-07-15, 11:56 AM
  #15  
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Shouldn't be this hard, should it?

Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I don't know about the drivers in Atlanta proper, but in Roswell/Alpharetta crosswalks scare me. Drivers don't stop or slow down, they don't even look.
wphamilton - exactly! That's a Johns Creek intersection. On my test run, I stood at the northwest corner waiting to cross and finally gave up because the southbound traffic turning west overlooked me for so long. I finally backtracked, joined the southbound traffic and crossed with traffic. It was an eye opener to realize I was safer there.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Another useful tip is to look at the front wheels of cars to anticipate their movements, not to look at the car body or hood. Finally consider my Golden Rule of Cycling. and Corollary:
Excellent tip Jim.

Originally Posted by bigredkevbot View Post
However, if you'd like to wait for a red light and position yourself with the left lane traffic, don't get behind the first car, be on their passenger side front light. So the driver can clearly see you. It sounds like bike-awareness is a concern, so I would put myself right out front. That way, you can also control how much space is between you and the 1st and 2nd car when you start to turn and want to turn again onto the bike path.
Yeah, I thought the idea of going behind the first car meant that the southbound-turning-west driver couldn't overlook me, but I suppose there is a chance the first car could try to join the straight lanes and not see me... Better to get out front and make eye contact with them.

Sounds like I've got a plan! Hoping for good weather...

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Old 01-07-15, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by GAPavedTrailRdr View Post
wphamilton - exactly! That's a Johns Creek intersection. On my test run, I stood at the northwest corner waiting to cross and finally gave up because the southbound traffic turning west overlooked me for so long. I finally backtracked, joined the southbound traffic and crossed with traffic. It was an eye opener to realize I was safer there.
...
GaPavedTrailRider
I know that intersection now, I've been there a couple of times on a bike. But from that street on the left. I don't really trust the driving on either of those roads - I've got a feeling that they treat that south-bound right turn as a "don't stop" lane even when the light is red.
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Old 01-07-15, 01:50 PM
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I have a few intersections where I find it easier and safer to use the crosswalks. Discretion is the better part of valor.
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Old 01-07-15, 02:22 PM
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like others, i am faced with the same type of intersection on a regular basis. heavy traffic, but 4-way. i either use the cross walk with the pedestrians (rarely), or i get in the left turn only lane (and i take my proper position in the whole lane, no filtering), and watch carefully for oncoming traffic that may attempt a right turn on red into me. it's somewhat dangerous, but i have other intersections that are much worse.

if the left turn only lane were backed up more than five or six vehicles, i might punt, and use the crosswalks.

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Old 01-07-15, 05:44 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by GAPavedTrailRdr View Post
Hi there, I am nearly ready to start commuting back and forth to work and took a trial run a couple weekends ago. This intersection gave me trouble and I'd like your feedback on how to navigate it. Drivers aren't watching the crosswalks and it's clear I need to ride on the road to navigate this intersection.

On the way home, I'll be commuting from the bike lane at the Southwest corner and need to cross to the bike path at the northwest corner. Traffic is heavy, but can be flowing at roughly 40mph, so I'm not comfortable trying to cross lanes as I approach to get to the left turn lane. I'm thinking the best approach is to wait on the right side for the red light, then cross over to the left turn lane, and wait there for the left turn light and move through with the left turn traffic. I'm thinking if I wait on the outside right of the first car, but before the second car, I should be able to fit into the flow easily.

Thoughts?


Wow! I have an identical copy of that intersection on my commute home. Fortunately, its usually light traffic.

The left turn part is actually the safest portion. The tricky part is most drivers expect you to continue left instead of going into the path, so they will try to turn behind you and then discover that you aren't going left. When I'm turning make sure to physically point to the bike path you want to take, and hope that's good enough. Other than that, its the two cross-walk option, which sucks. I'm currently working on a slightly longer route which would allow me to avoid that intersection.
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Old 01-07-15, 05:50 PM
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Safety sake .. Stick to the right side, use the 2 Zebra stripe cross walks, with the Lights . there should be traffic control Lights.

Last edited by fietsbob; 01-07-15 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 01-07-15, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Safety sake .. Stick to the right side, use the 2 Zebra stripe cross walks, with the Lights . there should be traffic control Lights.
Except I bet southbound cars turning right (from the top of the image, then going to the left) don't stop all that much even when the light is red.
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Old 01-07-15, 11:33 PM
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I have a somewhat similar intersection except there are two left turn lanes, two lanes going straight and two right turn lanes so I have to cross four lanes to get to one of the left turn lanes. I have about 500m or so before the light so I generally wait for a gap in traffic and then move over. If for some reason I can't get across I'll wait until they are forced to stop at the light and then I weave through the cars. We have a left turn arrow so it's safe to turn once the signal is green.
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Old 01-08-15, 07:05 AM
  #23  
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Seasoned road warriors -- help me navigate this intersection on my commute home

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…Another useful tip is to look at the front wheels of cars to anticipate their movements, not to look at the car body or hood…

Originally Posted by megalowmatt View Post
…Be careful because they're going to be looking for cars and you may blend in really well. The safest is taking the crosswalk but if you do the turn lane stay alert and assume drivers won't see you.

Originally Posted by GAPavedTrailRdr View Post
… Excellent tip Jim.
Jim has good advice about the front tires.
I got this tip from a subscriber I consider one of the Elder Statesmen of Bikeforums. Buzzman of New York City and Newton, MA. Advice like this is a major reason I assiduously read the Forums. I posted to this thread on the Living Car Free thread” What you got from BF transportation forums?

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I have been an avid cyclist, as a lifestyle since about 1972; self-described year-round commuter, occasional centurian (in-training during the nice weather), and former cycle tourist, including a cross-country ride. ”Road Warrior” is my self-applied nickname. I happened serendipitously on Bike Forums in 2008, and it was frankly incredible to find a community that shared so many concerns I had kept to myself as a lone cyclist.

This enthusiasm has definitely increased my enjoyment of cycling. As far as improving it, what I have gotten directly from BF are:
  • the motivation and tips to ride in rain, and wintry roads, i.e. studded tires…
  • the safety tip to watch the front wheels of a car rather than the body or hood to anticipate what the driver is going to do…
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Old 01-08-15, 07:26 AM
  #24  
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My experience is that people drive differently in every city and treat cyclists very differently. The best advice often comes from cyclists that live the closest to you (maybe JPHamilton in this case). The exception here would also be Jim from Boston--anyone that can successfully commute around Boston has my full respect and probably knows how to deal with about every intersection imaginable!
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Old 01-08-15, 07:33 AM
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Situational awareness is key for crossing that intersection. As mentioned above your options may change from time to time depending on traffic. Be able to adapt and utilize patience. Ride safely.
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