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To shoal or not to shoal...

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Old 08-10-18, 12:00 PM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Right. Staying back and to the right is almost certainly the most dangerous strategy I can imagine. It's definitely either front or take the lane, not "make sure you're going to get passed or crossed by someone who never really sees you".

I'm not a fan of filtering up (more in the take the lane camp), but whatever your strategy,

the idea that if you follow the rules, you don't have to worry about getting hit by a car

is not helpful for a long & healthy life.
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Old 08-10-18, 12:11 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
I can tell you: drivers feel differently.

Really? Tell me about it like I'm never a driver. Guess what, probably literally everyone commenting here drives more than they want to.

That's BS--when I'm a driver, the main things I want from a bike are visibility and predictability. I don't care that I have to pass two bicyclists once or one bicyclist twice. Basically, it's a nonsense concern.

I always love it when someone assumes just because I'm a bicyclist, I don't know anything about driving. This is still, unfortunately, predominantly a car culture--you aren't privy to some esoteric knowledge.

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Old 08-10-18, 12:15 PM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Really? Tell me about it like I'm never a driver. Guess what, probably literally everyone commenting here drives more than they want to.

That's BS--when I'm a driver, the main things I want from a bike are visibility and predictability. I don't care that I have to pass two bicyclists once or one bicyclist twice. Basically, it's a nonsense concern.
The fact that you, a biased cyclist, feels this way does not mean it is representative of the driving population as a whole.

I'd respect you far more if you just admitted you are willing to inconvenience and annoy people just to save a little time. At least own your position.
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Old 08-10-18, 12:21 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
The fact that you, a biased cyclist, feels this way does not mean it is representative of the driving population as a whole.

I'd respect you far more if you just admitted you are willing to inconvenience and annoy people just to save a little time. At least own your position.

A) What the hell is a biased cyclist? I drive and I ride. On either side of the equation, my main concern is safety, not whether I'm going to lose a few seconds as a driver or a bicyclist.

I go to the front because it's the only place I'm confident they'll see me. When I haven't is when I've been hit. It hurt. I don't care to repeat the experience.

B) I just explained to you that in the situatuions in which a car passes me twice, I have at no time impeded the car's progress, so I really have no responsibility if they take the fact I went by twice as some sort of personal slight. My driver's perspective tells me that's a pretty crappy attitude on their part.

I have people scream "get off the road" at me from the other side of a 4 lane highway--they aren't within 50 feet of me, and I'm not even relevant to their path. Obviously, my perfectly legal and reasonable use of the road annoys them. Should I own that, too?
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Old 08-10-18, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
I'd respect you far more if you just admitted you are willing to inconvenience and annoy people just to save a little time. At least own your position.
And if you think I give a damn for your respect, guess again.
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Old 08-10-18, 12:44 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
A) What the hell is a biased cyclist? I drive and I ride. On either side of the equation, my main concern is safety, not whether I'm going to lose a few seconds as a driver or a bicyclist.

I go to the front because it's the only place I'm confident they'll see me. When I haven't is when I've been hit. It hurt. I don't care to repeat the experience.

B) I just explained to you that in the situatuions in which a car passes me twice, I have at no time impeded the car's progress, so I really have no responsibility if they take the fact I went by twice as some sort of personal slight. My driver's perspective tells me that's a pretty crappy attitude on their part.

I have people scream "get off the road" at me from the other side of a 4 lane highway--they aren't within 50 feet of me, and I'm not even relevant to their path. Obviously, my perfectly legal and reasonable use of the road annoys them. Should I own that, too?
While I've no doubt you adhere to a 3 foot minimum when passing stopped cars, very few others do.

Anyway, since my opinion means so little to you, I'll stop here. Just remember who is to blame the next time a pro-cycling law fails to pass in your area.
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Old 08-10-18, 12:48 PM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
While I've no doubt you adhere to a 3 foot minimum when passing stopped cars, very few others do.

Anyway, since my opinion means so little to you, I'll stop here. Just remember who is to blame the next time a pro-cycling law fails to pass in your area.

The town I'm in just invited a huge rent-a-bike company in, and I do a lot of my riding in Boston. I'm not too worried.

You go on pretending you've discovered some virtue in unsafe riding.

Oh, and saying "I'd respect you more if you..." and then putting words in my mouth is pretty offensive
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Old 08-10-18, 12:56 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
When the light turns green a right hook is most assuredly possible with the first car in line. That based on my watching the positioning of most bicyclists who do it.
They are stopped. You cannot get right hooked by a car that isn't moving, or any of the cars in line behind the car that isn't moving. That's all that I'm trying to say about that point: there is no right hook when you're filtering up. There is no more danger of a right hook when filtered up to get there, than if you were already there and cars drove up behind you, and much less danger than if you're going through beside a line of cars.

I am going to put a spin on your words to give you the motorists perspective of what you do.
I've been driving since 1975, so I've got an idea already.

Nobody, unless they're a completely new driver, is going to think that they were cut off if a bicycle slides in behind someone signalling right and then moves back over afterwards.

What happens when the spacing of the vehicles is such that you can't safely reenter the traffic pattern?
When starting up from a stop in a line of 8 or 10 vehicles? Seriously, you need to stop with the "what-if's" and work with what happens. There is literally almost no chance of that, since there is almost always at least one or several who let a gap open in front, in fact the vast majority. It only takes 6 feet; just watch sometime and estimate the space in front of those cars. It won't even be close when you put a bike behind one.

To answer your question, I'm either behind the car as I said (ideally), or beside the gap between them. Why do you think that's ANY different than what you do if you had NOT filtered up?

Remember, that right-turning car is going MUCH slower than your bike can go through, so we're all waiting on him, not you. I am behind him, not beside him, and I strongly suggest that you, or any cyclist, adopt that same method.

These aren't mental gymnastics to justify anything. They are, without question in my mind, the safest way to approach most intersections and in some respects the least disruptive to traffic. I have seen too many fender-benders from drivers not paying attention at lights to stop between them for no reason, when there is literally no downside - for anyone - to being in the better position at the front.

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Old 08-10-18, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Stormy Archer View Post
Ok, but riding on the sidewalk is inherently dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. The only drawback of cars going slower is that they're going slower.
Thank God nobody lives here but cars in this ghost town.
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Old 08-10-18, 01:05 PM
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I think what's needed in these discussions and sorely lacking is any discussion of the fact that 99%+ of the time, interactions between motorists and bicyclists are either non-eventful or actually pleasant. Last evening, for example, I pulled up at the stoplight on the far left side of the right-hand turn lane, consistent with state law. A pick up pulled up behind me in the turn lane. I actually picked up my bike and moved a few inches up to the left laterally. The older man in the pick up pulled alongside looking a little sheepish and said "you didn't have to do that, I'd have waited". And I said "what for? No problem, and I just made myself a little more obvious to the car to my left." Right turn guy laughed and drove on. Guy to my left might have been wondering what we were talking about, but there wasn't any problem.

I don't know why these threads always end up making it sound like there's a war going on out there. I really think it's fueled by some jerks with 4 and 2 wheels who act badly on the roads.
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Old 08-10-18, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
They are stopped. You cannot get right hooked by a car that isn't moving, .
If you are beside a car at an intersection when a light turns green, there is absolutely a danger of being right hooked. I am amazed that I have to mention that in a conversation with a seasoned cyclist. Robert Hurst mentions that danger in his book The Art of Cycling. He also mentions the door risk. I am surprised that it's not a consideration for a seasoned cyclist.

Here's another nugget of gold from a seasoned cyclist.

We were discussing what happens when the light turns green when you are filtering. You said you just slide in behind someone. I asked what if there isn't room. This was your response.

"It only takes 6 feet"

So here we have a seasoned cyclist who is afraid to be in between stopped cars at an intersection for fear something will go wrong, but will happily wedge himself into a six foot gap in cars that are taking off at a green light.

We simply process risk differently and compute risk vs gain differently. You choose a style that may find you moving in and out of the flow of autos as you move through the intersection, while my default style is to move through with the autos. In doing so I mitigate the risk of a right hook on take off and I mitigate the risk of getting doored. I won't ever have to wedge myself in a 6 foot gap using my preferred style. I'll remind you that on roads that are wide enough for me to filter to the front while staying clear of the door zone and wide enough that motorists will be able to pass me at a safe distance without crossing the center line or moving into another lane of travel, I may very well filter to the front.
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Old 08-10-18, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I think what's needed in these discussions and sorely lacking is any discussion of the fact that 99%+ of the time, interactions between motorists and bicyclists are either non-eventful or actually pleasant. Last evening, for example, I pulled up at the stoplight on the far left side of the right-hand turn lane, consistent with state law. A pick up pulled up behind me in the turn lane. I actually picked up my bike and moved a few inches up to the left laterally. The older man in the pick up pulled alongside looking a little sheepish and said "you didn't have to do that, I'd have waited". And I said "what for? No problem, and I just made myself a little more obvious to the car to my left." Right turn guy laughed and drove on. Guy to my left might have been wondering what we were talking about, but there wasn't any problem.

I don't know why these threads always end up making it sound like there's a war going on out there. I really think it's fueled by some jerks with 4 and 2 wheels who act badly on the roads.
I have moved over like that for people in the past. Most often it's when I am at the front of a queue going straight and a car comes up behind me with the right turn signal on.
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Old 08-10-18, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
If you are beside a car at an intersection when a light turns green, there is absolutely a danger of being right hooked. I am amazed that I have to mention that in a conversation with a seasoned cyclist.
Who said "beside a car", other than you just now? Not I, for sure.

What exactly are you thinking that "filtering" entails? As far as I'm concerned you can filter (roll up to the stop line) and position yourself as well as, or exactly the same as, anywhere else in line. Additionally you can be beyond the first car, even better.

This was your response.

"It only takes 6 feet"

So here we have a seasoned cyclist who is afraid to be in between stopped cars at an intersection for fear something will go wrong, but will happily wedge himself into a six foot gap in cars that are taking off at a green light.
Again, no one said "six foot gap" except you, just now. It only takes 6 feet for the bike, for you, but the gaps are almost always much larger than that. It is a complete non-issue, since you will see at least a car-length and more often 2 lengths or more.

I'm repeating myself, but you really need to stop imagining and observe the actual situations, because we're working against a serious dichotomy here.

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Old 08-10-18, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Who said "beside a car", other than you just now? Not I, for sure.

What exactly are you thinking that "filtering" entails? As far as I'm concerned you can filter (roll up to the stop line) and position yourself as well as, or exactly the same as, anywhere else in line. Additionally you can be beyond the first car, even better.



Again, no one said "six foot gap" except you, just now. It only takes 6 feet for the bike, for you, but the gaps are almost always much larger than that. It is a complete non-issue, since you will see at least a car-length and more often 2 lengths or more.

I'm repeating myself, but you really need to stop imagining and observe the actual situations, because we're working against a serious dichotomy here.
You have asked me to stop imagining, but given an opportunity to tell me how you position yourself relative to the lead car you passed. Given the opportunity to explain what you meant by "I only need six feet" you passed. That's the behavior of someone who has no desire to have a productive discussion. Take care.
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Old 08-10-18, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
You have asked me to stop imagining, but given an opportunity to tell me how you position yourself relative to the lead car you passed. Given the opportunity to explain what you meant by "I only need six feet" you passed. That's the behavior of someone who has no desire to have a productive discussion. Take care.
If you're not listening, nothing I can do about it. I've already explained the positioning, more than I probably should have.

How is "at least a car's length, more likely two or more" NOT explaining why I need only 6 feet? You have 15-25 feet, you only need 6, what's the question?
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Old 08-10-18, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I thought that "shoaling" is moving past other bicycles that are already stopped at the intersection, a practice that I feel is rude, and sometimes dangerous. I wish that kind of shoaling would stop.
I don't think it's rude if it speeds things up by allowing bikes to go two at a time and clear the intersection quicker as they all fall back into a single line afrap. It seem ridiculous to have 15 or 20 bikes line up in single file and proceed across the intersection one by one at the pace of the slowest member.
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Old 08-10-18, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Just realized I never replied to the original post.

- i hadnt heard the term 'shoaling' before. Not totally sure why thats what this action is called. Is it because a group of cyclists will sometimes gather? I guess that could make sense, but when its just 1 cyclists doing it and not a group, the term then really doesnt work. Is it based on the geographic term?
I think it's supposed to be like shoaling fish. I agree it doesn't really apply to a single cyclist moving to the head of a line of auto traffic. In Pittsburgh, there are a fair number of people who commute through town on bikes, but rarely enough in one place at one time to produce a "shoal" like the examples in the slate video.
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Old 08-10-18, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
When the light turns green a right hook is most assuredly possible with the first car in line. That based on my watching the positioning of most bicyclists who do it.

I am going to put a spin on your words to give you the motorists perspective of what you do.

If the light happens to change on the way up, my own preference is to slide in and cut off the vehicle behind me. The person that is behind you will feel the same way anyone would when someone cuts in line in front of them. What happens when the spacing of the vehicles is such that you can't safely reenter the traffic pattern?

I don't see doors open curbside often, but it does indeed happen.

Us bicyclists do a whole hell of a lot of mental gymnastics to justify being in the middle of the lane, but happily relegate ourselves to the road's edge to filter to the front. What are the primary safety reasons we don't hug the curb?


For me this all boils down to a risk vs gain equation.
If you are observing cyclists positioning themselves next to the lead car at a traffic light, that is indeed unsafe. If I move up to the front I move all the way up front. I position myself in front of and to the right of the lead car. Right ahead of the front right bumper.

There's a lot to be said for making eye contact, too. Just like they told you in your first day of driver's ed. If I move up to the front, I make eye contact with the driver of the lead car just behind me and to my left. I also make eye contact with the lead driver on the other side of the intersection who may be planning to make a left turn. If I see everyone and I know that they have seen me while we are all stopped at the light, I'm a lot more comfortable proceeding when the light changes.

Now, say you are 2 or 3 or 4 cars back from the light and the light changes and you proceed with traffic through the intersection, how do you ensure that the car right ahead of you, or worse, the car that was behind you, but is now trying to squeeze by you on your left isn't going to make a quick right turn in front of you? How do you know that the car across the intersection waiting to make a left turn knows you are there? They aren't looking for a bike, they're looking for a gap in the oncoming traffic that's big enough to sneak through.

Those are the situations that I avoid by moving up to the front and making myself visible and making my intentions obvious.

However, as I said earlier, if the road is too narrow for me to safely move up to the front, or for cars in my lane to pass me without moving across the center line on the other side of the intersection, I don't do it. I take my chances riding in what I believe is a less safe position.

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Old 08-10-18, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
You've got a huge fallacy in there which makes it pretty obvious why I view this utterly differently than you do. If I have been able to get to the intersection by passing cars that were ahead of me, that means that the road was wide enough that I could easily do that. If that is not the case, I am not going to try to pass them on the right because the time gained isn't worth the risk. What this means is that passing is not really much of an interaction, and therefore having to pass me twice imposes no cost on the driver whatsoever either the first time or the second. The only time I take the lane is when I have no safe lane on the right, and I know I'm obstructing the drivers behind me, and don't like it at all. Otherwise, I really don't care if they're offended by seeing me twice--it just isn't a concern that outweighs the benefit of getting in front of and to the right of the cars in the intersection so that I'm not in anyone's blind spot when it turns green. When it turns green, I find I'm usually actually a little faster than the cars for a few seconds, just enough to get through most intersections ahead of them. Cars really accellerate rather slowly at stoplights.
This is exactly right. And I agree that if I anticipate the light, I can get up to speed and be half way through the intersection while the cars behind me and across from me are just rolling off the line.
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Old 08-11-18, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
Who said anything about taking the lane? Wait in line, then stay to the right once traffic starts moving so cars can pass.
Uhh... Exactly what I said. I move to the front, cross the intersection and stay to the right once traffic starts moving so cars can pass. Works very well!

Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I think what's needed in these discussions and sorely lacking is any discussion of the fact that 99%+ of the time, interactions between motorists and bicyclists are either non-eventful or actually pleasant...
Absolutely. This talk of being a jerk or obnoxious because of filter up just doesn't jibe with my real life experience wherein the vast majority of drivers don't seem to care what I'm doing or even may appreciate that I am actually working hard to pedal a bike. Way to go old man! I ride assertively but courteously and not aggressively. I mostly get friendly honks and thumbs up and it's very rare to have a negative response from that. I also think motorists appreciate someone who is predictable and telegraphs their intentions well and I think that is projected in confident take control riding habits. Drivers are more apt to give cyclists lee way when they see cyclists also giving leeway - which I do when ever possible.

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Old 08-11-18, 12:59 AM
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Originally Posted by clengman View Post
If you are observing cyclists positioning themselves next to the lead car at a traffic light, that is indeed unsafe. If I move up to the front I move all the way up front. I position myself in front of and to the right of the lead car. Right ahead of the front right bumper.

There's a lot to be said for making eye contact, too. Just like they told you in your first day of driver's ed. If I move up to the front, I make eye contact with the driver of the lead car just behind me and to my left. I also make eye contact with the lead driver on the other side of the intersection who may be planning to make a left turn. If I see everyone and I know that they have seen me while we are all stopped at the light, I'm a lot more comfortable proceeding when the light changes.

Now, say you are 2 or 3 or 4 cars back from the light and the light changes and you proceed with traffic through the intersection, how do you ensure that the car right ahead of you, or worse, the car that was behind you, but is now trying to squeeze by you on your left isn't going to make a quick right turn in front of you? How do you know that the car across the intersection waiting to make a left turn knows you are there? They aren't looking for a bike, they're looking for a gap in the oncoming traffic that's big enough to sneak through.

Those are the situations that I avoid by moving up to the front and making myself visible and making my intentions obvious.

However, as I said earlier, if the road is too narrow for me to safely move up to the front, or for cars in my lane to pass me without moving across the center line on the other side of the intersection, I don't do it. I take my chances riding in what I believe is a less safe position.
Yep. That is skillful defensive riding.

People who worry about slowing cars down because they need to pass twice don't really understand how they slow cars down by taking the lane in line and slowly accelerating through the intersection. That's usually the pinch point. By filtering up (and as you say, all the way up so the lead car sees me), I very quickly clear the intersection and then merge to the right so cars can pass me.

The very worst place to be is behind and to the right in a moving line of vehicles through an intersection. Opposing traffic cannot see you through the car ahead and may assume there is a clear spot to make a rapid left turn through. They will accelerate very fast to do so and be fixated on the car behind you and it's quite easy to get left hooked there.
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Old 08-11-18, 05:02 AM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by clengman View Post
this is exactly right. And i agree that if i anticipate the light, i can get up to speed and be half way through the intersection when the car running the red light is just ripping through.

fify
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Old 08-11-18, 05:49 AM
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Paul Barnard
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Originally Posted by clengman View Post
If you are observing cyclists positioning themselves next to the lead car at a traffic light, that is indeed unsafe. If I move up to the front I move all the way up front. I position myself in front of and to the right of the lead car. Right ahead of the front right bumper.

There's a lot to be said for making eye contact, too. Just like they told you in your first day of driver's ed. If I move up to the front, I make eye contact with the driver of the lead car just behind me and to my left. I also make eye contact with the lead driver on the other side of the intersection who may be planning to make a left turn. If I see everyone and I know that they have seen me while we are all stopped at the light, I'm a lot more comfortable proceeding when the light changes.

Now, say you are 2 or 3 or 4 cars back from the light and the light changes and you proceed with traffic through the intersection, how do you ensure that the car right ahead of you, or worse, the car that was behind you, but is now trying to squeeze by you on your left isn't going to make a quick right turn in front of you? How do you know that the car across the intersection waiting to make a left turn knows you are there? They aren't looking for a bike, they're looking for a gap in the oncoming traffic that's big enough to sneak through.

Those are the situations that I avoid by moving up to the front and making myself visible and making my intentions obvious.

However, as I said earlier, if the road is too narrow for me to safely move up to the front, or for cars in my lane to pass me without moving across the center line on the other side of the intersection, I don't do it. I take my chances riding in what I believe is a less safe position.
That sounds pretty reasonable.
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Old 08-11-18, 06:09 AM
  #74  
Colnago Mixte
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Uhh... Exactly what I said. I move to the front, cross the intersection and stay to the right once traffic starts moving so cars can pass. Works very well!



Absolutely. This talk of being a jerk or obnoxious because of filter up just doesn't jibe with my real life experience wherein the vast majority of drivers don't seem to care what I'm doing or even may appreciate that I am actually working hard to pedal a bike. Way to go old man! I ride assertively but courteously and not aggressively. I mostly get friendly honks and thumbs up and it's very rare to have a negative response from that. I also think motorists appreciate someone who is predictable and telegraphs their intentions well and I think that is projected in confident take control riding habits. Drivers are more apt to give cyclists lee way when they see cyclists also giving leeway - which I do when ever possible.
People seem to forget how we're all in this together, we just wanna get to work in one piece and on time so we can go be miserable there. If there's anything I can do to keep traffic moving, that's my main goal. Yes, selfishness and taking the right of way when it's yours is good much of the time, but if you see someone in a car make a minor misjudgment, just smile and wave 'em past, no need to be vindictive or anything, it could be you next time who's in the wrong.
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Old 08-11-18, 07:05 AM
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Paul Barnard
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Uhh... Exactly what I said. I move to the front, cross the intersection and stay to the right once traffic starts moving so cars can pass. Works very well!



Absolutely. This talk of being a jerk or obnoxious because of filter up just doesn't jibe with my real life experience wherein the vast majority of drivers don't seem to care what I'm doing or even may appreciate that I am actually working hard to pedal a bike. Way to go old man! I ride assertively but courteously and not aggressively. I mostly get friendly honks and thumbs up and it's very rare to have a negative response from that. I also think motorists appreciate someone who is predictable and telegraphs their intentions well and I think that is projected in confident take control riding habits. Drivers are more apt to give cyclists lee way when they see cyclists also giving leeway - which I do when ever possible.
My experience is a bit different from yours. The few times I have seen people filter, they normally do impact traffic in a negative way. I gave one example earlier in this thread. There are others. My best bicycling bud does it and she does not care that cars will have to work to get around her when she does. I can assure you that much of the motoring public's sentiment doesn't mesh with yours. I am or have been active on a variety of forums. Boating, hunting and motorcycling. When this topic comes up, it stirs rage in in people. I know that motorists typically grossly exaggerate the inconvenience that bicyclists cause, but the perception is there. And it is a perception that is held by many.
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