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Riding in Turn Lane

Old 10-08-21, 06:50 AM
  #1  
blowboat
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Riding in Turn Lane

Following a week long solo trip from near Wilmington, NC to Charleston, SC in mid-March 2020 I have been mostly off the bike. But, I am now starting to get back on the road and thing about some bike trips. (Though, our two young grandchildren, both under 2 1/2, now live in Chicago area so all of my vacation time is spent traveling from NC to Chicago to see them).

Anyway, here is my question. I came across some rough routes I drew up for a few days trip in the NC/TN mountains. One day there is a 7 mile stretch where the first half has virtually no shoulder, but it is a pretty well traveled/busy road. However, during that entire shoulder-less section, there is a turn lane. What are your thoughts...would you ride in the turn lane for a few miles, or would you trust that approaching vehicles would move over into the turn lane to pass while I cycle on the right hand side of the lane.

I'm not really sure what I think...curious what you think! Thanks...
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Old 10-08-21, 06:58 AM
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Frank S
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I don't have a good answer. But, as bicycles are subject to traffic laws, and it is generally illegal to travel in a center turn lane...
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Old 10-08-21, 07:04 AM
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Sounds like invitation to a header. No, I would not do that in a million years
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Old 10-08-21, 07:22 AM
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I'd stay in the right tire track (giving me some room to dodge right), blinkers aplenty, and ride fast. Let faster traffic deal with turn lane passes. They may not be legal, but I doubt anyone is going to get a ticket for going around a bicycle.

One other thing to consider is time of day. If you can arrange to hit that stretch in the middle of the day, say 9:00-2:00, a lot of times you'll have much lighter traffic. That should miss the rush hour and school traffic.
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Old 10-08-21, 07:40 AM
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I wouldn't consider it.
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Old 10-08-21, 07:55 AM
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FLAT no. We only enter that to transition to a left hand lane with traffic.
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Old 10-08-21, 08:21 AM
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No to the turn lane. I have ridden on a lot of road like that with light to moderate traffic, riding in the right tire track or hugging the white line on the right depending on traffic conditions. I have even ridden road like that with heavy traffic. Some is worse than other so use your judgement. If you use that road be sure you are very visible. I typically rely on a high vis vest on tour.
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Old 10-08-21, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by blowboat View Post
Anyway, here is my question. I came across some rough routes I drew up for a few days trip in the NC/TN mountains. One day there is a 7 mile stretch where the first half has virtually no shoulder, but it is a pretty well traveled/busy road. However, during that entire shoulder-less section, there is a turn lane. What are your thoughts...would you ride in the turn lane for a few miles, or would you trust that approaching vehicles would move over into the turn lane to pass while I cycle on the right hand side of the lane.
Where is this exactly?

Ride on the right side. You can't legally travel (keep going straight) in the turn lane.

You might consider using a rear flasher.

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-08-21 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 10-08-21, 10:38 AM
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CliffordK
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Is this a right turn lane or a center turn lane? It makes a huge difference.

Maybe for a right turn lane. NO for a center turn lane (unless turning nearby).

We have a bike path in Springfield that transitions from bike path to turn lane and back to bike path (with minimal markings).

https://www.google.com/maps/@44.0817...7i16384!8i8192

Scroll forward.

It isn't too bad. I usually ride just left of center in the turn lane to indicate that l am going straight.

If you do choose to ride in a turn lane, ride to the left side of the turn lane when approaching intersections, and use hand signals to indicate turns.

Watch the traffic and be careful at intersections to make sure a car doesn't assume you are turning and pull across your path.

As far as narrow 3-lane roads with a center turn lane, those actually aren't bad. Just ride to the right, and cars can pull into the center turn lane to pass with minimal difficulty if the lane is clear.

We also have some bus lane/turn lanes. I've ridden in them, but only for short distances. Keep a lookout. A bus technically would have the right of way over a bicycle that is poking along.
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Old 10-08-21, 10:58 AM
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Hard "no."
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Old 10-08-21, 11:20 AM
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njkayaker
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Originally Posted by blowboat View Post
would you ride in the turn lane for a few miles, or would you trust that approaching vehicles would move over into the turn lane to pass while I cycle on the right hand side of the lane.
Is this a right turn lane or a center turn lane? It makes a huge difference.
Seems clear he's talking about a left turn lane.

Given that he said it was "a few miles" long**, it seems fairly-likely he's talking about a so-called "suicide lane", which is a lane in the middle intended for people going in either direction to make turns into multiple driveways/etc.

https://thoughtsfromarollychair.file...fef9ebe3a6.jpg

=====================

** I doubt there many "miles long" right or left turn lanes into roads.

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-08-21 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 10-08-21, 11:54 AM
  #12  
CliffordK
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
** I doubt there many "miles long" right or left turn lames into roads.
Like I mentioned, Eugene has chosen to put in bus/turn lanes that can go several blocks.

https://www.google.com/maps/@44.0521...7i16384!8i8192

Right most lane. Buses only come every 15 minutes to half hour, I think.

I have ridden in that lane, but only for a couple of blocks.

Portland has more WILD bus lanes, but 100x as many buses, so they aren't convenient for riding in.

In the above case, there are several alternative routes that are much better and safer, either going a couple of blocks south, or a half mile to the north.
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Old 10-08-21, 12:09 PM
  #13  
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Center turn lane - no.

Right turn lanes. It is something I constantly encounter going along and adjust in a few ways. It is also a place I find myself watching my mirror closely.
- If it is a right turn lane at an intersection with traffic slowed. I will generally get to the through travel lane and just line up behind traffic.
- Sometimes there can be an extended right turn lane and traffic isn't yet backed up in the travel lane. In that case I am more likely to ride on far left side of the right turn lane, until I am close to the intersection.
- Sometimes on more rural routes there can be both sparse high speed traffic and a right turn lane. I am a little more likely to stay on right side of that turn lane and get myself across the a little later at the end
- Some bus lanes in Austin are marked as a combination of "bus" + "right turn" + "bicycle" and I will also follow those.

In general, I monitor the traffic behind me. I will also try to get either to left side of right turn lane or right side of the through lane. I also try to line up with traffic in the appropriate lane through intersections. However, in some instances both both high-speed traffic and not very busy traffic, I am inclined to stay longer on right side of the road and watch behind a little longer to come left on the right turn lane.
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Old 10-08-21, 12:35 PM
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njkayaker
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Like I mentioned, Eugene has chosen to put in bus/turn lanes that can go several blocks.

https://www.google.com/maps/@44.0521...7i16384!8i8192

Right most lane. Buses only come every 15 minutes to half hour, I think.

I have ridden in that lane, but only for a couple of blocks.
That's (primarily) a bus lane that other people are allowed to use to make right turns from (into all the driveways). It's also not "miles long".

Seems clear he's talking about a left turn lane. That he said it was "miles long" is one reason he's likely talking about a center lane. "...Would move over into the turn lane to pass..." is another indication he was talking about a center lane (passing vehicles using a right turn lane would be all sorts of a problem).

It's possible that no one would care if a a cyclist was at the right of that bus lane. But jurisdictions might be overly protective about it being buses only (other than people making right turns). But it would (very likely) not be legal to travel in that bus lane (go straight) on a bicycle. Depending on the mood of the traffic, I might ride in the bus lane (watching for any buses coming up from behind).

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-08-21 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 10-08-21, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
Center turn lane - no.
The OP was fairly-certainly talking about a center/left lane.

Originally Posted by mev View Post
Right turn lanes. It is something I constantly encounter going along and adjust in a few ways. It is also a place I find myself watching my mirror closely.
- If it is a right turn lane at an intersection with traffic slowed. I will generally get to the through travel lane and just line up behind traffic.
- Sometimes there can be an extended right turn lane and traffic isn't yet backed up in the travel lane. In that case I am more likely to ride on far left side of the right turn lane, until I am close to the intersection.
- Sometimes on more rural routes there can be both sparse high speed traffic and a right turn lane. I am a little more likely to stay on right side of that turn lane and get myself across the a little later at the end
- Some bus lanes in Austin are marked as a combination of "bus" + "right turn" + "bicycle" and I will also follow those.

In general, I monitor the traffic behind me. I will also try to get either to left side of right turn lane or right side of the through lane. I also try to line up with traffic in the appropriate lane through intersections. However, in some instances both both high-speed traffic and not very busy traffic, I am inclined to stay longer on right side of the road and watch behind a little longer to come left on the right turn lane.
This makes sense.

If the right turn lane has little or no traffic (compared to the left straight-lane), I doubt anybody would care if a cyclist used the right-turn lane. Many people would likely strongly prefer that the cyclist rode there.
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Old 10-08-21, 03:47 PM
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blowboat/grandpa
another obvious "don't do that", but I'll add another----Get a mirror and become comfortable using it competently.
Having a mirror and to be able to use while still riding straight and without wobbling is an extremely useful help.
The main use of a mirror is to follow what is coming up behind you, and if necessary, to pull over onto the shoulder. My mirror has a flat surface, so its much easier to judge distances and timing, whereas convex ones are notorious for not being good in this regard (been there, done that)
My mirror also is on my helmet, so its super easy to glance and get excellent info on whats incoming from behind, are they moving over a bit etc--but I realize that not everyone has the skillset to do all this at once and react with the right timing.

for me, these sort of situations are exactly why I use this type of mirror, it makes all the differnece in the world for safety.

please consider a mirror and becoming used to using it . Mine is a Take-a-Look mirror, mounted on my helmet visor. Also mounts on glasses arms.
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Old 10-08-21, 09:06 PM
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Got it! Loud and clear!

Yes, I was referring to center turn lane...it was, admittedly, a rather wild thought that popped in my head while looking at the route. I appreciate the responses and the opportunity to get help thinking things through.

I do take safely seriously and takes as many precautions as possible...front/rear blinking lights, rear mirror, and even picked up the Garmin Varia radar before my last trip.

We shall put this morning's wild thought where it belongs! Thanks again...
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Old 10-10-21, 05:01 AM
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Quick thoughts that can help
ride regularly around traffic to develop your awareness /reaction time/common sense approach to various traffic situations. I commute regularly in a city and it certainly helps with keeping these skills up (touch wood)

For the specific sections that you mention, and others, it can sometimes help to not be travelling at rush hour work starting finishing times, especially if there's a lumber mill or cement factory or whatever, to hopefully have less trucks returning for end of day etc. Not easy to plan for, but can help, even with regular cars with people rushing home for dinner sort of thing.

other than that, it's really about observing and reacting accordingly to stuff.
cheers
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Old 10-10-21, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
...please consider a mirror and becoming used to using it . Mine is a Take-a-Look mirror, mounted on my helmet visor. Also mounts on glasses arms.
After a little mishap, switched from a convex helmeted mirror to a flat Third Eye that screws onto the visor. WORLD of difference and so utterly clear.
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Old 10-10-21, 11:20 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by blowboat View Post
...I came across some rough routes I drew up for a few days trip in the NC/TN mountains. ....
Originally Posted by blowboat View Post
...
We shall put this morning's wild thought where it belongs! Thanks again...
Try some other routing.

This routing method has at times given my some crazy options that I quickly discard, but I have followed a few routes that this software gave me.
https://www.komoot.com/plan

Is there an Amtrak option that would take you across the mountain passes to better roads for your start?

Others might have some good routing resources too. And of course there is the ubiquitous google maps.

​​​​​​​
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Old 10-10-21, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Is there an Amtrak option that would take you across the mountain passes to better roads for your start?
You know why many people think Amtrak isn't worth the money the government spends on it? It's partly because the answer to this question would be, take the train from Charlotte to New Orleans, and then north to Memphis. Zero passenger train service is available in middle and east Tennessee, and the mountains of North Carolina.

And BTW, we call them "gaps" in the southern Appalachians.

Back to the O.P.; where are you trying to ride, and what's the stretch you're hung up on? There may be better ways to get there, and someone here might know of one.
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