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  1. #1
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    Left turn. How to approach this.

    Hey everyone. My girlfriend and I commute to campus since its only a 10 min bike ride from our apartments. 90% of commute consists of "back road" university roads and bike lanes. But the 10% is a road used very often by students. Our morning commute isn't that bad but I have a question regarding the afternoon once traffic becomes more frequent. For heading home, it is a right turn, staying on this lane for about 500-700 ft, approach the suicide lane, then make a left turn into my apartment complex. For me, I wait when there's an open window for us to safely get on the road and regain our speed. Sometimes we're lucky to have no cars come by for us to make it to the suicide lane. What I'm wondering is, if there's fairly heavy traffic on the road, how can we safely and lawfully-legitly make the left merge to the suicide lane?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    What is the suicide lane? I'd assume that is the lane in which cars travel, or where I ride. Stick your arm out to signal your left turn and merge when traffic allows, just like changing lanes in a car.

  3. #3
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    At least here in Phoenix, this is a legal move, to use the left turn lane to make a left turn. Check your local bicycle laws to make sure this is ok.

    [SIZE="4"]BUT[/SIZE] not many drivers know this. So that open window of opportunity should be wide open for you to attempt it safely.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by DD_Drummer44
    Hey everyone. My girlfriend and I commute to campus since its only a 10 min bike ride from our apartments. 90% of commute consists of "back road" university roads and bike lanes. But the 10% is a road used very often by students. Our morning commute isn't that bad but I have a question regarding the afternoon once traffic becomes more frequent. For heading home, it is a right turn, staying on this lane for about 500-700 ft, approach the suicide lane, then make a left turn into my apartment complex. For me, I wait when there's an open window for us to safely get on the road and regain our speed. Sometimes we're lucky to have no cars come by for us to make it to the suicide lane. What I'm wondering is, if there's fairly heavy traffic on the road, how can we safely and lawfully-legitly make the left merge to the suicide lane?

    Thanks!
    The same traffic laws and regulations that apply to cars and trucks apply to cyclists, too.

    When you approach an intersection, there are three choices: a right turn, a straight path of travel, or a left/U-turn. You can communicate your choice by where you ride in the travel lane, or by which lane you choose on multi-lane streets.

    Use your position on the street to show others where you are going. By being in the correct position on the street, you make yourself more visible to others and communicate what you are doing and where you are going.

    RIGHT TURNS
    For a right turn, the cyclist should be in the right third of the lane, and should not leave space for vehicles to pass him on the right.

    STRAIGHT THROUGH
    A cyclist who is traveling straight should maintain a straight path of travel from one block to the next, staying out of the door zone of parked cars, and not wandering into the crosswalk (marked or not) or into empty parking lanes or spaces. A cyclist that fades right into the crosswalk while crossing straight through an intersection sends the false message that they are turning right, and vehicles may respond to this message by turning across the cyclist’s path. When you leave the lane and ride in the parking lane, you have given up your right of way, and when you want to re-enter the traffic lane, you will legally have to yield to traffic before riding back into the travel lanes.

    LEFT TURNS
    You have the following choices:

    1) Like a motor vehicle:

    Follow these steps for making left turns just like cars do.
    1. From the right side of the street, look behind you for a gap in traffic. Start looking a half-block or more be-fore the intersection.
    2. When traffic allows, signal left and change lanes. If you can’t find a gap and you’re sure of your skills, get a driver to let you in by making eye con-tact and pointing. Don’t change lanes until you’re sure the driver is yielding!
    3. Go to the middle of the left-turn lane. If there’s more than one turn lane, use the one farthest to the right—unless you’re making another left turn immediately.
    4. If there’s a car already waiting to turn left, get behind it. (Never put yourself next to a car in the same turn lane!) If there’s an oncoming car facing you, waiting to turn left, place as much distance between you and it as you would if you were driving a car.
    5. Turn just like a car does. After the turn, move into the right lane—unless another vehicle is there or you’re making another left turn immediately.


    2) Like a pedestrian:
    1. Ride straight through the intersection to the far crosswalk
    2. Stop, dismount, and position your bike in the new direction
    3. Yield to oncoming traffic, or if you are at a signalized intersection, wait for the green or WALK signal
    4. Walk your bike across the intersection

    3) “Box” Left Turn:

    Use the box left turn if you can’t merge left before you reach the intersection. Here’s how:
    1. Stay in the right lane and ride across the intersection on the left side of (not in) the crosswalk.
    2. Just before the opposite corner, check whether there’s room for you in the traffic lane to the right of the crosswalk, behind the stop line. If there is, go there and align yourself with traffic.
    3. If there’s no room behind the stop line, stop on the intersection side of the crosswalk and align yourself with traffic.
    4. When the traffic light changes, move with traffic.

    Never make a left turn from the right side of the road, even if you’re in a bike lane.

    If there’s no turn lane, ride about four feet from the center stripe -- far enough out so a left-turning car behind you can’t pass until you’ve finished the turn.

    If a car’s stopped at the intersection and you can’t tell whether it’s going to turn left, don’t try to pass it on the left. Stay behind it until it gets through the intersection.

    When turning left from a one-way street to another one-way street, you may turn into the left or right side of the street if it’s safe to do so.

    Multiple Left-Turn Lanes

    Lane Choice
    • The Rule: Use the right-most lane that leads to your destination.
    • Why: You don't cross the path of other drivers also turning left!
    • How To: Remain in line with, if possible, or if not, to the right of motorists making the same left turn. End up on the right side of the new street after the turn


    Lane Position
    • This is the same as turning left from a single left-turn-only lane:
    • Where the right-most left turn lane allows through traffic, position yourself in the left in such a lane.
    • Or, if the lane is too narrow for side-by-side sharing (3 feet between you and the car), then in the center of the lane


    These almost always occur at a traffic signal with a protected left turn phase, so there is not as much worry about oncoming or crossing traffic.

    Tom

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies. Maybe I didn't say my scenario right. When I make a right onto the "main road" it is a 2 lane road with a center turning lane (we call it "suicide lane"), so that would be a 3 lane road (maybe not??). Anyways, I have no traffic light intersection during my trip. I bike on the right side of the road, merge to the center turning lane ( yellow line on the outside with yellow stripe on the inside), then turn into my apartment/neighborhood. Maybe the answer is embedded in the previous posts....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DD_Drummer44
    Thanks for the replies. Maybe I didn't say my scenario right. When I make a right onto the "main road" it is a 2 lane road with a center turning lane (we call it "suicide lane"), so that would be a 3 lane road (maybe not??). Anyways, I have no traffic light intersection during my trip. I bike on the right side of the road, merge to the center turning lane ( yellow line on the outside with yellow stripe on the inside), then turn into my apartment/neighborhood. Maybe the answer is embedded in the previous posts....
    DD:

    The center turn lane serves the same purpose as a left turn lane in your case. Best option here, since there's no traffic signal, is to:

    1. Scan behind you to "check six" and make sure no one is overtaking you from the rear, signal your lane change, and move into the center or left third of the center turn lane.

    2. Signal your turn, wait until oncoming traffic is clear, and make your turn.

    ... just like a car...

  7. #7
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    The best answer to give anyone not sure of the "bike-rules" is to just ride like you're driving a car. That, and a little common sense will get you there safe. Safe...unless of course you have an incident like I just did 30 minutes ago.

    On a straight two way traffic side street I was almost clipped by a Lincoln Mark VIII trying to turn left, into me! Lucky for him I exercise great self-restraint and decided not to turn around and run my buck knife threw his shinny burgundy paint. Good thing for me also as two stop signs later a cop passed me! Ha!, the whole time the driver was turning, he was making eye contact as I had flick my bike onto the gravel shoulder and grab a handful of rear brake and skid back onto the road before rear-ending a parked car. I can only imagine what the guy on the road bike 50 meters behind me was thinking!
    Last edited by Notorious-J; 08-21-2008 at 02:25 PM.
    Where am I? And how the hell did I get here?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by PscyclePath
    DD:

    The center turn lane serves the same purpose as a left turn lane in your case. Best option here, since there's no traffic signal, is to:

    1. Scan behind you to "check six" and make sure no one is overtaking you from the rear, signal your lane change, and move into the center or left third of the center turn lane.

    2. Signal your turn, wait until oncoming traffic is clear, and make your turn.

    ... just like a car...
    Thanks Pscycle!

    Again, thanks everyone!

  9. #9
    Mark
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    Thanks PscyclePath.
    This is one of the most concise explanations I've ever read.
    It expands a bit on the "ride like a car" mode but basically is a good explanation of the "rules of the road"

    My rules are:
    1) Ride like a car, but be very afraid!
    2) Ride predictably
    3) Own your lane
    4) Trust no one (especially parked cars)
    5) Never flip the bird, just assume anyone who honks or says anything is just sayin' Hi.
    I always wave a friendly wave back



    Quote Originally Posted by PscyclePath
    The same traffic laws and regulations that apply to cars and trucks apply to cyclists, too.

    When you approach an intersection, there are three choices: a right turn, a straight path of travel, or a left/U-turn. You can communicate your choice by where you ride in the travel lane, or by which lane you choose on multi-lane streets.

    Use your position on the street to show others where you are going. By being in the correct position on the street, you make yourself more visible to others and communicate what you are doing and where you are going.

    RIGHT TURNS
    For a right turn, the cyclist should be in the right third of the lane, and should not leave space for vehicles to pass him on the right.

    STRAIGHT THROUGH
    A cyclist who is traveling straight should maintain a straight path of travel from one block to the next, staying out of the door zone of parked cars, and not wandering into the crosswalk (marked or not) or into empty parking lanes or spaces. A cyclist that fades right into the crosswalk while crossing straight through an intersection sends the false message that they are turning right, and vehicles may respond to this message by turning across the cyclist’s path. When you leave the lane and ride in the parking lane, you have given up your right of way, and when you want to re-enter the traffic lane, you will legally have to yield to traffic before riding back into the travel lanes.

    LEFT TURNS
    You have the following choices:

    1) Like a motor vehicle:

    Follow these steps for making left turns just like cars do.
    1. From the right side of the street, look behind you for a gap in traffic. Start looking a half-block or more be-fore the intersection.
    2. When traffic allows, signal left and change lanes. If you can’t find a gap and you’re sure of your skills, get a driver to let you in by making eye con-tact and pointing. Don’t change lanes until you’re sure the driver is yielding!
    3. Go to the middle of the left-turn lane. If there’s more than one turn lane, use the one farthest to the right—unless you’re making another left turn immediately.
    4. If there’s a car already waiting to turn left, get behind it. (Never put yourself next to a car in the same turn lane!) If there’s an oncoming car facing you, waiting to turn left, place as much distance between you and it as you would if you were driving a car.
    5. Turn just like a car does. After the turn, move into the right lane—unless another vehicle is there or you’re making another left turn immediately.


    2) Like a pedestrian:
    1. Ride straight through the intersection to the far crosswalk
    2. Stop, dismount, and position your bike in the new direction
    3. Yield to oncoming traffic, or if you are at a signalized intersection, wait for the green or WALK signal
    4. Walk your bike across the intersection

    3) “Box” Left Turn:

    Use the box left turn if you can’t merge left before you reach the intersection. Here’s how:
    1. Stay in the right lane and ride across the intersection on the left side of (not in) the crosswalk.
    2. Just before the opposite corner, check whether there’s room for you in the traffic lane to the right of the crosswalk, behind the stop line. If there is, go there and align yourself with traffic.
    3. If there’s no room behind the stop line, stop on the intersection side of the crosswalk and align yourself with traffic.
    4. When the traffic light changes, move with traffic.

    Never make a left turn from the right side of the road, even if you’re in a bike lane.

    If there’s no turn lane, ride about four feet from the center stripe -- far enough out so a left-turning car behind you can’t pass until you’ve finished the turn.

    If a car’s stopped at the intersection and you can’t tell whether it’s going to turn left, don’t try to pass it on the left. Stay behind it until it gets through the intersection.

    When turning left from a one-way street to another one-way street, you may turn into the left or right side of the street if it’s safe to do so.

    Multiple Left-Turn Lanes

    Lane Choice
    • The Rule: Use the right-most lane that leads to your destination.
    • Why: You don't cross the path of other drivers also turning left!
    • How To: Remain in line with, if possible, or if not, to the right of motorists making the same left turn. End up on the right side of the new street after the turn


    Lane Position
    • This is the same as turning left from a single left-turn-only lane:
    • Where the right-most left turn lane allows through traffic, position yourself in the left in such a lane.
    • Or, if the lane is too narrow for side-by-side sharing (3 feet between you and the car), then in the center of the lane


    These almost always occur at a traffic signal with a protected left turn phase, so there is not as much worry about oncoming or crossing traffic.

    Tom
    ===============

    Mark

  10. #10
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    I cross from a bike lane through 2 east-bound lanes into a center turn lane before turning left across 2 west-bound lanes and another bike lane into my office parking lot. I actually just can't do that past around 10am, the traffic light downstream is just sending too many cars and there is never an opening. But earlier, when I am getting to work, I just signal left to move across. Sometimes depending on what openings there are I am in the center lane a driveway before mine, then I just move up to my driveway in the turn lane and then go for it when there's an opening. I won't try to get into the traffic flow (which is in NHRA caliber acceleration mode after the last traffic light) earlier than the driveway before the one I'm aiming for at this spot.

  11. #11
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    I take three right turns.

  12. #12
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    there isnt any laws against walking your bike the last 500 ft either, you could go through the intersection, stop, and hike-a-bike up the sidewalk. personally, id bike the sidewalk if the foot traffic was light

  13. #13
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    I run into a bad crossing on my commute home as well. It is 2 lanes each direction with a turn lane in the middle. There are also designated bike lanes down both sides. I turn right onto that road and about halfway down it I start planning my traverse.

    I watch my mirror and look for (large) gaps in traffic. I am also watching oncoming traffic for openings. When I see an opportunity, I hammer across to the bike lane on the other side of the street and then make my exit through a driveway/parking lot that empties out onto the cross street I am heading for.

    This may not be totally legal but because I am shooting large gaps, it doesn't affect traffic. Nobody second guesses what I'm doing because I'm too far away to be a concern. I usually signal for turns but in this case, if I do, people will stop in the middle of the road thinking they need to make room for me. I appreciate the courtesy but causing traffic to stop on a busy street is dangerous and unnecessary. If one person isn't paying attention there's gonna be a pile up.

    In the cases when traffic is really heavy and there are no good chances to get across, I just ride around a longer loop rather than taking the shorter way home.

  14. #14
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    I was hitting an intersection like this coming from my g/f's last house. It was a hospital intersection with lots of traffic, and lots of foot traffic. Cars didn't seem to understand why I was in the left lane, and would even try and edge up and around me (?)

    I finally decided on jumping off, waiting, and walking my bike across. Everyone looked at me as if I was an alien, even though they were the adults wearing pajamas to work (scrubs).

    Do whatever is the least likely to get you killed I'd say. People around here have no idea how to drive when they see a bike so I'm a little more cautious.
    'Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.'
    -Mark Twain

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