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Position at Left Turn Only

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Position at Left Turn Only

Old 09-25-17, 03:41 PM
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1989Pre
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Position at Left Turn Only

I am wondering if I can get some feedback on what I have been doing at "left turn only" lanes, when the light is red and I am preparing to turn left: Let's say there are three lanes; the left turn only with a green arrow, a center "straight only", and a "right turn or go straight" lane on the right.
Okay. I am in between two lead cars; left and go straight, maybe a bike length ahead of the lead car. When we get the green arrow, I make an even swoop, paralleling (in an arc) the car to my left.
The reason I am asking for feedback is because one driver yelled something at me once we took the turn, the other day, and I feel as though I had perhaps confused or startled him. Also, I have seen riders position themselves behind the lead car, to take the turn. I don't do this because I do not want to get caught up in motor traffic, and I could make an error in trying to keep up with their speed.
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Old 09-25-17, 03:56 PM
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It's not something drivers are used to seeing, so it probably confuses them as to what they're supposed to do when they see you do this. They assume you'll do something crazy like most typical cyclists do in traffic, even though you're just trying your best to be safe.

I would take the center of the turn lane and sort of pretend to be a motorcycle and hope no one notices. Take off when light changes, and then move right once the turn is completed, after looking back to make sure no cars are passing me on my right.

Cars are pretty slow when they take off and not hard to keep up with for the first 20-30 feet from a dead stop. In any event, you'll certainly accelerate faster than an 18 wheeler can, and people don't get too pissed off at them for holding up traffic a bit at lights. And if it's of any consolation to the cars, once they pass you, within five seconds they'll be right back in traffic as if you were never there.
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Old 09-25-17, 04:02 PM
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I "take the lane". Before getting to the intersection I am already moving over and merging into the left turn lane. I position myself along with the passenger side wheels of the autos, and it doesn't matter if I am first or in line behind autos at the intersection. I know others may disagree with that, but I will not be making a left turn at a light from all the way over in the very right side of the right hand lane.
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Old 09-25-17, 04:30 PM
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For 15 years I have been lining up with the other vehicles. I position myself in the left third of the lane, directly behind the driver of the vehicle in front on me. I would never be adjacent to other vehicles as many left turn drivers swing wide. Being left biased in lane also provides an unobstructed view of oncoming traffic.
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Old 09-25-17, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
For 15 years I have been lining up with the other vehicles. I position myself in the left third of the lane, directly behind the driver of the vehicle in front on me. I would never be adjacent to other vehicles as many left turn drivers swing wide. Being left biased in lane also provides an unobstructed view of oncoming traffic.
Same.
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Old 09-25-17, 07:13 PM
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I either take the lane, or split the lanes depending on how much room I have after making the turn (of course, I have to make the turn wide enough to not get in the way). When splitting the lanes, some turning cars will kind of hold back, I guess fearing that I will wander into their path but in general it works well as long as I know there's room for me after the turn. The one caveat is sometimes there is also a right turn lane for oncoming traffic and they might try to make the turn (often there is a yield sign for them) into the space I intend to occupy.

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Old 09-25-17, 07:27 PM
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People are patient with bikes in the turning lane for the most part, provided the rider knows what they're doing and doesn't hold them up, and especially doesn't make them miss the light.

Many of the times I've been honked at (I know, another thread) it's been because I had a hard time getting clipped into my pedals when the light changed. And when they start honking, it makes it even harder to clip in. I always try to stay clipped in if possible, but some lights are longer than my trackstanding abilities, unfortunately.
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Old 09-25-17, 08:29 PM
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I am on the lane line at the front if possible. Depends on the light timing. Lots of times I just do the square stop and turn. There is ZERO need to be in the left track.
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Old 09-25-17, 08:48 PM
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Here's what I do. I align myself with the passenger side front bumper. I extend my left arm and look at the driver. He acknowledges my presence and we make the turn when the light turn green, most of the time he'll stay behind me but sometime we move parallel. I once had a lady that backed up when I looked at her. I told her she didn't have to, that I was just mentioning to her that I was turning left like her. Never had an issue.
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Old 09-26-17, 12:34 AM
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Like many here, I just take the center of the left turn lane. I generally wait more for cars than cars wait for me. If I happen to take the turn slower than someone in a car behind me, that's just not terribly important to me.

That said, if I'm riding something nicer than my town bike (one-speed, very low gear) and I see that the light is going to change to green as I approach, I have no problem with doing a bit of lane splitting to get near the front of the queue. This is assuming I am familiar enough with the intersection that I know I have a safe place to be after the turn is made.
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Old 09-26-17, 05:18 AM
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I cue up in the lane, usually in the left tire track - right in front of the driver position. Typically I don't filter forward unless there's a bike box and I know there's time to get positioned in it before the light changes.
On my 15 mile commute, there is only one location with a bike box.
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Old 09-26-17, 07:39 AM
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I almost always move through intersections in the lane.
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Old 09-26-17, 07:45 AM
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I get in line same as everyone else but usually positioned so I can be seen in the side mirror of the car ahead. I usually make a wide sweeping turn so that cars behind can pass on the left.
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Old 09-26-17, 07:55 AM
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I found that if you cut to the left sharply while making the turn, you'll shorten the distance traveled and actually find yourself waiting for the car ahead of you to move forward. That gives me plenty of time to slowly merge right, back onto the shoulder. That is if you actually ride on the shoulder, many riders are too prideful for that, and opt to stay in the middle of the traffic lane. Not that there's anything WRONG with that, I just feel safer out of the traffic lane when traffic is going faster than I am. Weird, I know . . .
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Old 09-26-17, 07:58 AM
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I do it exactly as I would if I were in a car or a motorcycle. No reason to leave the person behind me wondering what I am going to do if I act out of the ordinary, and as others have mentioned I can accelerate with cars generally enough to get through the intersection anyhow.
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Old 09-26-17, 08:04 AM
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That's my golden rule in unfamiliar traffic situations. "When in doubt, do what a car or a motorcycle would do."
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Old 09-26-17, 12:55 PM
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I take the lane. If I can't get over to the turn lane safely I cross over the intersection and then either circle around and position myself to cross again in the direction I wanted, or I make a u-turn and get in the right hand turn lane to turn onto the street in the direction I wanted. It depends.
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Old 09-26-17, 01:08 PM
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sometimes I take the lead & jump ahead, sometimes I wait with a slight nod to the driver on my left so they know I'm waiting for them (to go first), then I follow (not behind, but staying to the right of our lane) & fully expect the other following traffic to pass me. if there's room, I stay way right making it obvious for the following drivers to pass me. of course once the turn is made by most of us at the front it narrows so, going wide is done with discretion
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Old 09-26-17, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by MidSouthBiker View Post
I "take the lane". Before getting to the intersection I am already moving over and merging into the left turn lane. I position myself along with the passenger side wheels of the autos, and it doesn't matter if I am first or in line behind autos at the intersection. I know others may disagree with that, but I will not be making a left turn at a light from all the way over in the very right side of the right hand lane.
Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
For 15 years I have been lining up with the other vehicles. I position myself in the left third of the lane, directly behind the driver of the vehicle in front on me. I would never be adjacent to other vehicles as many left turn drivers swing wide. Being left biased in lane also provides an unobstructed view of oncoming traffic.
Originally Posted by Ninety5rpm View Post
Same.
Yep, all these.

Intersections should be orderly, especially when all the traffic is stopped. It's like musical chairs; you don't want to be the only one without a lane when the traffic stops. Grab a lane like everyone else.

And when it's time to go, I go to the right-most lane (paying attention to any oncoming right-turning traffic. If that means I stay in the traffic lane for a bit, so it goes. If there is a shoulder/bike lane, I get over there after the turn is completed.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

Last edited by Doohickie; 09-26-17 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 09-26-17, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by SylvainG View Post
Here's what I do. I align myself with the passenger side front bumper. I extend my left arm and look at the driver. He acknowledges my presence and we make the turn when the light turn green, most of the time he'll stay behind me but sometime we move parallel. I once had a lady that backed up when I looked at her. I told her she didn't have to, that I was just mentioning to her that I was turning left like her. Never had an issue.
This seems most like what I would adopt, were I to alter my technique. I like your idea of staying at the front bumper. My sometimes positioning myself ahead of the lead car could be disconcerting to the driver to my left, I suppose.
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Old 09-26-17, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Yep, all these.

Intersections should be orderly, especially when all the traffic is stopped. It's like musical chairs; you don't want to be the only one without a lane when the traffic stops. Grab a lane like everyone else.

And when it's time to go, I go to the right-most lane (paying attention to any oncoming right-turning traffic. If that means I stay in the traffic lane for a bit, so it goes. If there is a shoulder/bike lane, I get over there after the turn is completed.
I just hope you are not clipped in to your pedals if the driver behind you has a moment when her foot slips off the brake pedal and she has a "fender bender" with the car in front of her. I could handle dying, but I could not handle having my legs crushed and being paralyzed.
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Old 09-26-17, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 1989Pre View Post
I just hope you are not clipped in to your pedals if the driver behind you has a moment when her foot slips off the brake pedal and she has a "fender bender" with the car in front of her. I could handle dying, but I could not handle having my legs crushed and being paralyzed.
I'll ignore the blatant sexism there, but I highly doubt me not being clipped in at that moment is going to have much bearing on me either being or not being crushed. I can be on flats, I'm still not getting out of the way.
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Old 09-26-17, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by 1989Pre View Post
I just hope you are not clipped in to your pedals if the driver behind you has a moment when her foot slips off the brake pedal and she has a "fender bender" with the car in front of her. I could handle dying, but I could not handle having my legs crushed and being paralyzed.
I've been doing it for years, no problems yet. In fact, that's never happened to me in a car either.

(If you're that afraid of cars, you should probably just stick with the sidewalks or maybe the track at your local middle school.)
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 09-26-17, 02:34 PM
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I use a mirror and one technique I use when approaching a line of stopped vehicles is to 'bring in' the vehicle coming to a stop behind me. By that I mean that instead of going full bore and slowing fast to a stop I gradually slow and let the vehicle behind catch me and we both roll in a bit slower to the stop. This allows me to ID if driver notices me earlier while I still have time and space for evasive action (never needed so far.)

This same technique applies to approaching traffic stopped on freeway when driving a motor vehicle as well.
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Old 09-26-17, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
I get in line same as everyone else but usually positioned so I can be seen in the side mirror of the car ahead. I usually make a wide sweeping turn so that cars behind can pass on the left.
This.

When I approach any intersection, I take my spot in the center of the lane. As I proceed or after I proceed through, depending on the intersection and circumstances, I'll move back to the right. No way am I pulling up alongside a car waiting on a light.

Can't imagine why OP is up beside the car.
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