Thursday, September 10

Traffic Waves

On multi-lane roads, if I come up behind motorists, I rarely do anything other than stop behind the last car in line. Once the light turns green, they all roar ahead, leaving me all to myself on the road behind "the wave" of traffic. However, if I instead make a free right turn onto such a road, the wave may come roaring up behind.

I've been trying out an alternate route home, shown below. It has the advantage of not running along a narrow road with nice wide "paths" alongside the road, courtesy of the "Safe Routes to School" program. I also avoid what seems to be recurring traffic into and out of the school.

Yesterday, I made the free right to "Precinct Line Grand Prix," and before I got to my turn at Lavaca, had lots of cranky motorists behind and to my left side. It didn't feel right. They, in turn, didn't like a cyclist in their lane when there was a nice broad shoulder and a sidewalk. They did, however, lighten up after I worked my way left to turn onto Lavaca. In such cases, I like to repeat the maneuver to improve my ability to handle such situations; improving my overall safety margin. Today, I worked the timing a bit, and made my signal to move left earlier. Being in front of the wave is still not fun, but it felt crisp today. That left turn signal did wonders to calm the left lane traffic.

After a nice "thanks" wave, I moved left and then into the left turn lane. I haven't decided if I prefer this alternate route, but it would work well when there's a school event clogging things up, and it's a change in scenery for little time penalty.

4 comments:

Rantwick said...

I've started "merging" with a busy road one block earlier than before in order to more easily achieve a left at a light further on, and I have had similar experience. The wave behind gets a little testy, but the left signal really does seem to sort people out, so at least they don't yell or honk! I've got video of a nice example just today. Hmmm...

Steve A said...

Left turn signal seems to work like magic - MOST of the time. But not in Trust but Verify...

Keri said...

In a case like your map, I often make my right turn directly into the left lane. That way, if the wave catches me, I don't have to try and merge through it.

The wide shoulders and chicken lane are a problem for being accepted in a travel lane. They look like places you should be to not be in their precious way. I experience measurably more pointless incivility on roads like that.

Steve A said...

Hmm, I'll have to think about that "early left lane" option. I'd do it for sure if the distance to Lavaca were shorter. If I were to try a few experiments, we'd want to compare an early left against a lane switch and then a left. The left arm timing is also an important factor, as well as how far I travel down the middle lane. Sounds like a good use for that CO forum I recently signed up for. I have no particular wish to either get poor data or get squished.

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