Friday, January 21

Waddle Waddle Pass on the Right - Or Not

The very first post I ever made on this blog; "Duty, Obligation, Courtesy," concerned much the same topic as I treat today. However, this time I actually made some photos to illustrate the principle, and this time the motor vehicle in question got treated a tad shabbier. I imagine a few readers have dealt with similar situations (or their mirror image), and some have not. Anyway, here's the story.

Typically, when stopping at a signalized intersection, or an all-way stop, I will stop roughly in the lane position as shown in the first photo below (we're talking about a "narrow" lane, meaning one that is under 14 feet wide in Texas). I stop there, rather than a position more to the right because any motorist coming up behind me is in ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT that my intent is to proceed straight through the intersection when the light turns green. If it is a 4-way stop, it reduces the temptation to pass me while I slow to a stop for the sign (who says it is only cyclists that blow stop signs?).

Where I Stop if I'm Proceeding Straight
On occasion, a motorist comes up behind me while I am stopped as indicated above. Sometimes, the following motorist will intend to make a right turn at the intersection. Sometimes, the motorist was simply not paying attention and failed to change lanes so he/she could accelerate ahead of the annoying cyclist when the light turned green. The clever and smart ones take advantage of the government-legislated equipment in their motor vehicle and actually signal a right turn. THOSE ONES get the full deluxe treatment, as documented in my very first post. They usually even get a "come on" wave, despite my now conflicted emotions about encouraging what may technically be illegal behavior by my motorists. Heck, the conflict is pretty small. A motorist that comes up behind me and actually has his/her RT signal on gets the full waddle waddle movement of my bike to the left, followed by a little "come on and make your turn" wave.

While passing on the right within a lane may or may not be legal for a motorist in Texas, and it CERTAINLY would be illegal if Texas had a three foot passing law, but it is perfectly safe for us both, even if there were only a few INCHES of clearance because I can always sketch over a tad more if needed. This is one of the problems I have with such a "feel good" law. It doesn't cover the variety of situations we all encounter in the real world. After these encounters, I have almost invariably gotten a "thanks" wave from the motorist as he/she makes the free right turn. We both know the situation. I figure the next cyclist that motorist encounters will get just a tiny amount of extra courtesy in return. Certainly, the next cyclist is not likely to be harassed by the motorist. Even if the motorist was clueless, the others stopping saw and registered a cyclist being courteous to a motorist. Or so I'd prefer to believe. While this may not be the "respectful level of political discourse" that the LAB and left-wing politicians ask us to engage in, it's at least a tangible contribution to more harmonious road usage by cyclists AND motorists.

Anyway, not to belabor the point any futher, I have a "illegal pass on the right wave policy." Specifically, I encourage the motorist to move forward if they have clearly made his/her intent known by signalling. If the motorist doesn't signal, I still will go "waddle waddle" over to the position indicated by the second photo, but I don't wave them forward unless I actually see a signal. Today, I didn't see a signal from the SUV so I didn't wave after the "waddle waddle." But it still inspired me to stop at a place where I could get a couple of shots to illustrate the situation without getting traffic all messed up.

Two Waddles Get Me From Stop Position to
"Come Forward and Make Your RT" Invitation Position
PS: In case you were wondering; the motorist in the bottom photo did wonder what the heck the crazy cyclist was doing parking his bike in the right lane at a stop sign and taking pictures. I waved nicely and got my bike the heck over to the side of the road to remove that conflict in the motorist's mind. One must admit that it is not every day that there's a bike without anybody aboard "blocking progress." BTW, there were no geese harmed in the making of this post and no honking, either...

7 comments:

PaddyAnne said...

Steve, I was actually thinking about posting a very similar situation that I face on my way home each day - so it was very interesting to read your story. One thing that's different between our situations is that I tend to "widdle waddle" and you say you "waddle, waddle". Hmm.

Steve A said...

PA - I'd very much like to read another perspective on this situation. If it isn't too much trouble, read the post referenced in this one and tell us the story from your eyes. I look forward to seeing the similar situation and the ways we see it the same - and differently.

RANTWICK said...

This story plays itself out pretty much daily for me. My approach is identical to yours. There is the odd time they are indicating, I waddle and wave and the whole bit, and they nonetheless sit there staring at me like I am being weird instead of just going ahead... I never get that.

Most times though, courtesy is extended, accepted and recognized. Its good.

PaddyAnne said...

I did go back and read your referenced post. I think I see it much the same as you do. My difference is that if I come into an intersection and end up at the front, I will sit a bit more to the left of the spot you indicate you sit; this prevents me from having to do the widdle/waddle more than I have to. Some drivers take advantage of this and come up beside me and turn right, and some do not and wait behind me ... as long as they don't have someone behind them wanting to turn! I don't ride with mirrors so I don't know who is signalling or not, but I do know that while waiting for my green I will over-exagerrate all of my movements - ie watching traffic go by, the lights, looking for pedestrians etc. For some reason I get the feeling the drivers around me like this - is it because they are reassured that I am awake and alert? If a driver does come up beside me and looks at me, I look at them and meet their eyes - and do my "Hi smile" with a bit of a nod that I use when riding. (I hope to appear to drivers to be a nicer person than I actually am!) I think eye contact goes a long way and isn't mentioned very much. I also have tried waving a car forward and to date, none of them have taken me up on the offer. Perhaps they are a bit stunned a cyclist is "talking" to them! And I agree with you, I do think that every time I have a positive experience with a driver, it will fan itself out and create a nicer environment for everyone on the road at some point in the future (sort of like a big karma boomerang). You mention this yourself, its like being a goodwill bicycle ambassador or something! The more positive interactions, the better. The more deliberate a cyclist can make their intentions known, the better. wow, sorry for the long comment!!

cycler said...

In most places I ride, right turns on red are prohibited, so I don't have this problem very often. Every once in a while I get someone who doesn't want to obey the law, and wants me to get out of the way so that they can turn, but I don't generally worry about it- If I were a car who was going straight, I wouldn't be able to waddle out of the way anyway.

If the right turn is allowed, I'm happy enough to scooch over to allow the driver to get by.

JAT in Seattle said...

I do the same thing - complete with the turn of the head to see if they've got their signal on. And I also think in terms of scooching rather than waddling. I almost always get a wave of thanks, and only once (and it makes me almost sweaty hot with anger to think of it months later) did the car behind the free-right-on-red-turner proceed straight through when the light changed, accelerating past me on my right. Love and cooperation and all, but I swear I would have shot at that jerk had I been carrying a gun... or missiles.

Steve A said...

Hmm, "open carry for cyclists." It would cut down on gratuitous motorist aggression...

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