Tuesday, May 3

Motorist Sneaking Up on My Right From Behind

For the last few weeks, I've been getting acutely aware of an everyday situation where motorists come creeping up on me from my right, hoping to sneak past, or perhaps to discreetly tuck in behind the cyclist in hopes of avoiding problems. Perhaps you run into similar situations.

Headed East on Harwood, Moving into the Left Turn Lane. Good Thing I'm Not Going to Get Stuck Behind all Those Cars!
In the first and second photos, I'm moving from the left hand lane of eastbound Harwood Road in Bedford, right before it crosses across Texas Highway 121. I'm planning on heading north, because there's a lot of construction going on a block west of here on my preferred last leg home from the evening coffee stop. As you can see, the left turn lane is completely empty.

Cool, a Clear Left Turn Lane! Cyclists Rule!
Waiting for oncoming traffic to clear, there're a lot of oncoming cars, but what is nastier is that the Hwy 121 Service road is backing up with motorists waiting to turn onto Harwood behind them. Depending on their individual merging skill and aggressiveness, openings for me to turn left may or may not appear. I remain alert and watchful. Eventually, my day will come.

In a Situation Like This, the Only Thing to do is Keep Looking for a Break in Traffic
THE SITUATION arises when motorists start to stack up behind me, also in the left-hand turn lane. The lady in this fourth photo has kind of started sneaking up on me from my starboard stern quarter. This lady seems pretty polite. SOME of her bretheren wind up acting like they're actually going to pass me on my right. I wonder how they think THEY can get through the oncoming traffic any better than I can? The answer is - they can't. As a matter of fact, they can't get through traffic NEARLY as well, which they invariably discover.

Unlike this Lady, SOME Motorists Get Very Aggressive About Sneaking Up From My Right Rear Quarter. I Confess I Sometimes Edge Forward to Keep My Place in Line
The LAST photo shows the real situation. I completed my left turn without any drama at all. What's more,  at least two motorists made a right turn from Harwood to tuck in behind me - and the lady waiting behind me in the fourth photo was still waiting. This is typical. I don't know if she managed to make the left immediately after this photo or had to wait several minutes. I wasn't inclined to see just how long it would take. It takes a much bigger gap for a motorist to complete a safe left than a cyclist when there is oncoming traffic. To turn a phrase: "in a contest between a 4000 pound, sixteen foot car and a 200 pound, five foot bicycle, the bicycle will ALWAYS have an easier time making the safe left turn." Bicycles ARE different!

Regardless of the Motorist Waiting Position, the Cyclist Has a MUCH Easier Time with the Turn

7 comments:

Janice in GA said...

Dang. This is the big difference between a strong rider like you and an old fart like me. For good or ill, I can't take off quickly through gaps like that, so unless I feel particularly energetic and/or brave, I'll often wave cars through so they don't have to wait on me. :(

Steve A said...

Trust me, Janice in GA, it doesn't take speed or strength. As a cyclist, you have the advantage of having a 2.5 foot wide vehicle you are centered on instead of one that hangs out five or more feet off the right of your right shoulder. From watching and counting, I know how long I have to get across those lanes without any drama, and how long it takes me to get across them - even if I can't get my foot clipped into the second pedal while I'm doing it. I admit I did not feel so comfy as to take a photo DURING the turn. Pictures while riding are not something I do very often.

I'm not averse to waving cars ahead, but as you can see, that lady behind me couldn't have gone no matter how much I'd waved. For all I know, she's STILL waiting...

Chandra said...

Steve,
Left turns can be kinda tricky. I have one near Royal and Love, which can be a bear during the rush hour traffic. I have been riding this intersection for about 3 years and I still get goosebumps, sometimes; not because I am scared but the sheer intensity of the act can be flabbergasting.

Glad you are able to ride competently and lawfully in your neck of the woods!

Peace :)

John Romeo Alpha said...

To get across my evening flabbergasting left, sometimes I make a right then a U. Else I would end up waiting 15 minutes to make the turn, it feels like. I can't say that my motorists try to sneak around me on this turn, though, because my posterior is positioned to preclude it.

[feaking]

Velouria said...

This is my biggest problem with "taking the lane" in the sense of being in the center of said lane: If I keep more to the right, cars will only pass me on the left (albeit dangerously), but if I position myself in the center they will attempt to pass me on BOTH sides.

Ed W said...

Motorists sometimes do the darndest things! In general, I ride mid-lane when using a dedicated left turn lane, but like Velouria, I've had the rare driver who desperately wanted to pass while we were both turning. One nearly went over the curb. Another realized his options were to (1) brake, (2) hit me, or (3) hit the car in the oncoming lane. He chose to brake. Like I said, they were rare incidents because in years of riding, it's happened just twice.

Our size and maneuverability is an advantage when turning. We are fleet and nimble, darting this way and that like trout in a stream full of logs.

Steve A said...

This particular left turn lane sort of just turns into a really wide area in a really wide median. You can see that in the third and fifth photos. In truth, you could fit two big trucks into that median area, with a third motorist going the other way making a u turn. "Mid-lane" becomes fairly meaningless in such a situation. Nobody gets overeager while I'm in the road element in the second photo. It is always in the median area while I'm stopped and waiting for a gap in the oncoming traffic.

I try not to "dart." I'd rather think of myself as a logger, keeping the logs heading down the stream without clogging everything up.

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