Wednesday, April 18

Lane Position Depends

Not Long Ago, an Email Threatened Pedestrians With FELONY Charges For Crossing Against This Light
In Response to my Inquiry, the FELONY Would Have Been "Attempted Suicide." Sheesh! Well, This IS Texas...
Lately, partly based on prompts from the LCI List, sponsored by the Bike League, I've been considering my lane position in various situations. Today, I'll talk about why, sometimes I sit near the right side of a left turn lane, while other times I wait for the light to change at the LEFT side of a similar lane. Purely by coincidence, I also relate two similar, but different types of scofflawry that are prompted by a municipal bias in favor of "traffic flow."

In the photo above, and immediately below, I almost invariably stop for a LONG red light at the right side of the left turn lane. Why might this be? Well, considering, there are two factors that cause me to do so. First, there is an induction sensor that gives me a choice between stopping at the left side of the lane in order to trigger the signal or at the right side of the lane. This is a LEFT TURN ONLY lane that turns onto a six lane highway. Since I'm going to the right lane of this highway in order to turn right into a parking lot before long, the "destination positioning" principle of where to choose lane position causes me to choose the right side at this particular intersection light. DESPITE my "right side" preference, following motorists HAVE tried to pass me ON THE RIGHT as we turn left, as documented HERE. Mostly, however, they simply bear left and we don't have a lot to talk about that's very interesting afterwards. More notable are the ones that pass me on the road leading up to this light that I catch back up to. I never SAID my motorists were rocket scientists. Actually, I prefer my commutes to be fairly boring. Safety pyramid and all...

Also, in the photo above - and below, we see two different types of road user that simply ignore the traffic light on this highway and cross against the red light. Circled in the photo above is a pedestrian that just isn't willing to wait. IMO, he crossed entirely safely, if illegally against a light set to favor traffic speed and throughput over people waiting. I'm simply a bit more patient than this guy. He is, however, an exemplar of a threatening email we received against such behavior. The author of the email apparently didn't consider why a pedestrian might not really WANT to wait "halfway until forever" on a highway that's not occupied when he/she wants to cross.
Less excusable is the second photo. In THIS photo, a guy on a bike with no front light, but with a rear light, comes along the sidewalk from behind me, stops briefly, and then runs the red. He COULDA been Fred, except we're in Texas. I felt proud, however, realizing it wasn't a "teachable moment," I simply took the photo and waited my turn to cross legally. Even OLD dogs do sometimes learn new tricks.

I've Got a LOT LESS Sympathy for a "Guy on a Bike" Pulling the Same Stunt a Couple of Days Later

In the final photo, I stop at the far LEFT side of a lane that looks much like the one above. Why do I stop at the far LEFT side instead of the far RIGHT side? Well, it is pretty simple, actually. As in the photo above, there's an induction sensor that gives me a choice of stopping at one side of the lane or the other in order to do my part to trigger a light change. In THIS case, the lane offers a choice of a left turn or straight through. I pick the LEFT side to add emphasis that I intend to turn left rather than to go straight (this IS a left lane, but I like to keep things simple for my motorists). As traffic comes up behind, I'll periodically stick my left arm out straight to re-emphasize my intent. I like to think it helps keep traffic from stacking up behind me. The motorists that WANT to turn left simply choose the lane to my left (which is "left turn only"), while those that want to go straight split between my lane and the one to my right. Everyone gets where they're going and conflict is very rare at this signal. Like I can't think of any, ever. Which is about as rare as conflict gets.

You'll note that in the photos above (and ESPECIALLY notable in the top one), a "Killer B" appears - the infamous "Bott's Dot." Those devils are always on the lookout for a cyclist to toss down on the pavement. But y'all have been warned!

To Explain My Lane Position, Look DOWN, and UP. The Black Stripe is an Induction Signal Sensor, and the Sign Says
You Turn Left from Either of the Two Left Lanes. The Guy Ahead of Me Went Straight. I Went Left


RANTWICK said...

All of that made sense to me. Strange, I thought I was on steve a's blog.

Anyway, I also signal a left sometimes even though I'm in a left turn lane. I like to think it confirms for drivers that I really mean to be there.

mindful mule said...

Lane positioning is key. I think about it all the time. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I think you’re right to be as clear as possible to the drivers of cars, signaling even when you’re in a turn lane, etc, although, I often think to myself that it should be pretty obvious that I’m intending to turn if I’m out in the middle of a highway in a turn lane instead of over “as close to the side of the road as is practicable,” however, (some) drivers of cars might be a little denser than we imagine. Even when I’m directly behind a car in the lane, clearly taking up the role of: “I’m waiting behind you. You can go about your business as if I were any other vehicle behind you,” even then, and a lot recently, I see them hesitating, eyeing me in the rearview mirror, not sure if they should go as the light turns green or wait for some kind of “all clear” signal from me.

By the way, you must be very brave – I think I’d be afraid to take pictures of cars from behind, in traffic, on a bike – especially, somehow, in Texas.

Steve A said...

Mindful, thanks for your kind words. I am NOT brave. The photos in the post were all taken while stopped at traffic lights. And Texas drivers are like drivers other places - actually, most Texas drivers ARE from other places.

Inspired by you, I'll next do a post about some drivers that DO scare me. Ones that try to be "nice," while forgetting they are in the middle of heavy traffic while doing so.

Post a Comment

No Need for Non-Robot proof here!