Wednesday, August 25

Shoulder Shunned

Looking Northbound, the Shoulder Isn't Bad, but I Ride this Road Southbound, Where Driveways Line the Road
In my post, here, I related a case where I ride a shoulder. On my route home, depending on the wind and traffic signal combinations, I ride southbound Precinct Line Road, south of North Tarrant Parkway. This road HAS a full width shoulder of about twelve-foot width, but I have never ridden on it. What’s the difference compared to the previous post?

First, this road has some driveways and possible crossing conflicts that would affect me more if I were riding on the shoulder.

Second, I’ll be turning left a half mile up ahead.

Third, I know, from signal timing, that a wave of cars will begin to pass me right about the time I need to be serious about getting into the left turn lane, and that doing so will be tougher if I’m not partway over at that point.
Each of Those Mailboxes is a Driveway and a Potential Crossing Collision

As I have noted in this blog before, motorists tend to get crabby when they see a cyclist riding in a traffic lane when they see a “nice alternative.” ChipSeal discovered that police are motorists, too. However, I do not run into problems on Precinct Line with people honking or otherwise getting flustered by my presence. Partly that is due to the relatively short distance I ride on it, but it is also because I have refined my signaling to take advantage of the traffic wave and signal timing combination. Commuters really DO have an advantage! Here’s what I do. Basically, I wait to make my right turn onto Precinct Line until immediately after the waiting southbound wave of cars receive their green light and clear the intersection. This gives me the entire road to myself for the better part of a minute, other than the odd motorist that also turned onto Precinct Line from other roads. Such motorists invariably have other things on their mind other than honking at a cyclist.

Towards the end of this period, I begin to prepare to move left into the left hand traffic lane. I signal well in advance of what might be strictly necessary. I do the early signal because any signal made by a cyclist seems to hypnotize any motorists that see it, erasing any aggressive inclinations they might otherwise posses. Invariably, they hang back a bit (it is obvious they are waiting) and get treated to a “thanks” wave from me as I move into the left lane. Often as not, they wave back. If I’m lucky, there will be a distracted one that I get to wave past before I make my shift into the left lane. That is fortunate because the ones behind the distracted one will be even MORE pleased to let me move left and I’ll be further down the road toward where I want to turn, so I’ll spend less time in the left and turn lane. Some of the clever ones actually move into the RH lane, so they can proceed more quickly in case the crazy cyclist is inclined to ride a long way in the left lane. At this point, so my motorists recognize I’m not now just riding in the left lane to be persnickety, I keep my left arm hung out continuously until I edge into the two-way left turn lane, and I’m sure all oncoming traffic knows what I’m up to. I’ll then typically drop my arm so I can use both brakes with maximum stability if needed (this is a place where it'd be NICE to have the front brake operated with my right hand!). If I have to wait, I signal more, so anybody coming along knows I’m waiting to make a left turn and not just standing in the middle of the road for the heck of it. Shortly thereafter, I complete my turn. The reality of it is much simpler than the description.
The Shoulder Also Ends at Each Cross Street


Rantwick said...

Totally agree. The simple act of signalling makes cars notice and back off while they attempt to classify this strange animal that is moving among the herd.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I prefer signaling right turns with my right hand. Which means, I find myself wanting a)either lever activates BOTH brakes, or b)electric bicycle turn signals. I know I could have b), but they are extremely rare in the wild, which makes me hesitant.

Velouria said...

Until today, it had rained and stormed for 4 days straight in the Boston area and the shoulders are flooded with puddles and covered with broken branches. Riding out in the countryside today was like an obstacle course; thankfully the drivers did not seem to mind me in the middle of the road now and again.

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