Thursday, January 19

Danger From the Wacky Left (Turn)

WHY Do People Make BLIND Left Turns?
On Tuesday, in "Hard Right," I related how the vulnerable road user, namely one of those giant SUVs, put himself into a position to get squished like a bug. Somewhat conveniently, today's cautionary road tale involves a different danger, in this case, a"Wacky Left" turn brought back memories of getting hit in a very similar situation.

For those of you that may be nervous that either of these posts represent a sudden Steve political diatribe, settle down. I think this is probably the last "this sounds political" post title - unless I think of another one.

Today, I was an active participant and not a mere observer of two motorists having a close call. Anyway, here was today's situation:

I was northbound on Forest Ridge in Bedford, just a little north of the Airport Freeway. Forest Ridge is a sweet four lane road that I sometimes ride on the trip home. It represents a quarter-mile detour that avoids a couple of traffic lights that get clogged up frequently on the afternoon commute. You see, I really don't like to filter past my motoring cousins, nor do I like to sit through multiple light cycles just to show solidarity most of them would neither understand nor appreciate, though they WOULD notice me holding them up when they had to repass me.

I was in the right lane, roughly in the center of a 12 foot lane, perhaps a smidge to avoid the rough area and oil. Up ahead, in the left lane, I observed two cars that were stopped in the left lane. To all appearances, the second guy was waiting for the front motorist to make a left turn into the credit union parking lot. Being observant, I also noticed a third motorist a bit further ahead. Hmm. My antennae tingled just a bit. As I closed, I moved RIGHT in my lane. My loyal reader should practice that a little - "MY lane." But I digress.

Moving right, I also prepared for braking or other evasive maneuver. Nothing definite other than stopped motorists ahead and knowing that the DANGER IS AHEAD. Then I saw the reason. A fourth motorist was waiting to pull out from the parking lot and the other three were trying to be "nice," not realizing that the parking lot motorist, making the "wacky left turn," would CREAM anyone coming up in the right lane.

In fact, I was more worried about this possibility than the average road user. You see, I was hit in just such a situation in Everett, Washington. Luckily I was not injured by the wacky left turner, though the Jaguar I was driving sustained several thousand dollars of damage. Even today, I'm AMAZED at how many motorists will attempt a totally BLIND left turn simply because someone waves them on.

To wrap up, moving RIGHT in my lane, though somewhat instinctive, was precisely the right action because it gave me a better view of what was going on with all those strangely behaving motorists AND it gave me an instant longer to react should a conflict really arise. Today, the wacky left turn was merely a threat. The sort of threat that helps me guard against commute complacency. Well, more or less. You see, cycling really IS fun and safe.


John said...

You don't tell us how it turned out. Okay, I guess, since you didn't say. You saw the person waiting to pull out of the parking lot, so they saw you too and waited?

It's amazing the power a wave-through has to prevent further analysis on the part of the "wavee". Four lane roads seem to be the worst. People who wave you through never seem to be thinking beyond their own lane.

Steve A said...

It did turn out to be no more than a "threat." the person driving out was cautious enough that they did not simply close their eyes and hope for the best. My antennae were tingling enough that had I encountered a trusting, but impatient soul, I could still have avoided getting "whacked."

MAC is wack said...

Whether driving as a cyclist or motorist, passing a line of stopped (slowly moving, even) vehicles makes me really nervous.

MamaVee said...

I got into my first accident b/c of something like this. I was driving toward the intersection in a left turn only lane. The straight lanes all had red lights. I had a green light so I was not stopped as I came to the light, I was slowing to turn and keeping my eyes on the light preparing to stop if the light changed... well the two straight lanes to the right of me decided to let a car comeout of a parking lot to go across traffic and turn left. Go across THREE lanes of traffic mine being the third. She hit me and then was all " I didn't see you" of course not- I was three lanes over.

For this reason I don't often let people go like this unless it's one lane.

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