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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,957

    Traffic situation

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    I've no traffic concerns on the way to work, at that time of the morning the traffic is as sparse as on my country roads. The return commute is quite different, but half of it is off-road and it isn't bad. There is, however, a light that has caused me the same problems both times I've taken this route home.

    There is just a lot of traffic in this corridor, and this portion of the street is 2 lanes only (1 each direction). Traffic tends to back up at this light during much of the day and there is no shoulder. I had planned to just ride slowly up beside the vehicles, but in the end there isn't much room for that and today a car pulled over to the right so I couldn't do that. I eventually wound up getting off the bike and walking it through the intersection.

    Is that the best way to approach this situation, or is it better to just become a tiny little "car" and take my place in line taking up the middle of the lane? I don't want to p*ss off someone if I can help it so am just trying to figure out the wisest approach. I am just not accustomed to dealing with this level of traffic so I need to think my way through it and I think this intersection will always be an issue for me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    philly
    Posts
    143
    If traffic generally makes it through the light in one cycle, I'd just pretend to be a car, and *maybe* move right as people get moving if it's wide enough/you're comfortable with people passing you as they speed up. If you have any doubt about that, stay in the middle of the lane, they can wait.

    If traffic takes a couple cycles to get through the light, I would try to avoid sitting in traffic (breathing exhaust is fun...). Either do the right side filter like you did, or is there a sidewalk you could jump on, get to the crosswalk, and walk your bike across? (or carefully jump back into stopped traffic at the front/right of the lane) Not sure how popular/proper those options are, but I'll do either from time to time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,957
    Thanks for your comments Carlotta. There is a pretty sharp edge of pavement right there and they are also doing road work. I COULD get over in the grass but things get funky closer to the intersection and I think it would be difficult to get back into the flow of traffic. Today the light changed twice...and I hate to breathe that exhaust. Obviously I will need to play it by ear for each commute - and there really isn't a better route.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    2,051
    Riding up the right side is generally a very bad idea and puts you at risk of a right hook. Drivers aren't expecting to see a bike there.

    I'd take my place in line. If the road is wide enough to share the lane, then once traffic gets moving you can move toward the right. If it is not wide enough, keep your place in the middle of the lane, and cars can pass you using the left lane when it is clear of oncoming traffic.

    Here's a really helpful and well done video that demonstrates "taking the lane" and why it is a good idea any time the lane is not wide enough to share.
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Wilts, UK
    Posts
    903
    I get a similar situation to this when queuing for the roundabout near my home. I can't go on the pavement (sidewalk) as I have the trailer on the back. I take the lane (well I have to really, with the trailer), and either scoot the bike with my feet, or wait until the gap ahead of me is long enough to justify pushing off. dh reminded me that just because a car crawls 6inches forward doesn't mean that I have to. Re the fumes - I just console myself with the fact that cyclists breathe in less exhaust fumes than everyone sat in the queue in their cars.
    Dawes Cambridge Mixte, Specialized Hardrock, Specialized Vita.

    mixedbabygreens My blog, which really isn't all about the bike.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,083
    If there's not much room, it sounds like you should just stay in line. That is always an acceptable and legal solution. It can piss off drivers if you move very slowly, like up a hill for instance, so it helps traffic flow if you're alert, prepared to start quickly and move over a little if appropriate. But do stay centred and visible if there's road work and you need to keep your place.

    I will ride up next to cars at a few intersections I know well, where I know there is space for me in front, and I can see I have time, as long as cars are standing still. But moving cars, even the ones slowing down, are very dangerous. The drivers are paying attention to the traffic or the light directly in front of them, and have no idea of what's going on right next to them. A car slowing down will sometimes veer to the right for some reason, like to get a glance ahead, and if you're there you suddenly have nowhere to go.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    355

    Red face

    I would take my place in line, although eating exhaust is no fun. Any tucking to the side at intersections makes you hard to see and easy to be taken advantage of. Intersections are always the worst part of my rides.
    2013: Riding a Dolce sport compact for fun and a vintage Jetter with cargo rack for commuting

    www.bike-sby.org: A network of concerned cyclists working to make our city more bicycle friendly.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,738
    From your description, I'd take the lane and stay in line.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    206
    If the traffic is backed up for a stoplight, you shouldn't have any trouble keeping up. Merge and take the lane. Make sure you're far enough left in the lane for oncoming left-turning traffic to see you. If you're keeping up there's no reason for anyone to be unhappy with you. Just don't cut in line.

    Sometimes a driver will come up on the left and try to pass or cut you off in this situation. Don't let them freak you out, keep a lid on your temper, and you'll be fine.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    633
    If you want to be considered traffic (all the rights and responsibilities of the road), be traffic! Add me to the list of those suggesting you take the lane. Safer for everyone.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,957
    Thanks for all of the good advice. I wasn't very comfortable with my approach yesterday (trying to filter up the right side) but couldn't pin-point why. If I take my place in line then, frankly, I should be able to WALK my bike to keep up until I am free to ride.

    I don't generally have any problems taking the lane when I need to, but that light is just odd how it works (for those in Indy, this is the light at 56th and Kessler - WB on 56th). Thanks again!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    3,213
    What everybody said, but still, I sometimes hop off and become a genuine pedestrian.

    But I NEVER pretend to be a pedestrian while I am riding.
    Each day is a gift, that's why it is called the present.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,957
    Quote Originally Posted by malkin View Post
    What everybody said, but still, I sometimes hop off and become a genuine pedestrian.

    But I NEVER pretend to be a pedestrian while I am riding.
    Agreed - and that was finally what I chose to do yesterday - hopped off the bike and just walked it through the intersection and then waited for the traffic to pass before becoming a cyclist again. I am focusing on trying to be as predictable as possible.

    I have had two situations (not while commuting) where a drive appeared to interpret my hand signal to mean that I wanted them to drive on that side That taught me to never assume that drivers actually know what hand signals mean...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    2,051
    Quote Originally Posted by Catrin View Post
    I have had two situations (not while commuting) where a drive appeared to interpret my hand signal to mean that I wanted them to drive on that side That taught me to never assume that drivers actually know what hand signals mean...
    I know!! How do you signal a right turn? So many people raise their left hand to signal a right turn, but too many drivers don't understand what that means. Pointing to the right is more universally understood to mean you are turning right, and it is becoming more commonly accepted (and legal).
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    3,213
    I use the left hand bent up at the elbow to signal right (same as when I learned to drive an ancient VW with no turn signals). It always cracks me up when people 'wave back.'
    Each day is a gift, that's why it is called the present.

 

 

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