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zenstyle

Making a left turn on a bicycle

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I pumped up and de-webbed my poor neglected bicycle this evening. I gave it a spin around the neighborhood and find to my chagrin that I've really lost my bike-nerve. (I blame the Vespa.) And I've forgotten some basic principles like making a left turn.

Do I:

1.) Stay on the right-edge of the street, cross the street, then turn left (as if I were walking)?

or

2.) Get in the left-turn lane, between the straight-going cars and the left-turning cars, and turn left from there?

I feel like a (helmeted) rodent about to be squashed, no matter what I do.

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I pumped up and de-webbed my poor neglected bicycle this evening. I gave it a spin around the neighborhood and find to my chagrin that I've really lost my bike-nerve. (I blame the Vespa.) And I've forgotten some basic principles like making a left turn.

Do I:

1.) Stay on the right-edge of the street, cross the street, then turn left (as if I were walking)?

or

2.) Get in the left-turn lane, between the straight-going cars and the left-turning cars, and turn left from there?

I feel like a (helmeted) rodent about to be squashed, no matter what I do.

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Last night there was a slew of us sitting in the left-turn-only lane at Monroe and Pearl. GRPD cruiser in front, a certain Heartwell person on my right; he said something about a turn signal.

I said if you're in the left turn lane, you really don't need to signal. And if you and several dozen of your closest friends are all in the left turn lane, it's really pretty obvious what you're about to do.

Pretend you're on your scooter, wait for your break in traffic, get into the LTO lane.

Dress loud. Act confident. The nice motorists don't want to mess up their car paint jobs or run up their deductibles. And in this area, merely turning your head to check for a break causes them to ease up on the gas. (First time I noticed this was on Division, and I stopped three lanes of traffic like Moses parting the Red Sea.) Motorists would prefer that you be predictable; they don't want to think too hard about what you "might" do.

Zen, can I scare the bejeebus out of you with a tandem ride? I'll drive, you get the front-row seating.

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Zen, I ride like a car: When I need to turn left IF there's a left-turn-only lane, I use it.

If it's a two-lane road (I ride on Lake Dr. for example) and I need to turn left across one lane of traffic, I try to wrap around with right turns if there's heavy enough traffic that I cannot just turn at-speed when my turn-off arrives. If there's room to turn, I'll get out in front of cars (middle of lane so they don't try to pass me), signal a left-turn and turn. No biggie.

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I have been an urban bike rider and I would say the only safe way to do it is to get into the center of the lane make sure you give the hand signal for a left, then make the turn. If find it's better to choose an intersection if possible where there is a signal.

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... make sure you give the hand signal for a left, then make the turn. ...

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Thanks for your advice, one and all, and accompanying links. I'm going to practice Sunday morning when traffic is light.

I shall woman-up and ride, using hand-signals, and bell, if need be. I love using the bell!

Veloise, anytime you want to tandem over to Hurd, I'm game. I've never been on one before. (I'm a leeetle skeeered.) :scared:

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This left hand turning thread reminds me of the day when i challenged my brother to ride back home by only taking right turns. I was smart enough to discover the imaginary roundabout.

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I commute along Fulton and Wealthy. I've always turned left in the turn lane at Division and Fulton. It can be a bit intimidating, but you gotta look like you belong there. It's probably safer to just stay to the right, go across the street you need to turn left on, and then cross on the crosswalk. I've found drivers east of the river are more tolerant of cyclists (at least verbally) than those west of the river.

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I've found drivers east of the river are more tolerant of cyclists (at least verbally) than those west of the river.

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I've definitely notised this myself. As for turning methods, I just take the lane unless it involves very busy roads (like 44th street) because in those cases I'm not in the road to begin with. Westsiders are very pleasant to cyclists compared to those impatient suburbanites.

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I think you're disagreeing. Original post said eastsiders were more friendly.

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No I think he's setting a general scale of bicycle friendliness:

Eastsiders > Westsiders > suburbanites

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Fotoman has it spot on. I've had problems with westsiders on occasion, but nothing compared to what I've gotten from people in the suburbs. One time a woman was driving behind me for some 5 minutes, somehow forgetting there was a second lane she could pass me in. Eventually, she changed lanes, rolled down her window, and let out a scream I would only expect from a 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum. This is typical in southern Wyoming.

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Yep, thanks fotoman, you got it. And it's not a general disparaging of west-siders, as I live by John Ball Park, its just what I've noticed on the bike.

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Shot this video just last night. About 1:00 into it is a vehicle-style left turn.

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