Which lane when turning right?

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Which lane when turning right?

Postby darrio » Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:17 pm

Hi all,

This is a stupidly basic question I know, but having just started cycling I got myself in a mess with this one.

Suppose you're on Road A with two lanes going your way, and you get to a traffic lights junction with Road B. Your left lane can either turn right onto B or continue straight ahead on A. Your right lane must turn right onto B.

If you want to turn right onto B, do you sit all the way to the curb on the left and potentially have to fight a vehicle which is continuing straight ahead? Or do you sit in the middle of the left lane or middle of the right lane?

Thanks for helping me with this before I kill myself :-)
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by BNA » Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:27 pm

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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby KenGS » Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:27 pm

Take the left lane by sitting in the middle of it. Or do a hook turn
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby il padrone » Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:52 pm

Your choice:

a) Turn right just like any other vehicle by changing lanes to the right-turn lane, and make your right turn when traffic is clear,

or

b) Stay in the left lane and pull over in the intersection to do a hook turn when the light goes green for cross traffic (if no lights, do it when the traffic is clear) A hook turn is legal for cyclists, at all intersections in Victoria (and I think it applies in all states now :?: )

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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby x8pg2qr » Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:51 pm

darrio wrote:f you want to turn right onto B, do you sit all the way to the curb on the left and potentially have to fight a vehicle which is continuing straight ahead?


This definitely sounds like a bad idea.

It helps to know the local traffic. If the junction is the type where there is a specific arrow to turn right, that makes it much easier. Without that arrow, sometimes (even in cars) you have to wait interminably for oncoming traffic, from both approaching lanes. Sometimes a car in the approaching inner lane wants to turn (to their) right, and indicates late. And then the car behind them accelerate to the outer lane, to cross the junction.

Also, if you are first in line at a red light at such a junction, IMO it's polite to keep your hand right out, so that vehicles behind you know to take the outer lane. (Of course, the first car in that lane may be turning left, and be thwarted by pedestrians).

A hook turn, alleviates these problem (but has its own idiosyncrasies).
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby zero » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:18 pm

darrio wrote:Hi all,

This is a stupidly basic question I know, but having just started cycling I got myself in a mess with this one.

Suppose you're on Road A with two lanes going your way, and you get to a traffic lights junction with Road B. Your left lane can either turn right onto B or continue straight ahead on A. Your right lane must turn right onto B.

If you want to turn right onto B, do you sit all the way to the curb on the left and potentially have to fight a vehicle which is continuing straight ahead? Or do you sit in the middle of the left lane or middle of the right lane?

Thanks for helping me with this before I kill myself :-)


In general you should move as if you were in a car, but like a car, doing it safely is a question of planning and most importantly - signalling.

I'd personally be planning and checking to move to the right lane 100m before the turn, and have found a gap and moved to the right lane by 50m to go. Much easier if you've established a good position in the left lane to begin with, and aren't located too close to the kerb. If I was the only one there, I'd keep my right arm out till I had a right turner stopped behind me, though your case where it sounds like a right turn bay is the easier example.

Hook turn is the other option, but I prefer to only do these into intersections I know are easy to get into the hook turn position safely. Its a pretty confusing move to do with a bus on your rear wheel, and a full pedestrian zone that is hard up against the through lane - not uncommon in the CBD area of Sydney for example.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby darrio » Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:15 pm

I hadn't considered the hook turn possibility, which apparently is also legal at all junctions in NSW except where signposted. That's handy to know. I guess if it's a T junction and there is no road to the left, I'll just use one of the turning lanes and sit in the middle so nobody is tempted to push me aside.

Thanks for the replies!
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby Nate » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:13 am

right lane only...
Asking for abuse from an idiot otherwise!
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby simonn » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:44 am

darrio wrote:Thanks for helping me with this before I kill myself :-)


I have one of these kinds of junctions on my way home.

3 lanes
- Right, feeder lane right only
- Middle, straight or right
- Left, straight on (or left into extremely low traffic a side street)

This is on Pittwater Rd in Manly, so pretty busy.

As I am approaching, if there is a car stopped in the middle lane waiting to turn right I will jump behind it. Otherwise, if there is a car waiting to come out of the side street to the left, I will turn left, U-turn and get behind it - bicycles do not set off the detector loop. Other wise I will use the ped crossings. There is never really the right traffic conditions to do a hook turn.

Waiting in the middle lane is not a good idea.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby jules21 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:49 am

- only wait in the LH lane if there are other cars already queued up there, otherwise motorists will perceive that you're occupying the lane for your own selfish purposes and will deliberately endanger your life, as revenge.
- waiting in the RH lane is a problem if it means you can't merge to the LH lane before you commence the turn. being stuck in the RH lane will enrage motorists and result in the same rigmarole as above. if you can merge left before commencing the turn, this is a good option.
- if neither of these options are safe, pull over to the LH side of the road and wait for a suitable opportunity. don't risk your life out of pride that you have as much right to the road as anyone else.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby simonn » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:37 am

FWIW, here is a link to the junction in google maps satellite view.

I travel from the bottom right hand corner heading North West and need to turn right to head North East.

The other alternative, which is illegal, if you happen to be caught in the middle lane or right feeder lane is to move out into the junction so that all the vehicles can see you, but not so much out that you are in the way of traffic. Not ideal, but staying in the middle lane is scary mary.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby human909 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:26 pm

jules21 wrote:- only wait in the LH lane if there are other cars already queued up there, otherwise motorists will perceive that you're occupying the lane for your own selfish purposes and will deliberately endanger your life, as revenge.
- waiting in the RH lane is a problem if it means you can't merge to the LH lane before you commence the turn. being stuck in the RH lane will enrage motorists and result in the same rigmarole as above. if you can merge left before commencing the turn, this is a good option.
- if neither of these options are safe, pull over to the LH side of the road and wait for a suitable opportunity. don't risk your life out of pride that you have as much right to the road as anyone else.


This confuses me. Mostly because I don't understand what is being said. (no criticism meant to be directed to jules, maybe im just daft!)

To me its mostly simple either behave like a car, hook turn or prepare to be a pedestrian. Personally I act like a car and have no difficulties or anger.
Last edited by human909 on Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby zero » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:11 pm

human909 wrote:
jules21 wrote:- only wait in the LH lane if there are other cars already queued up there, otherwise motorists will perceive that you're occupying the lane for your own selfish purposes and will deliberately endanger your life, as revenge.
- waiting in the RH lane is a problem if it means you can't merge to the LH lane before you commence the turn. being stuck in the RH lane will enrage motorists and result in the same rigmarole as above. if you can merge left before commencing the turn, this is a good option.
- if neither of these options are safe, pull over to the LH side of the road and wait for a suitable opportunity. don't risk your life out of pride that you have as much right to the road as anyone else.


This confuses me. Mostly because I don't understand what is being said.

To me its mostly simple either behave like a car, hook turn or prepare to be a pedestrian. Personally I act like a car and have no difficulties or anger.


I agree. Just go into the right turn bay if its there - and change lanes after the intersection. Perfectly safe - everyone behind you is stuck with your speed, and if people are rounding the turn from a middle lane and overtaking in the left lane, just possess your lane indicating your intention to change to the left lane until there is space.

We are not supermen, and right hand lanes are not made of kryptonite, and motorists will generally not get impatient with a rider in a right land lane that is signaling.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby human909 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:38 pm

jules21 wrote:- only wait in the LH lane if there are other cars already queued up there, otherwise motorists will perceive that you're occupying the lane for your own selfish purposes and will deliberately endanger your life, as revenge.


Are you suggesting this as the method of performing a hook turn? Hook turns are NOT meant to made from the left hand lane.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby jules21 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:54 pm

the LH lane in the OP is an optional straight ahead/RH turn lane*. it's not a hook turn. but i wouldn't stop in it on my own if there was traffic coming up from behind, expecting to come straight through.

* as i read it - although, thinking about it, i've never come across such a road that didn't have at least a 3rd LH straight ahead lane.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby darrio » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:59 pm

jules21 wrote:the LH lane in the OP is an optional straight ahead/RH turn lane*. it's not a hook turn. but i wouldn't stop in it on my own if there was traffic coming up from behind, expecting to come straight through.

* as i read it - although, thinking about it, i've never come across such a road that didn't have at least a 3rd LH straight ahead lane.


That's correct, there are only two lanes and the left one is optional which way you go.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby human909 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:30 pm

jules21 wrote:the LH lane in the OP is an optional straight ahead/RH turn lane*. it's not a hook turn. but i wouldn't stop in it on my own if there was traffic coming up from behind, expecting to come straight through.

Fair enough. Sorry for mis interpreting. :)

jules21 wrote:* as i read it - although, thinking about it, i've never come across such a road that didn't have at least a 3rd LH straight ahead lane.


Actually come to think of it the closest traffic lights to my house have an intersection like this. It is down right dangerous for many reasons. (To all road users.) 90% of the traffic want to turn right yet there is no right turn arrow. This is mostly fine because there is minimal traffic going straight prevent the right turners. Yet many many times as a driver/cyclist wanting to go straight from the opposite direction you have right turning cars failing to yield. Furthermore the outside right turning lane are blind to cars they need to give way to. The whole intersection is a trap because of idiot motorists not giving way. To protect pedestrians you get 4-way reds then the pedestrians are crossing.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby Mulger bill » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:55 pm

Agree with h909 on this. Some intersections are poorly laid out/controlled and some people are flat out morons/ar5eh0les and no law or insignificant little ant on a scoot will impede their progress :roll:

Methinks a hook turn at this particular spot might be the best option most of the time, yer just gotta judge the prevailing circumstances and make the best call you can at the time.
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby il padrone » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:12 pm

human909 wrote:Actually come to think of it the closest traffic lights to my house have an intersection like this. It is down right dangerous for many reasons.

You'd probably love this one too - two left turn lanes, one straight through and one right turn. I mostly need to go straight. The approach is a short steep climb, and now the new road rules require I move out into the straight-through lane 200m before on the steep climb (illegal to cross solid lane lines). Guess what? I don't bother and cross when I judge it safest :P

The bane of my commute. I've also had drivers stopped in the left turn lane who then careered straight off when the lights went green, cutting me off from the left :roll: :x
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Re: Which lane when turning right?

Postby human909 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:49 am

il padrone wrote:
human909 wrote:Actually come to think of it the closest traffic lights to my house have an intersection like this. It is down right dangerous for many reasons.

You'd probably love this one too - two left turn lanes, one straight through and one right turn. I mostly need to go straight. The approach is a short steep climb, and now the new road rules require I move out into the straight-through lane 200m before on the steep climb (illegal to cross solid lane lines). Guess what? I don't bother and cross when I judge it safest :P

The bane of my commute. I've also had drivers stopped in the left turn lane who then careered straight off when the lights went green, cutting me off from the left :roll: :x

:roll: Ridiculous.

Those new road rules regarding solid lines seem a bit stupid to me. They remain unenforced and ignored and make no difference on the majority of drivers. Meanwhile councils had to scramble around turning many solid lines into dashed lines as suddenly these laws made some roads unnavigable. Waste of time and resources and it hasn't accomplished anything.
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