Crossing a traffic light

Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy

Crossing a traffic light

Postby ymlam » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:13 pm

I am often in two minds on how to cross traffic lights properly. Suppose you have several cars all stopped in front waiting for the light to turn green and you want to go straight. There is enough space on the left for your bikes. Some may indicates they want to turn left.

Would the safest be to stop behind the last car in the middle of the lane? If I do that I would ride the behind the cars until I cannot keep up and swing to the left as courtesy to allow cars behind to pass. The situation would be that the cars behind me would overtake me as they approach the traffic light and turn quickly and make it unsafe for me. I will have to anticipate whether the car behind will be turning.

The alternate is to ride along the left until the traffic light. If the light is still red then I position myself pass the marked line so that I am visible to the first car behind? It may not be legal but I find this the safest. When the lights turn green I can go straight safely.

Yesterday, I just pass the first car in the queue and the light turns green. He was not even indicating he wants to turn; I was in motion and had time to go straight safely. However, he blasted his horn and turns left.

How do others ride safely and not annoy motorists at the same time?
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by BNA » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:35 pm

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Re: Crossing a traffic light

Postby il padrone » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:35 pm

Your obnoxious prat was not driving legally - he had no reason to behave so badly to you.

As for approaching intersections, if there is no traffic stopped ahead I'd normally claim the lane to stop any cars approaching behind from crowding me out. If there is a line of traffic I will stop behind the last car in the middle of the lane (when there are less than ~4-5 cars), or go past if the queue is long. When passing I use some judgement but usually unless the left side is particularly spacious, I like to pass to the right side of the left line of cars. This is perfectly legal, usually has more room between cars, and gets you out of the line of the left turners, especially allowing you to pass them when there is a bottle-neck of left turners on the green light. When I get close to the crossing I usually pull behind the first car and come up on their left to place myself just in front of the car's left fender (in clear visibility).

This way should the lights go green as I reach the front, I'm not caught out to the right and usually can stay clear of left-turn traffic. I always watch for indicators and turned front wheels and don't go alongside to the left if the cars look to be about to turn. At times I have been caught out to the right as lights go green - I stay calm and ride on in the right lane (if necessary right across the intersection) and indicate and move as the cars speed up - timing is crucial here, along with the indication and a wave of thanks to helpful drivers.

The reason I don't stop in line when there is a long queue jammed up is because if I do, when the lights go green I will cause more angst to the drivers behind as I can only ride at 25kmh towards the intersection and will need to claim the lane, usually narrower here, for my safety. The gap ahead widens and drivers get all anxious about missing the lights and tend to do very dumb things (often placing me in danger). Much better to go to the front and take the (very infrequent) aggro. What they think or say in their metal box does not bother me, only what they do.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Crossing a traffic light

Postby trailgumby » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:30 pm

^^^ What he said.

A good treatment of the issue IP
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Re: Crossing a traffic light

Postby Percrime » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:13 am

If there is a car or two going left and indicating (an increasingly rare event) I,ll often prop in front of them as the safest place. Assuming no turn arrow . If a turn arrow I,ll try and let traffic turn (to a point) If they then turn on to be going straight and toot me I would comment enthusiastically on their driving skills)
But its when they come up behind me and want to turn left and dont indicate (even while tooting) that I am most enthusiastic in my commentary (and will not let them past)

Much less tooting these days. Much less indicating too.
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Re: Crossing a traffic light

Postby eeksll » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:21 pm

what IP said, although i generally avoid the front of the queue, i usually filter to the same position behind the first car/in front of the second car.

my theory is the second car is usually less impatient.
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Re: Crossing a traffic light

Postby ymlam » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:51 am

"Your obnoxious prat was not driving legally - he had no reason to behave so badly to you."

Yes, his mistake but still my injury if an accident occurs.

"As for approaching intersections, if there is no traffic stopped ahead I'd normally claim the lane to stop any cars approaching behind from crowding me out. If there is a line of traffic I will stop behind the last car in the middle of the lane (when there are less than ~4-5 cars), or go past if the queue is long. When passing I use some judgement but usually unless the left side is particularly spacious, "

I pass on the left too but often there is insufficient space. If so, I'll queue behind the cars like you.

"I like to pass to the right side of the left line of cars. This is perfectly legal, usually has more room between cars, and gets you out of the line of the left turners, especially allowing you to pass them when there is a bottle-neck of left turners on the green light. When I get close to the crossing I usually pull behind the first car and come up on their left to place myself just in front of the car's left fender (in clear visibility)."

Often the left lane can legally go straight of turn left but sometimes do not indicate. If you overtake on the right the cars going straight can make it dangerous for you, would't it? I would do the same if the left lane cars are all turning left. There is not always room to pull infront of any stationary cars.

"This way should the lights go green as I reach the front, I'm not caught out to the right and usually can stay clear of left-turn traffic. I always watch for indicators and turned front wheels and don't go alongside to the left if the cars look to be about to turn. At times I have been caught out to the right as lights go green - I stay calm and ride on in the right lane (if necessary right across the intersection) and indicate and move as the cars speed up - timing is crucial here, along with the indication and a wave of thanks to helpful drivers."

I try to avoid this situation unless I notice the first couple of cars are turning left.

"The reason I don't stop in line when there is a long queue jammed up is because if I do, when the lights go green I will cause more angst to the drivers behind as I can only ride at 25kmh towards the intersection and will need to claim the lane, usually narrower here, for my safety. The gap ahead widens and drivers get all anxious about missing the lights and tend to do very dumb things (often placing me in danger). Much better to go to the front and take the (very infrequent) aggro. What they think or say in their metal box does not bother me, only what they do."

I try to avoid angst to the drivers as well. Overall, I cross the white line in front of the first car in the traffic lights. It may not be strictly legal but I think the safest. I am in full view of the first car and I do not block any car when the light turn green.

It can be even more annoying at stop sign with a fre car in the two cars in the front already in a left turn position leaving insufficient space to pass on the left. In this case I'll move to the right and position myself close to the centre if possible.

Cheers
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Crossing a traffic light

Postby kb » Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:37 pm

It can be tricky sometimes. Kew junction in Melbourne for instance, i'll often attract the attention of the front driver in the left lane to be sure which way they're going and position myself accordingly.
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Re: Crossing a traffic light

Postby DavidS » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:11 pm

I pass stationary traffic at lights because not getting stuck in traffic is one of the reasons I ride. What I do is keep an eye on the lights and will stop filtering when the lights are about to go green. I ride the same way every day so I know the light sequences, but, if on an unfamiliar road you can generally work out the sequences. I always look at the lights for the crossing road so I know when the lights are about to change. I filter on the left or right depending on how much space there is.

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Re: Crossing a traffic light

Postby il padrone » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:20 pm

ymlam wrote: If you overtake on the right the cars going straight can make it dangerous for you, would't it? I would do the same if the left lane cars are all turning left. There is not always room to pull infront of any stationary cars.

I rarely find it dangerous, but it has taken some experience in dealing with traffic and learning to ride conservatively but with what appears to be a little recklessness to motorists' eyes. Stationary lines of traffic - I pass between the lines (if room). Once the lights go green if I have to stay out wide I will claim the right lane so traffic behind just has to sit behind me. When I am at the same speed as cars and there is a suitable gap I will indicate left and move over. I really do not have any aggro or risky behaviour from drivers when doing this sort of thing - well I can recall once a driver on the left who blasted his horn at me and didn't let me in. I waved and blew kisses at him :P
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Crossing a traffic light

Postby human909 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:48 pm

il padrone wrote:I rarely find it dangerous, but it has taken some experience in dealing with traffic and learning to ride conservatively but with what appears to be a little recklessness to motorists' eyes.


I too rarely have problems. I'm sure if I video taped my riding then half this forum would probably describe it as reckless, aggressive and dangerous. Riding assertively in traffic and moving in and out of left, middle and right lanes should be a problem or dangerous at moderate speeds.

What is dangerous is not giving yourself a chance if a motorist does the wrong thing. Gutter hugging can often lead to this. Trusting motorists to indicate. Trusting motorist to see you and give way to you when their entering an otherwise empty main road.
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Re: Crossing a traffic light

Postby KenGS » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:16 pm

human909 wrote:I'm sure if I video taped my riding then half this forum would probably describe it as reckless,
Mainly because you'd have to be carrying a flippin' big camera :P
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