July 14, 2006

    I just started riding my bike to work and have a pretty good route. However, there are two instances on my way home where I need to make a left turn at a major intersection where there are 4 lanes of traffic (2 each way). I’m riding to the right to stay out of the traffic as much as I can, but when I want to make my left, how do I get across the two lanes of traffic safely to get to the left-turn lane (there is usually a lot of traffic)?
    My solution thus far is to use the pedestrian crosswalk: Go straight across and then turn to the left and go straight across. That means I have to wait for two lights to get across. Is there a better way? Thanks for your reply.

Theresa J.

    The method you currently use I call the “box left,” tho I usually advise folks to ride next to the crosswalk so as not to molest walkers.
    How would an assertive traffic cyclist set up for the left turn? A half-block or more before the intersection, they’d look back for a break in traffic, signal, then cross the outside lane and position themselves on the left side of the outer lane—using hand gestures and looks to negotiate with motorists as needed.
    Then they’d repeat the looking, signaling, and negotiating to (a) enter the inside lane, positioning themselves on the outer edge of the lane, then (b) cross to the middle or the inside of the lane to get ready to enter the left-turn lane.
    Notice the steps used to change lanes: cross, enter, cross. If you don’t feel you’ve the looking, signaling, and negotiating skills needed for this type of move, you can practice on multi-lane streets when they have little traffic, like on Sunday mornings.
    Seeing pictures of this stuff would help. Get visual, step-by-step instructions from my book, Urban Bikers’ Tricks & Tips. Meanwhile, you can keep doing that box left.

Mr Bike

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