Via Bike: Turning and intersection safety

One of the primary goals of Bike Month is to encourage new commuters to try out bicycling to get around town. And it works. This year, nearly 2,500 new bike commuters are participating in the Group Health Commute Challenge, and we reckon that at least that many rode for the first time on F5 Bike to Work Day.

With so many new folks riding around town, the topic of safe cycling techniques comes up often. And – let’s be honest here – most experienced commuters could benefit from a refresher.  Today, we’ll  talk about turning, as most crashes between motorists and bicyclists occur during turns, and most could have been prevented.

First, let’s review a few key principles regarding intersections and turning.

 Please DO….. For the love of Pete, do NOT….
Use the right-most lane that serves your destination. Make a left-hand turn from a bike lane on the right.
Occupy the center of your lane at intersections Squeeze yourself between cars or sidle up on the right side.
Scan ahead, around and behind before turning or changing your position (such as passing). Turn or change lanes without knowing the position of every car or bicycle around you.
Clearly signal your intent to turn. Flick left pinky and expect everyone to yield to you.
Anticipate when you may be invisible. Cruise along in someone’s blind spot.

Left-hand turns

Left turns are the most technically difficult to execute, especially if traffic is heavy or fast. The good news is that there are actually three ways to legally make a left-hand turn on a bicycle.

A. Re-position yourself into the left turn lane. Carefully scan for traffic and signal before you change lanes (green).

B. Continue in the rightmost lane that continues straight. On the far side of the intersection, stop and position your bike in line with traffic behind the stop line. Cross as part of traffic from that direction (blue).

C. If there is no room behind the stop line for your bike, dismount and walk your bike across using the crosswalk (orange).

Did you witness good (or bad) examples of turning behavior on the road today? Tell us about it!