Many of us make this move every week, and, yes, it is generally made without incident. But, it is fraught with potential danger. I’m referring to moving from the bike lane across multiple lanes of traffic in order to turn left at an intersection. We have seen our share of serious cycling crashes during this maneuver which should never have happened, and they came down to driver error.
The necessity of making such a left turn across multiple lanes means the speed limit will be 35 mph or higher which results in vehicles closing on you faster than you might imagine. At 35 mph a vehicle is moving at 51 ft/sec, and at 45 mph they are moving 66 ft/sec. It may take 2 seconds or longer to cross the first adjacent lane, during which the vehicle could easily have closed in upon you by a minimum of 100-150 ft.
Six Cycling Safety Tips to Keep in Mind When Making this Maneuver
First. Never begin to make such a move unless you have looked and confirmed it can be made safely. Each of us must make that decision without simply relying on someone calling out “clear” or “taking the lane.”
Second. Do not assume an approaching driver has seen you or will slow safely behind you. We have had two such crashes recently in which the driver simply did not slow or stop despite having time to do so.
Third. Pay careful attention to whether a vehicle in the right lane closest to you may be blocking your view of another vehicle in the left through lane, especially if the one in the right lane is a bus or truck. Make sure each lane is safe when you enter it.
Fourth. Use the appropriate hand signal of your intention to move across the lane. In a recent case a driver realized the cyclists wanted to move left and he began to slow to give them room. He was not the cause of the crash, but he was a great witness.
Fifth. Always ride with a mirror giving you a view of approaching traffic from the rear. Even though I use a mirror, I still look to be sure just before I leave my lane.
Sixth. Consider going through the intersection using the bike lane and make a “box turn” to your right around the next block. This avoids making a left turn altogether.
Have You Been Injured In A Cycling Crash?
If you've been hurt in a Florida cycling crash you should speak with an experienced bicycle injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.