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Bus vs bike - John C. Kirk

Mar. 31st, 2009

11:57 pm - Bus vs bike

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From:totherme
Date:April 1st, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
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So, the junction looked like this from your point of view - though presumably with a little more traffic.

The rules about box junctions are not that you have to wait at the edge until someone lets you through. The rule is that you have to keep out of the box until your exit is clear (rule 174 of the highway code). If you're turning right, and there's a stream of traffic between you and the exit, the exit is still clear - you just can't get to it yet. If the traffic in the road you were turning in to was backed up as far as the edge of the box, that would mean the exit was not clear, and you'd have to keep out of the box.

So, a reasonable strategy for turning right at a box junction (if you must turn right at an unfiltered box junction at all - there's often a better route) is something like the following:

  1. signal right as you approach the junction

  2. get into the right hand half of the rightmost lane on your side of the road

  3. Wait for your green light

  4. slowly ride out into the middle of the box

  5. wait for a gap in the opposing flow of traffic. This might mean waiting till their lights have turned red. That's fine. You've passed your light, and it was on green at the time

  6. Once you have a gap that's bigger than you're comfortable with, ride through it, completing your right turn

  7. Under no circumstances ever ride into the path of an oncoming bus, taxi, or other vehicle. Remember, all other road users want you dead, and are just looking for an excuse. This is the first lesson of the road-creed.



Incidentally, the official rules about turning right past another vehicle also turning right are that it's supposed to be a good idea to drive past one another, and turn right keeping them on your right side (rule 181 here). No-one actually does this, but it's the kind of thing that's worth knowing.

Finally, be wary of using other vehicles as shields. A car can't slip past that bus, but another bike can. Or a motorbike. And if someone does slip past at speed, you can bet they won't have seen you behind that ruddy great bus. And as you discovered, your shield doesn't always co-operate :)

It might be better to concentrate on being visible and predictable. Make it your goal that everyone on the road knows where you are, and where you're going. Make eye contact with people ahead of you - people about to turn across your path (like that bus, or like the guy that ran me over the other week). Particularly if you're about to maneuver into their right of way. Pedestrians too. Signal often.

I'm glad you didn't get killed :)

Good luck in tomorrow's commute :)
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From:totherme
Date:April 1st, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
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Incidentally - I know I linked to the highway code twice in that comment to illustrate my points - but it's worth being aware that most road users have never been in the same room as a highway code. They don't know what your rights are or what their responsibilities are, and they do actively want you dead. They're just waiting for you to give them an excuse to try out their expensive shatter-proof windscreens, and in many cases, bull-bars.

So read the code, and follow the rules yourself, but don't expect others to. Like the knights of old, you have to expect better of yourself than of the world around you.
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From:johnckirk
Date:April 1st, 2009 12:53 am (UTC)
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Yup, that's the junction. (Although I'm not quite sure about the panda in the bottom-right corner!)

Thanks for the advice; I knew about the "wait until your exit is clear" rule, but I'd been interpreting that differently, i.e. "if the lights changed and all the other traffic stopped moving, could I get out?"

If I stop in the middle, I think the tricky bit will be working out how far forward I should be. If I'm in the nearer half of the box, I'll be blocking the exit for oncoming vehicles that want to turn right; that's ok if we can gracefully turn around each other, but it would be a problem if the traffic behind them is going straight on (blocking me). On the other hand, if I stop in the further half of the box, I'll basically have to do a U turn to get to my exit. That's not too bad on a bike, but I wouldn't fancy trying that in an ambulance!
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From:susannahf
Date:April 1st, 2009 07:26 am (UTC)
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You stop in the way of people going straight on, coming from your right. Because their light will be red. People coming towards you and turning right will turn in front of you. Then (worst case), when the lights go red for you and the guys in front of you, you will have time to turn before they go green for the guys on your right and left.

Another way to think of it is to divide the box into quarters. You stay towards the centre of the quarter nearest to you, clearly signalling right. People behind you going straight on use the left bit of your quarter, and the quarter in front of you. People in front of you going straight on use the two quarters to your right. People turning right don't cut into your quarter until they're past you. So you have to cycle forwards and then turn when the way is clear (or do a near-side to near-side turn with someone who has also been waiting).

Never, never assume that people are going to do something based only on their signalling. Look at where they are on the road, and if necessary, wait until their position on the road makes things clear. This is particularly true of people who are not signalling at all; in my experiences, about 50% of them (more at some junctions) are actually intending to turn.
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From:ext_5743
Date:April 1st, 2009 08:08 am (UTC)
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totherme's view is coloured by too much urban cycling. As a motorist, I can attest that making a right turn around another vehicle as in Rule 181 is fairly common practice for motor vehicles, especially at box junctions. However, motorists may not expect cyclists to do it - and will expect a turn in front (as you did) even less. Bus drivers are a special breed, too - because they drive the same route, they expect everyone else to know where they're going. But yes, never pull into the path of a moving bus or lorry, even if they are indicating.
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From:totherme
Date:April 1st, 2009 09:46 am (UTC)
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My view is indeed almost entirely the colour of urban cycling :)

It's interesting though - I remember back when I was a teenager having a go at this "learning to drive" thing that everyone was doing, my (professional) instructor told me exactly that about making right turns around other vehicles... I think his words were something like "Yeah, officially you're supposed to do it that way, but in all my years on the road, I think I've seen it actually happen maybe twice". He advised me to be aware that that was the official rule, but not to expect other drivers to do it.

A peculiarity of the time and place I grew up perhaps?
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From:ext_5743
Date:April 1st, 2009 10:18 am (UTC)
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Yeah, it tends to be most common where you have broad streets that meet at right angles - as in parts of London. Box junctions are also much more common in London than in other cities.

I suspect that on the Wirral you might not have had the appropriate road geometry!

On the subject of box junctions, did you know that any junction controlled by traffic lights is supposedly governed by the same rules as a box junction? Lots of drivers in Cambridge don't seem to get that one. Mind you, lots of cyclists in Cambridge think that traffic lights don't apply to them.
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