Saturday, March 19, 2011

sharing the road for real, not pretend

My trip home takes me along Middlefield Road riding in a pretty reasonable bike lane.  Then I come to E. Long Meadow where I need to take a left.  The traffic goes relatively fast, say 35-40mph.  There are two car lanes to the left of my bike lane.  At the intersection itself there is a short thrid lane on the far left for cars (and a few bikes) who need to turn onto E. Long Meadow.  They (me) need to wait for a green arrow.

After much trial and error I have determined that the best time to signal and then cross those two lanes to get to the turn lane is early in the process.  Don't try and get the attention of a car that is close to a green light it is trying to make.  Signal early and watch carefully to be sure they will yield and then move into the lane to your left, signal more and move to the next lane over and then you're golden.

One thing I try and do is to not screw over the cars---maybe that surprises you non-existent reader.  A lot of cars where I ride, in fact most of the cars where I ride treat me nicely.  They peer into their rear view mirrors when they are going to take a right.  I signal and they don't try and force their way around me.  They wave me on and smile.  They (often) let me know, in small ways, that they understand that I am just like them, a person trying to get to work.  The end result is that I have a lot of sympathy for their trying to get where they need to go, they don't want to be stuck behind me and I don't want them to be stuck.

So each day when I approach this particular intersection and it has a green light for the people going straight and a red arrow for my left I eye the cars and wait before signalling so they can get through that green light.  Then their light is red and I signal and it's less of a big deal to them to yield to me so that I can get over to my lane on the far left.  Win-win.

The other day I didn't time it so well.  I signaled, the light turned green, the car waited, I went across, and by the time he got to the light it was red.  He missed it because of me.  I sat at my red arrow and he sat at his red light.

I was sorry.

His window was down.  On impulse I said "I'm sorry you missed the light because of me.  I usually time that better."  He gave me this huge sunny smile and said "Who is in such a hurry?  Not me.  Beautiful day!!!"

And it was.  A beautiful day.

Thanks guy in the jeep who let me get over to the left hand turn lane.  Hope you had a fantastic evening.

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