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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just a silly question here. I usually bike on dedicated bicycle paths, however once in a while I'l be riding along with the cars.

During an red light if there are a bunch of cars waiting, are cyclist supposed to slip beside the cars and make their way up to the front of the intersection. I see many cyclist do this.

As a motorist, I find this annoying as the series of cars will need to slowly make their way around the cyclist which is difficult on some smaller streets. And as soon as they past the cyclist, there is usually another intersection and light where the cyclist will again move up to the front.

I haven't done this, as I usually stop at the last car and wait in line. However I've always wondered what is the accepted practice. I typically like to allow motorist to pass me as long as it is safe and I can give them the room. I think it would just be aggravating when they have to do it over and over again after each light.
 

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I usually try to ride as if I'm in a car, and follow the rules of the road. That said, I'll fall in line at a red light or stop sign. I believe it helps to ensure the motorist of your intentions. If you pull up beside a line of cars, they may become confused about where you are going, i.e. turn right in front of you, when your intentions are to continue straight.

Once I'm though the intersection, I will move over to the right so cars can safely pass. We don't have a lot of red lights or stop signs in a row, so it's rare that I will catch back up to them. If I see that I'm going to get caught by another light, I'll take the lane when it's safe to do so.
 

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While I do stop at red lights and stop signs, I always take full advantage of being a cyclist, by moving to the front of traffic, whenever I find it convenient. I always stay as far to the right as possible. I never move into a traffic lane, unless I'm aggressively trying to take the lane, due to insufficient road clearance (space) for both me and moving traffic, or unless I'm making a left hand turn.
 

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Drivers are almost never looking at their right side mirrors while waiting for a light to change. 90% of the time, they're focusing on clues that the light is going to change---walk/don't walk signals, what they can see of the light facing the intersecting road, whether cars approaching from the sides are braking, etc. Last thing that you want is to get squeezed by a car that's waiting for a break to turn right on red.

I wait my turn, myself.
 

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I take the lead almost all the time. I do so in a responsible manner and always move to the right as quickly as I can as I pass through the intersection with the other vehicles. The way I see it, I am making my presence known to all the drivers I pass, up to and including the lead vehicle. If there's a turning lane to my right then I will usually take the straight lane, usually on the right fender of the lead vehicle, thereby allowing those in the turning lane more room to make their right turn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I guess for me where I feel uncomfortable is that I feel as though I'm slipping into the front of the line at every intersection. And of course since I'm pretty much a new rider I'm not very fast and all the cars need to make their way around me. As a car driver I don't mind if I have the room to pass a cyclist, but in my part of town there are lights everywhere and it seems as though I pass a cyclist only to have to do it over again on the next light. And on tighter roadways, I'll spend a bit of time behind the cyclist before there is enough clear room to pass, but I can see traffic being held up as each motorist makes their way around.
 

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Depends on the light. If there's a short line I'll usually wait at the end. For a long line I'll usually filter up, as the cars will be at high speed and focused on making the light (i.e., up) while I'm still far from it--much better for me to cross early and deal with the cars on the far side once their attention is back to the front. It's a safety thing, like many things that cyclists do that annoy motorists for no good reason.
 

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It depends on the situation. Usually, I sit in line behind the cars. There is one intersection that I am familiar with where I pull up ahead of cars because there is a dedicated turn signal. Once any turning cars are through the intersection I go through ahead of the other cars. This allows me to continue and impede other motorists less. This is the exception rather than the rule. Use common sense when evaluating such an intersection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thanks for the thoughts. I just didn't want to piss off any motorist or even any other cyclist with my cycling. Just didn't know if there was any common accepted practice.
 

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On streets with lower speed limits like 25 I normally wait in line at a light if the line is short, but with longer lines or on higher speed roads I'll slip up just so make sure I can make it through before changing and/or I don't have to go through the intersection with someone going 40mph who has come up on the light after it has already turned green. On another semi related topic, I always make sure I look both ways even if the light has changed a while ago to make sure there isn't any cross traffic that looks like it might blow the light.
 

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I prefer to take my place in line with the other cars in the middle of the lane until I'm through the intersection and then move back over to the right.

This makes me more visible to the cars behind and prevents them from trying to squeeze by me when I can maintain my speed with traffic. I do believe it's rude to force cars to re-pass me so I avoid moving up the right side unless there is a bike lane.

Having said all that, I got pulled over by a cop on my commute today for taking the lane and not being over to the far right as possible. (Durham, North Carolina). The cop was in the wrong and I have gotten an email apology from his precinct's commander after I emailed in the incident with supporting documentation of NC's laws in regards to where bicycles must be.

Edit: I should add that while I'm not a lawyer, my reading of the NC state laws would make illegal for a cyclist to pass cars on the right at a stop light. (§ 20‑150.1. When passing on the right is permitted.)
 

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I'm a mix of pretty much everything that's been offered... Where to best position yourself depends on a variety of factors.

On more open roads, where speed limits exceed 30 and lights/ intersections/ stops are scarce, I stay to the right of traffic, moving to the front at stops (except when taking a left, then take I the lane).

In a more city environment, with slower speed limits, constant stops/ intersections, then yes, take the lane until you're clear of the intersections.

So, assess situations (there are many variables), apply common sense, ride defensively/ predictably, always use hand signals, and expect that NO ONE will EVER see you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I hear ya... safety always first as I've ran into a few motorist that don't like to check their mirrors and nearly ran into me even on a dedicated bike lane as I was approaching.

I only run into this problem in the busy downtown areas where there aren't any dedicated bike lanes and lights every couple of hundred feet. I tend to avoid these areas anyways. Its especially difficult when your going up hill to an intersection where if you take the lane, you know your going to be slow to start moving and cars are lined up behind you.
 

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Last week, while driving my car, I saw a cyclist move up to the right of a line of cars at a light. The light turned green and, just as he started into the intersection, a large SUV turned right, without signaling. The cyclist swerved right to avoid the collision - almost made it. The SUV clipped him and he hit pretty hard. Fortunately, he suffered some righteous road rash and healthy bruises, but no serious injuries. I don't know about his bike.

There was blame for both the cyclist and the driver in this mishap: the cyclist for passing on the right, the driver for making an illegal turn. I'd side with the cyclist if I was on a jury. But, a long time ago, there was a series of safety ads on TV that ended with the ominous tag line, "Sure, he was right - dead right."
 

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Like others have said, it depends on the situation, the light, etc. I guess to put it simply, if there is room on the shoulder for me to ride where I want to ride and I'm not getting in anyone's way, I slip up to the front. No sense in moving into the lane during the light, and then sliding back over to the shoulder or bike lane again. If this is the case, I'm not getting in anyone's way, and they shouldn't have issues "passing" me again. Fortunately, most of the roads for my commute are wide with lanes or shoulders, so this isn't an issue.

If the street is narrow, or has a right turn lane, I will usually take my place in the lane and wait for the light. Actually, as a driver (and a cyclist, too, I suppose), it is a pet peeve of mine when cyclists slide up to the front and block the right turn lane, blocking the drivers who would be able to turn right on red but for the cyclist parked there. So I try not to do that.

Brings to mind another pet peeve, while we're at it -- the cyclist who moves up to the front (fine, maybe), but then is unable to quickly clip in and wobbles all over in the intersection trying to get going again. Hint -- if you're looking down at your pedals, you're probably not going in a straight line! So they manage to "cut in line," so to speak, and then impede everyone else. If you are going to go to the front, make sure you can and do get out of the way quickly.
 

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I have gotten an email apology from his precinct's commander after I emailed in the incident with supporting documentation of NC's laws in regards to where bicycles must be.
Be careful out there. If Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman, an embarrassed Type A in uniform has to be close.
 
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