Road Safety Question: Stoplights and Turn Lanes


Jul 25, 2004
Scenario: Stoplight on a 4 lane highway (2 lanes north, 2 lanes south) with a right turn lane. NO bike lanes, turn lane takes up all of what was a full size shoulder up to that point.

You want to continue straight through the light once it turns green.

Intersection is completely open; no concrete barriers of any kind.

(USA, so we ride on the right).

Where do you stop? Right side of turn lane (next to the grass), left side of turn lane (next to the cars), somewhere else?
I would be in the middle of the the center lane and would move to the right after clearing intersection. The other option would be to park as far as reasonable to the right until the traffic clears and then proceed.Of course without knowing the intersection I am just guessing.
Generally when the light turns red, since I'm riding on the shoulder up till that point, I'm already blocked off from taking any lanes on the road itself. This is a 55Mph road where NOBODY actually goes that slow, so the shoulder is where I need to be. Here is a picture:

From Google Maps. This is before there was a light here, but you get the idea. It's a bit hard to see because of the glare, though.

Here it is from above: I'm roughly where that car happens to be traveling on Three Notch Rd when the light turned red, going from lower-left to upper-right.

I think I would stay to the right, play it safe and and proceed when clear in this scenario. The road layout is too confusing for most drivers to know where a cyclist should be.
I wouldn't go straight from the far right side--that's asking to have a car turn over the top of you. Ideally, if you're going straight, you would be in the right lane that goes straight, but if it's 55MPH traffic, then I would probably ride just to the right of the white line dividing the travel lane from the turn lane. This will force cars that are turning right to pass you on the right, but at least they won't be turning into you. If however, you get a yellow or red light as you approach the intersection, then I would move to the middle of the right lane, taking the whole lane to go through the intersection, moving to the right after you get through the intersection.

Similar threads