Thursday, 20 September 2012

When a right turn becomes a wrong turn

There are times in my life when I have taken the wrong turn. Putting Thai green curry paste in my pasta and buying a £30 hula hoop are just a couple of mistakes I have made.

Now I find myself a lot wiser (oh yes I do indeed!), my diet no longer contains Thai green curry paste pasta and I sold the hula hoop for half the price. However, I still seem to be taking a BIG FAT wrong turn every day.

This turn disguises itself under the guise of a 'right turn', but frankly, there is nothing 'right' about this turn apart from the direction.

Located where Hanley Road meets Hornsey Rise, this part of the road is nothing but a big fat gremlin. Please see picture below:

I find myself entering one of the following three scenarios:

Scenario one:

I look over my shoulder and make eye contact with driver who seems to be at a good distance away. My arm is flailing out indicating my intention to turn right. Car is unexpectedly approaching at high speed, ignoring my intentions to turn and starts to overtake, even though I am moving to the centre of the road. I am left cut up, hovering in the lane and just about missing the junction I want to turn into. #FAIL

Scenario two:

Car is at the junction I want to turn into and indicating right to turn onto the road I am travelling on. I have the right of way and confidently move into the ‘centre right turn space’, I am just about to make the turn when the driver decides to pull out regardless that I am nearly travelling in front of their car. I am close to crashing onto their bonnet and have to screech the brakes on.

Maybe if I was in a car instead of a bicycle, the situation would be different. #FAIL

Scenario three:

I stick out my right turn to indicate (after checking over my shoulder and making sure it is safe), I move into the centre of the road because the car driver behind has slowed down and make the right turn at ease #HURRAH!

 I have noted a couple of points of interest drawn from my experiences of this junction:

  • If I was driving a car making the right turn, I would not experience these troubles because a car HOGS THE ENTIRE LANE
  • The car drivers drive way to fast on Hornsey Rise!

So there we have it, my latest gremlin on my ride home from work, where a right turn becomes a wrong turn. I might just have to stick to my Thai Green Curry pasta and Hula Hooping.

 Do you have any right turns on your bicycle rides you dread?


anniebikes said...

Maybe that hula hoop would've come in could "wear" it around your bike, thus making a wide appearance in the road.

All kidding aside, I see it's a very narrow and high speed road. In a perfect bike world, cars would anticipate and allow your takeover of the lane for the turn. In your scenario there isn't sufficient space (too narrow) to pullover and wait until the coast was clear to turn. Another alternative would be to hoof the bike onto the left sidewalk and wait.

From what I've learned, some intersections require personal adjustment to keep safe. It may mean riding a sidewalk and using the crosswalk signal to stop traffic. I don't care what the law says, or the rights of cyclists to occupy entire lanes. I do what I can to keep myself visible and safe, even if it means breaking the law.

Keep safe out there, Jemma.

Jo said...

YES! Scenario 1 happens to me ALL THE EFFING TIME. I always check behind me before I signal, I signal for a long time and I always move out to take primary position, and yet I always have some dingbat driver trying to overtake me just as I'm about to make the turn! I've even been beeped at before by an irate driver who then veered round to the other side and sped off, nearly knocking my back wheel in the process. What is the deal?

If we were cars this would DEFINITELY not happen, they would just have to wait until the car had turned off. I swear that some drivers just get angry from simply seeing cyclists on the road. I personally think that part of obtaining a driving licence should consist of cycling for a week in a large city. See how you like it you stupid nitwits!

Rabea said...

I know exactly what you mean! I find most right turns on big roads scary which is quite funny seeing that they were my favourite ones back in Germany where the traffic was on the right side of the road... I usually just try to get onto the sidewalk, get of my bike and wait until the road is clear and then cross the road walking.

bikemapper said...

Hi Jemma,

A friend of mine says that she can cycle down Whitechapel Road easy enough, but if she needs to turn right, forget it. She has to get off and push her bike across. Her boyfriend says it's because she can only do one thing at a time, but joking aside - he was joking - if you're not happy to behave like a car, what else are you supposed to do?

According to the Guardian blog, "The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a new campaign for cyclist safety on the roads which, in summary, tells us: look, why can't everyone just get on?" If that makes you feel more comforted, please bear in mind that this sort of thing has been tried before, on several occasions, and simply does not make a blind bit of difference in the long run.

So what to do? According to testimony given to GLA's Transport Committee by Steffen Rasmussen, Head of Traffic Design at the City of Copenhagen, the key word is an holistic approach, and then a separation of functions.

Roelof Wittink of the Dutch Cycling Embassy also told the committee hearing that if we can accelerate the provision of segregated cycling infrastructure, mainstream, then do it. However, unless something astonishing happens over the next fifteen months, it seems likely that TfL will just stick to their planned programme of works, which basically entails improvements to around 35 junctions and the completion of one-and-a-half Cycle Superhighways.

If these new CS routes were done properly, this would be a significant step forward. But of course, their development would do almost nothing for you up in Islington, or most anywhere else in London for that matter, so clearly TfL also need to work with the boroughs in order to identify those routes which would complement the Cycle Superhighways, and to deliver those.

Fortunately, they're planning to do exactly that! The two roads you mentioned both feature in my design for a revitalised London Cycle Network. I do know that a lot of boroughs are supportive of my proposal, so there is a chance that TfL would also be agreeable. One day then, your journey might be very much more relaxed than it is now.

Alas, it might be a little time yet, because these things tend not to happen quickly. In the short-term, most of the enhancements are likely to be what they call "soft measures", but even so, you've got to start somewhere.

So anyway, an important part of an holistic approach is to analyse journeys, and there is a feature on my website which enables people to plot their most often-used journeys. At the moment, the design is largely based on existing routes, but that could be changed if there was a particular demand for it. I wondered if I could encourage your readers to take a moment or two just to log their most often-used journeys (they will need to sign in to do this, but it doesn't take long, honest!).

Another thing is that my design seems to appeal to a lot of women. Over 40% of the signatories on our petition (@ are female. Feedback is always welcome, but please everyone, add your name to the growing list of people calling for a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network!

Lastly, I do greatly enjoy your blog. It's very interesting to be able to consider the cycling experience from another perspective. I do hope you keep it up.

Regards, Simon

Luke said...

Weirdly I find right turns off main roads are often easier than some side streets. Maybe because the cars can usually go inside you with no real problems. Or if there are lights, you can just stop and go across when they change (which I think is what happens in NL/Denmark, but could be wrong).

Eg right off Holloway Road (for those who don't live in North London, that's a main road) into Drayton Park (a smaller road, like the one in the photo) - usually OK. Right off Drayton Park into Horsell Road (a back street) - often worse.

Jemma said...

@Anniebikes Haha, good idea! The hulahoop would definitely keep the cars around me at bay!

@Simon Thank you for your comments, it's very interesting to hear more cyclemapper. I have looked at your site before and thought how useful and easy cycling would be if the roads are easily mapped out. I will def sign your petition too if it;s still going!

@Luke I do know what you mean. Some of the smaller roads, especially narrower ones are a nightmare to turn right on.

Jan said...

One very important cycle safety skill is to demand your space on the street. You should probably start moving into the middle of the lane much earlier. I think you do everything right with giving clear indication of what you want to do. I know the frustration when drivers simply ignore you. But your safety comes first so even it will leave drivers behind you highly frustrated because you cycle in the middle of the lane long before the junction and clearly don't give them the space to overtake you without clear consideration it is nothing you have to be concerned about. And in case a driver cuts you off I want to recommend the RoadSafeLondon website from MET Police to you where you can complain about the driving. And if the manoeuvre made you feel uncomfortable and was risky I strongly encourage you to write down the registration, time and details and report them to the police. From own experience I can tell you that they are very committed to increase safety for cyclists on London roads!

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