Friday, January 10, 2020

Just take the lane assertively, right?

A moment from my ride to work this morning:

I have to take Prince of Wales - a pretty high volume parkway - for a couple of blocks on my way to work in the winter. The rest of the year, there's a painted bike lane which transitions to a separated cycle track ahead of a protected intersection, which I can use to turn left onto Dynes Road. But in the winter, the painted bike lane is buried, the cycletrack and protected intersection aren't cleared, and so here's what I have to do:

Turn right using the slip lane from Hog's Back. Merge with traffic in the right hand lane. Usually not terrible, because the right hand lane vanishes, merging with the inside lane, after a block or so, so the drivers don't use it as much. I have to take the lane even at the start of this, though, while there's still half a painted bike lane, because of the pinch point further down.

Then I have to merge left into the inside lane for 100 m or so, so that I can get to the dedicated left turn lane that allows me to turn onto Dynes Road.

So this morning, I did that. I had the green light so I could easily establish my position in the outside lane coming off of Hogs Back, but then a long line of cars started going by in the inside lane. So I stuck my arm out as I started getting close to the merge point, signalling that I needed to move left. I shoulder checked. That white sedan wasn't slowing, so I let it pass, but I was really running out of lane, so I stuck my arm out more emphatically and waggled the hand to get attention, while shoulder checking. There was a bit of a gap before the School Transport van behind me, so I signaled hard and started my merge. The driver of the van just kept coming, clearly not about to give me any room, and I realized if I did continue changing lanes he'd probably hit me. So I swerved back out of the lane and yelled a couple of profanities as he passed, shoulder checked again, signaled again, saw the driver behind me leave a gap, and took the lane just in time.

Passing the school transport driver on the left, once I was in the left turn lane, I slowed up to look through the driver's side window at him, stick my arm out, and yell, "This! Is! A! Left! Signal!" at him.

People who bang on about Vehicular Cycling will tell you to do exactly what I did here. Taking the middle of the lane; no stopping at the side of the road to wait for the traffic to all go by; no sticking to the right hand side of the road and then using the pedestrian crosswalk to make the left; clear - nay, assertive - signaling; and shoulder checking. And in this situation this is what I have to do, because the City doesn't clear the cycling infrastructure, forcing me to ride in the street among cars on a high volume, four-lane parkway.

And in this situation it still doesn't help. Either my left turn signal meant nothing to the drivers traveling in the inside lane, or it did and they still didn't care. It does no good to ride assertively if the driver behind you in the large, heavy, fast-moving vehicle doesn't recognize or respect your right to do so.

So I'm going to keep arguing for that protected intersection to be cleared, and for there to be more separate space for people on bikes in general. Because dammit, we are not motor vehicles, and we don't get treated as though we are.