Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Two odd traffic problems...

Both of these situations happened to me within the last week and I'm not sure how best to prevent or deal with them:

1. Coming up to a 4-way stop. I take a position in my lane for a left turn (two or three feet to the right of the center of the road) and this happens:

The motorist takes a wide left turn and overtakes me in the intersection in order to get ahead of me. As I accelerate, he spends a few seconds in the oncoming traffic lane. This has happened to me twice at this intersection within the space of a few weeks. Motorists seem to think I will be going at 5mph and immediately take a far right position in the lane, but I don't - I accelerate fast and take the lane (and there's often a car parked where that grey car is, so I go even farther left than is shown in the diagram), so they end up in potential trouble. This happened about a week ago, and also a couple of weeks before that.

2. Same intersection, I'm turning left, and this happens:

The green car has stopped, because I arrived at the intersection first. As I check, I notice the purple car approaching from my right, slowing (I assume for the stop). But instead of stopping, he moves into his left lane (the oncoming traffic lane) intending to turn into my lane (again, the oncoming traffic lane). He stops at the second position in the diagram because he can't comfortably get past me (he could have squeezed by but he chickened out at the last second). I proceed to take my turn, shaking my head in disbelief. This happened this morning.

Both situations seem to me to be hazardous. Is there anything I can do to make these scenarios less likely, without undermining my ability to counter more likely problems?

For example, to counter problem 1, I could simply take a wider turn, but that would put me in the oncoming traffic lane longer, which is surely more dangerous for me. It would also presumably put me in danger from a car behind me trying to get by me on the right. As things stand with what I do now, it seems to me that the motorist takes the biggest risk.

To counter problem 2, I could take a more central position in my lane, which would more effectively counter the guy attempting to cut the corner, but which would confuse road users as to what I intend to do (note also that my approach to this intersection is downhill, so signalling is difficult as I need to be using both brakes coming to the stop). As things stand, I did prevent the car from cutting the corner, but I'm not sure if a more aggressive driver would have been so easily dissuaded.

The intersection is the corner of Lanark Way and Lorain Avenue in Silver Spring. I'm going south on Lorain.


  1. Some levels of one person's stupidity are beyond prevention by others. Short of having law enforcement on hand ready to ticket the offenders, nothing comes to mind right away. Maybe another of your readers will have something, but sheesh, what some idiots will do behind the wheels of their cars!

    1. Yeah. Sadly, due to windscreen glare, I couldn't see the expression of either of the drivers involved in today's debacle. I hope the driver who waited for me to go was as incredulous as I was at the other driver's stupidity.

      The annoying thing is that both of these situations were caused by motorists wanting to cut less than 5 seconds off their commute. In both cases, the motorists were going towards stop signs that they would reach 15 seconds later. Each of these stop signs is effectively controlled by stop lights along University Boulevard, making traffic ebb and flow in one minute intervals along both the major roads that these motorists were heading towards. Chances are, the time they might have gained by endangering my life and theirs would be lost at those stop signs.

  2. Situation 1 is far less dangerous because at least the purple car is going in the same direction as you. In both cases, the motorist simply misjudged things. If you are fortunate, the next incident might be years in the future or simply be a third variant. My most recent similar experience happened while turning left onto a major highway; documented at http://dfwptp.blogspot.com/2012/03/hold-line-or-not.html
    In truth, the only thing you can do to protect yourself is to maintain exceptional situational awareness and be thankful that the dweebs are at least only messing up in a slow speed situation.

    1. In situation 2, the motorist did indeed misjudge the situation. Most likely he didn't expect me to be there, so he thought he could just cut the heck out of the corner (which happens to be exactly what happened last week when some bozo tried to kill my daughter). When he saw me, this guy braked, ending up stopped in the oncoming traffic lane.

      But in situation 1 (which has happened two or three times recently on my commute), in each case, the motorist was consciously trying to overtake me in the intersection. If it had been a misjudgment, they wouldn't immediately floor the accelerator as soon as I started moving. These idiots just didn't want to be 'stuck' behind a cyclist who was taking the lane, even if it would have only been for a few seconds.