Turning left on a bike could be one of those dreaded things that you must do when on the road. There are times that you wish that there’ll be fewer cars on the road so that you can safely turn left to reach your destination. For a beginner bike rider, it’s traumatizing but, for professional bike riders, it’s like a walk in the park. However, not all bikers have the same biking skills of that professional to master the art of turning left.
In this article, let’s explore the art of turning left on a bike safely to avoid getting into a traffic jam. According to veteran cyclists, there are 3 safe ways to enable you to turn left whether there are no cars on the road or you’re in the middle of the road attempting to merge on the traffic. You can use any of these based on what is easy for you. These 3 canonical ways of turning left that won’t be just learned on the traffic school but here on this page. They are vehicular left, box-turn left and the U-turn left.
The vehicular left is the most basic way of turning left. What you do with this technique is that you check for a gap in traffic to make sure you won’t bump into any moving vehicles. Afterward, you signal approaching cars to be able to move the leftmost lane. Lastly, you proceed through to turn left once the road is clear.
Even cars, buses and mini-trucks do it whenever drivers want to turn left. But as a bike rider, you should do it with more caution as you are more vulnerable to accidents than drivers of four-wheeled vehicles. For a safe left turn, always check over your shoulder when changing lanes; make a signal either by hand gestures or eye contact, move to the left and turn.
It is considered as the fastest and most predictable way to turn left because most car drivers look for people who’ll go left from the left lane before they proceed. It is often witnessed when hitting the intersection while the traffic light is in green.
If you’re having issues with merging into traffic, the best and safe way to turn left is by box-turn. This technique is done by turning left without leaving the right side lane of the road. To do this, you need to stay on the right as you enter the intersection.
To send your intention to turn left, it is important to make a signal by slowly moving in the right lane. When you reached the rightmost lane of the cross-traffic, wait for the traffic light to change. Once the traffic light turns green, you may proceed straight across the intersection.
The box-turn is often used by many bikers when riding in cities that have great bike infrastructure. If the road you’re taking doesn’t have advanced stop boxes, what you can do is simply pull into the front of the lane or in the crosswalks as long as there’s enough space for the pedestrians.
There are instances that you’ll be riding on a road with a shared center turn lane or a road with a left turn lane yet you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of bustling moving metals. It’s pretty scary for a beginner or casual rider but you can overcome this. But how?
Before you hit the road, it’s best to check the traffic rules and regulations in your area. There are traffic rules that prohibit doing u-turn while others allow it. Why is this important? That’s because another safe way to turn left on a bike is by U-turn.
U-turn left is applicable only if you’re in the situation where you need to stand still at the center turn lance and if the box turn is not possible due to the absence of traffic lights to support your attempt. To do a U-turn left, what you need to do is to check for the gap in the traffic and make a signal. You should move quickly into the leftmost lanes where you’ll be turning from. As you try to merge in the traffic, proceed carefully and slowly until there’s a gap in the oncoming traffic. Before you complete your U-turn, make a signal that you’ll be doing a U-turn and go right to complete your attempt to turn left.
In this technique, you have to be alert to keep a heads up for the oncoming cars that will enter the turn lance, only if it is shared in both directions.
How to Turn Left on Quiet Roads
Quiet roads can tempt you to turn left haphazardly, but you shouldn’t. Whether the road is busy or not, you should still practice the proper way of turning left on a bike while you follow the traffic rules. To make your travel safer when you turn left on quiet roads, you should:
- Check for the clear break on the traffic
- Look behind at least 25 yards before you get close to the intersection.
- If you’re going to break, it’s best to signal the attempt to the driver behind you and wait for their confirmation before you proceed.
- If there’s a turn lane, move to the center. However, if there’s none, it would be better to move to the left third of the travel road.
How to Turn Left on Busy Roads
Turning left on a busy road can be stressful for beginners and casual bikers, but once you know the ropes, the anxiety disappears on its own and you become a confident biker. If you’ll be on a busy road and need to turn left, never do the box turn. Instead, ride through the road intersection and make a stop on the street corner. Position your bike on the direction you want to go and once the traffic light permits you, then you may proceed.
Turning left in a quiet or busy road can be daunting if you don’t fully understand the traffic laws implemented on the roads in your area. Some traffic rules allow all three: vehicular left, box-turn, and u-turn when turning left, while some don’t. So before you ride your bike, you should be able to determine how you will be able to reach your destination by planning. In this way, you will be able to turn left on a bike without a problem and a traffic rule to violate.
Starting on a starter tricycle at the age of 2, Danny has rarely been off a bike ever since. He spends most weekends riding through the woods near his house or taking longer bike trips on the road.