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Gear Prudence: What is the proper protocol when a bike lane turns into sharrows? I often find myself in the bike lane at a red light, stopped next to cars, wondering what to do when the light changes. Should I move out ahead? Should I wait for cars to pass? I guess in theory I should merge like a car but in reality cars aren’t always so friendly. —Move Eventually? Rider Glimpses Entry
Dear MERGE: Shel Silverstein never broached the topic of where the bike lane ends, proving once again that wistful and whimsical children’s poetry offers little practical guidance on transportation matters. When bike lanes give way to shared lane markings (which happens far too often in D.C. for GP’s taste), a bicyclist no longer has a dedicated space and must mingle with other traffic. When lane-sharing must occur, it’s better for the bicyclist to not be coy about it. Waiting until the last second to merge might seem deferential and thereby polite, but delaying is more likely to get you in a tricky and dangerous spot. You don’t have to jump in front of the first driver at the light, but you should be ready to merge behind her once the light turns green. Use a hand signal and glance over your shoulder to make sure it’s clear. Drivers won’t always be “friendly,” but the situation leaves you limited options, so be assertive. —GP
Gear Prudence: I’m tired of other cyclists making right turns on red and cutting me off because they don’t stop first. Can you please remind them that they need to stop before they turn and that their fellow cyclists are running out of patience with this nonsense? —Causing Ulcers, Troublesome Others Forego Freezing
Dear CUTOFF: GP would love to remind all cyclists that they should stop (or, practically speaking, mostly stop) before making a right turn on a red light, but wonders what method would be best. Viral video content? Sky writing? Personal notes on embossed stationery? Do you have any idea how expensive stamps are these days? It’d be one thing if GP had the forethought to buy Forever stamps a few years ago as a hedge against rampant stamp price inflation, but back then there weren’t as many bicyclists and at this point, we’re still looking at spending a ton on postage alone. Add in the exorbitant cost of calligraphy pens and the logistical difficulty of gathering everyone’s address and you’re looking at a real budget disaster.
So in lieu of personal notes, let’s try this instead: Hey, cyclists! Don’t cut off other people, on bikes or otherwise, by making a right turn on a red light without stopping first. It’s annoying and impolite and while your attempts at preserving your own momentum are understandable, you’re exceeding the bounds of propriety and the law and that’s not cool. —GP