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Gear Prudence: There are two points along my commute where I need to make a left-turn from a right-side bike lane, and I’m not sure what to do. I usually hand-signal and try to merge my way into traffic and then make the left from the traffic lane, but occasionally traffic is too backed up or a car is speeding down the road, and the driver might not know what my hand signal means or slow down to allow me to merge. Is this the proper technique, or am I doing it all wrong? Is there a better way? —Lacking Effectiveness For Turns, Yikes!
Dear LEFTY: Unfortunately, the bike network in D.C was not built by Jerseyites, and there are no cycletrack jughandles to see you through these tricky spots. But your current method of leaving the right-hand bike lane to turn left is correct, even if it can be a little hairy. Try to leave the bike lane well in advance of your turn rather than waiting until the intersection. If you can give a glance over your shoulder in addition to a hand signal, that might help—both for your awareness and to elicit some driver sympathy for your plight. You could also employ a method called the Copenhagen Left. It either has something to do with Legos, butter cookies, and Hans Christian Andersen or involves riding to the other side of the intersection and turning your bike to wait in front of the perpendicular traffic. It has limitations, but should do the trick at intersections with traffic lights. —GP
Gear Prudence: I’ve just gotten a new job and I don’t know my new employer’s stance on bike commuters. What’s the best way to find out if my new office has showers or if there’s indoor bike parking or bike commuter benefits? Should I just ride my bike to work on the first day and see what happens or should I scope it out first? —No Evident Workplace Judgment On Bicycles
Dear NEW JOB: With an ever-increasing number of bike commuters, it’s reasonable to expect that more workplaces (especially within the city) will have some kind of accommodation for people biking to work. You should feel perfectly comfortable calling H.R. to ask. They might not know, but it’s a good place to start. You could also snoop around the office and look for the tell-tale signs of bicycle-friendliness. Are there Clif bars in the office kitchen? Are bicycle helmets hanging from cubicle walls? Is there chain lube in the supply closet? Is your new employer listed as a League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Business? And don’t hesitate to inquire among your new colleagues. You might even find a work bike buddy. —GP