This is a place where I have had several problems and tried a number of strategies. The approach I have finally settled on is undoubtedly the safest option, but is one that sometimes annoys a small minority of drivers. They like to race to the next traffic light for some reason that is inexplicable, but I am in their way for a while, holding them up by exactly 4 seconds. However, as I said, this is a small minority compared to the otherwise patient, polite motorists; they just need to get over it.
The image to the right shows the layout of the road. There are traffic lights just off the bottom of the image and some more just off the top of the image. A little way after the first set of lights a left turn lane for the next junction, which also has traffic lights, peels off at a shallow angle to the left. There is a broken line across the entrance to the left turn lane. There is a cycle lane to the left which starts after the first set of lights, but before the start of the left turn lane, which continues up the inside of the left turn lane. A new cycle lane, between the left turn and straight ahead lanes, starts at the end of the broken line that crosses the entrance to the left turn lane.
I have tried three strategies for going straight ahead through this junction:
When I first started cycling here, I used the cycle lane on the left and then crossed over the left turn lane to get to the straight ahead cycle lane (first image above). This was very difficult because cars come into the left turn lane quite fast and many of them don’t bother to indicate. One of the problems with this approach is that by being in the cycle lane on the left, I have given up my priority over cars that are behind me, because I have to cross a dashed line (change lanes) to get across. If I stay in the shared lane, then vehicles that are behind me in the same lane are supposed to give me priority.
So I tried riding along the broken line, staying at the left hand side (“secondary position”) in the straight ahead lane until I reached the straight ahead cycle lane (second image above). Unfortunately I got cut up on a number of occasions by cars overtaking me and going across me into the left turn lane because the drivers were too impatient just to wait behind me for a few seconds. Also, this position encourages cars going straight ahead to pass me too close. This is probably the most dangerous of the three strategies I tried.
So, I now claim the straight ahead lane (of which there are two) from the first set of lights so that nobody can pass me in that lane until I reach the cycle lane (third image above). I never filter to the front at the first set of lights, but just join the back of the queue in the primary position and then maintain that position through the lights until I reach my cycle lane; even though it would be legal, it would be very rude to filter to the front and then block the way of the people I had passed. This seems the safest option, but I do occasionally get angry car drivers sounding their horns because I delayed them slightly – including ones that then go on to move into the left turn lane: the same people who would probably cut me up if I adopted the weaker line. Still, it’s better to get the occasional annoyed driver than have some idiot wipe me out; there seem to be vastly greater numbers of careless idiots than psychopaths out there.
The video clip below shows this approach using the primary position:
I’ll discuss what happened at the end there in another article about bad cycle lanes at junctions.