The case for avoiding left turns in the left turn lane
Making a left turn at intersections is the most dangerous part of bicycle riding in California because it has the highest count of accidents caused by vehicle/bicycle collisions resulting in serious injury and death.
According to law CVC 21202 (a), a bicycle rider can occupy a vehicle lane to legally make a left turn just as any other vehicle can. However, statistics show that this is not a safe place for a cyclist to be in against inattentive drivers that are not paying attention to the road in front of them. Despite law CVC 23123 prohibiting this bad habit and the dangerous lack of acuity that comes with it, drivers still use cell phones to talk and text. There is NO call that cannot wait to be answered, but the state is somewhat complicit here with a very minimal $50 fine for what could conceivably cost someone their life.
Lack of perception on the part of many car drivers in California makes it dangerous for us cyclists and results in the carnage that we see on our roads when drivers plow through red lights hitting the crossing pedestrians – including children, or rear-ending and running over cyclist seriously injuring and even killing them.
There are also too many hit and run ‘accidents’ that we see on the news at eleven broadcasts every night on TV. Though it is true that by law cyclists have the lawful right to be making a left turn at the arrow light, what good is it to be right about something when you are lying in cast-in-traction on a gurney staring at the hospital ceiling?
While riding a bike we’re not only exposed to the natural elements, but the much harder elements in your immediate surroundings like concrete and steel cars that weight tons that you will not stand a chance against on your 30 lb bike – something to consider if you are deciding whether or not to blow between cars to beat traffic. As a rider, you are not safe and have absolutely no protection against all that heavy metal.
I recommend a much safer way to make that left turn that takes just a minute longer of your time to do so. When riding and approaching an intersection to make a left turn, ride your bike through the nearside curb lane as you normally would on a green light and stop at the traffic light on the opposite side of the cross street where you are headed. This maneuver takes a minute longer for the light to change and you are ready to go again.
Just remember that riding a bike is very risk to start with so by minimizing the risk will allow you to ride into your senior years and beyond.