Right Turn On Red

I spent 13 years as a motor vehicle driver, more if you count the many years of my youth scooting around town on a Suzuki FA50 scooter. I learned at a young age what “right turn on red” means: stop at the stop signal/sign, when it is abundantly clear that you can proceed unhindered you may go forth with caution.

I present to you the following photo.


This is my nightmare. I go through this intersection daily. There are 21 lanes of traffic that commingle. On the left side: two westbound, one eastbound left, one eastbound straight, one eastbound right. At the bottom: two southbound, one northbound left, two northbound straight, one northbound right. On the right: one east bound yield, one eastbound straight, one westbound left/straight, one westbound right straight. At the top: two northbound straight, one southbound left, two southbound straight, one southbound right.

My needs are simple: get from the southwest corner to the southeast corner, receive tacos, return to southwest corner. The problem starts in the eastbound right turn lane. When the crossing signal says go, so does all the traffic turning right. The northbound right turn lane also goes through their red light and slams on the brakes in the yield lane.

It is generally frowned upon or illegal to operate a bicycle on a sidewalk/crosswalk. In this instance I admit guilt in doing just that. Due to the size and traffic flow of this intersection staying on the bike is preferred because you cannot walk across it in the allotted time given by the crosswalk signal.

This is also not a road I would ever consider riding on, in traffic/taking a lane. The posted speed limit is 45mph and is routinely exceeded to 50 or 55mph.

I’ve had my share of near misses but I have not yet received a ticket or warning from the police, nor have I ever viewed the police cite a motorist for running the red lights.

I once encountered a cycle tourist heading to Indiana through this intersection. We had a short chat about the drivers around this intersection being the worst he had encountered in about 400 miles. I couldn’t disagree. Even when I drove through there I was always mildly disturbed, if not terrified that something bad would happen.

I’m not saying “right turn on red” is bad. It does seem to keep traffic mostly flowing safely. But please, pay attention.

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