Turning right from a main into a minor road

I hate turning right from a main into a minor road and today I made a hash of it. My bike ride to work involves one right turn in Stoke Newington and unfortunately it is on a bend in the road and as I pulled out into the middle a bus came round the corner so I could either dash on and make the turn or stop in the middle of the road until the bus had passed. I decided to press on only to see two pedestrians starting to cross the minor road; a man with has back to me and a woman with a pram and a child who was not looking. In the event I shot through a gap of about 3 feet between the lot of them leaving them pretty startled! I might have a rethink about my route at this location to see if I can avoid this kind of thing in future but it is not easy because most cyclists do not want to stop in the middle of a main road with traffic approaching and coming up behind at the same time. It did make me think though that I could have had an accident and I notice that a guy has been charged in Bournemouth with Furious and Wanton Cycling after hitting and hospitalising a child!


I think the highway code is quite clear on this. You signal then wait in the middle of the road until it is safe to turn tight.

A lot of cyclists accidents are caused by cars dashing to make a right turn and hit the cyclists coming in the opposite direction. (especially if dashing in between 2 vehicles and doesnlt take into account a cyclist coming up on their inside.

If everyone waiting until it was safe to turn right then the world would be a much safer place.

My biggest grouse about turning right is the number of drivers who think its ok to still overtake you, even though they now have to be on the wrong side of the road as you are in the middle.

  • By phufbl at 5:38pm 30 October 2013

The best thing to do is to wait in the middle of the road and signal until it is safe to go.


It is easy for anybody to make errors of judgement, the important thing is you put it down as experience and learn for next time.


My pet peeve when waiting to turn right is when another vehicle also turning right pulls up and waits on my left hand side, making it completely unclear whether they are going to knock me off as soon as there is a gap in the oncoming traffic, or immediately undertake me during the time I would normally be trying to get over to the left hand side of the road.

I was at the same spot today on my way into work and as I moved to cross the centre of the road and make the turn a motorbike suddenly zoomed round the bend right in the middle of the road coming straight at me, I sort of panicked and steered left to get out of his way before having another go and turning right into the minor road. Pretty much every other day there is some kind of incident at this point in my journey. I think I am going to look for an alternative route because I just don't need this drama on my daily commute!

First, I don't think you'd be charged with 'wanton and furious' cycling if you had struck either pedestrian in this instance. That charge is rarely used, and is reserved for people who are acting in a selfishly reckless manner. Getting out of the way of a bus hardly qualifies.

Of course, it's important that you do give way to pedestrians on side streets (as should motor vehicles), so it sounds like you need to work on your technique or confidence.

Waiting in the middle of a main road to turn right is something all cyclists have to do. No-one should ever overtake you on your right – that's incredibly dangerous – but you should expect traffic to pass you from ahead and behind, and you'll have to wait until the traffic coming towards you clears.

Keep a close eye on traffic coming behind you, and make sure they see you signalling and try to make eye contract. Keep looking ahead too, to wait for a gap and to make sure no-one's doing anything stupid.

If there's a particular right turn that you don't feel comfortable with, try some slightly different routes. The journey planner on our home page can help with finding cycle-friendly alternatives.

Cycle training is very useful, even for experienced road users, and is available for free or at a heavily subsidised rate from the local council where you live, study or work.

  • By Andy at 10:36pm 31 October 2013

Startled and muttering "bloody cyclists", I shouldn't wonder. Whether you are on a bike or anything else, you should never try and outrun anything. Always wait. And while waiting to turn you might have spotted pedestrians about to cross the minor road in your path. Good idea to plan an alternative route, though, if this turn is always tricky. 

  • By Kepi192 at 12:17am 15 November 2013

I will not attempt a right turn on a main road. I also feel increadably vunerable sat in the middle of the road waiting for traffic to clear. I will accept the inevitable delay by dismounting and walking around the junction. Far better to lose a couple of minutes out of my life than lose my life. Likewise I will always wait behind buses, lorries and large vans. Call me a wimp but I didn't get to 54 by taking unnecessary risks.

  • By Stily1 at 1:12pm 15 November 2013

If right-turning cars commonly pull up on your left as described, I think you're stopping too far back in the first place. Since you need to end up on the left side of the minor road's left lane, you should be far-enough through the intersection that you're lined up with that space, and any turning car would naturally then line up to turn behind you (keeping on your right as you both make the maneuver). Picture the lanes as if they were painted on the road, your path should be a curved arc that ends effectively in the bicycle position of the minor road. If you're stopping too short, you're effectively setting up to cut *through* the turning lane (arguably in the way of the car) and this is not a good or appropriate maneuver.


  • By phufbl at 1:47am 17 November 2013

Stily1, I understand your post but I don't think it is relevant to the particular junction I was tihnking about, for one it is turning onto a two laned road, not a minor road.


I was tihnking about the junction at Balham Station, turning right onto Balham High Road form Chestnust Grove. I often just get off and cross the road by foot at this point but if cycling through it is hard to move too far forward as there is often right-turning traffic coming from the other direction. Additionally, as Balham High Road is dual laned at this point sitting at the junction directly in line with the left hand lane would leave me very far foward and probably completely unnoticed. The stream of traffic turning right is coming from a single lane road and should only diverge into two lanes when past the junction. Cars occassionally (I would not say often) pull up on the left hand side of me when waiting to turn right at this junction effectively forcing me into the right hand lane when through the junction. I firmly think that cars pulling up on the left hand side of a right-turning cyclist at this junction is completely down to inconsiderate or ignorant driving and I don't think there is a problem with my road positioning. 

The solution I found was to carry on a bit further until I can see round the bend but not to stop in the middle but to pull over on the left, the apex, and wait until the road is clear. I too didn't get to 55 by taking unnecessary risks!!

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