Karen Karabell riding bicycle on Kingshighway in St. Louis.

How To Get A “Scary” Road All To Yourself

My bank is on the corner of a major St. Louis intersection. Before I started using a marvelous CyclingSavvy strategy, I dreaded going to this bank.

If I rode, I added at least half a mile to my trip to avoid biking on the major arterial road on which the bank sits. :(

If I drove, I felt guilty using my two-ton land missile to process pieces of paper. :(

Then I learned about turning right on green. Motorists, of course, turn right on red if they can.

BMO Harris Bank on the corner of Kingshighway & Southwest In St. Louis.

My bank, at the intersection of major arterial roads in St. Louis

But I learned through CyclingSavvy that if I wait for a green light to turn right onto major arterial roads, I typically get the road all to myself for the amount of time I need to be on it.

Game Changer

Why is this such a big deal?

Because the red light shuts down the pipe. The motorists on that road are waiting at a red light. While they just sit there, I can get where I need to be. On my bicycle!

You’ll see above how I use Kingshighway–a massive St. Louis stroad–for the three blocks I need to get to my bank.

Magnolia Avenue at Kingshighway in St. Louis

Wait until the light is green on the “smaller” road to turn onto the “big” road

In the video I’m turning right on yellow. I would have preferred to show you a “pure” right-on-green maneuver. But at some point I needed to quit taping and get back to my day job. This is Take #2 of 5. The other takes were also totally uneventful. Here’s the first take, if you’re a junkie for this stuff.

Right-on-green works like a charm. Over the years I’ve used this strategy hundreds of times. I can’t recall a bit of trouble anywhere I’ve used it.

If you try right-on-green, it’ll seem weird at first, being out there all by yourself on your bicycle.

Another tip: Go immediately into the lane that best serves your destination. If you’re making a left up ahead, use right-on-green to go directly into the left lane. Position yourself early, and you won’t need to negotiate with fast-moving traffic, which is hard to do.

What if the light turns green while you’re riding your bike on that big scary road? Motorists who come up behind you will see you from a long way back. They see that you’re on a bicycle. They’ll assume you’re slow, even if you’re not. They’ll either slow down, or choose whatever lane you’re not in to pass you.

Any motorist turning right on green with you at the intersection will quickly leave you in the dust. They don’t want to be behind you. On multi-lane roads they’ll choose a lane you’re not in to pass you.

Often, you’ll roll right up behind them at the next red light.

If they’re surprised to see you, just smile and wave. :)

6 replies
  1. Patrick Smith
    Patrick Smith says:

    This is one of my favorite techniques. And it’s one that I never knew about before taking the actual class in STL (thanks Matthew and Melissa Brown and of course Karen!), even though I had studied and implemented various other CS techniques prior to taking the course. It’s a great example of the mantra “There’s always more to learn.” In one of the videos included in my CS blog post last week, I also demonstrated Right On Green and had the road all to myself for a whopping 1 minute 40 seconds! Here starting at 0:35: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLKrMXrNPrs

  2. Hōkan
    Hōkan says:

    I had a lot of experience with urban riding, but I didn’t learn about this one until I took the CyclingSavvy class. It’s a great technique!

    • Karen Karabell
      Karen Karabell says:

      Would that it were so simple to be a bicyclist, Joe. Pedestrians and motorists have standard operating characteristics, but we bicyclists have choices. :-)


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  1. […] example is choosing where you enter a road from. Use traffic lights to your advantage by turning right on green. You have no obligation to turn right on […]

  2. […] Why You Should Turn Right on Green When Biking (CyclingSavvy) […]

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