what does this mean?

17 December 2005, 9:59 am

This is one of a pair of identical signs at a standard four-way traffic light with left turn arrows:

Sign reading, Bicycle stop on line for green

Interpreted literally, it seems to say that bicycles should only proceed on a red (or yellow light). That’s clearly insane. My best guess is that it’s really a “No right turn on red” sign specifically directed at bicycle traffic. If so, “Bicycle stop here (arrow) on red” would be far clearer, as well as consistent with other signage.

8 comments on “what does this mean?”

  1. 2fs

    You know what gets me? The kind of thing where the lane you’re in (I’m speaking of driving the evil car now) has a sign painted on the road with, say, an arrow branching off into two arrowheads, one going right and the other going straight, and then the word ONLY beneath it.

    Sorry, but “only” means “limited to one option”; saying the equivalent of “right turn or straight only” makes no sense. Why not just say “no left turn”?

    But you’re right: the sign makes no sense.

  2. summervillain

    Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. The parsing rules for signs painted on the road ( nearest-text first, or bottom-to-top) are weird, and I can understand avoiding the words “left turn” or (”turn left”) with a negator. You wouldn’t want someone to misread “No left turn” as “Turn left Now!” f’rinstance. Seems like a left turn symbol in the universal “no” circle would work fine, though.


    p.s.: You have an evil car and a cool car? You capitalist stooge, you!

  3. Katy H

    It seems to me that it mean stop on the line when there is a green arrow, and go only when there is a green dot and a red arrow. Thus keeping the bikes in the rightmost lane without getting them smashed by turning cars.

  4. Katy H

    Oh, wait, this only works if the bikes are on the sidewalk or something, I’m sorry I got my right and left mixed up.

  5. summervillain

    Katy — that sounds more plausible than anything else I’ve heard or come up with, thanks for playing! I’ve spotted another of these signs in Medford by Tufts U., and it’s at a weird intersection with a kinda blind turn to the right. I need to double-check the vehicle signage in all three locations and maybe that will shed some light.

    I still say it ain’t the most intuitive of all possible signs.

  6. summervillain

    At long last, the answer

  7. 2fs

    Not to mention that, uh, if you ever see a bicycle stop at a red light or stop sign when there is no cross traffic, I’m pretty sure you’ll also see flying purple unicorns and Jesus dispensing magical condoms full of thousand dollar bills from a basket made of whale fur.

  8. summervillain

    That’s a little harsh. In the past 2 months I’ve seen at least 5 or 6 other cyclists fail to break traffic laws.

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