My car runs on tiger blood, and it has one gear: GO. When I'm on the road I'm an F-18, and I will destroy you in the air and deploy my ordnance to the ground. I'm a total bitchin' rock star and the only thing I'm addicted to is winning by getting there first.(originally published 4/12/11)This is the first of what will likely be many installments in a series called either "I Am The Charlie Sheen of Driving" or "At The Mercy Of Idiots". In this series, I will impart driving wisdom I've gained over the years, in order to either help other impatient drivers get ahead, or teach the slow ones to not be so goddamned inconsiderate.
Today's lesson: How to get past a slow guy at a red light.
The key to getting somewhere faster than everyone else is to not be stuck behind them. This is easy to do when there are two lanes and you can just, you know, pass their ass. But on streets with parked cars in the other lane, that's not so easy. This trick will work for you if you're near the front of the line as the light turns red.
1. Get in the right hand lane. All the other sheeple are getting in the left lane because they see the parked cars up the road. Take the empty spot on the right, but make sure to stay back one car length.
2. Watch the intersecting light. You should be able to see the light itself, but if you can't because of the angle, try looking for the reflection of the light on the little sun shield that's over each light. When the light turns yellow, start moving forward. Don't floor it, there's no need to go fast, as long as you're moving.
3. If you've timed it properly, you'll be entering the intersection when the light turns green. The potentially slow lead car is just now noticing that the light has changed, and in the amount of time it takes for them to process this signal and tell their foot to put on the gas, you're already halfway through the intersection and in front of them.
Watch out for red light cameras. I haven't figured out exactly how they work, but I suspect that if you enter the intersection before the light turns green, you might get a ticket, so watch your timing.
The reason you stay back one car length is in the event that the lead guitar driver has F-18 tiger reflexes that match your own, but still likes to drive the limit - you both start moving the instant the light changes, but you don't get to pass unless you friggin' floor it. Or, some people who fancy themselves "the road police" will decide that they're not going to let you pass, and they'll race you when the light goes green. If you're one length back, there's a very good chance they don't even notice you're there, so you can just scoot on in.
Now this technique has an inherent danger to it, so listen up: If you're the first person through a fresh green light, you're at a much greater risk of getting t-boned, ESPECIALLY in this situation because you're essential sneaking out of nowhere so the red-light-runner might not see you and decide to just go anyway. In order to not die you still have to look both ways before proceeding:
This will be expanded upon in a future post, entitled "Why it's usually the cyclist's fault when they get hit by a car."
Clearly, this whole thing doesn't apply if the opposing lane gets an advance green. It's up to you to be familiar with the intersection to know whether they'll get one or not.