Near, Far, Wherever you are?

Open question to Houston readers. You’re on the road. You need to make a left or U-turn. Do you pull to the near side of the median opening? (blue car) Or the far side? (red car)

On the one hand, the near side movement is common to almost all our signalized intersections. On the other hand, the far side movement is common to rural divided highways, urban divided highways in many other states, and Houston arterials of yore. H-town thoroughfares were divided going back to the 50’s, but the bullet-nose median opening – which enables the nearside movement – didn’t really become omnipresent until the 80’s.

What do you do?

6 thoughts on “Near, Far, Wherever you are?”

  1. Far. Far has to be the only answer. First, it greatly improves visibility if a car traveling the other direction also turns left. Second, you are then on the correct side of the road after you complete your turn. I view it as, “What would you do if the median was wider by 50 ft, like Heights Blvd?”

    It peeves me soooo much when I get to a left turn and there already a car from the other direction turning left (blue-style) and blocking my view. Now you’re blocking my view of traffic and I’m blocking yours.

    The one down side to red is if there’s more than one car turning each direction. Go to Memorial between 5 and 7 pm between Detering & Westcott for the best examples. Insta-gridlock.

    Also, I love/hate the expansion joints that don’t line up with the lanes… especially when COH only repaints lane lines every five years or so!

  2. You’re supposed to be in the Far position to make that turn but on older and adapted roads like Montrose blvd you’ll encounter people taking the Near position.

  3. For what it’s worth, part of the reason people do far on rural highways is because they’re actually striped as stubby two way roads, like this area north of Hempstead: http://maps.google.com/?ll=30.123422,-96.074515&spn=0.000623,0.00109&t=h&z=20

    Note, however, that the “road” is extra wide in case someone does a “near”.

    I guess it really depends on the road. A bunch of roads between 610 and Beltway 8 have relatively large medians (enough to fit a left hand lane in, and then some)

  4. I hate these types of arterial roadways that seem ubiquitous to Texas cities. Too many left-turn and u-turn movements are allowed when they should be limited to key signalized intersections. The set-up in other sunbelt metros like Atlanta and Los Angeles is preferable where you have 2 or 3 lanes in each direction and a painted center left-turn lane or a long divider that only allows left turns at key intersections. It allows for higher speed limits on these roadways. There are too many 35 mph zones in Houston that would be 45 or even 50 or 55 in Atlanta or Los Angeles.

    The closest anywhere in the Houston metro area gets to this is The Woodlands, but even most of those parkways are 45 mph when they should be 55 or 60 like they are in Irvine, CA.

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