|The delicate art of the turn / merge / cross is not without countervailing complications|
Often when turning onto, merging in, or crossing busier streets on my bicycle, I find myself steering toward the spot where the car won't be when I get there. Often, the car is in the spot when I start the turn / merge / cross, but due to its forward motion, I'm confident it will no longer be in that spot by the time my bike gets to it. I find this approach necessary for crossing, merging, and turning on to busy streets, because otherwise it seems like I may have a very long wait for a simple, clear opening in traffic.
By the nature of the maneuver, though, a driver of the vehicle in question who happens to look at me when I'm starting this maneuver with confidence may think for an instance that I am actually trying to steer into them, rather than behind them. I don't think I could if I tried, but in any case, I have seen more than one example where my steering toward the to-be empty spot has caused momentary fright, alarm, consternation, concern in the eyes of a driver. It all happens pretty fast, so it's not like I have time to reassure them, or always make some motion to indicate what I'm doing, although sometimes it is possible to point behind them to show them where I'm going.
However, I've also found that drivers who are paying enough attention that they will be able to see and understand my hand signal are seldom the ones who are alarmed by my steering toward the spot where they're not going to be when I get there. The ones who seem most alarmed are the drivers who are distracted by something else. Yesterday, a woman who was texting while waiting for the stoplight, and I don't mean a brief "LOL" I mean intense, focused, lengthy thumb dancing, looked up and saw me waiting for the light in the lane next to her, and looked like she was going to jump out of seat.
So I guess I'm saying, it's never my goal to scare the crap out of drivers with my riding, but if a driver is so distracted that they are startled by a cyclist at a stop light while both are sitting completely still, I don't feel that much concern about having a similar effect while in motion in traffic, except that it causes me to increase my Plan B bail out priority in case the distracted driver doesn't happen to see me at all and changes lanes toward me, thereby putting their vehicle where I intended to travel to get to where they were not going to be.