I've been meaning to write about ASLs for a while. Now, there's a wee debate about them on-line and it seems a a good time to weigh in.
I know some people, like my good friend Magnatom, are, shall we say, wary of the supposed virtues of ASLs. His advice is certainly worth following. On the whole, I'm more agnostic, and find the near total lack of enforcement frustrating. But, if I can't easily get into an ASL, I will happily hang back in the queue of traffic. If I'm near the front andd going straight, I'll be centre in the ASL, avoiding those unsignalled left turns.
However, over the summer, while school was out, my routine varied a little, and I found myself riding different routes. In doing so, I realised that I kept feeling uneasy in one particular intersection. I was surprised at various actions by cars. Not aggressive,but strange. Like the smiley woman who came right up beside me and grinned at the kids through her window, when I was turning right and she was going straight on. And then I twigged - this is the ONLY ntersection near me or on oany of my 'usual routes' with traffic lights and no ASLs. There is an almost identical intersection one block along, but with ASLs. And the riding experience is totally different there. Not great - the light sequence is too short, making a right turn is tricky, but the ASLs make it that bit more comfortable, and just as well because that intersection's on the way home from nursery.
So, while they may not make all drivers into angels, and they certainly don't make cyclists invulnerable, I miss them when they're not there, which must mean they make a little difference at least.