Right Lane Roulette

Busy junction on the way to work. Stream of traffic, two lanes, traffic lights red ahead.

The right hand lane includes those that are going to turn right at the lights, but the line is much shorter than the queue in the left hand lane, which is only for those that want to go straight on (which I want to do). The question is – should I risk the shorter right hand queue hoping all the cars in that lane actually are going straight on and none are going to be turning right (meaning very few will get through when the lights turn green), or do I hang back in the longer left hand lane, knowing there is no risk of being stuck behind someone turning right, but I am unlikely to get through the next time the queue moves? Low risk but low probable outcome on the left lane, high risk but higher potential outcome with the right lane?

It is a daily dilemma. Except on the days I bike to work, when I cheekily sail through the junction, crossing the lanes and off up the bike path. What I usually do is strain to see if any cars in the right hand lane have their right hand indicators on. If any do, I stick in the left. If they don’t, I may risk it (if there are only 2 or 3 cars there). Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. On the days I take the low risk left hand lane, I secretly hope all those in the right hand lane that want to go straight on get stuck behind a right turner. Sad but true.

Probably if I turned to game theory, I would be able to calculate the best option. But at the moment, right lane roulette is a pure game of chance. Maybe I should just cool it, turn up the music and chill out. After all, what am I rushing for?

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