The Albany Left

Controversial: Akum makes the argument for the Albany Left -- with diagrams. (Thankfully she's still taking a strong stand against double parking.)


People in Albany are terrible drivers. Is it really necessary to muddy their minds with this?

I must emphatically disagree with Akum, and urge her to recant. Not only is the "Albany Left" illegal, it's extremely dangerous and causes a domino effect of illegal and dangerous traffic behavior.

First, it's illegal. Never does the left-turner have the right of way in a two-way intersection if there are cars coming from the other directions. Never. Even if extended the courtesy by the one going straight. According to the NYS DMV Driver's Manual: "If drivers approaching from opposite directions reach an intersection at about the same time, a driver turning left must yield to approaching traffic going straight or turning right."

Second, it makes other people do dangerous and illegal things. She mentions at one point that left-turners pulling into the intersection to wait their turn "allow the driver behind to go around". THIS IS ALSO ILLEGAL, and extremely dangerous (if there is no designated lane). What if there's someone turning left coming from the opposite direction? Wham!

I experience both of these hostile maneuvers every single day. And it's really a wonder there aren't more accidents. Please don't promote or condone bad driving behavior, even if "everyone does it".

People need to calm down and learn how to be patient.

Throwback to previous discussion on regional names for things/pronunciation: I've only ever seen this referred to as a Pittsburgh Left.

I’m assuming this is supposed to be a satirical critique of a very annoying/unsafe Albany driving pattern, with a bit of whimsical charm of “would it be nice if we could help our fellow driver.” Unfortunately, the rules of the road are there to establish a firm roadmap for all to follow, so that everyone is on the same sheet of music and can operate their vehicles safe and efficiently. While such courteousness would be nice, as long as it isn’t legal, folks will be playing to different tunes, which is only a recipe for disaster. Furthermore, as someone who walks 90% of the time to get to work, shop, etc. I need to be able to operate under specific rules when navigating alongside cars, specifically those pesky intersection that cars feel should be a no-man’s land. How am I to see the driver waving on the opposing car wanting to turn left to proceed before him, especially since he now just superseded my right of way to cross that part of the intersection. If (and it won’t happen), this were to be made legit, I would foresee too many bad things occurring, especially those of us who walk/bike.

If you take a left turn in front of someone in Albany, not only will they smash right into you, they will smash right into you and just keep on driving, talking or texting with nary a care in the world...

I often use this courtesy when at a light in Albany. If I am going straight and the driver across the road is turning left I leave nothing to speculation and wave them through. The intersection of Lincoln and Colvin in Albany notoriously backs up during peak hours and without this courtesy traffic would gridlock. Is life so freakin' short that you can't spare the two seconds it takes to allow folks to take that left turn?? But given the ridiculous short attention span and lack of patience for many people these days the answers above don't surprise me in the least.

I just have to second Rich's comment. It's dangerous enough for pedestrians as it is, without drivers making up their own right-of-way rules.

Why stop there? Why not mention the "Albany 3 second rule" which applies to red lights. Once it turns red you have 3 seconds to get by.

Or how about the "Albany Crosswalk"? Pedestrians can wander into traffic anywhere anytime and have the right of way. The world is your crosswalk!

And this is just for mere citizens. We won't get into the rules for police, fire and the politically protected class. (Ok, just one: Need to leave your Fire SUV double parked and running for 20 minutes while you deal with a contractor on one of your rental properties? Hell, yeah! Bonus if you are collecting overtime!)


The Pittsburgh Left is definitely a THING there. I lived there from '04-'07 and saw it, and did it, many times. Since moving here a few months back, I can count on one hand the number of Albany Lefts I've seen--which means that it's unusual enough that drivers probably aren't looking for it and it's dangerous (and I sure as hell am not about to try it).

And I'll say that it worked relatively well in Pittsburgh where everything is crammed in between the rivers and the streets are pretty damn narrow (same goes for intersections), which makes these lefts quicker and safer than here.

@DaveinAlbany, It isn't a patience thing, its a safety thing, especially for pedestrians, bikers and motorcyclist who are unable to see you exercise a little courtesy to help out a fellow driver. In principle it would be great to pass a good gesture forward, however, it is unsafe. And drivers don't just do this for other drivers; as someone who walks a lot, I love it when a driver offers a helping hand (they rarely do) by slowing down and waving me on to cross a street, despite the driver having the right of way. However, this is dangerous for driver and walker alike and I can't tell you how many times this has resulted in a car not far behind them, with no clue that his right of way is being hijacked by a courteous gesture and has to slam on their brakes. The rules of the road are there for a reason to protect driver, walker, and biker alike. The rule of patience should be exercised by being safe, even i it means you have to wait in line for a while before being granted your right of way.

I understand keeping traffic moving. But there's already an entirely legal and acceptable way to deal with a left turn at a busy intersection. The left turner is supposed to pull into the intersection under the green light, and can then complete their left turn after the light turns red and oncoming traffic has stopped. Usually what happens is traffic behind the turner going straight usually passes the turner on the right.

This "left under red" is in the NYSDMV driver's manual, pages 45-46.

who named this an "Albany Left"? i've lived here pretty much my entire life (higher education years I was absent) and never heard it called that or anything other then "hey jacka$$ you don't have the right-of-way". "Albany Jaywalkers" I'll give you that one, but not this alleged turning custom business.

However, in Michigan there is a widely accepted traffic pattern called a "Michigan Left"
which drove me insane when I lived there.

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