Talk:Pittsburgh left

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Pennsylvania (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Pennsylvania, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Pennsylvania on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Pittsburgh (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Pittsburgh, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Pittsburgh and its metropolitan area on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.


Well, I guess this is the crux of Wikipedia. Someone found a newspaper article that mentions in passing that the Pittsburgh Left is illegal and now apparently it's a fact. ~ Strathmeyer (talk) 05:35, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Absolutely! The "The Pittsburgh Left has no basis in law" bit is false because there is no requirement for official sanction of this maneuver by law; if something is not explicitly forbidden, it is de-facto legal.
1) As I (as a Pittsburgher) understand the "Pittsburgh Left," the left-turning car anticipates the green, but (ideally) does not enter the intersection until the light actually turns. (For illustration, consider a corner blitz where one "knows" the snap count: one is moving towards the line of scrimmage prior to the snap, but does not actually cross until after.) Properly executed, the Pittsbugh Left is legal from the point-of-view of redlight running.
2) As for "right-of-way," ideally, the opposing, straight-travelling car is utilizing normal human reflexes, does not anticipate the light, and thus the P.L. is complete prior to the left-turning car posing a conflict to the opposing straight-travelling car. (Of course, the straight-travelling car might also anticipate the light; while legal, this identifies the driver as "a real jagoff.")
"Speeding up" to get ahead of a car (and thus aviod a conflict) is a bone-fide example of "yeilding" right-of-way, and thus the P.L. is legal from the point-of-view of "yeilding right-of-way."
That is most definitely NOT the definition of yielding the right-of-way." See #2 at [1] Chops79 (talk) 16:46, 8 October 2012 (UTC)


It refers to the counter-intuitive practice of giving left-turning vehicles precedence over vehicles going straight through intersections, which improves traffic flow.

Is that intended to mean that the Pittsburgh Left improves traffic flow, or that giving precedence to vehicles going straight improves traffic flow? Either way, the sentence needs to be cleaned up.

I agree that the sentence needs clarification - but it can't be as simple as an either/or thing. Imagine a fast moving 4 lane road with vehicles going 50mph. If you give priority to cars turning left then all of the oncoming traffic has to come to a screaming halt every time a car is sitting in the turn lane. That can't be good for traffic flow. On the other hand, if it's a really heavily used 2 lane road then the guy who is indicating left is blocking all of the traffic behind him. The oncoming traffic (which isn't moving fast) could just as easily pause for 2 seconds to let him cross in order to unblock a gigantic tailback of traffic in the other lane. So whether this is a good idea or not is heavily dependent on the nature of the road and the density of traffic it's carrying. I don't think such a simple sentence can do justice to that. On the other hand, everything I just wrote - whilst it seems very reasonable - is completely 'original research' and can't go into the article either unless we find some kind of authoritative source to back it up. I'm therefore going to delete that sentence. SteveBaker 20:19, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
The article says "The Pittsburgh Left involves two cars waiting at a traffic light or other stop signal", so why would the oncoming traffic have to come to a halt? AndrewAllen 03:11, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
In my experience this practice only occurs when someone is impatient and makes a quick left turn or the intersection is long (ie. the stop line for cars on the opposite lane is far away). Pendragon39 05:11, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

The P.L. is really a means of compensating for the combination of (1)heavy traffic volume and (2)lack of sufficient traffic engineering infrastructure (notably lack of left-turn lanes/left-turn arrows). Both (1) and (2) are common in metropolitan Pittsburgh.

In such an example, a left-turning car might be indefinitely stuck for several light cycles, waiting for a break in traffic--as would all the cars behind. To ensure that at least two left-turners make it through per light cycle, (1)the first car anticipates the light turning green (though ideally does not actually enter the intersection on the red) and (2) the second car enters the intersection on the green (reasonably expecting the light to turn red prior to getting an opportunity to turn) and clears the interesection on the "all-red" segment.

To the best of my knowledge, only (1) is referred to as a "Pittsburgh Left." (talk) 01:49, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

Lebo Left[edit]

Having lived in the Mount Lebanon area of Pittsburgh for a while, I've seen a lot of the Pittsburgh left, and even a little bit of what people are starting to call the "Lebo Left," which consists of a Pittsburgh left being executed behind a car going straight, which is essentially anticipating the Pittsburgh left, but taking it before the opportunity actually comes. Has anyone else seen this? I'd like to include it in the article, but being such a folk thing, it almost certainly has no sources. V-Man737 20:56, 26 December 2006 (UTC)


Good compromising. Thanks for the contributions! I hope to see more from you. V-Man737 05:55, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Also unclear[edit]

Previously I had only heard of the "New York Left"... I visited this article thinking I the "Pittsburgh Left" was a bad driving habit peculiar to Pittsburgh drivers. While reading the article, I became convinced the "Pittsburgh Left" was actually a traffic law, until I read Legal Basis and the external reference "Pittsburgh Left" seen by many as a local right. Perhaps the opening paragraph should clarify this better...that it's named after a local Pittsburgh custom adopted as a courtesy towards other drivers, not a "rule of the road" found in the Pittsburgh traffic code. Or am I still wrong?! AndrewAllen 03:11, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

*scratches head* uh, well, to be honest with you, that's how it struck me when I was living there. Before going there, I thought "Surely something like that is illegal!" But after a while, I became more and more convinced that it is actually a traffic law (Until I got pulled over). If you think it'd be better to put it a certain way, go right on ahead and do it. ^_^ V-Man737 03:55, 14 February 2007 (UTC)


I don't know of any reference for this, but when I was living in Northeastern Connecticut, I frequently experienced oncoming (straight) traffic yielding when I was signaling for a left turn. This would happen when I was turning from a rural primary road (in areas without stop signs or signals) onto a secondary road. Other non-natives that I talked with had noticed this as well, and had speculated (as mentioned in this article) that it was intended to keep left turning cars from impeding traffic behind them (however, this was a rural area, so traffic would be much less than in Pittsburgh). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Legal basis[edit]

I've tagged the legal basis with {{who}} and {{fact}} as it is vague, amorphous, and poorly referenced. Despite its title, it contains no references to black letter law establishing the practice. -- Mikeblas 23:49, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Yinzer Left[edit]

The piece nonchalantly states, “The ‘Pittsburgh Left’ is also known as the ‘Yinzer Left’" then proclaims that a citation is needed for this little gem. Wow…. How encyclopedic. How thoroughly professional. How Wikipedia. If a contribution is so flimsy that it requires a citation… then why would we want it out there included with the other stuff until that citation is produced? I could make all sorts of unfounded, weak, unscholarly claims and slap them up on the page with the caveat that a citation is needed and then walk away and my ridiculous faux content could stay there for months as if it is fact. Do we really need the Yinzer claim up there without a citation? Isn’t there a better system than this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:32, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

So did you fix it??? You're contributing to the problem you're complaining about! ~ Strathmeyer (talk) 05:36, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Does this merit an article?[edit]

Does a slang term for an illegal regional traffic operation that is not even exclusive to the region for which it is named deserve any article of its own, especially one this large? And should it be linked to "Michigan Left", which is a legitimate traffic construction to which it is entirely unrelated? This article AT BEST deserves to be a paragraph in the Pittsburgh transportation section. This belongs in Urban Dictionary, not Wikipedia. Mal7798 (talk) 01:11, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

I couldn't agree more. Removing this article would save on electrons. Who needs this useless information anyway? Surely not authors, or people reading stories by regional authors, or future historians who are trying to figure exactly what traffic is anyway... SAVE WIKIPEDIA! DELETE THIS ARTICLE! BarSmart 01:24, 7 July 2009

Agreed here too. This isn't even remotely unique to Pittsburgh, or even to Pennsylvania. It's typical in any place where there's a lot of traffic and no dedicated left turn lane/light. (talk) 01:10, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

It's typical even where there are dedicated left turn lanes. Left turn lanes don't always come with left turn signals, and this seems to add to the problem. In the case where you are on minor roads without left turn lanes, giving a left turner a right to go ahead is seen more as a courtesy to keep traffic flowing. Where the true Pittsburgh left comes into play is where the left turners are in their own lane, and hence not bothering anyone, but don't get a dedicated signal, and so they try to make the first move when the light turns green. (talk) 08:55, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

As a Bostonian, I agree - this article is describing something that you see all over the place here, and probably most of the country. I actually live in Lowell, Massachusetts and know somebody who writes for the Lowell Sun. I could get an article written for a citation to make an article about a local traffic maneuver we're all proud of, too. It's a common joke around here, where roads are typically narrow and busy, and drivers are typically rude, to make what's called a "Lowell Left." It's a maneuver where you make your left turn, either in an intersection or to get out onto a Blocking oncoming traffic in the process. It's completely expected and people don't really seem to mind it. Don't see an article on it because I'm sure it happens in many places (although your mileage may vary. I've tried it out of state and almost been hit). CSZero (talk) 05:21, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes it does: The subject mentioned does indeed meet the general notability guideline. It is properly sourced, and has every reason to be included. The arguments against this article don't seem to be those that would favor deletion according to Wikipedia's deletion guidelines, but just seem to be either pure personal dislike, arguments that this is useless, or other ramblings of personal point of view. I do, however, want to praise everyone here for bringing up this matter on the articles talk page rather than jumping straight into AfD. Sebwite (talk) 06:00, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

This practice was mentioned in the Boston Globe with various regional names; I added those with a reference. I think this topic does deserve an article, it's an interesting, if everyday practice. -- -- Beland (talk) 19:49, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

Original research?[edit]

I removed the following from the "Illegality" section. It is unreferenced and apparently original research? -- -- Beland (talk) 19:48, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

However, STOPPED traffic, even with a green light, is not oncoming. It is sitting still. So, when all lanes are occupied with stopped cars, a Pittsburgh Left is arguably a legal turn. This has not been tested in court, but it is the general consensus of Pittsburgh natives.
A consensus is simply your point of view until you can reference this with a good source. Sounds like original research to me, but it is very interesting and I'd love if someone could find a reference for it's legality. Andrew B (talk) 21:14, 2 May 2013 (UTC)