This is not a prescription telling you how to ride. It's a description of my personal experience of, and thought process about, a specific left turn that I make on a bicycle, every day on my way to work. The setting is me going east on Panhandle towards Carroll, turning left to go north on Coit towards Crescent. There is no traffic signal, and I don't have a stop sign.
The sequence of events:
1. After the last intersection before Coit (Panhandle and Denton St.), I drift slightly left to caution drivers behind me and keep from being overtaken while trying to turn. I want to be far enough over to make it too tight of a squeeze if there is a car coming the other direction. So, I might move over a little more to the left if there is an oncoming car, just to protect my space that much more.
2. Check for cars, in front and behind. If there is a car behind me, I signal my left turn as soon as I turn my head back around. Again, I might scoot over a little more with my hand signal to show that I mean it: I'm taking the next left! If there is a car in front, I either speed up or slow down so that I won't have to come to a complete stop to make the left turn.
4. Assuming the coast is clear or that the driver behind has acknowledged me, I move left almost to the center of the road, just right of the center of the road. This protects me by pinning the car behind me until I am out of the way.
5. The last thing is to make sure I am looking up the road as I turn onto Coit. I also want to be careful to turn into the right side of the road and not cut the corner since there could always be oncoming traffic.
The main thing I'm trying to do during all of this is be clear with my body language so that my actions are predictable. This doesn't just mean hand signals; it also means how far into the gutter I'm riding and where I decide to start moving left. I have a right to be there, but I still have to be diligent in showing others I can confidently and intentionally exercise my right to bicycle. I want to prevent accidents on the road, so I don't want to ride accidentally.