Q&A - Reserved Lane Use

Bicycle Lane SignQUESTION: I have been driving home on Rupert Street in Vancouver lately and there are some lane markings I am not clear about. Between 12th ave and about Kingsway there is a narrow right hand lane that has a bicycle and a white diamond, there is no other signage. Are motorcycles allowed to use this lane because they regularly do.

ANSWER: It's a reserved lane for bicycle use only. Motorcycles must not use them. There is a more comprehensive article here on the site about bicycle lanes that explains this.

Motorcyclists using the cycle lane would be disobeying a traffic control device and liable to a fine of $121 and 2 penalty points.

"traffic control device" means a sign, signal, line, meter, marking, space, barrier or device, not inconsistent with this Part, placed or erected by authority of

(a) the minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act,

(b) the council of a municipality,

(c) the governing body of a treaty first nation,

(d) a Nisg̱a'a Government, or

(e) a person authorized by a person or body referred to in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d) to exercise that authority;

I'm wondering if what you are referring to is illegal lane filtering. In Europe I saw a lot of "motorcycle " traffic passing on the right where there was a backup, usually at a traffic light, and it seems to be an accepted practice there.

Note that this section of roadway is quite a climb for those of us using non motorized bikes so you may see some wabbling from riders as they struggle up the hill. Also painted bike lanes like these beside a row of parked cars are dangerous as they put riders in the "door zone". We lost an accomplished rider in North Van who dutifully rode in the bike lane only to have collided with a truck when he swerved to avoid being doored. Expect trained riders to avoid that hazard by staying well left even if it means riding outside the bike lane,

While it is safer to right to the left of a bicycle lane that is in the door zone, unfortunately, it is illegal. The 'as far to the right as practicable' (that's not 'as practical') law makes that so. That part of the law needs changing.


are you referencing the MVA? My interpretation is that I would be as far right as practicable given that the alternative puts me at risk.

im glad you raised the point as some jurisdictions in the US are obliging riders to use the bike lane where present which is a step back for vision zero pursuits.


Yes, the MVA:

Rights and duties of operator of cycle

183 (2) (c) must, subject to paragraph (a), ride as near as practicable to the right side of the highway, [paragraph (a) states that cyclist can’t ride on the sidewalk]
"Practicable" is based on the word 'practice' not on the word 'practical' and has quite defined legal meaning which is doable with available means. So for the MVA it means as far to the right as possible, safety, much less practicality, be damned (it is the Motor Vehicle Act). If you have an accident while riding other than as far to the right as practicable, you can be sure that ICBC's lawyers are going to argue (and most likely win) that you are at least partly responsible for the accident. As I recall it, there was a case a few years ago where there was a right turn lane and a straight through lane and the cyclist was riding right side of the straight through lane and was hit by a left turning motorist. The ICBC lawyers argued that the cyclist should have been as far as practicable to the right of the right-turn lane (even though he wasn't turning right) and so was at least partially responsible for the accident. The judge (a motor vehicle driver I'm sure) agreed.
Actually the mandatory sidepath law (i.e., you have to use the bike lane or path) is pretty standard legislation and has been on the books for a long time. It was the law in BC until, as I remember it, about 20 years ago, when it was repealed. However, at the same time the 'as far to the right as practicable' law was brought in, which, for practical purposes amounts to the same thing. The law has nothing to do with cyclists' safety.

We lost an accomplished rider in North Van who dutifully rode in the bike lane only to have collided with a truck when he swerved to avoid being doored.

It's worth keeping in mind that the City of North Vancouver designed this road in an attempt to accommodate everybody. That Esplanade multi-lane corridor was designed to be the only truck route (apart from the freeway) running east-west across the north shore, apart from anything else.

And of course, the major bus interchange at Lonsdale Quay puts extra load on the mess, although it was at least designed to 'flow' traffic at around 40 km/h, and truckers typically time themselves to save their clutches and gears by following this average speed. This worked effectively enough for a long while.

But in many ways, the cyclists' lanes have been imposed retroactively on this existing system, despite all the design. The inevitable compromise is that there's too much going on now in that whole section, particularly keeping in mind that it has tried to remain home to a number of storefront businesses including restaurants etc, which are typically dependent on street parking.

Which is why, today, we find that those parking spots - several dozen of them - have been eliminated. Is that progress, or if they had to do it all again, would they have learned that cyclists should never have been added, when other routes are availalable?