Motorcycles and HOV Lanes

Bus Lane Only SignI ride a motorcycle and find that some HOV lanes allow motorcycles and some do not. It is frustrating to pass the non-HOV entrance to a roadway only to find that the HOV lane entrance does not permit motorcycles. Can it be changed so that motorcycles are permitted to use all HOV lanes and entrances, in particular that one as I commute over that bridge daily?

After trading a few e-mails with this gentleman, I learned that he had been stopped by police and warned that he could not operate his motorcycle in the lane that he had chosen because motorcycles were not permitted by the signs posted for it. That confused me because motorcycles are exempted from the requirement to be a high occupancy vehicle in order to use high occupancy vehicle lanes in British Columbia.

I contacted the police department involved and asked about motorcycles and HOV lanes. They confirmed that what I understood was correct but the largest problem they faced with enforcement was that many drivers did not understand the signs. Often they were operating in bus only lanes mistakenly thinking that they were HOV lanes.

This turned out to be the case here. The gentleman thought that the black rectangle with the white diamond on it meant HOV instead of a restricted lane. One has to identify the permitted use of the restricted lane by interpreting the symbols on the sign with the diamond. In his case it showed only a bus, making it a bus only lane.

The presence of a car would have identified it as an HOV lane and motorcycles would have been allowed to use it as well. How does one make changes to the designated lane uses? Start at the office of your local MLA. It is our government that makes the designation and they have the power to make changes.

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Motorcycles in HOV lanes

Quite correctly many drivers/riders fail to understand the difference between HOV and BUS lanes. The distinction is well explained.

Perhaps what is not understood by most drivers is the reasoning for permitting motorcycles in HOV lanes. This has nothing to do with vehicle occupancy. Rather, it was based upon arguments taken to the BC Legislature about safety by the BC Coalition of Motorcyclists (BCCOM).

A great danger to a motorcyclist is a driver who fails to do a shoulder or even a mirror check before doing a lane change. Since it is illegal to cross a solid white line, a vehicle within an HOV lane is protected from the "lane jumper" so long as the lane border is a solid line.  Only where the lane border is a broken line, is a vehicle permitted to enter or leave an HOV lane. By this reasoning, a motorcyclist is "protected" except where the border line is broken.

Of course it doesn't work in practise for several reasons. Many drivers are ignorant of the "Do Not Cross a Solid Line" rule. There is little or no enforcement except perhaps after a crash. Any motorcyclist who relies upon a driver to be competent, is a fool.

But that is the reasoning and most North American jurisdictions permit motorcycles in HOV lanes because of it.

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